But talking is much more than making conversation.
Think of your workplace and count the astounding number of conversations, debates, disagreement, negotiations, and feedback discussions that take place daily, monthly, or yearly. Each conversation offers a leader opportunity to lead.
Are all your leaders taking full advantage of every opportunity? What about difficult conversations? Do they fear conflict, when it can actually have positive outcomes?
The statistics are compelling! According to the CCP study, in the U.S., 81% of workers report having seen positive outcomes from workplace conflict. 41% said they had emerged from conflict with a better understanding of others.
- 33% report improved working relationships.
- 29% found better solutions to problems.
- 9% even saw a major innovation.
- 21% saw higher performance in their team.
In a series of posts on my 4 Ups! model (Bring it Up! Talk it Up! Wrap it Up! and Follow it Up!) I dive deeper into each.
Now, Talk it Up!
Once we open up a conversation, we are responsible to manage dialogue flow effectively. What gets in your managers’ way? They can easily get tripped up when they Talk it Up! for a variety of reasons. The other person may actively discount elements of what is being discussed, emotions may run out of hand, too many topics may be introduced leaving them talking about things outside of the original objectives, and so on.
It doesn’t take much for a conversation to go array — a confusing comment from a boss, a strange glance from a colleague, a little smirk, some uncertainty. When a conversation doesn’t go well, what do most leaders tend to do?
Adapting the work of Karen Horney helps explain how one’s fear response gets activated by even the slightest threat, psychologically and physiologically, and leads to four reactions. I call them the 4 Approaches in conversation.
- Avoid Moving away, i.e., managing by avoiding others, situations, or specific topics.
- Attack Moving against, i.e., managing by dismissing, defending or attacking others or their information.
- Appease Moving aside, i.e., managing by giving in to the demands and requests from others in order to maintain relationships and minimize the threat of criticism.
- Attract Moving together (the preferred way to effectiveness), i.e., managing by agreeing a clear objective, actively participating in two-way conversation, great listening, recognition of differences, inclusion of points of views, and all parties working towards resolution.
How do these 4 Approaches affect us physiologically? Each causes the production of hormones such as adrenalin — a take-flight hormone, testosterone — a fight hormone, cortisol — a threat hormone, and oxytocin — a feel-good hormone.
Talking it up effectively means managing a host of skills and the mind-body connection.
Each of the 4 Ups requires a separate and distinct skill to facilitate REAL dialogue.