Earlier this month, I spoke at the excellent Ragan Corporate Communications Conference, in Chicago. My topic? Real Conversation - the most powerful business tool your organization will ever use.
One of the topics I tackled was how to convince leaders and managers to pay closer attention to conversation in the workplace. People found it useful, so I thought I'd share it with my regular readers. So here - in two installments - is the Reader's Digest version of that section of my talk.
Making the Case for Face-To-Face
OK. Here we are, face-to-face, because that’s the way human beings were meant to communicate. We’re here to have a conversation about conversation. More precisely, we’ll discuss ways to get authentic, productive, valuable, human conversations going on in our organizations, instead of the same old bla bla bla – or worse – silence. It’s a quest organizations have been on for a long time.
I recently read a story from the 1950s. Before he founded WL Gore & Associates and started making GoreTex, Bill Gore, worked for chemical giant DuPont. He observed that there were only two places at work he ever heard a meaningful conversation. One was on task forces, where people have a clear and important short term purpose. The other was the car pool. In the car, everyone was equal, everyone was smart and the conversations were brilliant. Unfortunately, when they reached the parking lot, everyone straightened their ties, put on their work faces, stepped into the hierarchy and - conversation over.