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- How your communication habits - good and bad - shape your world
- How to minimise - or even eliminate - the pain of poor communication
- How creative conversation will help you positively transform your relationships
- How to talk so that others listen and listen so that others talk
- How to maximise your ability to be fully understood
- How you can use disagreement to create positive change
- How to create something of value in every conversation
- How 'understand first' saves time, trouble and pain
- How you can challenge others in a way that opens up communication
- How to collaborate more effectively with others
- How to connect meaningfully with a wider range of people and opinions
This series of videos and real-life exercises will enable you to connect with people more effectively in a wide range of situations, through understanding, clarity and respect. Whether it's with loved ones, friends, colleagues, neighbours - even strangers - bit by bit, as your communication habits change for the better, so will your human network, your relationships - and your world.
- Anyone who has a relationship - personal, professional or social - which they want to improve.
- Managers who want to improve the cohesion and performance of their teams.
This video briefly explains the contents of this course on creative conversation, how the course is structured for your maximum benefit and the thinking that underpins this. The course outline is also reproduced in the documents in Resources (2S/2L).
Please note that there are two versions of each PDF for this course.
'S' indicates the standard sized font version, which is designed for reading on desktops, laptops and tablets.
'L' indicates the large font version, which is designed for the visually impaired and for reading on smartphones.
In this video we suggest six basic things that will help you make steady progress through this course on creative conversation. By following these basics, you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting the maximum benefit from each section of the course.
Set goals and markers
Do the activities
Do no more than one exercise a day
Do something every day
Write it down or record it
To help you with Nos 1 and 5, we've created a course logbook, which also gathers together all the review exercises that round off each section. So do take a look at the logbook in Resources.
To help you with No 6, there is a link to The School of Creative Conversation. Here you'll be able to meet others doing this course, share experiences, ask questions - and answer them - and maybe even find a buddy!
Understanding is about developing the discipline of focusing on and being crystal clear about what the person you're interacting with is saying - especially when they have initiated the conversation.
So the key aims for this section of the course are for you to:
Become more aware of how crucially important it is to ’understand first’ and to develop this as a key habit, a default starting-point in your conversations; and
Develop and practise the key elements that help you to do that understanding.
In Resources you'll find one of the most important documents (4S/4L) in this entire course. Have a look at it after viewing the lecture.
After this video and exercise, you will be more able to give your full attention to whoever you're speaking with. This will enhance your ability to understand them, while showing them respect and strengthening the connection between you.
This lecture explains this skill and the exercise (5S/5L) helps you to practise it, so that you can also start using it in your real-life conversations right away.
When sticking at understanding, using ‘prompts and probes’ is an effective way to help the person you're talking with open up, while avoiding the potential pitfalls of questions.
Your challenge is to use in your conversations any of the prompts and probes identified in this lecture and in the documents in Resources (6S/6L), as and when you think it appropriate. But first test your understanding in Quiz 1.
An effective way to show that you 'get' what someone is telling you is to feed back to them brief ‘nuggets of understanding’. These nuggets don't contain your opinion, judgment or advice, just what you've understood.
This lecture explains how to do this and the quiz that follows gives you the chance to check that you've 'got it'!
Summarising is about pulling together the nuggets of understanding you've generated during a conversation - or part of a conversation - to show the speaker that you've 'got' the key point or points they're trying to make. This can include facts and opinions, how they feel about whatever it is they're saying, and their basic needs in this situation.
This lecture explains - and the exercise in Resources (8S/8L) and helps you to practise - this skill, which you can also start using in your real-life conversations right away.
This video explains the basic aims of this section, which are for you to become more aware of
Your general communication environment
The quality of your communication in that environment.
Because when you’re beginning any journey it makes sense to know your starting-point - where you are now.
This video and exercise is about 'conversational culture' - the everyday conversational environment in which you operate. After watching it and doing the exercise you'll be a lot more aware of the habits that we all have, to a greater or lesser extent, that make connection between people more difficult - and sometimes impossible.
This section focuses on the importance of consciously taking personal responsibility for your communication. It has two basic aims, namely for you to
Become more aware of your own potential to bring about positive change in the relationships that matter to you, through your practice of creative conversation.
Use what you've learnt so far in the course to revisit and - if you decide to - revise your initial Goals and PIPs.
This lecture and exercise is about understanding how the quality of your relationships with specific individuals is closely linked to the quality of how you communicate with them. By exploring this link you can start to explore how you might be able to change things for the better.
