3 tips for better, more productive workplace conversations

Be slow to speak and quick to listen, share stories, and work to build a culture that prioritizes meaningful understanding about what makes people tick.

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One foolish conversation can pollute an entire team.

Unfortunately, we are all prone to saying stupid things. Working long hours in close quarters compounds this tendency and increases the likelihood of harsh words and harmful exchanges.

If we were more cognizant of the profound power of conversations, we’d open our mouths with greater care. If you’d like to be wiser and start having better, more productive conversations at work, follow these three tips:

1. Hunger to learn and understand.

Many conversations are merely pooled ignorance. Incompetent leaders, especially, tend to think they know before they’ve learned, which is a quick way to hasten conversations off a cliff.

Consider: Those who know the least often feel they know the most, and those who most need to learn can’t see their own ignorance. If you want to gain respect and become a better leader, learn to listen.

Also, listen to learn:

2. Share stories.

If you want people to bring emotion, passion and determination to work, try to understand what makes them tick. Exchanging personal stories is a great way to uncover what motivates people. To get the ball rolling, ask questions such as:

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