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Change-ability Tip #22: Utilize the Power of Conversation

Most of us have personally experienced the benefits of talking through a problem with a trusted friend or colleague. Active listening can provide a safe haven for the speaker to articulate perceptions, fears, and potential responses to change. In the same way that writing about an issue can clarify feelings and facts, describing a situation verbally can help to uncover insights and opportunities. Questions and paraphrasing from the listener can identify assumptions and beliefs that get in the way of change-ability.

Thanks to David Gurteen’s  May 2009 Knowledge Letter, I recently discovered Nancy Dixon, a knowledge management (KM) consultant who specializes in the personal/human aspects of KM. In a post on her blog, Conversation Matters, she described the value of conversation:

“The greatest benefit of conversation is that it produces five categories of responses [answers, meta knowledge, problem reformulation, validation and legitimization], not just the answer. We get so much more from conversation, e.g. an unexpected insight, a sense of affirmation that inspires us to new heights or, equally useful, having to confront a realization that we’ve been trying to avoid; deepening the relationship with a colleague or the introduction to a collaborator we would never have discovered on our own; and on and on. The multiplicity of benefits addresses the very real problem of not knowing what we don’t know. A problem that is so frequent when the issues we are addressing are ambiguous and complex.”

Suddenly a conversation with the right person is laden with possibilities. Could change-ability really be so simple? Let me know how conversation has increased your change-ability.


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