The Chat that Launched a Thousand Transformations

© Nruboc |

© Nruboc |

Of all the transformative tools in all the coffee joints in the world—search ye in vain for anything more effective than The Conversation.

The Conversation is not an hour-long lecture.  It isn’t a debate.  It isn’t complicated to learn or deliver.  In about 15 seconds, The Conversation can take someone with a crummy, destructive workplace attitude and turn them completely around.

Say you’ve got a co-worker who never misses an opportunity to grouse about management, or peers, or underlings, or the furniture, lights, weather, health plan, the pattern in the break room floor tiles…I can see by your expression that you know who I’m talking about.

If I’m right, and you DO know someone like this, a pure vortex of energy-sucking dark matter who seeks only to derail any hope of progress, then it’s time for YOU to engage this person in The Conversation.

Here’s how it goes:

“I’m so excited about where our team is going. And I could be wrong, but my sense is you don’t share that excitement.  That’s okay, because maybe this isn’t your thing.  But if this isn’t your thing, you have to go find your thing!”

That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  But take a moment to see what’s packed into that tiny paragraph.  You’re excited, and you’ve noticed she isn’t.  You validate that (“That’s okay”), then invite the person to find her bliss—wherever it is!

You don’t need to be the boss or even in the same department with this person to have The Conversation. It is extremely direct yet exceptionally loving because it demonstrates that you care enough to get them to make a choice between bringing their whole heart to their current situation or going to find a new situation that makes them happy.

Delivered well, The Conversation has transformed a lot of people from being miserable blamers to on-fire contributors. And the beauty is that it works in an instant.  Ninety percent of the time, the bad apple person says, in these or other words, “You’re right. I’ve been a jerk”—and then becomes a star performer because the boundless energy they were using to manipulate their coworkers into joining them in their misery is now channeled to productive use.

As for the other ten percent—well, anyone who refuses to respond to an intervention that gentle and reasonable has essentially fired himself.  The pink slip is just a formality.

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