Peter Drucker termed the “activity trap”: stressing output is the key to increasing productivity while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite. On an assembly line, it’s easy enough to distinguish the output from activity. It gets trickier when employees are paid to think. Grove wrestled with two riddles: How can we define and measure output by knowledge workers? And what can be done to increase it?
The two riskiest times in crucial conversations tend to be at the beginning and at the end. The beginning is risky because you have to find a way to create safety or else things go awry. The end is dicey because if you aren’t careful about how you clarify the conclusion and decisions, you can run into violated expectations later on.
While is true that you can’t force others to dialogue, you can take steps to make it safer for them to do so. After all, that’s why they’ve sought the security of silence or violence in the first place. They’re afraid that dialogue will make them vulnerable. Somehow they believe that if they engage in real conversation with you, bad things will happen to them.
When it comes to sharing touchy information, the worst alternate between bluntly dumping their ideas into the pool of meaning and saying nothing at all. Either they start with, “You’re not going to like this, but, hey, somebody has to be honest…”(a classic Fool’s Choice), or they simply stay mum. Those who are good at dialogue say some of what’s on their minds, but they understate their views out of fear of hurting others. They talk all right, but they carefully sugarcoat their message. The best at dialogue speak their minds completely and do it in a way that makes it safe for others to hear what they have to say and respond to it as well. They are both totally frank and completely respectful.
Let’s define 2 terms, related to Crucial Conversations: * Content – the topic of the conversation / under discussion / message * Conditions – what people are doing in response (how people are feeling and acting, what tone they were taking)
In this new series of articles about how to manage crucial conversations we will continue to deep dive in learning tools for talking when stakes are high. In the previous article we defined what a crucial conversation is, and the current one we will address the power of dialogue.