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How To Have A Fierce Conversation

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I was making notes as a I read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scot and have collected some very useful reminders about communication from the book.

The seven principles of fierce conversations are:

Master the courage to interrogate reality
Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real
Be here, prepared to be nowhere else
Tackle your toughest challenge today
Obey your instincts
Take responsibility for your emotional wake
Let silence do the heavy lifting
Other useful tips that jumped out of the pages for me are:

  • We resent being talked to.  We would rather be talked with
  • Business is fundamentally an extended conversation - with colleagues, customers, partners, and the unknown future emerging around us...the best of the best are investing in becoming communication rich....black belt conversationalists.
  • Leaders must have conversations that interrogate reality, provoke learning, tackle tough challenges and enrich relationships.
  • Powerful quote:  "We never addressed the real issues, never came to terms with reality" - "We never stated our feelings.  In the end, there were so many things we needed to talk about, the wheels came of the cart."
  • You are required to be responsive to your work
  • "Begin listening to yourself as you've never listened before.  Begin to overhear yourself avoiding the topic, changing the subject, holding back, telling little lies (and big ones), being imprecise in your language, being uninteresting even to yourself.  And at least once today, when something inside you says 'this is an opportunity to be fierce,' stop for a moment, take a deep breath, then come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real."
  • Life is curly.  I know very well h ow quickly reality can change.
  • There is something within us that responds deeply to people who level with us.
  • How many meetings have I sat in where I knew the real issues were not being discussed.
  • Perhaps the fierce question leaders need to ask themselves is "Were my employees dead when I hired them, or did I kill them?"
  • As a leader, you get what you tolerate.
  • Make yourself available to whatever is out there with your name on it.

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