Conversational capacity refers to the ability – of an individual or a team – to have open, balanced, learning-focused dialogue about tough issues and in challenging circumstances. A vital competence, it’s crucial that we understand how we can build it.
Here is a list of the top 10 behaviors that strengthen conversation capacity:
- Hold your views and perspectives like hypotheses rather than truths
- Put forward a clear position and explain the thinking behind it so that others can see, explore, and evaluate how you’re making sense of an issue
- Test your perspective by asking people who see things differently to share how they see the issue differently
- Inquire into the thinking of others – in a genuinely curious way – especially when their views differ from your own
- Inquire into the ideas of others – with an authentic focus on learning – when they are not sharing their views. What are they thinking? How are they seeing the issue?
- Earnestly strive to balance candor with curiosity under pressure
- Be courageous about bringing up the issues that need to be addressed, but temper your courage with humility
- Temper your passion for tackling tough issues with compassion for how difficult it may be for you and for others to do so.
- Lean into difference with the intent to learn (there’s nothing very interesting about agreement)
- Do everything possible to encourage others to do all of the above
Encouraging team communication by sharing their insights and constructive criticism, you show that you truly value the input and feedback of others – both in theory and in practice. That kind of humility and patience goes a long way towards fostering a supportive and fruitful team environment in which even the most difficult obstacles can be faced with optimism and a willingness to learn from them. That way, even the challenges you encounter can become opportunities for you all to become better together.