Conversational capacity® — getting to the sweet spot of effective communication
Conversational capacity® — getting to the sweet spot of effective communication
The more challenging the situation, the greater the need to communicate clearly and effectively
As our world grows more complex and unpredictable, the ability to work together effectively while under pressure is a pivotal competency.
Most communication weaknesses and failures in our organizations and teams can be linked to individuals lacking the skills to engage in open dialogue about difficult subjects.
One solution is increasing your organization's conversational capacity. In his book, Conversational Capacity: The Secret to Building Successful Teams That Perfom When the Pressure Is On, best-selling business author Craig Weber describes conversational capacity® as the ability of an individual or a team to remain both candid and curious under pressure.
So how do we build our conversational capacity® and that of our teams and organizations?
The process involves three areas of practice:
First, we must increase our personal and situational awareness so we’re able to recognize the powerful defensive emotional reactions that so easily throw us and others off balance. This heightened awareness allows us to respond to challenging situations and conversations in a more intentional and disciplined way.
Second, we must cultivate a mindset that allows us to stay focused and grounded in tough circumstances that would distract and disorient people or teams that have less discipline.
Third, we must make the mindset active by learning two skills that build candor and two skills that build curiosity.
The candor skills:
State your position
  • State where you currently stand on the issue
  • Be direct and to the point
  • Use one or two sentences
Explain your thinking
  • Show others how you arrived at your position
  • Share the evidence you’re using and how you’re interpreting that evidence
The curiosity skills:
Test your own view
  • Treat your perspective like a hypothesis
  • Open the door to contrasting perspectives
  • Encourage disagreement
Inquire into the views of others
  • Invite others to share their perspectives in the conversation
  • Be genuinely curious
  • Ask more than one question. Because inquiry is a process, asking multiple questions is often necessary to understand another person’s views
The balanced use of these four skills holds us in the sweet spot even when we’re dealing with tough, divisive, high-pressure issues and situations. In situations where our tendency is to water down, shrink away, cover up, or feign agreement, the candor skills allow us to remain open and engaged. In situations where our tendency is to argue, push our agenda, stop listening, or dismiss the views of others, the competent use of curiosity skills helps us remain learning-focused.
Conversational capacity is a game-changing competency that improves the performance of individuals, teams, and entire organizations.