Written by Robin Miller
We just went bowling with our team for a New Year’s gathering and that’s about the only time I go bowling during the year. I always have great intentions when I put on my shoes and explore for the perfect ball. You know the one – the one that is going to bring me all the strikes and spares. I think that I have everything set – I stand up to the line – eye the pins, use my almost perfect form, release, and before you know it, the ball has veered to the right or the left and into the gutter.
I think to myself – I guess that wasn’t the best form after all. I walk away and hope for a better turn next time.
How many times have you released a gutter ball when having a conversation with someone? If you’re like me, I can find myself stepping up to the line – looking at them straight in the eye – begin to speak – and then, –
Four Steps to Keep in Mind
Intention matters. The popular Crucial Conversations training guides us to think about the other person. We take into consideration what we want for them, for ourselves and together. We spend time crafting the words but we also need to spend a moment addressing our tone, our tempo, our pauses, and our non-verbals.
We can have the best-crafted message and if we don’t consider how we deliver it, our bowling ball will be headed for the gutter. We need to practice and become aware of how our communication shows up in our conversations.
One year, Barry Green, author of The Inner Game of Music, came to give a master class to some student performers. I sat and watched him work with individuals and their mental approach to performing. It was incredible. As they shifted mentally, the musical delivery began to shift.
The same can happen as we prepare to have conversations with others. Sit and imagine the meeting – with your eyes closed. How do you want it to go? What kind of energy do you want to have during the meeting? Can you feel the rate of your heart – your breath? What is the tone of your voice? Do you remain calm? Open? Connected to your Zen place, regardless of what comes back your way?
This is our conversational inner practice. This will help put up some gutter guards so that our communication stays on target.
IV. Do It
We can have all the best conversation intentions and if we don’t practice – outwardly and inwardly – we can get caught off guard. Spend some time sitting and imagining how you desire conversations to go. Use your imagination to open new areas of growth and practice for your conversations and be the one that reaps the benefits of a better connection.