Authentic Conversations at Work: What, Why, How
March 14, 2013 8 Comments
What would happen if people had more authentic conversations at work? It’s a concept I will be exploring in greater depth in future posts. I’d love to hear your ideas and your challenges regarding authentic conversations. Here are my initial thoughts . . .
What are “Authentic Conversations”? Authentic conversations are conversations based on truth, understanding and respect, communicated in a genuine, “real” manner, with no pretense, posturing or politics.
Why are “Authentic Conversations” important? If people feel respected and that others want to understand them without judgment, they are more likely to open up and share the truth. Better decisions are made when the truth is known. Authentic conversations are an integral part of employee engagement as well (engaged employees have higher productivity and lower turn-over). Authentic conversations will foster commitment not merely compliance.
What problems do “Authentic Conversations” solve?
- Turn dysfunctional teams/relationships into successful teams/relationships
- Employee engagement: reduce turnover, increase productivity
- Reduce loss of time and money (and possibly lives) wasted on decisions made with incomplete or untrue information.
6 Steps to “Authentic Conversations”
1. Know what you want, or at least what you think you want. It’s a starting point.
2. Address fundamentally important issues. Don’t side step the big stuff.
3. Commit to maintaining a respectful, caring, adult to adult, engaged connection in which you see your conversation partner as an ally not an adversary. It’s not “you vs. me.” It’s “we vs. the problem.”
4. Listen for understanding and not to judge (“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”). Use reflective listening (rephrasing, repeating, summarizing, asking clarifying questions). “Help me understand.”
5. Acknowledge feelings (yours and theirs). Empathize. But, try not to take things too personally.
6. Tell and seek the truth with positive intent. Be honest and transparent, without deception or manipulation. Honestly state your views (the truth as you know it) and the facts that support them. Tell the whole story, not holding back information on relevant issues. Acknowledge reality. Examine assumptions and biases which cloud the truth.
So, tell me the truth, what do you think about authentic conversations at work?