One of my core beliefs is that one of the biggest problems in many companies today is conversational debt. This creates employee compliance instead of engagement and frustration instead of satisfaction.
There are many reasons why conversational debt happens. We may fear the potential consequences of discussions and lack the courage to have them. Also, we may lack the emotional intelligence or the empathy to have them. Moreover, we may not even realize what the real conversation that needs to happen is.
Conversational debt is a lot like any other form of debt. The longer you wait to pay it off, the more frustration there is and the harder it is to make things right. So the trick is to keep it as low as possible.
Here are some of the ways you can reduce conversational debt in your life:
- Raise your personal awareness of missing conversations. In your life, take the time to listen to what people are saying to one another. What do you feel is being said? What remains unsaid? How can you help people speak the unsaid?
- Remember there is a distinction between speaking your truth and imposing your truth. People chuckle at this one but think about it for a moment. You can speak your truth in a way that is mindful and respectful of the person you are speaking with.
- Be open to hearing different perspectives. Although you may be speaking your truth, remember it is only your perspective. The other person may have their own vision of what you are talking about. Listen to understand better, do not listen to argue or convince the other person you are right.
- Be fair and minimize judgments and assumptions. Speak about what you can observe, how you feel about the topic, the needs you may have. Be mindful of the assumptions and the judgments that you carry in the conversation.
- Make yourself vulnerable. When trying to have a conversation that is difficult for you, be vulnerable and let the other person know. You can say something like: “I need to have this conversation with you but it’s hard for me, and I may be awkward about it. Can you give me a break and help me out here?”
- A difficult conversation is still just another conversation. Remember that conversations will be as hard as we decide to make them.
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