March 2015

Maybe it’s because I am actually sitting on a plane. Maybe it’s because the co-pilot turned out to be from a small German town I know well.

I had followed the story of the Germanwings plane crash, but suddenly here I am, hunkered down in my seat, watching CNN on my monitor, awash with emotion.

A sturdy fellow ambles down the aisle, just as the boarding door is pulled shut, squeezes himself into the middle seat between me and the young woman in the window seat. 

Phew, he says. It’s been a long day. I just want to sleep.

Would you like my window seat? the woman asks.

The fellow is startled, delighted, accepts the offer. Seats are switched.

Yes, I think to myself, that’s what I will remember from today. This is what matters.

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It is so simple.

You want to advance the discourse in a conversation? OFFER OPTIONS.

Yes, simple. OFFERING OPTIONS works in absolutely every context, every relationship, over every hurdle.

If it is so simple, why don’t we do it all the time?

When we get “plugged into” a conversation, we have a strong yearning to share our point of view. I urge you to have a point of view, especially in a business environment – and allow others to have a different one! Influential folks know their point of view and share it willingly.

Super-influential folks, however, transcend their point of view. They OFFER OPTIONS.

Not one option. No, OPTIONS. When I offer only one option, you and I will get lost in the one-option-debate.

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One of my guilty pleasures. The tv-show The Amazing Race.

Years back I nearly became a contestant on it. As I watch The Amazing Race now I wonder, what the heck was I thinking?

It is a hyper-pressure show. A thrilling metaphor for how we succeed or fail in the game of life.

Teams of two race around the world, competing with other teams of two. In each episode, plopped into a picturesque setting, teams search for clues about the next step on the journey and face a series of challenges. Some of the challenges require acts of physical daring, others require mental fortitude. Many require both.

At the end of each episode, the team that arrives last at the destination point gets eliminated.

Uhuh. Hyper-pressure.

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I like to talk.

I have been known to over-talk.

This is what happens when I go to the dark side. I have a strong point of view and I will let you know. And darn it, sometimes you don’t respond. My unchecked instinct is to keep talking UNTIL YOU DO! The more I talk, the more impassioned I will get, the more stone-faced you become.

Not pretty.

Being habitually silent does not work in a business meeting. We abdicate our ability to influence. We stifle our voice.

Also not pretty.

Choosing to shut up when we really long to talk can be the most inspired choice. Silent not because we are afraid to talk. Silent because our silence will advance the conversation.

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My chat with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel reminded me.

Some conversations flow. Many never do.

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel is a self-decribed Positivity Strategist, Appreciative Inquiry Aficionado, Author, dedicated to the co-creation of better futures.

Robyn and I share interests. But when I was a guest on Robyn’s Positivity Podcast last week, I thought to myself,you have been a guest on many podcasts, usually with a shared-interests-host, and not all of the chats flowed.

It takes two. Robyn and I conversation-flowed. I cannot MAKE a conversation flow all by myself. But I sure as heck can GET OUT OF THE WAY to allow for flow.

Consider these simple Conversation-Flow Principles:

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