Magazine article Business Credit

Moving Conversations Forward

Magazine article Business Credit

Moving Conversations Forward

Article excerpt

How do we move people toward a goal, through a process, or closer to realizing their potential? For me, it's all about the language. For collectors, leaders, managers, negotiators and, well, just about everyone else ... it starts with how we leverage language to move conversations forward.

Moving Conversations Forward[TM] is a process I have been teaching to all levels of business professionals for many years. Notice the language we use here: Moving Conversations Forward[TM] is very different from pushing, driving or forcing a conversation forward.

We all love forward motion, and we may not realize that our zeal to create or maintain momentum may not be shared by the other party. When we approach a tough conversation, our goal is to get beyond or through any conflict, and move to resolution. There is something pleasing and pliable about the sensation of moving through a process, and the language we select, deliver and listen for makes a distinct difference in how we are perceived, how we proceed and whether or not work is any fun--at all.

Language is, at its core, music. What parallels might we draw between language and music? Well, certainly the fact that since they employ sound to generate emotions, that is a clear parallel. The fact that both language (any language) and music have multiple interpretations and colors is another. They both have rhythm, tempo and dynamics. When I made this discovery some years ago, it set me off on a path of inquiry into what language was about, where it came from and how it worked. We are, according to scientists, hard-wired for communication. The language (tempo, rhythm, dynamics) we experience early in life can be heard in how we speak today.

So, what music do you want people to hear when you speak? What resonance do you search for in daily interaction? How can we leverage language to inspire, instead of insult?

During a recent conversation, I was listening to a client recount a recent conversation with an employee. And I cringed. There are things that we may think are appropriate, encouraging, even professional--until we recount them to someone else.

So, in the spirit of inspiring, let's look at what not to do. Just don't do this stuff, OK?

1. DO NOT dress down an employee in front of anyone.

2. DO NOT say: "I thought you knew that."

3. DO NOT ask: "What are you doing? …

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