Many a times, some leaders are at a loss as to how to initiate a conversation with team members and develop/build relationship.  People are usually edgy as they fear that their first step may create a barrier.

“Openly share and talk to people about your idea. Use their lack of interest or doubt to fuel your motivation to make it happen.”

                                                      -Todd Garland.

The following types of conversation will be helpful.

  1. a) Conversation about the meeting instance: Every leader must be warm, appreciative of others and should engage in the use of positive words particularly when they meet team members. The leader should go out of his way to welcome and embrace people, shake hands and ask about the welfare of the team member, their families and experience in the city of the meeting.
“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”

                                              -James Nathan Miller.

The purpose of this conversation is to draw the person from their shell.  During the brief chat, the leader should listen to the person’s expression ability, articulation and in particular for what is not being said, the body language. It is helpful for the leader to detect what interest the individual the most and dwell on the subject in order to keep the conversation alive and going.

“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood”
                                               -William Shakespeare.



  1. b) Conversation about the place and setting: Usually, environment of meetings are impressionable places. The leader must look around and find something interesting to share that will draw the attention of others.

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”

Jane Austen.

It may be their appreciation of the work of art, a short story about the place or a historic event that took place at the site or a comment that can establish a connection or one that touches on day to day experience.

  1. c) Conversation about ideas. The workplace is a theater of ideas. The leader or a team member may propose an idea, assess a product, an upcoming program and/or request for opinions.

“Our voice is our strongest, most direct expression of who we are.
Our voice is expressed in our own words, our tone, our body language, our visible enthusiasms.”

                                                     -David Weinberger.

The leader must keep the conversation open, interactive and warm to extend understanding and awareness.

  1. d) Conversation about objects: This conversation involves material items like equipment, buildings, and vehicles, supplies, etc which are physical and visible. In building a conversation momentum, the leader must keep the goals of the discussion in perspective.  This will help in moderating response reactions that are out of alignment with pre-determined goals.

“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”

Mark Twain.

  1. e) Conversations about other people: could be a useful tool when it is supportive and not critical. Many useful lessons can This be learnt from the successes of others regarded as champions of a process or event.

“There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.”

Michel de Montaigne.

However, conversations bothering on gossip or with damaging intent particularly when the person involved is absent must be avoided at all cost.

  1. f) Conversation about oneself: It is extremely important for an individual to engage in conversation about them self continuously.

 “To have a conversation, you have to be comfortable being human – acknowledging you don’t have all the answers, being eager to learn from someone else and to build new ideas together.

You can only have a conversation if you’re not afraid of being wrong. Otherwise, you’re not conversing, you’re just declaiming, speechifying, or reading what’s on the powerpoints. To converse, you have to be willing to be wrong in front of another person.

Conversations occur between equals. The time your boss’s boss asked you at a meeting about your project’s deadline was not a conversation. The time you sat with your boss for an hour in the Polynesian-themed bar while on a business trip and you really talked, got past the corporate bullshit, told each other the truth about the dangers ahead, and ended up talking about your kids – that maybe was a conversation.”

                                              -David Weinberger.



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