14 July 2016
What’s happening when a conversation isn’t working? It’s very likely one or more of the people in the conversation are involved in a drama of their own making. They’re thinking - “Did I just say the right thing? I really hope I’m being impressive. I know so much more about this topic than they do. I want to leave now.”
There are many motivations. Wanting to impress, wanting to silence, wanting to run-away, wanting to be right – these create problems. The conversation hits a speed bump. Barriers go up. Interest wanes. The conversation becomes awkward and strained. It feels like you keep missing each other.
Sound familiar? These are your different motivations chatting away to you and each other. They play a profound role in the quality and outcome of our communication, but are often an unseen influence, trying to direct conversations from behind the scenes. It gets exhausting, and it derails conversations. Getting clear on your motivations and getting them to work together means problems get resolved, arguments progress into understanding, projects move forward with collaboration.
Wanting to really understand what the other person is saying, wanting to learn, wanting to inform, wanting to educate, being curious – these motivations create connections. By genuinely wanting to understand the other person, you must put aside your own prejudices and knee-jerk responses. This takes practice, but is hugely rewarding. By being engaged and open with the person or people in front of you, your view of the world is enriched. You participate in solving a problem, assist another to understand a situation more clearly, learn someting new. And you understand yourself better.
There’s some wonderful information around on how to have constructive and engaging conversations.