Encouraging Dialogue

Critical conversations are two-way communications that require dialogue. It is a give and take of information. In a world so dependent on technology and one-way communication, it is critical that managers and HR professionals continue to perfect the art of conversation and dialogue.  Skills that encourage dialogue include:

Attending Skills.
• Sitting next to the other person, rather than across from him/her.
• Using good eye contact, appropriate gestures, and a warm tone of voice
• Using phases such as “I see”, “I hear you”, and “I understand” demonstrate that you are acknowledging what is being said.

Encouraging Skills should be used when you have a need for the other person to elaborate on his/her thoughts or feelings. Encouraging skills use statements and questions such as:
• I’d like to know how you feel about it.
• Would you like to talk about it?/Tell me more about it.
• Is there anything else you’d like to say?
• Perhaps you could tell me about...
• Is there anything else I should know?

Clarifying skills should be used when you are unsure what the other person is saying and you want to reduce ambiguity and establish clarity. Clarifying skills use statements and questions such as
• What I think you are saying is ...
• Could you give me an example of …?
• I’m not sure I understand --- could you repeat that?
• Could you tell me more about …?

Reflecting skills allow you to restate, in your own words, what the other person is saying. You can reflect on either the content or the feeling that is being expressed. It shows understanding and acceptance and allows you to keep the conversation on track. Reflecting skills use statements such as
• Sounds as if you really....
• You think it’s a good idea if ...
• You would really like it if ...
• You think that ...

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