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Because we’re rushed, and we’re busy, and we’re popping in and out of meetings and from one person to another, and if we don’t take a minute to just breathe and center ourselves around the outcomes that we want, we just kind of get what we get. And that doesn’t always honor or prepare us to really be work ready for who’s… who’s on the other side of our interaction.
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, and with me is my friend and co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.
Our topic today is how to win high consequence conversations. In an article on zippia.com in December of 2020, Caitlin Mazur wrote about the importance of being a good conversationalist. Zippia is a career expert site, but it made me think about the importance of conversations in all areas of our lives. Today, we will focus on conversations in the workspace, but think about how it also impacts our personal lives, our communities, our volunteer efforts, our parenting skills, our… all of our relationships, and even our faith or spiritual lives. Of course, being a good conversationalist is essential, because communication is a critical skill in any working environment, but being a good conversationalist is important in a few different ways, specifically.
Number one, it’s building relationships. You know, you really need to build solid relationships at work which make your life easier for a variety of reasons. Having colleagues to brainstorm with, you have an open door where people will come in and share information, you may need to know that you and your boss can relate to each other. You know, whatever the reason, having good conversational skills is going to really help you build those, and really maintain those wonderful relationships. By being good at having conversations, you’re going to open up more opportunities to meet more people, learn new things, and really, I think, become professionally better at what you do.
Yeah, absolutely. Number two is it can help you establish professionalism and credibility. Being able to conduct yourself with ease in a roomful of people, or even one-on-one – right? – can help you give off a professional vibe, no matter your position in a company or in the context of the event itself. So by communicating with ease, we can establish a certain level of credibility for ourselves that might be unattainable otherwise, by being able to discuss certain subjects at length that can help us develop even deeper and more meaningful relationships, not only with those who we work with, but just by new people that we meet as well.
Number three, it’s about your reputation. You know, being good at carrying on conversations really has impact long after that conversation is over. People go away with you in mind, when opportunities come along, they’ve had a good conversation with you, they are more likely to recommend you to do things or to be part of groups that they’re going to be working on. So it’s really important, I think, to recognize that your conversation… people are going to be left with a story about you that’s really going to be how you’re going to be thought about and presented in the world outside of that conversation.
Right. Number four is job satisfaction. Although it might take some practice, being a good conversationalist doesn’t have to be a chore, right? The more we communicate effectively with our colleagues, with our customers, with those around us can help us to discover more satisfaction in our roles and the relationships of those around us.
And number five, finally, interviewing. Being a good conversationalist is an applicable skill for those of us who do interviewing a lot. But, you know, people… if they approach every conversation as if they’re interviewing the other person, they’re gonna have the opportunity to exchange good information, learn about each other, and really, I think, build that rapport.
Our guest today has a unique perspective on conversations. Lisa Mitchell is the owner of Pulse Analytix. She is a certified forensic interviewer, a body language expert, a people reader, and a media guest on many popular TV shows on these topics. In addition, Lisa is also a keynote speaker and an executive coach. She specializes in identifying conversation goals, understanding what the person or people on the other side of your face really need, and the right questions to ask to get more information and drive towards your desired results. Lisa, I’m so thrilled to have you with us today.
Thank you so much. I appreciate the invitation to be on.
I have to tell our listeners that I’m a little bit nervous, because although we’re just recording the audio for this podcast, Lisa can see me, so…
…she may be reading me right now.
You know what, Lisa, I’m gonna get through my fear.
You have my commitment that I’m off duty right now.
There will be no forensic coding happening. We’re just having a great chat.
That sounds wonderful. Thank you. Well, first question for me – How does the way you show up in a conversation impact the outcome, and how can you be more intentional about entering into important interactions?
Yeah, I think how we show up is infinitely important in conversations. And this is whether you’re sitting in the same room with someone or over Zoom or video call or even on the telephone. Just being prepared and kind of setting your own internal GPS first is so important. And… and the great thing about the mechanics of communication – and when you think about kind of your total communication package, like your vocal tonality, your cadence, the emotionality that you have, your inflection, your body movements, how you speak with your hands or gesture or lean in to show interest… like, the whole mechanics and choreography of communication is so important, and it really is set by your internal GPS. So before you walk into an interaction where you pick up the phone or you get on a Zoom call, I really recommend that you take a couple moments of intentionality and figure out, you know… The exercise that I use with my clients and in rooms of people is the three words exercise, and it’s just a quick mental exercise to anchor in to where you want to set your internal GPS. And it’s a question of, if I were to interact with you, and I walk away, and somebody comes up to you and says, “What three words would you use to describe her or him,” what three words would I hope you would use based on our interaction? So it’s kind of like reverse engineering the outcome. So if I want anyone listening to this right now to really feel like I’m competent, that I know what I’m talking about, that I’m really warm and excited about what I’m sharing, because I am, and then that you can trust me, that what I’m sharing with you is… is scientifically based and sound communication skills. So for me, it would be trustworthiness, warmth, and competence are kind of my internal anchors. And once I set my GPS, then all the other systems of my communication package help support that outcome. So it’s just three words before you walk into any room or… or engage in any type of interaction that’s meaningful to you. Just asking that question, “What three words do I hope this person uses to describe me when I walk out of the room?”
