Consequential change — the kind that seeps so deeply into the fabric of everyday that it establishes a new benchmark for normal — does not happen overnight.

We want to believe differently. When awakened to a need or convinced of a cause, we are tempted to believe that a speech, a manifesto, a march, or a compelling pitch can plant, nurture, and harvest change in an hour. Or…if we’re really good…in an 18-minute talk.

And though moments can become the signposts of historical shifts, not even an I Have A Dream moment can realign vision and redirect actions on the spot.

Consequential change is either forced by circumstance — which most of us are unable to dictate — or it is the organic result of a series of better conversations.

And this is where we get to play.

What If…

Whatever the venue, if progress is slow consider introducing a different brand of dialogue.

From business development to the service sector, as leader or team member, from the communities that share faith to the living rooms where we share our most personal hopes and dreams, what if we focused on better conversations?

It is Polyana-ish, I know. But simply talking more, or turning up the intensity isn’t terribly effective. Staking out turf and wordsmithng old soundbites doesn’t seem to be the stuff of conversations that seed progress…let alone instigate change.

Here is the suggestion. At work, at home, in communities and circles in which we move — if what was once a unique selling proposition — or a platform of shared aspirations — has turned into conversations that never go anywhere, it is time to focus on a better conversation.

What might be the outcome were we to refuse to play the same old game, rehash the same tired debate, dig deeper into yesterday’s trenches?

Better Conversations Resonate

You recognize it the instant you are part of one; but what is it about a better conversation that makes it resonate so? And more to the point, how does one go about instigating such a thing? Here are four ideas.

  1. Less Dangling Conversation and Superficial Rhyme. In conversations that matter, rhetoric and soundbites take a backseat to the honest inquisitive nature we were born with. Ask the important questions.
  2. There’s A Lot Of Listening Going On. When the agenda is to win, convert or defend, what must be said takes precedent over hearing anything. And the simple fact of the matter is, when no one is listening, nothing is going to change. Great dialogue begins with intentional listening.
  3. Less About Me, And More About You. Because the focus is on connecting, meaningful conversations have fewer personal pronouns. “What we do” and “how you should do it” is replaced with a relentless pursuit of common ground.
  4. Dispense With Conditions And Ultimatums. Once we realize fundamental change doesn’t happen in an instant, lines in the sand give way to a focus on building bridges…from one conversation to the next.

If the goal is to build, develop, move forward — in any venue you can name — launch a quiet pursuit of better conversations — one at a time. It will change the dynamic of every room you enter. And you’re likely to find yourself at the heart of important shifts — in your world, and in the lives of others.