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How to conduct effective conversations at work

You don’t need to be an expert conversationalist or self-confident influencer to have effective conversations at work. In fact, it probably helps if you are none of these!
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Key conversations in the workplace on topics such as career aspirations, unhelpful behaviour, showing appreciation and agreeing on your mutual expectations need to be approached with the right intentions and beliefs in order to receive the most out of them.

For this reason, I will take you through five mindsets that need to be present in order to succeed in holding tricky conversations.

(1) Will

How well do you really want to get to know the members of your team? It is important to think about the basics such as how long they have been in the role, what they did before joining the company and what their passions and interests are outside of work.

If you don’t know the answers to some of these questions, do you really want to find out? If so, then it’s not too late. If you have the will to start building deeper and more trusting relationships, there is always time.

(3) Courage

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that holding potentially tricky conversations at work takes courage from both sides – and this is perhaps the biggest underlying reason why they don’t happen often enough. The more you have these discussions, you will gradually feel less fearful and they will be less of a risk. Equally, if you are not used to deeply questioning and listening to others, nor being open about yourself, they do seem like a risk.

(3) Stewardship

How strong is your sense of stewardship? It is important that leaders want to staff thrive, succeed and flourish at work. It should also be important that team members feel as though they are learning and developing, whilst being stretched. A leader with a strong sense of stewardship will receive satisfaction and fulfilment when they help progress someone’s career.

(4) Curiosity

Ahead of holding important conversations at work, leaders need to have the right levels of curiosity in order to get the most out of them. They should take an interest in the hopes, dreams and fears of members of the team and other colleagues for whom they work. Leaders need to have a deep understanding of the aspirations and drivers of the people around them.

(5) Mindfulness

A final element of preparation is captured by the idea of mindfulness. In the context of holding conversations at work, this involves taking a few minutes to achieve a state of calmness and relaxation in which you focus clearly on the needs of the other person and listen attentively with your full attention.

Holding conversations at work might seem like a simple and straight forward task, but more often than not people avoid key conversations in fear of what might happen. Instead, leaders should take control so as to achieve the most in the conversation.

The above points are as equally as important as the rest, and gradually conversations about expectations, career growth and challenging behaviour will build into what you do, why you do it and who you are.

Nigel Purse is founder of The Oxford Group

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