In an age where digital monologues, selfies and superficial chats are the norm, the power of conversation is waning. Disconnected in our connected world, text, email and social media exchanges are hardly interactive, let alone conversational.
TV, live-streamed and public-event ‘conversations’, from political debates to discussion groups, tend to be immature, combative and divisive because there is something to ‘win’, the audience are passive listeners, and there is an ‘entertainment value’ to be optimised.
Scientist and philosopher David Bohm (On Dialogue) points out “… Communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale … Different groups … are not actually able to listen to each other … the consequent sense of frustration inclines people ever further toward aggression and violence, rather than toward mutual understanding and trust”.
In the office, conversations avoided, like elephants, don’t go away. They form disturbing undercurrents that detract from relationships and performance. The more elephants there are to edge around, whisper about, insinuate, hide and deny, the more grouchiness, sniping, resentment and enmity there is. Some even speak of ‘culture chasms’ between leaders and their followers – far bigger than mere gaps. in this situation co-operation is stunted. Creativity suffers. Everybody is unhappy. Far better to have conversations that matter.
A robust and safe process that works to the benefit of the organisation, its culture and its members is Conversations that Count:
- A confidential and easy- to-participate array of (short) on-line assessments (conversation – starters) and automated interpretation to target key conversation topics.
- Respondents are exposed to statements that may well embed new words, metaphors and thinking that promote the seeing of complex situations and systems from new perspectives.
- Optional opinion pieces, reflections and exercises follow, that allow for a deeper dive into the topics
- With this knowledge and preparation constructive, open and confidential group conversations are conducted using anecdote circle technology as a safe container for sharing, listening, surfacing valuable information, feelings (beyond the ‘edges’ of what they would previously have explored) and collective wisdom. Specific norms and behaviours can then be addressed, and a focused culture change has started ….
(Behavioural science is demonstrating the power of mindfulness, attentive listening, using the power of ‘AND’ rather than ‘EITHER/ OR’ to dissipate resistance, bring people to a shared perspective, and guide decisions, applying new ways of nurturing change, and entering an emerging future together in an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. The Conversations that Count process rests on these principles. It is a means of nudging people into making the cultural changes that count).