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  • Sharon Borland

#33 What Conversation Are You In?

If we’re not clear about the purpose of a conversation it may achieve nothing, leave people dissatisfied and end a dream or relationship.

We spend a lot of time in conversation for many different reasons and purposes. What people say can have a huge influence on individuals, groups and even nations. We currently see many national and international leaders having conversations with the Ukrainian and Russian leaders to bring the current conflict to an end. You probably expect and hope that lots of thought and planning goes into preparing for such meetings and that during the meeting they focus on the matter at hand and don’t get distracted.

It may seem very different for you and me but what we say can also have a huge impact on someone’s life, the quality of our relationships with family, friends and colleagues, and has the potential to shape the future of organisations and businesses whether we’re involved in a voluntary or professional capacity or as a user of services. Yet if everyone in a conversation isn’t clear about its purpose, it’s likely to leave people dissatisfied or frustrated and may not achieve anything. So, let’s start off by thinking about some of the types of conversation we might be in. The term conversation in this context could apply to anything from one-to-one discussions with close family or friends, to formal business meetings or public meetings.

Possibility – the What and the Why

You’re creating something new, inventing a different future. It’s about hopes and dreams, free from concerns about what’s gone before and any thoughts about how.

Pathways – the How

This conversation considers some of the ways that could see the dream become a reality. A powerful way to work this out is to imagine being in that new future and then work backwards through all the things that need to be in place to make it happen.

Getting into Action – Commitments

This is getting more specific about what actions are going to be taken, by who and when. We’ve looked at various aspects of the speaking and listening associated with commitment in the last couple of blogs.


Being connected to and relating to others starts in listening and sharing. It’s about knowing what’s important to them and enabling them to know what’s important to me.

Bringing Closure

This is a big topic that we’ll come back to but it’s all about the conversation that takes place when things don’t go as planned.

Thinking about when to make the purpose of the conversation clear may be an important factor. Would the start of the conversation be helpful or could it be more effective if people are able to prepare in advance? Will arranging a meeting without declaring the purpose cause anxiety?

Conversation is powerful and the more aware we are about what we’re saying and why, the more we can harness that power to achieve things we didn’t think were possible. More on this topic to come next time.


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