Wow, I love that.
I’m gonna use that.
It’s my hack. It’s because we’re rushed, and we’re busy, and we’re popping in and out of meetings and from one person to another, and if we don’t take a minute to just breathe and center ourselves around the outcomes that we want, we just kind of get what we get. But that doesn’t always honor or prepare us to really be work ready for who’s… who’s on the other side of our interaction.
Yeah, that’s awesome. So Lisa, we said in the intro that you specialize in identifying conversation goals, and I think that could be one of them, right? And thinking about what three words would… do I hope they would describe me as? But otherwise, what are other conversational goals, and how does having them maybe change the feel of the conversation?
Yeah, the idea of conversation goals, again, is kind of setting where you want to end up first, right? So it’s… it’s what’s the purpose of this interaction? And there’s a couple of key ones. Some of them are around, you know… My goal is to build trust, right? So my entire ground zero for this conversation, every piece of evidence that I offer, every methodology that I use to engage this person, I want them to end up at the end saying, “I… I trust you, I feel safe with you. This engagement is positive for me.” So sometimes it’s just an interaction around building trust. Sometimes it’s just an interaction to build likability. So I just, I really want this person to feel good about me or just to enjoy and look forward to interacting with me, whether it’s, again, over the phone or in person or on a screen. My core mission of this interaction is to just build that relationship, that likeability, and that warmth. Sometimes it’s offering reassurance. People get really paralyzed when they don’t feel like they know what decision to make or they don’t trust themselves in a situation. Maybe they don’t have domain expertise and they’re having to kind of put that trust in you. And by just offering reassurance of, you know, “hey, you’re making a great decision or you’re making the right next move or you’re headed in the right direction,” with no other agenda in that interaction but to just offer reassurance and to bolster somebody’s confidence, that’s a totally valid conversation goal. Just… just reassure them. And along those same lines is acknowledgement. Sometimes it’s just recognition, like, “Hey, I see the work that you’re doing, I really appreciate you, you’re making a difference, you’re impacting me in a positive way or the organization in a positive way.” Again, just on its own merit… and a lot of these, you’ll see, oh, well, I might have two or three of these goals in one meeting or in one interaction, and that’s really normal. But any one of these on its own is its own valid merit and its own reason to engage and it’s a totally valid and important target to strive for. And sometimes we get mission focused and we get a little transactional and we kind of forget about some of the other… the other purposes or the other goals that we can have in just sitting in the same space or getting in the same conversation lane with somebody.
Makes sense. How does understanding the conversation persona help you create more meaningful connections with the person you’re talking to?
I think that this is probably one of the most fun parts of communicating, and this is the idea of kind of forming your hypothesis or your theory. I’m a big science – particularly behavioral science, but science in general – geek. I’m always running experiments and testing hypothesis. And for this, it’s… it’s looking at what you know about a person or… or context clues. Maybe the only context you have on somebody that you’re engaging with is what you see on LinkedIn or what you see on social media, or maybe even what somebody else’s told you about them. And it’s kind of forming this theory around, What does this person need from me in this moment? So it can be, What helps this person feel like they’ve won? Like, what gives this person a feeling of victory? And then organizing your… your destination around getting that person to victory. Or the idea of, What keeps this person up at night? Like, what are they afraid of or what do they feel like maybe could go wrong if they don’t get this interaction right or they don’t make the right decision? Or what makes this person feel significant? Like, is it their family? Is it their education? Is there… Is it their contribution or their philanthropy? Like, what are those things that really kind of just perks that person up when it’s acknowledged and when it’s seen and… and talked about? So it’s just kind of forming these ideas of what… what maybe is important to this person. And what it really does is help take the focus off of what is important to me, because a lot of times we get tunnel vision into “What do I want? How do I want to feel?” And it’s important to honor yourself. You don’t… you don’t want to be, like, sacrificially serving to the point of your own detriment or… or discomfort, but by just asking yourself, “What is this person about? What is… what’s important to them? How do they feel special and acknowledged and seen?” that really shifts the focus away from you and onto the other person and creates a totally different experience for the person on the other side of you. And lots of people are walking around right now, especially after having been in some form of isolation or having their routine disrupted, people are feeling really invisible right now and are really grieving a loss of connection. And just feeling like at the end of the day, somebody actually saw me today and saw me and acknowledged me in a way that made me feel good… we don’t get a lot of that. We get lots of transactions, but not a lot of connection. And so by asking yourself or challenging yourself to think mindfully about the person, the persona of the conversation that you’re having, it can really help you just pay more attention. And even if that’s not mission critical in your exchange or your conversation, it really can just… that moment of, like, “well, she sees me,” you know, “she sees me,” or “he sees me,” or “they get me,” right? Or, “gosh, it feels good to be in that with somebody who’s paying attention to me right now.” It’s just such a great moment, and looking in and challenging yourself around that persona question can help create that moment for you.
