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We have learned two very valuable AHAs recently:

1. Most people believe they are great communicators and conversationalists, yet very few have ever learned or been taught how and rely on past experience with others.
2. Most people believe they are curious in life. We all have passions, read books and want to know what is behind a door.

However almost no one is curious in conversations.
 
When people believe they are great communicators and they are not curious in their conversations, they tell, judge, blame, shame and get stuck in a “I am right/you are wrong” mindset – all without even realizing it, and all of it leads to conflict. 

Sound familiar?

This is a very familiar dance between Leader/team, parent/child, teacher/student, colleagues, family and friends. All organizations want collaboration and innovation, which is pretty much impossible when you look at our current state of conversations, or lack thereof.
 
With the swift advances in technology, we are shifting from the hierarchal Industrial Era to the flatter, more transparent Information Age, which is forcing changes in how we do what we do. 

For the first time ever, we have a younger generation that has access to more information than the one before it. Older generations can no longer presume to know the experiences of those much younger than themselves. Just as an over-fifty employer can’t begin to understand (or at least has trouble comprehending) the perspective of employees in their 20s, a parent of 7 year old can’t comprehend the viewpoint of their child. Their world is an alien landscape in comparison to the parent’s when she was 7 or the managers when she was in her 20s. With a smart device in hand, a child or young employee can be as knowledgeable in any subject, or more so, than their parent or leader.  

The traditional knowledge-bearer must now adjust, at least in the area of technology, to sharing this role with their much-younger counterparts, and this can be a difficult adaptation – one to which most adults are unaccustomed.
 
In the Information Age, organizations want engagement, collaboration, innovation, inspiration, and accountability – skills that are currently being expected of leaders yet aren’t being taught. 

Even as the culture is swiftly changing, most people are not.

The good news is, the antidote is simple - curious conversations. You already have the skills you need to succeed, you just need to relearn what you already know.
 
Take Action:
Pay attention to how curious you are in your conversations today. How often are you telling vs asking? How often are you talking about yourself rather than listening to others? What do you notice?
 
Up next: Well-being is related to having less small talk and more substantive conversations, how curiosity makes you feel good!