Have you ever thought about what is the one thing we do most of the time, every day of our lives? We have conversations, either with ourselves or with others.

Let’s take a look at your workplace: Do you use the phone? Do you go to meetings? Do you delegate work? Do you negotiate with clients, allies, bosses and collaborators? Do you write and read e-mails and reports? Do you brainstorm with others? All these activities are different kinds of conversations in which you and others want to produce certain outcomes.

Conversations are not only descriptions of what people can see around them. Conversations produce outcomes in terms of business results and peoples’ emotions. If you are negotiating a sale with a potential client and you listen to him saying, “Yes, we will go for it”, you will probably feel an emotion of joy. After the sale you and others will hold many other conversations inside your company in order to produce and deliver what you sold. The final outcome of your sales conversation will be expressed in the money that your company will receive from the customer and his expression of satisfaction with the quality of the content and the opportunity of the delivery.

Keep in mind that one single successful sales conversation generates many other types of conversation. What if there were misunderstandings in one or more of those conversations? In other words, what if there were bad conversations held and not everyone understood the same in terms of what had to be done, who was responsible for doing what, and when? Most probably this miscommunication will have a negative effect on production and delivery time, and also on useless tracking time, complaints and mutual accusations. Moreover, the company’s reputation might be damaged and the overall climate might be harmed.

Having the right conversation with the right people at the right time is a key element of productivity and time management. Just as you need to learn the physical principles and the dynamics of electricity in order to work as an electric engineer, you need to learn how to converse in order to be effective and efficient, whatever the position you hold in the organization.

In a conversation there is always someone who speaks and someone who listens. Many people consider that speaking is more important than listening. Nevertheless, here comes the secret: the most important thing we do in a conversation is listening and not speaking. Actually, what do we speak for? We speak in order to be listened to. We would not speak if we did not expect someone to listen.

Listening validates speaking. That is why it has become one of the key skills of leadership. A leader who is a keen listener will be able to anticipate breakdowns, to sense emotions, to enhance talents and to help align the purposes of the company with the expectations of its employees, optimizing the use of time and increasing its productivity, while creating an environment of well-being in the workplace.

A very important difference between listening and speaking is that listening happens. You do not decide to do it. Nevertheless there are ways in which you can become a good and active listener:
1. Do not take for granted that the person to whom you are speaking will effectively listen to what you are saying. What is said will be heard by her ears, but the listening includes perceptions and interpretations which can be different between the speaker and the listener.
2. When you give an instruction always check what the person listened to.
3. Pay full attention while listening.
4. When what you listen is not clear for you, ask until there is no doubt for you, especially if you are going to make a promise regarding what you listened.

In contrast to listening, you decide what you will say. There are six different speech actions, involving different responsibilities for each of them.

Conversations matter. Human language is unique and allows us to create, to learn and to innovate.

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