Knowing When It’s Time For A Conversation

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Most leaders spend part of every day in conversation. Some conversations are built into the day, along with meetings, lunches, and phone calls. But at other times, we can choose to shut our office door and be silent, or to reach out and initiate a conversation. At these times, we may begin to think about the conversations we aren’t having. Perhaps we wonder whether we should talk to another person to address a concern we have, or perhaps we sense that someone else is having a problem, but we aren’t sure if it would be valuable to make time to talk with them.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re unsure about having a conversation. These questions can apply to conversations with our colleagues, and also with people we care about outside of work, such as family and friends:

  1. If I don’t have the conversation how will I feel?
  2. Is there something in particular I want from this conversation? Do I think I will I get it?
  3. Even if I don’t get that concrete result, is it important to my values to have the conversation? For instance, do I value authenticity, and feel that a discussion will bring me closer to an authentic connection with another person? Do I believe in being supportive, and know that having this conversation could be helpful to another?

If the answers to these questions point you toward having a conversation, you know what to do next. There is no substitute for a good conversation about the things that matter.

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