So how does one turn the tide from transaction to interaction? It's all about your level of participation in conversation. How are you listening? Are you an active participant? Or are you thinking about what to say next, or envisioning the other person with a big “L” for loser on his forehead, thinking, "How many times have we heard this before?" or "Here she goes again…"
Good managers and leaders understand conversations require participation. It's more than just the facts. They understand when they speak to colleagues, employees, customers or suppliers that they are conveying multiple messages:
- The content of the message: Is it clear and consistent with the organization's policies and practices?
- The delivery of the message: Is the delivery consistent with the organization's core values, such as respect, integrity or good communication?
- The quality of interaction: Are you really listening? Is it participative?
If you’re looking for improved employee engagement or increased customer retention, an easy and cost-effective place to start is by examining your conversations. Are you talking about things that are relevant and important to the other person?
Chatting about the weather or the latest sports scores is OK, but unless you’re a meteorologist or sports broadcaster or coach, you'll get more mileage with an interaction that’s focused on the person, his work or his purchase.
One Conversation at a Time
Authentic interaction is heartfelt but not sappy, and comes from a place of caring and wanting to be of service or making a difference. It's about leaving the other person feeling glad he had the interaction with you.
Even difficult conversations can be authentic, caring and leave a person feeling respected. How do you start? One conversation at a time. Start by really listening to the conversations you're having with people. Are you approaching it like a transaction or an opportunity for authentic interaction? Do you care enough about yourself, your organization and the people with whom you converse to choose to have authentic interactions?
If not, just know you may be missing out on opportunities to make a difference in someone else's life or closed to the possibility that someone might make a difference in yours. It's just a choice, and you can choose to change it with your next conversation.
Marty Stanley, president of Dynamic Dialog Inc., is an author, national speaker and facilitator who helps organizations create their new normal. For more information, call 816.822.4047; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.alteringoutcomes.com.