Good Conversations At A Difficult Time

Margery has put together some of her thoughts and observations following yesterday’s “Good Conversations” webinar……

You can never have too many good conversations.  But what is a good conversation and why is it important today?

We don’t have to look too far in the world to find bleak, disjointed and difficult messages from sources which you’re not even sure you can trust. Yet it does not seem quite right to cut off completely from advice and guidance.  In the context of this mixed messaging how do you have a good conversation?

I entered into what I hope was a good conversation with Ross Grieve of the Well Being Team within the Thistle Foundation to find out about their work, how it might have some relevance and bearing on the “just now” and to tease out some nuggets and “take aways”.

The Thistle Foundation have been supporting people with long term care needs for a very long time.  They believe that the root of support is in a self-managed and person-centred approach. One of the common mistakes you can make when having this type of conversation is to see yourself as the expert in someone else’s life and try to ‘fix’ their challenges for them. However, with a degree of curiosity and a lot of listening there are other approaches that can work.

Here are the ingredients to having a good conversation:

  • It flourishes where there is a relationship of trust and a supportive culture.
  • It comes from a place where we do not have the answers, solutions or the belief that we should have the right to think that we should or could have a solution.
  • True active listening is essential – listening to acknowledge not to find a solution.
  • Listen to the story and what is happening or has happened in the life story may reveal openings.
  • Be open and present – be mindful to what is happening in that moment – not thinking about the next question as the conversation will take you to the next place.
  • Consider the exception – if something happens most or some of the time, then what happens in the moments of exception. Is there room to build on the exceptions, to think differently and take a different approach?

So, for managers and those of us who have been brought up in a hierarchy and come from a mindset of thinking that we are expected to solve all the problems both at work and for our team, that isn’t the case. Nor is it what having a good conversation is about.

What does this mean for our current situation and how might that help us have good while difficult conversations going forwards?  There is no rule book, no easy answers or prepared scripts to a way out of COVID 19, out of lockdown and getting the economy back up and running.  There is a chance of taking a moment to pause, thinking how your relationships could be different in the future and what approach you want to take now.  That may make us more supportive of others and contribute to a different and more open and authentic culture at work.

My observations are:

  • Just because we have responsibilities does not mean that we have all the answers
  • And what right do we have to be the judge on what is right or a solution for someone else?
  • Could we “listen to acknowledge” more?
  • Could we position ourselves to listen to understand from their perspective?
  • What can we learn from the stories of those who have had struggles and challenges?
  • How do we develop a sense of curiosity that will engender an authentic relationship with others?
  • Authenticity and honesty are not the same thing.
  • Be more present – concentrate on the now and stop trying to solve the tomorrow.
  • It is OK to listen to acknowledge and suspend the need to “fix everything.”

We talked about developing cultures that are supportive of authentic conversations, which you can learn more about on our blog “Supporting Your Employees At Home“.

We hope to continue this conversation with Ross in a future webinar, when we will delve more into the skills underpinning having good conversations.

Missed the Webinar?

Not to worry – click on the following link to listen and catch up!

Next Webinar!

Following the extension of the Job Retention Scheme until October and with guidance frequently being updated, our next webinar will be an Employment Q&A in conjunction with Marianne McJannett of TC Young.

This is a continually changing landscape and we aim to be as responsive as we can to keep you up to date.

Date: Monday 18th May

Time: 12.30pm – 1pm

Where: Zoom

You can submit questions in advance by emailing or by using the Q&A function during the Webinar itself.

Click To Register!

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