Startups Need to Capitalize on Every Conversation



Whether you are trying to motivate your team, close a deal with a customer or get funding from an investor, a casual conversation is usually a waste of your valuable time. The result of avoiding conversation is a founder who is always “too busy” but never seems to get the business done and the team moving. All real business is conversation focused on creating results.

Shawn Kent Hayashi, in her recent book “Conversations That Get Results and Inspire Collaboration” makes my point very well as she outlines the top twelve types of conversations that relate to working together in business and provides tips on how to make each of them more effective:

  1. Conversation for connection. Connecting with others happens when we slow down our talking enough to be in the present and really listen to one another. Rapport building requires listening more than talking. Powerful listening causes trust to grow.
  2. Conversation for creating new possibilities. The questions a manager or colleague asks help us to understand a situation better, if we ask good questions in response and really listen to the answers. Conversations can also be the triggers for professional development.
  3. Conversation for structure. When we know what we want to create, the next step is to devise a plan. We build our plans with the steps as we become aware of them through conversations, with ourselves as well as with others.
  4. Conversation for commitment. For each identified action step, we identify potential candidates and then seek their commitment to produce the result that corresponds to the task. The commitments we make to ourselves are the most fundamental.
  5. Conversation for action. What actions will make your tasks and goals come alive? We’ve all seen people get stuck in a project because they do not know what to do next. They’re not asking themselves or anyone else the right questions, and they’re not listening.
  6. Conversation for accountability. After a conversation for commitment has occurred and the expectations are clear, being accountable for engaging others in what you want to do is a sign of respect. Sometimes people need to be guided into better outcomes.
  7. Conversation for conflict resolution. Many people will avoid conflict in work relationships at all costs, which is nonproductive. Others feel fear when the smell of conflict arises. A few overuse this conversation type. Conflict is normal, so deal with it.
  8. Conversation for breakdown. Anger indicates that something or someone has crossed one of our boundaries and is a signal to address the issue. Breakdown recognition is vital to moving forward. Asking for what we want might actually clear up the breakdown.
  9. Conversation for withdrawal and disengagement. It is unrealistic to think that all work relationships will be enjoyable or friendly forever. Often it is best to end a tenuous connection so that we can invest our time in ones that are meaningful and productive.
  10. Conversation for change. Your ability to change the direction of an individual, team or an investor occurs through conversations. By design, you can change the conversation in the office, at board meetings and with peers who seem to have gone off track.
  11. Conversation for appreciation. Think of the last time you felt really appreciated at work. Undoubtedly, someone showed appreciation for your efforts using language that works for you. Affirming others through conversation builds relationships and momentum.
  12. Conversation for moving on. You have conversations for moving on when leaving a community or transferring or retiring from a company. One day you might reconnect, but for now you have closure, with no expectations of future conversations.

Being successful as an entrepreneur begins in a conversation with ourselves and then extends to others, focused on what we are passionate about and the solutions we are bringing to market. None of these are casual conversations, where you don’t really listen to the response. How committed are you when someone is obviously not listening to your responses?

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Daniel


About the author: Martin Zwilling

Martin is the CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc., a consultancy focused on assisting entrepreneurs with mentoring, business strategy and planning, and networking.

Martin for years has provided entrepreneurs with first-hand advice, mentoring and business plan assistance as a startup consultant. He has a unique combination of business and high-tech experience, and executive mentoring and connecting startups with potential investors, board members, and service providers.

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