Open discussions are how you “bounce” ideas around in order to create something better. They are also where you open up and find a common ground and develop mutually beneficial plans. Open discussions are where you share an idea and trust the person(s) you are talking with to help you make your ideas better. Open discussions are a key to improved harmony and more loving relationships.
Open discussions involve listening, really listening without interrupting the other person while they share their ideas. Do you know how to start an open discussion and how to keep one going? Some people think you just have to ask a question. Some believe it also includes the use of the almighty “Pause”. I think there are a few other key points required to really engage others in honest open discussions.
Here are a few key components according to NCWiseman
- The Environment– Periodically I will get asked a question where the answer really needs to be understood and accepted. Not the closed end type question like, “Where do you want to eat tonight?” or the “Will you complete that task on time?” But more like, “How can we get this problem solved?” question. A real Open Discussion type question. Open Discussions occur best in an environment where you can hear each other and where you are less likely to be interrupted or distracted. Now, this does not mean you can’t have a good conversation at the baseball game or family reunion. Lots of great conversations happen on the subway, elevators, airport lounges and even on bar stools. Good friendly & useful conversations occur everywhere and in any environment. However; if you get called into an Open Discussion in the wrong Environment, ask if you can discuss it later. As well, if you want to start an Open Discussion, especially one that can create a mutually beneficial outcome, don’t start these discussions in an environment where there will be distractions or interruptions. Wait until you get to a better environment before you start an Open Discussion.
- Your Attitude– A previous fellow worker of mine seemed to have lots going on in her life. She had problems with her family and lots of problems with her car and landlord. Usually in the mornings she would have a bad attitude about life. I knew that starting any kind of discussion, with her while she was in a bad mood, was not going to be productive. I quickly learned that if she wanted to talk about anything important before lunch, it would be wise for me to ask her to discuss later.Our attitude creates an invisible barrier between us and any knew idea or solution, especially if we discover that we are the ones who need to change in order for something beneficial to occur. Our attitude about ourselves, our day, the weather, our fellow employees and business contacts plays a major role in the ability to have an honest and beneficial Open Discussion. Check you attitude prior to starting and if you don’t have a good attitude, don’t start an Open Discussion.
- Our Imagination – You can’t see a new idea or solution if your perspective is on old ideas or only the stuff you have experienced in the past. I think that we must use our imagination during an Open Discussion to see new possibilities, ideas, or solutions. And during an Open Discussion, when someone throws out a different idea or solution, let your imagination wander further so that you can see the effect the change could have on the entire program, project, event, opportunity or relationship. If you only imagine the different small piece, you miss the really big picture and potentially the positive affect the small idea may have.
- Transparency – I recall a conversation I had a few years ago with a business owner who called me for some help. He said he wanted my opinion on how to promote his business in the community. We talked for a few minutes about networking, marketing, Social Media and connecting to prospects. During the conversation I could feel that he really wanted to ask me something. Sure enough, within about 20 minutes he spun the conversation into trying to sell me on his products.Often there is a hidden agenda or desire to a discussion between two people. In a truly Open Discussion there can’t be any hidden agenda or secret agenda. Those participating in an Open Discussion can see thru the hidden agenda and the moment that happens, the benefits of an Open discussion diminish and the potential value is gone.
- Trust – A few years ago I sat and had a good conversation with someone who then took our discussion and out of context shared it with someone else for an inappropriate reason. My trust level with this person diminished significantly and because of this I have always been unable to have an Open Discussion with him any longer. In order to create benefits from an Open Discussion you have to be able to trust the person(s) in the discussion. This trust allows us to open up even more and share lots of ideas that we would normally not share with someone who is not trustworthy. A “wall” of distrust reduces the potential to create new ideas or solutions that can be mutually beneficial.