Book Review: Conversational Capacity from Craig Weber

I believe that reading, discussing, and applying the concepts of this book could further differentiate professionals as the future leaders of the workforce. Among other things, the ability to talk candidly and establish dissenting opinions without fear of brutal verbal or employment retaliation is a vital facilitator to openly voicing ethical values in the workplace.

The Twitter version:

Open and vibrant discussion featuring active dissension and no domineering members, or conversational capacity, is critical to effective teamwork.

The 3-minute executive summary:

Traditional team building focuses on strategy, structure, and/or other factors such as whether or not members get along or are committed to the larger goal of the organization. What is critically underestimated is the ability of teams to hold candid discussions on their toughest challenges.

Our evolutionary fight or flight response, the tendency to minimize from conflict or win by scorching the earth if necessary, creates powerful predispositions towards dysfunction. When these two extremes are properly balanced, then teams are able to hit the “sweet spot” of discussion.

To pull minimizers back to the center, one needs the following abilities:

1. State a concise position

2. Substantiate the position with robust evidence.

To pull “flamethrowers” back [I am one!], one needs the following abilities:

1. Frame your opinions as hypotheses rather than fact or larger-than-life

2. Test these hypotheses, openly asking for feedback

3. Encourage dissenting opinions from others

4. If the dissenters are unclear or unsupported, tactfully ask for clarifications from the position of curiosity.


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