Constructive Communication in Challenging Times

Constructive Communication in Challenging Times

  • 05 August 2021
  • By Our Subject Matter Experts
Conversational capacity

As the world shifts from normal office to virtual work set-ups, leaders require a set of skills to succeed in the new hybrid model. Learning about new skills is not enough. Retaining and mastering them is the key to successfully operate in the new era.

Out of all the crucial skills you require, mastering the art of constructive communication is the most important of them all. But, you cannot become a pro communicator in just one go. You need training and practical application of the same to become better.

Dealing with Issues Through Conversational Capacity

Conversational capacity is defined as the ability to hold a dialogue that is a clear and balanced defensive conversation about difficult matters and in challenging situations. Craig defines it as  “The ability to engage in open, balanced, non-defensive dialogue about difficult subjects and in challenging circumstances.”

Everything we know has suffered from COVID-19 and one biggest impacts have been on businesses. The industry has been through a lot which has resulted in divisive issues in the organization and has led to an increase in stress.

A team that has high conversational capacity can handle these challenges issues better compared to teams that have low conversational capacity.

Find Soft Spots

Discussions that involve decision-making should happen in the “soft spot”. According to Craig, it should involve two main conversational skills: “candor and curiosity.”

Candor is, to be honest, polite, open, and frank about the things you want to convey. However, Craig also suggests that being too candor can go down the line as, “The mind shuts, and the mouth opens,” he mentions. “Too much candor can make you arrogant and argumentative. That’s when you get conversations that spark more heat than light.”

Apart from that, the term curiosity, when leveraged in moderation can be a good thing. But, the team might skip some really good ideas if people dig into too much from the discussion. That is why it is important for you and your team to practice candor and curiosity in a balanced way. For this Craig adds “You may have a lot of smart people on the team but without conversational capacity, you can’t harness and use those smarts,”

Balance Conversations to Stay in The Soft Spot

Leveraging curiosity and condor in the right mix to stay in the sweet spot is to become aware of any emotions that are involved in the conversation. There are some trigger points that affect us in a negative way. The trick here is to understand those trigger points and consciously balance responses and intercept your emotional attitude when someone is saying something triggering. These triggering dialogs often leave us feeling one of two things:

Minimize: leaving the dialog in the middle to avoid conflict which leads to further confusion.

Win: It happens when you’ve become too attached to the position you hold in a conversation or in general. Stating your personal opinions as factual information, just hearing and not listening carefully, neglecting others’ viewpoints, and more.

So, how do you tackle these in important conversations and minimize them? Work on these skills in order to work on your capacity for candor:

1- State where you stand: If you don’t have a clear picture of what your answers are, just say “I don’t know the answer, but I’m open to hearing more.”

2- Express your opinions: Explain how you derived that conclusion. State the evidence and data which helped you reach your conclusion.

Start considering your team member as your companion rather than your opponent. As the opponent is nobody but your own ego. Craig puts it as: “If we want to stay in the conversational sweet spot, focused on learning, we have to take our ego to the mat.”