How many unproductive conversations do you hear people having on a daily basis? How many of those do you get involved in? What do you see going on that makes them unproductive?
I’m talking about situations where the parties involved in a dialogue actually do want the conversation to be effective, and the outcome to be productive. This is, after all, the primary way in which business, commerce, negotiation, consultation and relationships work.
So why do so many conversations not work successfully? Well, as you might expect, it is down to the way our brains work. When people raise issues, concerns or simply want to share a point of view with another person, they typically display a set of predictable behaviours which show up in a number of ways. The underlying motivations driving these behaviours can be summarised as:-
A need to maximise one’s own comfort / while minimising the other person’s discomfort
A desire to win / and not lose (i.e. to get your way)
A need to maintain control
These needs ‘leak out’ into conversations in a variety of ways, but, most typically as:-
Leading Questions (designed to lead other people to get to the conclusions you have already arrived at)
Piling (loading points and/or questions on top of one another to emphasise your argument)
Over-advocacy (over-zealous control of the arguments without providing space for discussion)
When these strategies are being deployed by people, what is actually going on in their brains? Continue reading →
People in our workforces are under serious strain. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. Our businesses and government departments are responding to the austerity drives by trimming more and more from their budgets, which inevitably means fewer people are left to do the work. Meanwhile the demands are increasing. With everyone in the economy tightening their belts, company profits are falling, which means that a smaller and smaller workforce is being challenged to work smarter, harder, more innovatively and to ‘keep their chins up and stay engaged’.
In the midst of this, what are our leaders getting up to? Well, from what I can glean, I see leaders who feel a great deal of responsibility for this state of affairs, and who are responding by working themselves harder and more intensely than ever.
The irony is, that at this time, perhaps more than ever before, our leaders need to be making themselves much less ‘busy’, and focusing more than they ever have done on nurturing their workforce.So, what can we be asking our leaders to be thinking about right now that will help them to do just that? Continue reading →