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September 21, 2016

Conversations by Dave LaRue

As a coach, and as a leader in my businesses, I love to share my learning and help others get the most out of the power of conversation. But why is it that conversation is so powerful? 

It’s all about the transformations that are necessary to turn our internal thoughts, feelings, and impulses into language that makes sense to other people. To help others relate to what we’re sharing, we must ground our inner monologue in outside reality, and frame it in ways that make some kind of objective sense. The demands of conversation, the forms we must wrestle our minds into in order to communicate are the secret behind the power of conversation. Like a purifying flame, the process of bringing your inner life to the surface removes the nonessential. 

Have you ever felt relief when, after being at a loss for clarity, you found a way to explain yourself? Everything becomes practical again when you know what you’re trying to say, doesn’t it? A real part of your life? Indeed, conversations are where thoughts take one step closer to becoming plans and actions. This is what I mean when I tell my teams and clients that, “Great actions come from great thoughts, and great thoughts come from great conversations.” 

So I’m a long-standing believer and evangelist for the power of conversation. What’s interesting to me right now is considering how the setting of our conversations, the environment we connect to each other in, affects the conversations themselves. Looking at the effects of different contexts on our conversations reveals something to me about the deep human need for it. 

Have you ever had a conversation on an airplane with a stranger, where the anonymity and captive intimacy of the situation can take the conversation to mind-expanding places? Have you ever travelled for business and had the inconvenience and displacement of being outside your typical setting allow your office roles to “breathe” a bit, gaining a new appreciation for a colleague after conversing with those new boundaries? Why do so many deep conversations happen at night? This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. 

Of course, something new and exciting for me is having conversations on social media. I’ve recently ramped up my involvement in social media, and settled on the format for sharing video messages. Already I’m able to see how the ability to connect using these new technologies allows me to speak to many more people at once. But in the one-on-one follow up conversations, something interesting happens: I find that I ask more questions, and I ask them sooner. 

Because I’ve never met some of the people I speak with on social media, and because I don’t even have access to any cues from their physical presence or life context, I have to ask questions just to understand what they’re talking about. After all these years of having conversations–and talking about them–I am getting a golden opportunity to practice the fine art of listening to people and making no assumptions, two crucial skills in business and life that I love to use and constantly improve.

It’s great to have conversations with people from all across the world, and it’s a wonderful chance to remember how to bring more value to the conversations I have with others by asking the questions that help them get the most out of our interaction.

So remember the power of conversation and take a second to consider the ways our conversations differ depending on where (and on what device) we have them. Try having a conversation in a new place or situation. Open yourself up to it. The more you try it, the more you’ll see how conversations are the link between the inner and outer world, and the way to connect what you want from the world with how to get it.