The truth: Are we ready for it?

by Lee Hopkins on April 27, 2006

in Uncategorized

fierceconversations.jpgBrad Whitworth over at the IABC employee comms blog points to a new book by Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations.

I haven’t read the book myself, but Brad reckons that the sort of in-your-face, open conversations that Susan suggests might be the way to go…

“Some people are ready for that sort of personal or organizational conversation. Look at the impatience of some of the Y-Gen crowd that’s entering the workforce today. They ask, “Why should you and save up our thoughts about my performance for some staged, annual review. Let’s talk about it right now.” They grew up on video games, operate at twitch speed and are ready to handle good and bad news.”

Susan’s ‘Seven Principles’ are:

  • Principle 1: Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality
    No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. People change and forget to tell one another – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time. Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.
  • Principle 2: Come Out from Behind Yourself, Into the Conversation, and Make It Real
    While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversation that should concern us. Unreal conversations are incredibly expensive, both for the individual and for the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. If you want to transform the relationship, you have to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over.
  • Principle 3: Be Here, Prepared to Be Nowhere Else
    Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.
    {This reminds me of one of the FISH! principles — ‘Be There’}
  • Principle 4: Tackle Your Toughest Challenge Today
    The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and confront the real obstacles in your path. Today is the day to have the conversation you have been avoiding. All confrontation is merely a search for the truth. Stay current with the people important to you. Travel light. Agenda free.
  • Principle 5: Obey Your Instincts
    Don’t just trust your instincts. Obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day. You hear them in your head, feel them in your gut, and discern them in your heart. Tune in. Pay attention. What we label as illusion is the scent of something “real” coming close.
  • Principle 6: Take Responsibility For Your Emotional Wake
    There is no trivial comment. Something you may not even remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looks to you for guidance and approval. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion. Remember, the conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship.
  • Principle 7: Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting
    When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Insight occurs in the space between words. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Learn to love the sweet territory of silence, where an intelligent universe waits to engage you in a dialogue, the first word of which will take you farther than you could have imagined.
    {oh come on… who’s been marking too many Year 12 English Lit assignments recently?}

Perhaps the newest entrants into the workplace can handle confrontational conversations, but many of the first and second jobbers at the places I visit are a bit shy and scared of the ‘bosses’ and anyone significantly older than them. Perhaps its just a cultural thing.

Susan garners an impressive list of ‘people of notable redoubt who get paid to read books and review them’ and a clutch of fabulous comments like:

  • Fierce Conversations is the perfect gift for anyone you care about, and above all yourself!
    {gag me with a spoon}
  • The conversation is the relationship. This book will help you gain the insight and skills to make every conversation count. Are you ready?
    {tell that to corporates who believe web2.0 is ‘nothing for them to worry about’}
  • When the authentic conversations so clearly described in this book catch on everywhere, it will be the end of gossip, corporate politics, bad marriages and 360° feedback.
    {from the guys who wrote FISH! and FISH! Tales}
  • She encourages readers to reach for their more authentic growth tendencies and ultimately to see the rewards of self-actualization

Now, I can throw up at vacuous Corporate/Literati Americanisms as well as the next person, but Brad asks a useful series of questions at the end:

What about your organization? Is it ready to hold the fierce conversation? What about you? Are you ready? Can you handle the truth?

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