Agenda-driven conversations feel safe. It’s those spontaneous conversations that kick some leaders in the pants.
It might feel easier to avoid interactions, but your team is better served when you engage.
Personal conversations – that don’t have an agenda – lower stress, strengthen connection, and increase energy.
How to succeed with personal conversations:
#1. Reject formality:
Authenticity empowers communication.
- Make the “company line” personal. “I think” is better during personal conversations than “we think.”
- Tell a story about yourself. “I remember when….” Or, “I had a boss that….” (Don’t hog the floor.)
- Share personal concerns or frustrations with humor. “I’ve spent so much time on webcam that I feel like a movie star. Would you like my autograph?”
- Admit frailty. “I woke up in the middle of the night wondering how to face today’s challenges.” (Add something positive.)
#2. Plan spontaneity:
Planned spontaneity beats dirt-kicking.
Leaders avoid personal conversations because people bring up uncomfortable issues. Plan to say …
- “Wow, that’s an important issue. That’s on my to-do list.”
- “Great suggestion. I’m going to need some time to think about that.”
Ask questions when you aren’t sure what to say. (I agree with those who think curiosity is the #1 quality of the leader of the future.)
- “Thanks for bringing that up. What are your thoughts?”
- “This issue impacts lots of people. I can’t shoot from the hip. What are your thoughts?”
Questions express interest and provide think-time.
#3. Practice vulnerability:
Discomfort gets defensive and says dumb things. “I’ve got so much going on that I can’t deal with that right now!”
Fear rejects vulnerability and forgets to speak with heart.
- “Your concern is important to me.”
- “You are important to our team.”
- “I wish I had an easy answer.”
The difference between transparency and vulnerability is discomfort.
What phrases should leaders avoid during personal conversations?
How might no-nonsense leaders have personal conversations?
Why Curiosity is the Greatest Leadership Trait of All (Success)
Deep, Meaningful Conversations Always have these 8 Things (Inc)