The Power of Silences

Early in my career I had the privilege of working with an all Native-American Board of a foundation in the northwest and with the Board of a Buddhist Monastery. In each meeting, they taught me the power of silences: both spontaneous and planned. People around the world cultivate silence as a source of equanimity, creativity, and wisdom. For example, silence is an essential element in indigenous ways of knowing and healing as well as in … Read more…

Networks of Conversations

Conversations, aka meetings, are the sine qua non of organizations and communities. They are how things get done. “Is there anything that matters that isn’t done through conversations?” asks Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, authors of The Three Laws of Performance. Planning, problem solving, policy setting, coaching or staying up-to-date with colleagues: all of these occur through conversations. In addition, meeting conversations feed into other ones. Managers develop a recommendation for a board of directors. … Read more…

6.5 Lessons From Basketball

Once they squeaked by the Houston Rockets, it was predictable that the Golden State Warriors would squash the Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball League Finals. For those of you who are not basketball fans bear with me for a moment. Let me show you how lessons from basketball can make your meetings more effective. I begin with a personal note. I was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts where basketball was invented by Dr. … Read more…

Possibilities of Good Conversation

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” — Kurt Vonnegut When I asked a group of 50 members of the Silicon Valley Organization Development Network during my presentation in June about the role of good conversations in creating change, here is what some of them said: Encouraging collective wisdom to emerge … Read more…

Seeking the Great Perhaps

“I am going to seek the great perhaps.” These were Francois Rablais’ last words according to his biographer Peter Anthony Motteux. Rabelais was a French renaissance writer, physician, humanist, monk and Greek scholar.* I sincerely hope that none of us have to wait until our final words to seek the great perhaps in our conversations. To me the “great perhaps” hints at what might be possible in the future, including when we engage in “good … Read more…

I Get Scared When…

When do you get scared in conversations or meetings? You might call it “challenged,” “anxious,” or “threatened.” However, underneath our adult bravado, it remains what we called it as children: “scared.” Here’s how a few of the 50 consultants at a talk I gave last week at the Silicon Valley Organization Development Network completed this sentence: “I get scared when…” — “I think someone is angry with me and his or her voice escalates. I’m … Read more…

Conversation Is A Team Sport

I enjoy watching basketball, especially during the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs when the level of skill and teamwork approach their apex. The team that wins is usually the one that plays as a team instead of one in which one or two players hog the ball. Just as in conversation, individual skills matter but skill and teamwork matter more. Used in tandem, they raise everyone’s level of play. Certain individual skills increase teamwork on … Read more…

Talking Better Together by Choosing Mindfulness

In anticipation of the release of my book this Fall, I will be highlighting content from “Talk Matters: Saving the World One Word at a Time” here in my blog. I hope as you read, we will grow as colleagues because I’m looking for people who will save the world with me. Specifically, colleagues who will save the world by talking better together—together with those we must work with to get things done for our … Read more…