Pluck up your conversational courage

The power of conversation is immeasurable

The power of conversation is immeasurable.

One of the fundamental opportunities it provides for us all, is the chance to know ourselves better through connecting with others. This is especially true if we are brave enough to share our fears, our concerns and our self-doubts.

However, these kinds of conversations are only possible if we feel safe. If we believe that we will not be humiliated or side-lined by sharing our most vulnerable thoughts. Where a psychologically safe space*, or a climate of openness, exists. One where we know it’s ok, in fact it’s expected, to speak up honestly and bravely. With trusted friends, colleagues, a mentor or family member.

The act of sharing our inner conversations about the ‘hard stuff’ (the stuff that can feel impossible or immensely hard to share) allows us a different relationship with it. Whether it’s around someone’s behaviour, our own destructive behaviour, a relationship that isn’t working, or the more practical things like a pay rise, or career move… somehow speaking the words we have been keeping in our head ‘out-loud’, enables us to shift our perspective.

By engaging in honest conversation, we are more able to face into them with greater authenticity. We can somehow hold our fears in our gaze for longer and with more clarity and courage.

When we begin to explore our fears in conversation there is always an opportunity to do so with less self-judgment, terror or shame and instead become kinder and more curious. And, in turn, this enables us to find and try out different responses and alternative, often more helpful, ways of facing into the fear.

Being part of a conversation where someone is sharing something that may be difficult for them to talk about, requires deep listening and great, curious questions. Two of the core skills of any powerful conversation. Both of them require practice and both of them will serve you well in any and every context. They are at the heart of growing Conversational Wisdom® and allow us to become more aware, more skilled and more human in our conversations.

So, how about starting now?

In your next conversation see if you can listen to really try and understand what the other person is saying, rather than to respond. It’s more difficult than any of us think, and certainly more powerful than trying to fix ‘the problem’ that is presented.

*If you’re interested in how to create this kind of psychological safety, then check out Amy Edmonson who has been researching, speaking and writing about this for years.

If you would like to have a chat about anything, please get in touch.

By Emily Cosgrove

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