The Truth About Conversations

By Mary Verstraete

Nothing happens without conversation, yet communication challenges are massive in today’s world.

Certainly on a positive note, remarkable and incredible accomplishments have been achieved because of conversation. Can you imagine the conversations that took place when the iPhone was being developed? Many of us are enjoying the rewards of those conversations.

Yet the ugly truth is that conversations can destroy relationships, result in lawsuits, cause betrayal—a long list of repercussions surround us because of broken conversations. Most people don’t take the time to generate awareness of what it is that breaks down in communication or take time to be intentional in developing their ability to achieve consistent, masterful conversations.

Let’s look at just a few basic common drop-offs that occur. Judith Glaser, author and cofounder of CreatingWE Institute, identified three blind spots in conversation:

  1. Assumption that others see what we see, feel what we feel, and think what we think.
    • When we are engrossed and attached to our point of view, we are unable to see the other person’s perspective.
    • When we persuade others we are right, a natural high occurs in our brain [dopamine] that makes us feel good that we made our point. Winning a point may make us feel good but it makes others feel devalued, not heard, and shut down.
  2. Inability to turn off judgment and intentionally see the situation from the other person’s perspective. People experience our words and easily perceive when they are being judged.
  3. Assumption that we remember what others say, when we actually remember what we think the other person said. When we presume what we heard a person say, we filter the remaining conversation through that filter and miss the actual meaning of what the person was communicating.

What is the consequence of these blind spots? 

You’ve created distrust. This distrust sits in the center of your conversation, and collaboration and understanding have been banished. People feel threatened, not understood, and move into protective behaviors.

It is important to remember that trust doesn’t appear suddenly but is cultivated. In conversation people share their view of reality, their perspective, and what is important to them. An important question to ask ourselves: Do we treat a person’s information in a dignified manner?

Effective conversations just don’t happen. It takes intentional effort and skill. Making time in your schedule to set this invaluable goal can be life changing: Increase effectiveness in my conversations by equipping myself with the tools to facilitate skillful conversations.

Your communication influence will enrich the quality of your life and the lives of others.