Posts

What Makes a Conversation Memorable and Meaningful?

Cafe Conversation 23178999SmallI recently put that basic question to several friends and professional colleagues: What in their experience characterizes a good conversation (that simple question generated some incredibly meaningful conversations all by itself).

Chris Hood, a senior director with CBRE, thought a moment and described it this way:

When you have a good conversation you know it. There is something almost magical about one idea building on another, or one link following another. The succession of ideas just flows.

I attended a workshop several years ago that was focused on improving conversations between managers and employees. The primary emphasis was on authenticity – where both parties were saying what they really mean, as opposed to just saying what they were supposed to say.

There are all sorts of personal skills involved too – empathy, interest in the other person, nonverbal behaviors, being engaged, being clear.

And then there is nature of the conversation itself. What is its purpose? What do you want to happen afterwards?”

A well-developed conversation is something that actually has to be thought about, and structured. It’s not just something that happens. It needs to be thought about in advance.

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Small Talk Isn’t Small

There’s nothing small about small talk.

conversations1In western economies it has almost become a cultural norm to spend the first five or ten minutes of a formal meeting engaging with the other participants in what we call “small talk.” You know, those pre-call-to-order conversations that seem to just happen as people arrive in the meeting room – conversations that begin with questions and comments like:

  •  “How was your weekend?’
  •  “What are your kids up to?
  •  “Man, it’s way too hot this summer!” (or, “Can you believe how cold it was last night!”)
  •  “How about those 49ers! Is Kaepernick a world-class quarterback or what? [well, I can dream]
  •  “Congratulations! I just heard about your daughter’s gymnastics victory last night.”
  •  “Hey, I just heard that Freddie in marketing got a big promotion because of that killer ad campaign he designed.”

Most of us think of those topics as trivial, and primarily a way to kill time until everyone arrives and the “real” meeting starts. And yes, they do help occupy people’s minds until the host calls the meeting to order. But they can also make or break the “real meeting” that follows.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the Key to the Future of Work

With a bow to Aretha Franklin, our focus this week is on the central role that Respect will play in the future of work.

I have emphasized the importance of Wellness and Wellbeing in the workplace over the last several newsletter issues, largely because my “Talking About Tomorrow” members have been actively exploring the topic in our recent monthly conference calls [links to those articles are here (Part One), and here (Part Two), and here (Part Three)].

Our conversation earlier this month brought that focus to a very personal level as we shared our own tips and techniques for coping with the emergence of what increasingly feels like a 24×7 work week.

We began the March conversation by visiting with Rebecca Scott of Sodexo, who compiled and edited Sodexo’s recent Workplace Trends 2014 report. Read more

People Matter!

Thanks to Sue Bingham of HPWP Consulting for this short video – a wonderful example of a company, Southeastern Mills, where culture and the engagement of the workforce have created an amazingly successful food products business.

I just received a note from Sue with this incredible story about Southeastern Mills:

…their annual turnover is less than 4% (310 employees), they pay for all reasonable and necessary absence with attendance metrics varying between 98.5%

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