Four Conversations — Clarifying, Transforming, Crucial, Powerful

Given the flailing frenzy in social media, relationship marketing, customer care, and even more slippery business concepts, “conversation” ranks right up there on the list of current buzzwords. But it’s been part of human life for ages. If conversation is as common as what happens when people speak to each other every day, you wouldn’t think we’d need books about it. Au contraire. And you may be surprised to discover how much more effective your conversations can be with a bit of guidance, background, and perspective.

Clarifying Conversation

Start with individual speaking styles as framed by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., in her book That’s Not What I Meant! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships. Tannen uses her personal experiences in miscommunication to engage us in the “explanation about why we so often seem to be misunderstood or why we cannot seem to get our own point across. As an intrigued host once said when introducing Tannen to speak, ‘most books on speaking are about public speaking,’ while hers, on the other hand, address the speech we most often use, the ‘private speaking: talk between two or among a few people.’“

Transforming Conversation

Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey examine how conversation — the way we talk with each other — affects reluctance to change in How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: 7 Tools for Transformation. Get a sense of their efforts to identify the ways we sabotage ourselves in many situations and set up potential conflict with others through our conversations in this brief overview. Kegan and Lahey also provide seven “technologies” to positively and productively transform conversation — which, ultimately, facilitates change.

Crucial Conversation

Whether at home or at work, we’ve all had conversations that changed our lives. Kerry Patterson and his co-authors address such interactions in Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. (An updated second edition comes out in mid-September 2011.) If any of your discussions between two or more people happen in situations where “(1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong,” you’ll appreciate the straightforward, helpful approach Patterson takes to these sensitive contacts.

Powerful Conversation

Leadership demands excellent communication skills, including those used in conversation. Phil Harkins’ practical book, Powerful Conversations: How High Impact Leaders Communicate, offers stories, diagrams, tools, and other resources to help you put the skills you learn into practice quickly. Dive into the book to improve your leadership and communication skills by learning to create your own powerful conversations.

The Final Word

Whether you’re talking one-on-one or leading thousands, your conversations need to help you communicate better, encourage effective action, and produce the results you want. These resources can get you started or support your continued travel on that path.

©2011-2013 Jill J. Jensen | Clarity from Chaos

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