I received this comment on a post I did about listening:
"Hi, I am a student of Business Administration, and recently, we have been taking courses on effective communication. There seems to be so much emphasis put on listening, but what about talking? Shouldn’t speaking also be regarded as a major part of communication? Which is more difficult and why? Thanks"
I knew I had written about how to create great dialogue and thought I would just quickly point the commentor to the post in response to her inquiry. I looked and looked and could not find it. I guess I did not post it!
Well, we need to fix that.
YES – Talk is critical. Talk is the lifeblood of management. It is our vehicle for progress. Here are six elements of great dialogue.
Relevance: The topic of discussion is one that people care about and that makes a difference to their lives. If people are not engaged, then maybe the topic is not relevant enough or you are not approaching in a way that is appealing or interesting. Key point: while attendance is mandatory, listening and engagement is optional! While you might need to bring up topics that others would prefer to avoid, if you ask the right provocative or evocative questions, you should be able to grab their interest.
Inquiry: Questions are being asked that move the topic forward. Questions are both provocative and evocative. Inquiry is at the core of dialogue. Asking questions is a great way to jumpstart inquiry. There are several types of questions and they are not all treated equally. To create effective inquiry, you need to look deeper than whether the question is open or closed-ended. Both types can be poor or excellent questions, although open-ended tend to involve people more. As a coach/manager/facilitator, you want to make sure that your questions are either provocative or evocative.
- Provocative questions: Excite and stimulate conversation. "What would happen if…?"
- Evocative questions: Pull in participants and help brings things to mind. "What kind of work makes you feel most engaged and satisfied?"
Freedom: Participants feel free to share their ideas and thoughts, even those on the fringe. The effectiveness of your meetings can be crippled if attendees do not feel comfortable being open and candid. In a small group situation, you will want to establish good conversation habits and encourage participation. You may need to be the one to bring up a sensitive topic first to help break the ice for the rest of the group. Ensure that you diplomatically deal with over participators or comments that squash the group´s creativity and engagement.
Connectedness: There is a sense of shared purpose or interest. The participants feel connected to one another. Managers walk a fine line between being directly involved and delegation and partnership. In all these situations, you can be very connected in that you take ownership of enabling effectiveness. Show an interest in progress and participate directly as appropriate to the situation.