3 Components of a Quality Conversation
People having a conversation

Every interaction is an opportunity to build stronger relationships with another person. 

There is a three-step process to creating quality conversations, and this process can add confidence to any situation.

1. Clarify and Listen

When someone approaches you for a conversation, they most likely want to talk. They could be upset, have an idea, make a request, want to gossip, have an issue, etc. The best thing to do is to clarify their intent by asking a question that allows them to vent and dig deeper. 

During this step remember to use TIDES:

  • Tell me more…
  • In what way…
  • Describe for me…
  • Explain…
  • Say more…

This allows the person to share more with you and gives you time to process and understand the situation further versus jumping right in and trying to fix or share your thoughts.

2. Restate and Cushion

Restating takes practice because it is key to NOT parrot back or repeat exactly what they said. It is important to restate everything you captured in your own words. Remember, this is not fixing anything, this is making sure you understand. In other words, you are earning the right to move forward with the conversation in case you need to offer advice. 

Cushioning is key to letting them know that you really listened to what they said. It is important to bring in an emotion that they appear to be experiencing. Below are some examples of a cushion at the beginning of your restate.

  • I can tell you are frustrated with this situation, and what I’m understanding is…
  • This seems very overwhelming for you and I can see why you have…
  • I can see why this upsets you and it sounds like…
  • You are always very thoughtful and looking out for others, so let me make sure I understand…

One last tip at the end of your Restate and Cushion is to “check in” with them to make sure you are correct in what you restated. Here are some examples.

  • Did I get that right?
  • Am I correct in saying that?

This allows them the opportunity to correct you without them feeling rude or insincere by you listening to them. If they say NO, head back to step one and Clarify and Listen: “Ok, I really want to understand, so tell me what I’m missing.”

3. Anything Else?

This step is pretty self-explanatory; however, it is often skipped for many reasons. I’m a big believer that the more work and time you spend upfront in this conversation, the less you will have to overcome later. So, take the time for this step and simply ask, “In addition to what we’ve talked about, is there anything else going on?” You will be surprised that if something else is brought up, it is typically the underlying root of everything they have discussed. That’s why this step is so important to creating a quality conversation. 

This process could continue like a cycle several times in one conversation. Just remember, the goal is taking a genuine interest in what they are talking to you about. Focus on the 70/30 rule. Allow them to hold the microphone 70% of the time, while you control and navigate the conversation by holding the microphone 30% of the time. This process takes practice and there’s freedom within this framework to be YOU.

 

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