Conversations are the fabric of business
We like to say that “Everything is created twice: once in the mind and once in the world.”
We come up with new ideas all the time and so do you. But it’s only when those ideas come into the world that they become powerful. And the first steps those ideas take towards their full manifestation are in the form of conversations.
When we start to talk about an idea, we start to refine it and understand it better. When we have focused conversations with others, those ideas get tested and explored. They move out of our immediate control and start to take on a new life.
The truth is that many people are afraid to have those conversations. They’re afraid that their ideas will be dismissed or ignored. And they’re afraid that they’ll be judged based on the quality of the conversation. And they’re right.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been shot down and it never feels good. It doesn’t matter if its one-on-one, in a team meeting or in front of a large group. When our ideas die, sometimes it feels like a little bit of us dies as well. Those ideas were created by you, nurtured by you, and presented by you. It’s no surprise at all that we stop putting ideas out there if they’re only going to get shot down.
But here’s the catch:
When ideas stop flowing, companies start dying.
We have to make it safe for our teams to share their ideas. It’s our cognitive abilities that separate us from others and if we’re in organizations where people aren’t encouraged or willing to think AND to share (thinking’s not enough), then we’re in for real trouble.
Dangerous Conversations are powerful
Dangerous conversations go beyond the regular conversations that we have in our organizations. They go beyond brainstorming and project planning and all of the normal discussions that occur. There’s one sure-fire way to know if you’re in a dangerous conversation:
You know you’re in a dangerous conversation when you’re challenging the staus quo.
You see, dangerous conversations are a very special “breed” of conversations — IF you’re willing to have them. You’re in a dangerous conversation when you’re looking beyond all the norms and all the obvious answers and choose to go down a new path — one that most of the organization would not be prepared to entertain, let alone seriously explore.
They are dangerous because they make people uncomfortable. They challenge fundamental assumptions. They force people to look at themselves and others with fresh eyes.
Conversations like this take real courage. In these conversations, it’s not just your idea on the line, it’s your reputation.
Do they matter?
If they’re so risky, should you do it?
Honestly, you need to be careful. You need to know who you’re speaking with and whether they’re in a state where they’re able or willing to truly hear what you’re saying.
We know that organizations that aren’t prepared to have these conversations will suffer. It’s not that they’ll fail necessarily, it just that it will limit their ability grow.
But the ones that do have dangerous conversations have the opportunity to accomplish extraordinary things. They have the chance to continuously rethink who they are, who they serve, and the difference they make. They have the opportunity to explore options that others wouldn’t even put on the table.
The companies that will succeed in the future will be the ones that are prepared to have these conversations. They’ll be the ones that encourage their teams to have them.
Question: What’s the most dangerous conversation you’ve had?