You’ve made a commitment to change the conversation (part 1). And you’re ready to experience more wins from these conversations. This step is about finding the truth, by designing your own conversation impact assessment.
Are you ready for the truth?
I’ll be honest, this isn’t easy. It can feel like a root canal (no offense to the dental profession, it’s just an analogy.) And just like a root canal, when it’s done, you feel so much better. Hopefully, in both scenarios we learn to change our behavior to get better results in the future.
Your Conversation Impact Assessment
There are many ways to assess your current conversation impact, here are two examples. First is to use one of the many formal tools to do a Self/Other Comparative Assessment. The other option is to conduct your own Self-Assessment & Feedback. I believe you’ll gain the most by using both approaches.
Option 1: Formal Self/Other Comparative Assessment
Your choices are numerous in the formal assessment category. As an executive coach I’ve used many tools including DiSC, LIFO, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, as well as other lesser known tools.
Using a formal assessment approach has it’s benefits including trusted instruments, anonymity of feedback from others, and recommended actions based upon a large database of studies relating to the behaviors assessed.
The biggest value of having both your own assessment and that of others will help you identify blind spots and misalignments. Blind spots are those areas of weakness that we don’t know exist. Misalignments are the areas where our intention does not equal our impact or it could be where our own assessment varies significantly from others.
Of course the down side to a formal tool includes the cost to administer as well as gaining a clear understanding of the results. Often you need specific formal training to understand and interpret each tool.
TIP: It’s best to work with a coach to identify and assess the results. This can be difficult to do on your own and stay impartial.
Option 2: Self-Assessment & Feedback
As an indie professional myself, I recognize that not everyone can take advantage of the formal assessment approach. Working with other one-person business owners, I’ve developed an alternative framework that I’d like to share with you.
In short, this is a DIY approach to assessing your conversation impact. It includes self observation, reflection, and gathering feedback. The benefits of using this approach includes designing it to meet your specific needs in both scope and scale as well as having control over your resources (time and money.)
What this approach lacks is the rigor of a validated assessment instrument as well as bias of the observer – namely you.
Let’s get started.
Step 1. Define Your Scope
Because you’ll be doing this on your own, I recommend starting with a manageable scope and repeating the process to build your impact over time (much like compounding interest.)
Something specific has brought you to this topic of conversation impact. What is it? Is it a particular relationship that needs attention? Or possibly a situation where you have repeatedly had concerns? What exactly do you need to focus on in this assessment? Look at the answers to your commitment questions for clues.
Examples of what clients have defined include: Having more productive conversations with project team members; Staying on-topic and on-time in meetings; Improving confidence in speaking engagements; and my favorite – not interrupting others before they’re finished speaking.
Your area of focus may be broader or more narrow. It’s up to you to select a starting concern. This is what I call the presenting problem. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s only the starting point!
Step 2. Gather Data
Once you choose the general direction and scope of your assessment activities, it’s time to begin gathering data.
In this step it’s important to design your own data gathering approach. Why? Because the type of data you need will depend upon the problem or situation you wish to explore.
Many of the data gathering methods I recommend include observing and logging the evidence. This can be done immediately after the interaction, or at the end of the day.
For example to gather information on interrupting others, you may log each time it happens capturing the – who, what, when, where, why, how – of each incident.
Of course this is an oversimplification of data gathering, but it will get you started.
Tip: Make sure to gather data over a number of days, situations, or players depending upon the focus area.
Step 3. Gather Feedback
Once you have some initial data gathered from observation, it’s time to get a different perspective.
The intent here is to select a few (3-5) trusted partners to provide you with a different perspective of your own. Select people who have or will be able to observe you in the scenario you’ve selected. Provide them with a few key elements to observe and then ask them to give you feedback.
- First identify the individuals that meet your criteria.
- Second, let them know what you’re working on and ask them if they are interested in participating.
- Third, give your willing participants guidance of what you’re interested in finding out (what should they look for.)
- Next, give them time to observe you with a specific start and end point.
- Finally, get back with them and ask them to give you their honest perspective on specific questions.
Once you have these others’ perspectives, it’s time to assess your data.
Step 4. Compare Perspectives
This is the tricky part. Looking honestly at your own observations and comparing them to others perspectives can take the wind out of your sails. Consider getting help from a professional (yes, I’m referring to my own services).
What’s important first and foremost is that you’ve taken the time to gather this important data. Now that you have it, you can mine it for a number of different things.
Look for significant difference between perspectives. If you’re perspective is different from all the others, it may indicate a blind spot. Confirmation by others of areas you need to improve may indicate a skill gap.
What one thing stands out the most? Is this something you want to change?
The Next Step
Remember, you only have control over your own actions and thoughts. This approach isn’t about manipulating or influencing others to do what you want. However, it is about helping you gain clarity in your own conversation style and in your message so that you can get your point across.
And now that you are armed with the truth, it’s time to put this knowledge to work. In part 3 of the series you’ll develop a plan to change the conversation.
If you’d like help with any step of the DIY assessment, let’s set up a call.
Important note: Assessments come in many forms measuring many things about us as individuals and groups. No assessment is perfect. The DIY assessment approach provided here is informed from many sources and is not a validated assessment. This approach is for discovery purposes only. Please be careful about making decisions based on the results. My philosophy is to use any assessment as a starting point for deeper more thoughtful conversation and examination.