Have you ever wondered how some businesses always seem to operate smoothly and win every client over? There are many keys to success in the contracting industry, but intelligent conversations are often overlooked as one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox. In this article, you’ll explore the power of how more effective, intelligent and intentional conversations can improve business and client relationships for better results.
Tracy Quinton is the founder of the Quinton Group and an organizational strategist who has over 35 years of experience working with companies in 70 countries. She helps them get unstuck and create more possibilities for exponential growth. Her secret isn’t fancy marketing methods or trendy technology either, she does it by showing them how to implement conversational intelligence.
What is conversational intelligence?
Many organizations get stuck in the process of trying to grow. Conversational intelligence really centers around the concept of having intentional conversations. This type of mindset is rarely discussed and often underestimated in contracting and other businesses, but it is a key to sparking growth. The concept of intelligent conversation starts with reviewing the dynamics of your organization and getting clarity on where you want to go.
The next step is to co-create new strategies that are tailored to your organization. The power behind this process is getting everyone’s participation in developing new thinking and new ways of operating — and all of this starts with conversations. The first conversation is the one in the entrepreneur’s mind.
Our thoughts create words, our words create actions and to a significant extent, determine our lives. In every business, those words come into play in our relationships because every business has people at its core, working together. Conversational intelligence is about using our hard-wired need for connection to build something.
Conversations are powerful and can make or break relationships. Applying neuroscientific research in business is fascinating because it’s about getting insight into how the brain responds to the conversation by opening up or shutting down. If you can improve your connections and interactions with colleagues, it will have a positive ripple effect on the entire business.
When looking at where a company is stuck, the question to start with is, if you weren’t stuck, where would you be? What is your ideal vision?
There is always a reason for being stuck — having something you want in mind, but the possibilities around it and the strategy to achieve it are still unclear to you. When you start talking about where you want to go, your brain responds to inspiration. When you’re stuck, the inspiration is blocked.
Conversational intelligence also helps to address preconditioned limiting beliefs on what’s possible, being good enough, etc. When you can shift your perspective by figuratively piling up all of your history, experiences, lessons learned, and knowledge, and stand on top of that, you can start looking at what’s possible and be inspired.
Consider your own self-talk. Listen to what you say about yourself and if it’s negative, start saying the opposite. Evaluate each thought to see if it’s true. Start trying things you didn’t think were possible by just taking a few small steps. Before you know it, your whole landscape changes. It’s usually easier to achieve this switch with smaller companies because they make decisions faster and are more flexible.
Remember, the past does not have to determine the future. It’s about reviewing everything you know and have experienced; choosing what to leave behind and what to use going forward.
Opening conversations, opening options
If you’re a struggling entrepreneur, you’re not alone. Everyone else is struggling and trying to do their best, too. But what if conversations could transform the struggles into discovering opportunities? What if you could discover more of your staff’s hidden skills and unspoken ideas that they could contribute? Think about it — it’s impossible for anyone to help someone else if there hasn’t been a conversation about it somehow.
Without a conversation, everything stays in your head, limiting possibilities and growth and creating more room for unclear expectations, assumptions, and miscommunication. For example, Tracy recently coached a leader who had a wonderful team of top performers. The leader was terrified she would lose her expert employees to boredom and asked how to motivate them to stay.
Tracy suggested asking the employees about their perspective on their future in the company and the leader’s response was that a) she’d never asked them such a question and b), they usually never talk to her except for responding with short yes or no answers. On considering what could happen during such a conversation, the leader said that the staff may suggest ideas she couldn’t implement. The next suggestion took it further — how about asking the staff what they would do in her position? Two weeks later, everything had changed. The conversations had exploded, opening up new ideas and options for everyone to move forward. Open the conversation.
Changing conversations with yourself
It all starts with you. Get clarity on your three-year goals and be the director of the conversation in your head. Write it down on paper to help speed up your ability and confidence to articulate your goals. Don’t keep it all in your head. Talk about it so that others can get involved and multiply the conversation. When you share your goals and listen to what someone else has in mind, it creates an opportunity to build off each other’s thoughts and come up with something even better.
Intentional conversations are powerful, so it’s worth learning how to have them. Research shows that 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark. That’s a lot of wasted time! Conversational intelligence helps you get time back and produce far better results, sooner.
It’s a transformational process where clear conversations:
· Vastly improve results
· Inspire connection
· Get you unstuck
· Create action
· Open up new possibilities and opportunities
· Build the future.
Keep your word and follow-through
Conversations build relationships and of course, a commitment must follow. If you don’t act on your word, it can cause a rift right at the beginning of the relationship. Trust is what makes relationships work, and you build trust by telling the truth and keeping your word. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. When people see you follow through on what you say, they will think of you as reliable. The impact of it on business is powerful — it can make or break your business.
If you’ve screwed up, you can regain the trust, but it will take more work. The key is to be mindful of what you say and rather under-promise and over-deliver. You’ll always have priorities and pressures competing for your attention but being mindful of what you can follow through on will determine the success of your client relationships.
In the contracting industry, people are used to being disappointed. It happens so often that for many contractors, business is more about managing upsets than actually building or creating WOW. For that to change, expectations must be clarified between all the roles from the start.
Clarifying expectations with clients and teams
In contracting and trade industries, there are some common assumptions that cause problems. Assumptions that everyone knows what the builder has in mind, or what the client expects during and after the building process, or that everyone on the building team is on the same page. However, nothing is clear unless it’s been clearly communicated, out loud.
The first question to ask is, what are your expectations? Often, they aren’t sure. This conversation can take time — talk about it, take a break, sleep on it, then revisit it again. The clarity will come once you’re able to get beyond the surface to what’s really important. Once you determine expectations, these are the next steps:
- Clarify what everyone expects of each other (the builder, the client, other involved trades/contractors).
- Then, write it down so that everyone can keep track and review it.
- Don’t assume that your team knows how you want things done before, during and after building. You need to spell out what you want teamwork to look like so that everyone is on the same page.
- Remember the why behind what you’re building — e.g. a home for a family, not just a slapped-together structure.
- Keep the conversation going throughout, to sort out problems and recognize tasks well done.
Conversations will produce results and relationships where people feel safe and comfortable enough to open up, participate and contribute. Everyone will learn more from each other and grow together.
Start intelligent conversations today with these three tips
- Get clarity about your goals. What do you want? When? How? Where? With whom? Why?
- Share your goals with your team or partner, whoever is in the process with you and then spell out exactly what your expectations are from them and find out what their expectations are from you.
- Once you’ve all reached a consensus, keep your word. Follow through.
Guaranteed outcome: your business will be transformed in the process, and so will you. It’s a beautiful thing!
Want even more great guidance on conversational intelligence and how to use it to create growth in your business? Then head over to https://4levelcoach.com/randy-stanbury/podcast/ and listen to the entire podcast where Randy and Tracy discuss all the tips and tactics than are summarized in this article. You’ll also find more helpful podcasts on entrepreneurship in the contracting business!