Along those same lines a bit, Lisa, thinking about the other person, what are some key questions that we could ask others that might help us, like, collect some key data points, but also to create space for them to share what’s important to them?
I love questions. It’s… in the forensic interviewing world – right? – we have lots of objectives and outcomes that we’re going for, but ultimately, my job in that space is just to create the space and safety for somebody to tell me their truth. Like, that’s it. Like, that’s the whole gig. It’s not a confession. It’s not… you know, it’s just space for the truth. And my job is to make somebody feel safe enough to go there and to earn the right to hear their truth. And I don’t think that normal conversations or business conversations are any different. It’s creating space to get to the truth. So I really like to ask questions that are, you know… you hear open ended or closed ended, but it’s even a little bit more than that. It’s around the idea of, like, well, how do you… “How do you feel about this project?” or “How do you feel about what you’ve been asked to do?” You know, the feel questions that aren’t so, like, yes or no or kind of blanket statement answered. And that, based on what they tell you, then it almost always sets you up for that second level or that deeper level of question or engagement or, “Oh, well, why? Can you tell me about that?” or “Have you had an experience similar to that?” The other question I love is, “How do you expect this to go?” I love that, because it lets you know what’s important to that person or maybe even uncover some of that fear that we talked about. Like, “Oh, well, I think it’s gonna be really challenging,” or “I feel really uncertain about this,” or “I don’t know how it’s gonna go.” It’s like, “Okay, well, let’s talk about giving you a little bit more direction or a little bit clearer target of how this can look and feel for you. Let me fill in some of those blanks.” Right? It’s just a really powerful moment to… to help them tell you without telling you directly what they’re afraid of or what they’re uncertain of, and then lets you come in as a trusted partner and really help set them up for success. The other kind of format of question that I love is, “What does best case or worst case scenario look like for you? If I come back to you and I want to make everything perfect for you in this situation, what would that look like to you? What would I have to do, what would I have to bring back to you, what would I have to position you for to get you there or to have you say that?” Right? Or “If I want to be the best consultant you’ve ever worked with,” – right? – “at the end of this project, we’ve hit the the numbers and the KPIs and the measurables, but what would that experience have to feel like for you? How would I have to show up for you as a partner to have you recommend me or to give me that gold star of I’m a really great person to do business with?” And then that’s like, oh, well, it’s… I may think that it’s how much I know is most important, but for you, it may be how quickly do I get back to you, right? So it’s not me guessing at what’s important. It’s me creating space and formulating that in a way that’s really easy for you to tell me without it sounding like a directive. People don’t like confrontation, but if you put it in that kind of hypothetical situation or a future state situation, people feel more comfortable disclosing more.
Yeah, really good stuff.
I’m going to use some of those questions. I really like them. I really do.
So Lisa, I’ve heard, you know, heard the expression, “you need to listen with your whole body.” As a body language expert, what does that mean?
Yeah, listening is a superpower and most of us really suck at it.
