How to Convert your Poor conversation skills into Safe Skills

Effective communication
Dear Yogesh,

This is regarding a person in a supervisory position whom I am mentoring. She’s been doing quite good for herself and is very precise when it comes to setting directions for her team and achieving targets. However, I’ve been hearing things from her team about her communication skills; they think she is too upfront and often criticizes them for their inefficiencies. Those who’re are soft-spoken and vulnerable often feel hurt because of getting the things conveyed bluntly and in their face. I have known this woman for several years and seen her grow excellently. But, I think this problem is likely to create hurdles for her in a long run.

Can you please suggest some ideas on how I can help her work on these traits?

Organizational coach,
A Reputed Financial Institution

Dear Mentor of a Reputed Financial Institution,

Crucial Conversations TrainingMost of the top performing people possess traits that are not-so-acceptable when it comes to practicality and often turn into liabilities. Some people timely identify these problems and push themselves to turn the tables around, but this alone doesn’t generally work. Embracing a lasting change in behaviour requires techniques and strategies that work on refining the strengths.

Let me explain this by an example. Once I encountered working with a woman who possessed similar traits. She was pretty much upfront and direct while communicating with her subordinates. But, it’s interesting how she was being accepted at different levels of the hierarchy. With the top management, she was totally valued and respected for her leadership style but amid a subgroup of women, she was found her aggressive, punitive and non-friendly. Addressing this problem was quite a challenge, as one set of people appreciated her for the same traits she was criticized in another group. Her traits were creating a mix of impressions around the organization. In an endeavour to satisfy each group, she found herself stuck in the middle of two boats.

Here’s what worked as a rescuer for her: Crucial Conversations workshop. It teaches people how to communicate safely using two powerful skills: Talk Tentatively from the STATE family of skills, and the Make It Safe skills.

‘Talk tentatively’ is more about curbing the approach based on who is being spoken to. It focuses on collective participation and works on encouraging others to speak. It teaches you how to modulate your approach during any conversation(s); to be more or lesser tentative with different groups depending upon the need of the situations.

‘Make it Safe’ skills help people bring safety to any conversation through a strategic planning in the head before your mouth starts the talking. It advises the speaker to think for 30 seconds before making a statement with an underlying positive intent. It results in two things- (1) it reduces the chances of misunderstanding for the person listening, and (2) it helps you define your intentions and stick to them because you’ve already made it explicit, establishing a connect throughout the conversation. It’s also advisable to take help of polite sentences like ‘I would like to get some info form you…..’ or ‘without taking too much of your time, I’d like t share my views on it….’ And so on…

Intentionally cultivated qualities when combined with professional guidance and support root substantial and fruitful long-term results.

Hopefully, some insights I’ve shared will help you address the situation better.

Best of Luck,

Yogesh Sood

Attend one of our public training workshops in a city near you and learn the art to  master the skills. Explore the dates-


*Credits- We’ve taken content references from VitalSmarts blog written by Steve Wills.