12 Conversations Every Entrepreneur Should Make

Shawn Kent Hayashi heads The Professional Development Group, and is the author of Conversations for Change: 12 Ways to Say it Right When it Matters Most.

I have been studying and researching communications issues and conversation styles for 20 years. During this time, I have identified 12 types of conversations that are vital for us as entrepreneurs:

  • Conversation for Connection
    Connecting with others happens when we slow down enough to be in the present and really listen to one another. Rapport building requires listening now. Can you be here now? Powerful listening causes trust to grow. As entrepreneurs, this conversation is vital to starting new client relationships and engaging people who will want to work with us.

  • Conversation for Creating New Possibilities
    The first step is to know what we want to create and then let ourselves dream. These conversations are the triggers to new growth and development. Sometimes the questions someone asks help us to understand a situation better. It is in this type of conversation that we begin to see what is possible.
  • Conversation for Structure
    When we know what we want to create, the next step is to devise a plan. The steps in our plan might only emerge one at a time. Nevertheless, we build our plans with the steps as we become aware of them. Maintaining forward movement is vital for long-term success.
  • Conversation for Commitment
    Once a plan and a supporting structure are in place and we’ve identified action steps, we can step back and ask, “Who will execute each step?” We identify candidates and then seek their commitment to produce the results that correspond with each identified task. The commitments we make to ourselves about who we want to be are the most fundamental commitments we will make.
  • Conversation for Action
    Once you know what you want to create, that naturally leads to a conversation about action. What do you want to do? What actions will make your dreams come alive? We’ve all seen people get stuck in a project because they did not know what to do next. Why the quandary? They’re not asking themselves the right questions. What is the next action?
  • Conversation for Accountability
    After a “Conversation for Commitment” has occurred and the expectations are clear, being accountable for engaging in what you want to do is a sign of respect. Sometimes people need to be guided into creating a better outcome. Are you holding your team members accountable?
  • Conversation for Conflict Resolution
    Many people do not allow themselves to recognize conflicts in their work relationships because they simply do not know how to identify and resolve them. They sweep them under the carpet or wear blinders as a symptom of feeling fear. Some people experience fear when the smell of conflict wafts through a conversation that doesn’t offer the requisite safety. Others may overuse this conversation type and be unaware that others are walking on egg shells around them.
  • Conversation for Breakdown
    Anger indicates that something or someone has crossed one of our boundaries, and is a signal that we need to address the issue. Clearly asking for what we want might clear up the breakdown. Whenever something is not working or we find ourselves oscillating, that is a breakdown. Acknowledging the breakdown is vital so that we can move forward.
  • Conversation for Withdrawal and Disengagement
    It is unrealistic to think that all work relationships will be enjoyable or friendly forever, and not all relationships end on a healthy, happy note. Sometimes we realize it is time to end a relationship, but the other person does not. Often it is best to end a tenuous connection so that we can invest our time in relationships that are professionally meaningful and enjoyable.
  • Conversation for Change
    Your ability to change the direction of an individual, a team or an organization occurs through “Conversations for Change.” When you need to make change happen, are you competent at guiding the conversations that are necessary? You can change the conversation in the office, at association meetings, at board meetings and with peers who seem to have gone off track. Are you clearly defining what you want to create so others understand the change?
  • Conversation for Appreciation
    Being able to create a meaningful conversation that acknowledges and triggers feelings of appreciation is vital to building momentum in professional relationships. Think of the last time you felt really appreciated. What caused you to feel this way? Undoubtedly, someone showed appreciation to you using language that works best for you. Affirming others is an important conversation to build long-term relationships and momentum.
  • Conversation for Moving On
    Chances are, you have met thousands of people in your lifetime, but you maintain close professional relationships with only a few. You create “Conversations for Moving On” when moving from a community or when someone is retiring from your company. One day you might reconnect, but for now you have closure, with no expectation of communicating again soon.

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