The sum of our conversations leads directly to our quality of life. Before you stop reading because of this bold statement consider doing a postmortem on conversations in any area of your life. You will see that nothing happens without conversations and it is the quality of our conversations that create our current reality.
Our culture is in a crisis of communication because we have forsaken the art and skill of meaningful conversation. We have all witnessed and experienced the effects of ugly conversations. These communication breakdowns can destroy relationships, create hostility, ruin reputations, and tear the fabric of trust.
Conversations can also be a powerful force for good where people partner to co-create a shared reality. These healthy communications build trust, demonstrate respect for others, engender well-being, and build dependable relationships. The results are healthy families, dynamic workplaces, empowering friendships, and effective governments.
We can learn to improve our conversations and enjoy the fruit of empowering relationships. The starting point in this endeavor is understanding the blind spots common to communication breakdowns.
“To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of relationships, which depends on the quality of conversations. Everything happens through conversations.”
Judith E. Glaser
Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence, shares five common blind spots we all encounter.
Blind Spot 1: This blind spot involves an assumption that others see what we see, feel what we feel, and think what we think.
Blind Spot 2: The failure to realize that fear, trust, and distrust change how we see and interpret reality, and therefore how we talk about it.
Blind Spot 3: An inability to stand in each other’s shoes when we are fearful or upset.
Blind Spot 4: The assumption that we remember what others say when we actually remember what we think about what others say.
Blind Spot 5: The assumption that meaning resides in the speaker, when in fact it resides in the listener.
Here are Judith’s recommendations to eliminate our conversational blind spots:
- Paying attention to and minimizing the time you “own” the conversational space.
- Sharing that space by asking open-ended discovery questions, to which you don’t know the answers, so you stay curious (i.e., What influenced your thinking?)
- Listening to connect not judge or reject.
- Double-clicking on what others say to facilitate sharing and discovering and opening the space for deeper connection and relationship building.
- Think of the last time you felt listened to, interested in and understood by others. You felt valued, respected, and oddly you also wanted to give back the same attention to the other person.
Now imagine that happening every day in more and more of your people encounters. That’s what a happy, meaningful life looks like.
Take away: Better conversations can change the reality of difficult situations. Try using these ideas and see for yourself.
Coaching Tip: If you are not happy with a certain situation, change the reality by changing the conversations you are having.