Myself included. It’s an act of discipline to really actively listen to someone, and not just listening with the goal of figuring out what you’re going to say next or say in response, but to listen to, again, what they’re… what they’re sharing with you in that space. And for so many people, we are afraid. We’re just afraid. We’re afraid to say the wrong thing. We’re afraid of judgment. We’re afraid of sounding like we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’re afraid of conflict. So people come into an interaction with a lot of fear kind of front loaded, almost like a primal level. And so if you can use your, again, kind of the full choreography of your communication by… by giving the nonverbal cues of “I’m listening,” which can be leaning in, it can be that kind of the the slight head tilt in, the slow nod is, like, the universal empathetic kind of signature of “Yes, I’m listening,” and it’s also a nonverbal “Tell me more,” which can have people feel almost compelled to keep sharing and to giving you more information in the… not so much the formulated words, but the… the audible encouragement, right? That “Oh, yeah,” or the “Oh,” or the… or the, you know, like, not so much a specific “Tell me more,” or “Say more,” word, but it’s like, “Really,” you know, like, “Keep going,” and… and we all kind of know those cues and those prompts, but it’s… it’s really easy, especially on… on Zoom or on a video call, to just forget that you have a responsibility to engage and to be an active listener, because we all kind of, like, get in our little square and zone out a little bit sometimes. So you know, like, like you’re doing now, JoDee, right? Like the head… the head nod, the encouragement, again, I’m… I keep talking, so it’s working.
But even, I think even more so on screens and even vocally, you can encourage people just on the phone when they can’t see you by being an active listener or making comments showing you’re along for the ride, because people, again, feel unheard almost as much as they feel unseen. And so it really is a job to use the mechanics of your body, to use your space, to use your nonverbal cues and tools to really help encourage somebody and just affirm that you’re with them. You know, nobody wants to talk to somebody who checked out and people know when you’re distracted, they know when you have your… you’re on the Zoom, but you have your phone in your hand or you have another screen up or you’re working a dual monitor, you know, whatever it is, or you’re talking to a roomful of people, JoDee, like you did recently, you know, at trueU, you know, there wasn’t anybody on their phone. I was watching.
You got them engaged. Right? But you would… you would know, you know, what it feels like when somebody is, like, in the room, but not with you.
It’s just really being mindful of those tactics.
Lisa, I had a client tell me just a few days ago that… we were talking about a mutual acquaintance of ours, and he described her – her name was Bekah – as having the most engaging Zoom presence he had ever experienced. And it made me think of that with relation to you and what you do. And you’ve just mentioned a few of those things. But are there some specific things that we can be doing on a Zoom call? Like, I had to think back – what did my friend Bekah, what does she do that makes her so engaging on Zoom? Like, what else can we learn from that?
Yeah, I think one of the biggest challenges that people have on Zoom is remembering to be themselves and to “show up in their fullness,” is what I call it. So when… when we first started working differently and lots of people who had never had to be remote or work on Zoom and started doing that, I was doing a lot of triage for companies, because people felt like they couldn’t do their work. And… and the great, like, irony of that is, like, if you show up on Zoom the same way you would show up sitting across the conference room table from somebody or in the same space with somebody or sitting at a coffee shop with somebody, that fullness of expression and movement and emotionality, like, it translates so well on Zoom. And it’s really, really necessary, because you can get away with being a little flat in person, because people have the fullness of your physical presence, but you only have a square, right? And most people… you’ve seen people who have their screen, like, up their nose or give you an eyeball, or…
Like, you know, most people aren’t great at, like, maximizing their space on Zoom. But when somebody is and somebody allows themselves the freedom and the fun of just fully expressing on Zoom the same way they do in… you know, most people if you just sit and watch – which I do often, because I’m a total creeper – but if you… if you just sit and watch people interact in a coffee shop or in a restaurant, I mean, people are all over the place, right? They’re gesturing and they’re up and down and they’re leaning and laughing and they’re, you know, just the fullness of people is beautiful. And… and we have to challenge ourselves, even though it feels weird to see ourselves on screen or… or in a square or get really self-conscious and uncomfortable, don’t deprive people of the fullness of your presence just because you’re on a screen. If anything else, let it shine a little brighter to compensate for the parts of you that they can’t see.
Oh, I love that.
Do you have any advice to how do you spark more JoyPowered® conversations?
I think the quickest, you know, hack to more joy in your conversations is better question asking. And it requires the discipline of kind of putting yourself aside for a moment and really just looking for that spark of connection with the person across from you. And so that may be… maybe you’re not a real warmth-oriented conversationalist. Maybe you want to go straight to problem solving, and that’s your comfort zone. But if the person across from you is more warmth-oriented and needs a little bit of that chitchat, check in, humanity first, flex. Like, take ownership of that and flex and be willing to honor the other person by matching their style instead of insisting or leading maybe with what’s most natural for you. And communication is such a spectrum of some people are very task- or mission-oriented, some people are very warmth- and relational-oriented, and we’re all somewhere on that scale. But the beauty is when you have an awareness and you know how you show up, you have self-awareness, and you can kind of read what the other person would like or need. You’re in control. It’s a beautiful thing to have that. That awareness gives you control and you really can decide to take the extra effort, take the extra moment of mindfulness and meet that person where they need you to be instead of maybe where you just default to.
