Over-Conversating? (apologies to Webster)

By Pamela A. Scott

How much conversation is too much?

I’m working with partners who each have different ideas about how long a conversation should last. And what a conversation should entail.

Frank, the COO, believes you ask a person the question that you need an answer to and then you leave. Conversation over. Frank has gotten the information he wanted.

Lewis, on the other hand, sees conversations with employees as a way to build rapport and improve morale. Lewis, CEO of the company, gets engaged when an employee asks a question. Lewis uses that opening to start a discussion that can lead to many topics.

While Frank uses a conversation to get a quick answer, Lewis uses the conversation as a way to find out what’s going on inside his company or with an employee. He’s mining for information—no negative overtones implied.

Which style is better? It depends on what one wants to achieve from a conversation.

But as partners, it is important that Frank and Lewis each respect the other’s conversation style. Frank is getting information. Lewis is building relationships.

From each other’s perspectives, it would probably help if Frank learned to converse more easily with employees. And if Lewis did watch the clock on how long the conversations go on.


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