This video and exercise explores your relationships as part of a personal human network that might or might not be functioning healthily. And if it isn't, what might you be able to do to bring about a positive change?
This section focuses on the importance of openness to creative conversation. It has two basic aims, namely for you to
Understand better why you tend to open up to certain people and opinions - and close down to other people and opinions - in your real and online environments and in your interaction with mainstream media
Start developing the habit of staying open, even when you encounter someone or something that triggers your basic habit to close up
So this could be quite a challenging section - and a rewarding one. You’ll be asking yourself some searching questions and you might be surprised by some of the answers...
The challenge in the exercise that follows this video is to stay open when you hear something you don't like or disagree with. It can be tricky - but using the awareness and skills you've been developing since the start of the course, it's definitely possible.
This lecture and exercise asks some basic questions about you and the sort of people you’re open - and closed - towards. It also suggests a practical challenge involving some of the people you identified in your relationships and human network mapping in Lectures 18-19.
This video and exercise focuses on ways of seeing and approaching things that aren't your own - and with which you might even be uncomfortable. The exercise includes two optional challenges to help you open up and connect more readily with a wider range of opinions - and the people who hold them.
This section focuses on how to develop the creative part of creative conversation. It has two basic aims, namely for you to
Understand better which of your current communication habits are essentially creative and which are less so
Start developing the habit of being more creative, especially when it comes to creating trust, hope, possibility (through collaboration) and connection with other people
At its core, the section is about becoming more alive to the opportunities we all have to make something valuable happen in every conversation through meeting the basic human needs of those involved.
It might sound odd to claim that we can consciously set out to create hope, for ourselves and other people. But the more practice you get at creating possibility – through thinking together with others – the more you’ll come to see that hope can indeed be created and that you can create it.
This video and exercise explains more.
This section focuses on how to challenge - and be challenged - as part of a creative conversation. It has two basic aims, namely for you to
Understand better how challenging tends to be either basically positive or negative - and see on which side of the line you sit
Start developing the habit of challenging - and receiving challenge - in a way that opens up a conversation and helps develop your connection with the other person
For many people, challenging others can be an uncomfortable, unwelcome experience. Done well, however, it can lead to deeper mutual understanding, better relationships and even completely new insights.
A tentative challenge is one that’s deliberately a bit uncertain. It doesn’t lay down the law or paint the other person into a corner. Instead, it deliberately leaves them some space in which to reconsider their view without sacrificing their dignity. It’s then that you can explore the situation or issue together.
This exercise has two parts – framing an imaginary tentative challenge in response to your known negative triggers; and then framing a tentative challenge in two real world conversations.
An invitational challenge is basically a suggestion, an invitation, to think about something that’s not yet in the picture or that could be looked at or explored in a different way.
This exercise on has two parts – framing an imaginary invitational challenge in response to your known negative triggers; and then framing an invitational challenge in two real world conversations.
A positive challenge is aimed at achieving something positive for everyone involved, rather than simply attacking an unwelcome position and/or the person holding it.
This exercise on has two parts – framing an imaginary positive challenge in response to your known negative triggers; and then framing a positive challenge in two real world conversations.
A specific challenge is one that helps the other person focus on the particular issues that need to be addressed and opens up space for a creative conversation on the subject.
This exercise on has two parts – framing an imaginary specific challenge in response to your known negative triggers; and then framing a specific challenge in two real world conversations.
This section is about how to express ourselves in a way that maximises the chances that whatever you're saying will be understood fully and clearly by whoever you’re talking to.
Its basic aim is for you to start using the pattern of Set up - Paint the Picture - Check to help you and the person you're talking to really focus on what it is you're seeking to convey.
This video and exercise looks at how to get what’s in your head clearly and accurately into the head of the person you're talking to. And if you’re not completely clear initially exactly what it is you want to say, you can use the other person to help you gain clarity - through a variety of creative conversation skills.
This section is about the process of how you conduct a conversation, rather than its content. It main aims are for you to
become more aware of how your 'conversation manager' operates and based on this greater awareness
start consciously using your conversation manager to create maximum value in all your interactions by using Rudyard Kipling's 'six honest serving-men'
So the focus here is on the underlying ‘operating system’ that governs how you approach conversation - and on developing the skills to take more creative control of it.
This is your opportunity to review your progress through the entire course, focusing on
The One Big Point from each section that you said you'd put into practice in your daily life
Your personal communication habits - have they changed
Your goals and PIPs
Whatever the progress you've made, remember - you can always reset your goals and keep going till you reach them. And you can keep returning to this course to polish and repolish your skills for as long as you like.