So good. Lisa, how can our listeners reach out to you directly if they’d like more information on sparking better conversations?
Sure, yeah. The easiest way to get me is email. And it’s Lisa at powerbodylanguage.com. My website is powerbodylanguage.com. And I’m all over the internet @lisamitchellindy, which is I-N-D-Y. So YouTube, I have tons and tons of things on my YouTube channel, just tips and tricks and little two or three minute… two or three minute segments to just help level up a little bit at a time.
Nice. Well, thank you so much. I know I don’t usually take notes when I’m podcasting, and today, I was, like, taking all kinds of notes, things to remember to say and to ask people. So great advice, and thanks for joining us.
Very helpful. Thank you.
Thanks for having me.
Boy, Susan, she had some great advice, didn’t she?
Oh, my gosh, yes. Things I want to do differently. I want to ask people how are they feeling in conversations, which, I don’t really take temperature checks very often. I’m all about let’s get it done. So yeah, a lot of good tips.
Yeah, I love that too. How do you feel? And her one that said, “What is the best case scenario for you?” I can think of so many examples where that would be a good question for me to ask others, as well. I realized, too, how selfish I am about conversations. When you asked her how she might spark a more JoyPowered® conversation, I was thinking all about me, me, me, me, me.
Her answer was, you know, to ask them good questions to spark it in them. And I was like, oh, maybe take some focus off myself and on to the other person.
Yes. Well, that was great. I also think the other thing I’m going to use is before I enter into a conversation or teaching a class or doing whatever, what are the three things I want people to think about me afterwards? Oh, my gosh, that really… what a great grounding. She says your… your internal GPS. So I am going to give that a shot.
Yeah, I loved that, too.
JoDee, I want to share a listener question today. As you know, in our audience, we have business leaders, we have HR professionals, and what we’ve heard from a number of our HR professional listeners is that they know that we offer SHRM credit for listening to some of our podcasts that are educational in nature on the people front. So we thought it was important when one of our listeners said, “What recommendations do you have for HR recertification?” But one thing I want to add is, business leaders, although this may not feel relevant to you, it’s good for you to know that in the HR profession, you can hold professional designations. What it requires, though, is you have to pass a pretty intensive assessment, so you do a lot of studying for it, whether it’s through HRCI for theirs, or SHRM for their certifications. And then in order to maintain that certification, every three years, you need to accumulate at least 60 hours of credit. That credit can be through going to courses, conferences, listening to podcasts, it can be through a number of other types of activities. So JoDee, what are some of your recommendations?
Yeah, so we… there are two main bodies of recertification credits for HR. One is SHRM, S-H-R-M, and one is HRCI. And lot of organizations or groups, some give credits for both of them, and some only give credit for one or the other. But I think the core takeaway I really want people to understand on this is that sometimes an organization might give you a code, say, for one or the other, but not to just look for those opportunities where you’re given a code. For SHRM, for example, you can earn recertification for a project that you’re working on. So maybe you’re leading a Diversity and Inclusion project… or I hate to call that a project – initiative in your organization, and that you can actually earn credits for that or, you know, years ago when I became certified in Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder, I… that was a 40 hour training session for me, and I didn’t walk away from either one of them with a code, right? But at the time I was certified in both SHRM and HRCI, and I submitted the agenda, I submitted the bios of the speakers. So yes, it might take 10 minutes longer than just going out there and entering a code, but there’s lots of other ways that you can earn credit, and so I encourage you to check those out. Of course, our favorite way is for people to listen to the JoyPowered® podcast, which is certified for SHRM credits, but you might check that out if you’re HRCI credit and see if they will offer HRCI credit for that, as well, too.
In our in the news topic today, a September 2021 study by career platform Lensa has revealed the current landscape of the USA job market, showing the most in demand job roles in the US. If you want more details on this, we will include a link to the full study in the show notes. The top 10 most in demand jobs of 2021, number one, customer service representative.
Number two, receptionist.
Number three, administrative assistant.
Number four, customer service of all different kinds.
Number five, warehouse associate.
Number six – no surprise – registered nurse.
Number seven, warehouse roles.
Number eight, data entry clerk.
Number nine, drivers.
And number 10, project manager.
You know, we actually shared this list about a year ago, and it surprises me every time I look at this as to some of the roles I think might be most on demand that didn’t show up and roles that did show up that I had no idea were such a big need.
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