Whether you’re trying to motivate a team, negotiate a contract, or make a sale, the conversations you have will either help you succeed or undermine your goals. Communication expert and leadership coach Shawn Kent Hayashi has spent more than 20 years studying how the things people say impact their business and professional lives. In her new book, Conversations for Change: 12 Ways to Say It Right When It Matters Most, she not only identifies the 12 most important types of conversations people have, but shows readers how to reach their maximum potential by using conversations effectively.
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Foundations for Every Conversation:
In order to communicate well, you must first master three fundamentals, says Hayashi.
1.) Building emotional intelligence. “When you are aware of what you are feeling, you can begin to speak about it in a way that builds rapport,” explains Hayashi. Emotional intelligence is not only for understanding yourself, but for recognizing your emotional wake — the affect your words have on people. For example, at the end of a meeting, are team members angry because they think they haven’t been heard, or do they feel excited about what they’re doing?
2.) Understanding workplace motivators. Figuring out what motivates you, and what motivates others, will help you build connections. Whether you’re trying to land a sale or gain permissions for a flextime arrangement, recognizing what drives those you’re seeking to convince will increase your chance for success. Hayashi discusses the six basic motivators, or values, that show up in the workplace, and how to identify them in yourself and your colleagues.
3.) Recognizing and adapting to communication styles. Communication styles differ in many ways. Your client may prefer to make decisions during a conversation, while someone else may like to mull things over. Some people think aloud. Others prefer to think things through alone. Hayashi has identified four distinct communication styles, and says that by recognizing your own style and the styles of others, you can learn to adapt how you deliver information. Readers Conversations for Change can take a free, self-assessment at www.whentheconversationchanges.com to identify their personal communication style.
Using the 12 Conversations:
With these fundamentals in place, it becomes possible to tackle the 12 conversations. In her book, Hayashi details each one, explaining when to use them and how to develop them, offering specific phrases to start each dialogue and warning against common mistakes. Some people, she points out, will be naturally better at certain conversations than others. Hayashi’s concrete advice, practical tips, and dozens of examples of “conversations done right” will make it possible to become good at all of them.
Two Conversation Examples:
1.) Conversations for connection. If you’re attending a conference, meeting new people, or working with a new client, a conversation for connection is in order. Hayashi advises asking open-ended questions and then really listening. “The biggest mistake professionals make in the workplace with regard to conversations for connection is that they either do not have them at all or they rush through them,” she writes. Without these conversations, you lose out on the chance for an expanded network and new windowws for opportunity.
2.) Conversations for conflict resolution. When there’s a chronic tension, anger, or resentment, it’s time for a conversation for conflict resolution. “When people are afraid of conflict and do not know who to handle differences of opinion, innovation does not occur,” writes Hayashi. The key is to address conflict by creating a healthy discussion of differences in needs and wants, which will lead to engaged, solution-focused, collective thinking. A good way to get started is to invite the other person to share his or her perspective, and explore areas of agreement as well as disagreement.
About the Author: Shawn Kent Hayashi is the founder of the Professional Development Group and author of five business communication books. Using an assessment-based approach, her company helps people improve their emotional intelligence, communication skills, build stronger relationships and teams, and make more effective presentations. She also helps clients apply the assessment methodology in their own organizations. Clients include Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies, universities, and entrepreneurial organizations. An emotional intelligence certified coach, Hayashi earned an M.S. in organizations dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania and holds many certifications in assessment analysis. She also serves on the boards of several professional organizations.