Why Caring Conversations Inspire People and Inspire Change

R U Ok

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt is consistently rated as one of the top 5 American Presidents. He is known for driving change for the greater good, including the “Square Deal,” a domestic program formed around three C’s: conservation of natural resources (preserved 230 million acres for national parks), control of corporations (dissolved 44 monopolistic corporations), and consumer protection (Pure Food and Drug Act to better regulate food production and labelling).

He achieved these remarkable feats through “playing fair”, compassion, mutual respect, infectious enthusiasm, and tenacity. Workplace research also backs up the need for care and compassion to inspire people and change.

The Gallup organisation has found that the engagement survey question which best predicts discretionary effort from an employee is “my supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person”. Their research shows that the more people that agree with this statement, the higher the productivity, customer services levels, and employee longevity. Care is demonstrated through conversations and actions.

The care in a conversation determines the success of a relationship. The care in relationships determines the success of the team. The care in teams determines the success of the organisation.

Conversations can also inspire trust and high performance.

Judith Glaser in her book Conversational Intelligence identifies 3 levels of conversation.

At Level I – the most basic level – people ask and answer questions, share information or conduct transactions.

At the next point, Level II, people share viewpoints and try to guide others toward them in “positional” conversations.  They are trying to influence others towards their desired outcomes.

At Level III – the highest level – people speak and listen in order to “transform and shape reality together” in a “co-creating conversation.” Glaser’s work in neuroscience shows that the brain is hardwired to achieve Level III conversations, but negative emotions – fear and distrust – often interfere with how it is received. Trust enables healthy conversations and allows relationships to thrive.

Perhaps this is why Conversational Intelligence was nominated by Inc. magazine as one of the Top 5 Business Trends for 2016. In these volatile and uncertain times, a leader that embodies trust will achieve results that a less trustworthy peer can’t – no matter how competent they are.

This is confirmed in research contained in Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, which shows that we want to deal with someone who is both trustworthy and competent, but by far the most important quality is the former. We would rather work with someone less competent if we feel we can trust them.

So how do leaders create trust through conversations?

Taking conversations from a “ME-centric” to “WE-centric”orientation is critical for Level III conversations, according to Glaser.

She describes a TRUST conversation model to help facilitate the best outcomes: “Transparency, Relationship, Understanding, Shared Success, and Testing Assumptions and Telling the Truth.” Be completely open about your fears and how they block trust. “Extend the olive branch, even with people you may see as foes.” Invite other people to share what they’re thinking. Be open to their opinions.

To elaborate on these and other conversational insights, R U OK? is hosting two informative half day events (Melbourne Friday March 4 and Sydney Friday March 18) which will reveal how to create a caring and trusting culture that delivers outstanding results.

The R U OK? movement was established to encourage caring conversations with people you are concerned about, with the tag line “a conversation could change a life”. Enough caring conversations could change an organisation.

Tickets start at $119 each for 10. All funds raised will support the R U OK? community ambassador program.

Conversational Leadership: Inspiring people, Inspiring change will feature some of Australia’s best speakers who will share conversational insights from great leaders, including Avril Henry (who worked closely advising 2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison about diversity), Rachael Robertson (Melbourne only – the first woman to lead an Antarctic expedition ) Glenn Capelli (will share how words can make us better smarter and wiser), Sam Cawthorn (Sydney only – who will show how to inspire people globally through social media conversations) Lisa McInnes-Smith (who has inspired audiences for 25 years about how changing your language can change the outcome), Graeme Cowan (who helped Gavin Larkin start R U OK? and co-created the 4 step approach to asking “Are you OK?” ), Kamal Sarma (who Chairs the Conversation Committee for R U OK?), Phil Preston (who shows how businesses conversations can also create great communities),John Pastorelli (who shows how conversations can create raving customers) Aya Larkin (brother of the founder and lead singer and songwriter in the successful band Skunkhour – will provide a musical tribute – Where R U OK? began) and Josie Larkin (daughter of the founder who will share how her Dad’s legacy is changing lives).

Tickets start at $119 each for 10. All funds raised will support the R U OK? community ambassador program.

Graeme Cowan is Australasia’s #1 Leadership Resilience authority. He is an author and speaker who shows leaders how to create rituals that build their resilience, mood, and performance. To download his speaking brochure click here. If you have questions about his availability or suitability for presenting to your organisation please email support@graemecowan.com.au or call +61 2 8005 0344

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