When I first started my coaching and consulting practice I remember my mentor telling me and others in a training that he often learned as much or more from his clients and seminar participants as they did from him.
In my twelve years in the business, I too, have found that to be true.
Last summer, during a client training, seminar participants helped me create an entirely new workplace communication model called, The 4 Workplace Conversations.
During the training a participant asked a question about confronting an issue with their boss that never seemed to get resolved.
Then, another participant brought up an issue that she and a co-worker were struggling with needing to get resolved but didn’t have the authority to move the issue forward.
In the moment, I told the former that he was having the wrong conversation with the right person. I told the latter that she was having the right conversation with the wrong person.
In that moment this new workplace communication model was born.
You will notice in this model that 75% of workplace conversations keep organizations stuck, limit growth and can create negative, toxic work environments:
- Wrong Conversation With Wrong Person (Lower Left Quadrant):
This is the quadrant of the toxic zone and what I call BMWs (Bitching, Moaning & Whining). These conversations are where people are permitted to stay in venting mode and they never move beyond to have the right conversations with the right people to move issues forward.
- Wrong Conversation With Right Person (Lower Right Quadrant):
This is the quadrant of the “missed opportunity.” It takes time, energy and resources to get in front of the right person. Yet, for many different reasons depending on the situation and the relationship, the conversation gets usurped by the right person for their own agenda or because of a stronger personality.
- Right Conversation With Wrong Person (Upper Left Quadrant)
This quadrant offers two potential outcomes, as it is either a “path” to the right person, through asking for a referral, role playing or looking for advice. If, however, you notice the conversation recurring frequently and not moving forward to the right person, it becomes procrastination.
- Right Conversation With Right Person (Upper Right Quadrant)
This quadrant is where problems get solved, issues get resolved and progress is made because people are having the right conversation with the right person at the right time. This is level at which organizational leaders must insist conversations are taking place.
You can use The 4 Workplace Conversations visual to coach yourself and others to make your workplace conversations more effective by discussing where on the chart they are taking place, then developing ways to move as many conversations as quickly as possible to the top half of the model, and ideally to the upper right.