“As the operations/efficiency expert for my company I speak with a lot of people every day. This tool helped me realize how appreciated my advice is to so many people. On the other hand, the most draining conversations are the ones with people who feel too busy to be talking with me; I’m trying to help but it’s almost like I’m wasting their time.”
Who do you talk with, and how does it impact you?
Conversations with others can have a powerful impact on us. They fundamentally define our organizations and shape how we think about our communities.
What sort of conversations do you have over the course of a day or week? With whom are you speaking, when, where, and why?
Observing your conversations over time helps you to see the impact different conversations have on your life. Becoming more aware of the conversations that leave you energized or drained lets you consider how to change your interactions and those situations. Are you better in groups? Do you prefer impromptu conversations? When do you contribute more? Listen more?
This tool is designed for “live” conversations — those you have in-person, by phone, or using video-conferencing. In the process, you may also find yourself noticing how such live conversations are different than other means of communicating.
Each distinct conversation gets its own little box, and you can see how these occurred over the course of the day.
What also stands out are the bold splashes of yellow and blue. It makes it easy to spot the conversations that left you energized, and those that drained you. We have all experienced 2-minute hallway conversations that just destroy the day. As well as hours-long work sessions that leave us physically tired but emotionally jazzed because it felt so good to work together and get a lot done.
Other symbols carry a lot of details, such as what you talked about, who initiated the conversation, and who spoke more.
“I learned how I can better approach conversations with other people, especially if I know they are going to be difficult.”
“I noticed that mostly everything is about work, it was a big eye-opener. And I noticed that the one energizing conversation was with a friend where finally in the whole day I got to be heard”
“The conversations I’m having are draining. They are all about politics. I need some alone time. But I feel guilty if I say that I need a break. I feel like it’s my civic duty to be engaged.”
Conversations instructions, as well as Data Collection and Data Drawing templates, can be found on pages 16–21 of the Mapping Ourselves workbook.
After completing your data drawing, answer the following questions to reflect on your data collection and drawing experience.
- In the creation and evaluation of this drawing, what stood out for you?
- Which conversations tend to energize you and which drain you? Who are you talking with? What about?
- How much of your day do you spend having face-to-face conversations?
Here are some more suggestions for deeper reflection and exploration:
- Share your drawing and reflections with others. What are their perceptions of your situation? How does their own situation differ?
- What is it about the conversations that leave you drained? People? Topics? Places? Times?
- What value (emotional, practical) are your impromptu conversations providing? Would you like more or less of this?
- With several days of data: How do your days vary? What can you learn about the “better” or “worse” days?
- Do you have a preference amongst face-to-face, video- conference, or phone conversations? Does this vary by person or topic?
- How about email, texting, and many forms of social media? How might you observe and track those? Even without such data, what can you learn by reflecting on the frequency, nature, and impact of those conversations?