Action Plan to Change Your Conversations

Remember a few weeks ago, you made a commitment to change your conversation to have more impact and success? Did you hang in there long enough to find out the truth? Did you do the hard work to better understand your current true impact? 

If you’ve made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS. I mean it. 

That last step was a doozy. Definitely not for the faint hearted (or the lazy.) There’s no easy button for this type of work. No one can do if for you, but you can do better with a guide (reach out if I can help.) 

If you want to make a significant change, there’s hard, difficult work and that’s before we even get to the change! If you’ve made it this far, I know you’re ready to build on that strong foundation.

Let’s get to work.

It’s time to think about exactly how you want to change your conversations. Specifically, how do you want to change your behavior in those important conversations?

The Key is in the Feedback

The key to finding exactly what you need to do differently is in the data you gathered from feedback and observations. If you’re happy with what the data says about your impact in conversations, you really don’t need to do a thing. Doing nothing is an option. But my experience has shown communication is one of the most challenging skills to get right – because things are always changing. Chances are you’ve found a few things that could improve.

Narrow the Goal

If you and I were working together in a coaching program, at this point we’d create goals and an action plan. Let’s do that now!

Use the insight from your feedback and observations to identify one change you’d like to make. Knowing what you know now about your current impact in conversations, how do you want your impact to be different?

Next, take into consideration your self-assessment results as well as your professional goals related to conversations. Who do you want to be in a year? What do you want to accomplish in a year? How will your conversation impact help you achieve your goals?

It’s best to select one focused goal for now, especially if you’re working on your own. Remember, these skills take time to develop so it’s important to understand what is possible within the timeframe and the effort and energy available. A simple goal is not always an easy goal to execute, especially when dealing with human behavior.

Example: My goal is to focus on listening more in conversations to truly understand the other person’s point of view.

Build Success Into Your Goal

Make your goal as specific as possible so you know when you’ve achieved it. There are many reasons the SMART formula (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) for setting goals works. The most important, in my opinion, is it’s ability to keep you motivated. If I don’t see progress by setting measures or I’m not specific enough, I never actually reach my goal. This is hard work, by using the SMART approach you’ll build success into the goal itself.

Go deeper into defining your goal. What does success look like? In the earlier example goal to ‘listen more,’ how would I know I’m listening more? Measuring could include doing another feedback exercise after a few months to see if my impact has changed. And I would also note what that change has done to the relationships I have with those in conversation. 

What does success look like in your goal?

To boost your success, describe not only what success looks like for the goal, but also the actions leading to the goal. In the listening better example, I could ask the other person in conversation to provide feedback in each conversation; I could also note how many times I interrupted someone in conversation. If I were fearless, I could ask a trusted co-worker to give me a sign or a nudge when she observes me interrupting or not listening in conversation.  

Only you can identify the success of your goal. 

Goal Setting Tips

Consider the following goal setting tips to help set yourself up for success: 

Tip #1. Set goals that motivate you. Goals focusing on your professional development will take time. If you are not motivated by the goal, it will be an uphill battle. Choose a goal that has a strong benefit for you and make sure you articulate that benefit in writing as a reminder. 

Tip #2. Set goals over which you have control. In short, your goal needs to focus on a change in your behavior. What can you do differently? A goal which focuses on others opinions is not within your control. 

Tip #3. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. There are many variations but the general guideline is to define goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In essence your goals are clear so that you know when you’ve achieved them.   

Tip #4. Put your goals in writing. Having your goals visible on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis increases your chance of success. Write it down. Keep it visible. 

Tip #5. Create an action plan. No matter how often you look at your SMART goal, it won’t materialize without action from you. The best weapon against procrastination is a clear next step. Have your action plan written and mapped to support continued action toward completion. 

Tip #6. Get an accountability partner. Professionals at all levels benefit from having external accountability. It increases your chance of success substantially. Accountability is one of the benefits of hiring an executive coach. If you want an advantage – contact me to talk about coaching ( about-contact/).

Plotting the Course

Let’s expand on tip #5 – Create an action plan. This is the ‘journey’ part we always hear about that tries to get us to focus on the steps along the way, not on the actual destination or goal. That’s because the magic of change happens in the steps on the journey, not at the end. Let’s focus on the journey. Let’s plot a successful course.

What do you need to do to go from your current level to your goal? 

There are two ways to plot a course toward your goal: 

Option 1. Start with the end and work backward. What happens just before you achieve your goal? And what’s the step just before that? What’s the step just before that? You get the idea. Deconstruct success layer by layer.

Option 2. Start at your current level and work forward. What is the very next step can take to move toward your goal? What is the next step? And so on until you reach the goal.

Use these questions will help clarify what you need to close the gap: 

  • Do you need additional or different resources?
  • What knowledge do you need to gain?
  • Specifically, what behaviors do you need to change?
  • What feedback will help you along the way?
  • Is there specifica structure and support you’ll need? 
  • How do you best learn? (Reading, workshops, coaching, combination)

Challenge to Change

You are now ready to write your goal create your high level steps. This is one thing that can not be delegated. To change your own behavior in conversations and improve your impact, you need to take action. I’m here to be your guide, all you need to do is ask.