Plan your conversations to succeed

April 1, 2010

By Garth Roberts
Leadership Coach and Trainer

Garth Roberts
Garth Roberts

CALGARY, AB, Apr. 1, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Do you have regular conversations or do you have unique conversations? Regular conversations are those we have without really thinking. They just happen as we chat with various folks and as we express our opinions, frequently void of real thought. Basically, regular conversations are reactions to what’s coming at us.

Unique conversations take a little more effort and a little more forethought to become exceptional conversations. Would you like to add some “unique” to your interactions to your conversations? Here are some steps that will help you.

Plan – It only takes moments to actually plan a conversation, or at least your portion of the conversation. Think in advance as to what’s to come out of your mouth. Most of us have conversations that are just reactions. We don’t take the time to process logically what we are going to say. When was the last time you walked into someone’s office, home or business and started talking? Shortly after you arrived your mind kicked into gear. Notice the confused look on the other person’s face? That will be your first clue that you’re speaking randomly and not from a plan. Planning conversations allows you to say the minimum amount of information, to get the maximum amount of results.

While some of your conversations may be just to pass time and socialize with your friends, work-related conversations should add value and get the action you want.

Get Action – Unique conversations stimulate action. If you’re working you need to get someone to do something for you. What you want done should be of benefit to you, your clients, and your company. To get the action you need, plan and put the words in proper sequence and the ideas in proper order, for the listener.

It’s Not about You – For many people this is a hard pill to swallow. They seem to function with the attitude that the whole world is about them. If you want to have unique conversations to stimulate action and get results, you have get over yourself and recognize that the conversation is about the person you are talking with and about the action you want from that person. We must also recognize that sometimes the action we want isn’t huge. You may just need the person to file a report or put some documents in a place where they can be accessed five years from now. That’s still getting action and that’s what you’re really after when you have unique conversations. You won’t get that action if you’re focused on yourself. It’s about the other person, it’s not about you.

Use the Correct Tone – Unique conversations are conversations designed to stimulate good will and bring about results. To do this you must use the correct tone with whomever you’re talking. Most people have had the unfortunate experience of sending an e-mail and then wondering why the person who received it is upset or doesn’t take the action requested. Of all our methods of conversation, e-mail seems to be the easiest to mess up and it’s usually because of the tone of the message.

Why is that? From my experience it’s usually because people have dashed off the e-mail without consideration for the words and phrases being used. You are not e-mailing friends who understand your language and vocabulary. Friends can add your voice in their heads as they read and recognize you’re not upset.

It’s not any different when you’re standing in front of a real, live person. The words and phrases you choose can confuse and upset. The tone of your voice or the actions of your body can destroy the intent of your dialogue. In business we need to have the tone sensitivity when we’re presenting information to another person, be it face to face, via e-mail, or over the telephone.

Get It Correct the First Time – Think back to the conversations you had within the past week or the past month. How many of them have been out of the ordinary? For most of us, it’s not very many. We’re too busy. This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a supervisor. He told me I didn’t understand their business because they were too busy to plan. He paused and then commented, “But we do have time to redo it tomorrow.” In your conversations, do you have time to do them over again tomorrow? Actually it doesn’t matter if you do have time to say it over again tomorrow, your audience will be lost.

If you plan your conversation, remember it’s not about you, incorporate the correct tone, and get it right the first time, you’re probably on track to having unique conversations. Give this five-step process a try for a couple of weeks and actively record if your success in communicating improves. I think you’ll be very surprised and pleased with the results.

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