Section 2. Conversation Manager Role

2.0 Overview Of Conversation Manager Role

a. What's the role about?

Conversation Manager is one of the three roles we need to play well if we are to get the most from our conversations.

The essence of the Conversation Manager role is looking after the well-being of the conversation, making sure it functions well, from start to finish. Since dialogue is the most effective form of conversation there is, the role of Conversation Manager can be seen as monitoring and guiding the conversation so that it remains as close to the ideal of dialogue as possible — for example, by ensuring that the participants take turns at talking and listening, a basic requirement of effective two-way communication.

b. Monitoring and intervening

It’s useful to think of think of conversational management in terms of two processes — monitoring and intervening.

The goal of monitoring is to keep a watching eye on the conversation’s ‘control panel’. How well is the interaction working? Are there any signs of distress or strain? What states of mind are you and other person experiencing? What sort of progress is the conversation making? How much time is left? What points remain to be discussed?

Suppose your monitoring activities identify a problem. For example, imagine you’re having a talk with your colleague, Bradley, about his poor time-keeping. Part way through the conversation, you realise that Bradley has become very defensive, and in this frame of mind is finding it hard to take in what you are saying. What you do then? You have two choices. You can choose to intervene privately or publicly.

If you decide to intervene privately, you might simply say to yourself, “It’s time to back off Bradley until he’s calmed down.” So you switch the subject to a lighter topic. Bradley knows nothing about what’s going on inside your mind.

Alternatively, you might choose to intervene publicly. For instance, you might say to

Bradley. “I can see this conversation is difficult for you. Why don’t we take a break for a couple of minutes and get some coffee?”

Both are ways of dealing with the situation from within the Conversation Manager role

Move on to the other sections for the role

2.1 Preparing For Important Conversations
2.2 Sharing And Negotiating The Purpose Of The Conversation
2.3 Taking Turns And Sharing The Airtime
2.4 Building Your Conversations On A Foundation Of Mutual Respect
2.5 Recognising And Honouring The Conversational Rights Of Others And Yourself
2.6 Making Feelings And Emotions Serve Conversations
2.7 Reading The Context Of The Conversation And Deciding How Best To Respond
2.8 Approaching Conversations Collaboratively Rather Than Competitively
2.9 Repairing Conversations
2.10 Helping Others To Play Better - Conversational Coaching

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