Okay, so welcome to another one of my Todd Talks, which always exists to empower you with ideas you can use immediately to improve your leadership, make a greater difference in the world, and help other people do the same. One of the red threads that runs through all of our work, whether it be with leaders, senior teams, or sales people, is equipping people to have effective conversations about things that really matter to them and their companies. And one of the things I’ve been really curious about lately is what happens for people on the inside when they go through one of our programs. So I had a brilliant idea. Why not just ask them? I decided to ask the very people we had been teaching to teach us about what had been most helpful to them. So I interviewed dozens of people that we had taught to teach us about what had actually helped them.
And what I really wanted to know is what helped both the avoiders and the aggressors have much more honest, open, and effective conversations about the things that really mattered to them. And I really learned a lot from all of these interviews. And I want to share all of those insights with you, but I’ll focus on just one of those insights today. And it’s the importance of how we frame the purpose of our conversations with one another.
But let’s step back for a moment. Traditionally, most of us, if not all of us, are striving to accomplish one of two things in our conversations. We’re either trying to achieve things that we see as good or we’re trying to avoid things that we see as bad. And then we employ different conversational mechanisms to achieve or avoid those very things. The achiever mentality often drives us to behave in overly competitive and controlling ways during our conversations. Which triggers resistance and defensive dynamics in other people. Which makes it really hard to have productive conversations about things that really matter. The achiever mentality often drives us to behave in overly competitive and controlling ways, which naturally activates resistance and defensive dynamics in other people. Which makes it really hard to have productive conversations about things that matter.
Whereas the avoider mindset causes us to be too cautious and comforting during critical conversations, which prevents us from being taken as seriously as the quality of our thinking would warrant. And what stood out from the interviews is that there was a singular big reframe on the purpose of conversations that helped both the aggressors and the avoiders alike. And that big reframe was this, view each conversation as a collaborative search for the truth. And this small but powerful mental adjustment helped the avoiders find their courage to bravely express their honest views about the real issues. And it also helped the aggressors be a lot more curious and compassionate about other people’s perspectives.
And let me read to you what this amazing leader, let’s call him Edgar, said to me this week. “At breakthrough conversations, I realized that it’s fine to have difficult conversations and that they don’t have to be such a big confrontation or a fight. What really helped me is when I stopped seeing them as a battle for who’s right, and I started seeing them as a common search for the truth. This is really important for someone like me, who’s super competitive by nature.”
So maybe it’s not the truth itself that actually sets us free, but the genuine pursuit of it that frees us from our fears and our egos so that we can, together, face the real issues and opportunities to make our lives and the world a bit better. Okay. Thanks for listening. I hope you found this valuable and I look forward to talking to you next time. But if for some reason you can’t wait, go to my Todd Talks blog and check out another video there. In the meantime, be candid, be collaborative, be compassionate, but most of all, be curious.