Enabling conversations

“It isn’t the changes that do you in; it’s the transitions”           William Bridges

Enabling conversations help us adapt to constant change. Whether that change is organisational, technological or social, having to step out of our comfort can put a strain on us. It may sometimes feel that we have only just got to grips with one change than things have changed again.  We are creatures of habit, and having to step out of our comfort zone to alter the way we do things can cause anxiety. Learning new patterns of behaviour or routines takes time and energy. And so we seem to resist….

Much has been written about how to spot resistance and strategies for handling it. Yet according to William Bridges, it is not the change itself that is the problem. We need time to adjust, a process of transition, which is a psychological process of internalizing and adapting to change.

Enabling conversations help people through transition

Dialogue and communication are the basis of all human relationships and interactions.  They help us plot our pathway through life. Some conversations are just talk, but what makes a conversation productive comes from understanding what we want and making some progress towards it.  We influence others by how we communicate with them and the language we use can change minds, enabling them to move from a mindset that gives rise to resistance to one of acceptance and involvement.

When we have something on our minds, or want to get something off our chest, having someone alongside, someone we trust and in whom we can confide helps. Moreover, what makes the outcomes of the conversation particularly productive is the skill, motivation and credibility that person provides. There are also techniques and approaches that have greater impact when helping resolve a person’s thinking and feeling around the issues involved in change.

Communication, according to John Dewey, is the central process of learning. It is the means by which we negotiate, understand one another’s experiences, and establish shared meaning. He wrote:

“To be a recipient of a communication is to have an enlarged and changed experience. One shares in what another has thought and felt and in so far, meagrely or amply, has his own attitude modified. Nor is the one who communicates left unaffected. … one has to assimilate, imaginatively, something of another’s experience in order to tell him intelligently of one’s own experience. …”

Sometimes listening is all that is required. The process of talking out a difficult situation improves our own understanding of it and any action we need to take may become immediately apparent.

Probing questions are also effective at peeling away whatever is clouding our thinking, attitude or judgement. The act of being asked a question, as Dewey outlines, changes our experience as it forces us to process it. It requires us to organise our thoughts, consider different perspectives, formulate opinions, and decide what we want.

Change talk

When we say what is important to us in any situation and what we want from it, we reveal our inner thoughts and motivations. This is most useful when we face difficult decisions requiring action – such as moving house, or starting a new role or changing career.

The more we hear ourselves talk about the change we want, the more likely it is we will act on it to bring it about. This is the outcome of a productive conversation. Having someone who is skilled enough at listening to be able to pick up quickly and feed back to us any language we use­­ that favours movement in the direction of the ­­change really helps.

Holding regular, purposeful and focused conversations helps people to take more control and responsibility for how they respond to their situations, so they are better able to manage the challenges they face.  Such conversations enable us to learn for ourselves, to develop our capability to identify resources and solutions to resolve our own problems, and therefore, become more resilient in the face of emerging challenges.

At Core Communications we can teach you how to hold more productive conversations.

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