The Case for Excelling at Crucial Conversations
Studies indicate that leaders today have to navigate difficult conversations more frequently than ever before.
Effective communication helps leaders:
- Rally their team around a shared vision
- Empower employees
- Build trust
- Successfully navigate organizational change
Further, research has shown that employees who work in organizations where communication is “open, timely, and accurate” are more engaged at work and demonstrate a greater intent to stay.
Sources: Real Leaders Magazine (November 2021 issue), Harvard Business School, Gallup
3 in 4 employees view effective communication as the top leadership attribute. Yet 2 in 3 employees think their leaders do not communicate effectively.
Only 7 percent of U.S. workers think their workplace communication is accurate, timely, and open.
Every unaddressed conflict at work can waste about 8 hours in gossip and other unproductive activities.
Sources: Research by Quantum Workplace and Fierce Conversations and Harvard Business School
Accept the magic ratio
For every five positive interactions, a healthy relationship (on average) has one conflict-laden interaction. Researchers call this the “magic ratio.” The key to success is not to suppress conflict, but to handle it constructively and to balance each instance of conflict with several positive touchpoints.
Center and connect
For a conversation to go well, you need to be centered (calm, open) and connected (empathetically attuned to the other party’s needs). And the other party needs to be centered and connected with you as well.
Mentora’s program on Crucial Conversations is founded on five principles:
- Responsibility: It is 100% your responsibility to stay centered and connected and to do your best to keep the other party centered and connected.
- Intention: Maintain a Positive Intention. Half the outcome is determined just by the expectation and intention you bring into the room.
- Non-attachment: By having no attachment to outcomes, you avoid being fixated on a particular view of how the conversation should go and where it should end. This allows you to be open to new learnings, and prevent coming across as inflexible, uncaring, or needy.
- Unconditional Respect: Despite how upsetting someone’s behavior may be, you will only get to a constructive outcome if you show respect for them, and for yourself, in all conditions.
- Full Engagement: A difficult conversation requires you to be fully attentive to the situation, its nuances — the thoughts, feelings, and intentions triggered in you and in the other party — and its unexpected twists. This requires you to approach such moments from a restful, prepared, and undistracted state, without being pressed for time — and to create conditions where the other party can also be fully engaged.