No Cheap Talk

by Vicki on November 8, 2013

I went to a new bank today. My purpose for being there was to make a certified deposit for one of their members (I’m not a member).

Here is how the conversation went from my perspective –

  • I was greeted promptly
  • I explained what I needed to do
  • A rigorous inquisition ensued (I had receipts as well as business cards from the bank the funds were withdrawn from – it was legit!!)
  • The teller asked if I was happy with my current institution. I said yes.
  • She said, “It is important to be happy with your institution, isn’t it?”
  • She ignored me for 5 minutes while she waited for the member’s home branch to accept the deposit. Repeating over and over that they should not be taking so long.

As I was waiting for the deposit to be completed, I found myself thinking about how the conversation went and how it could have gone instead.

As Susan Scott, internationally recognized leader in executive education, says about conversations:

…Whoever said talk is cheap was mistaken.  Unreal conversations are incredibly expensive for organizations and for individuals.

…The conversation IS the relationship.

…If the conversation stops, all of the possibilities for the relationship become smaller and all of the possibilities for the individuals in the relationship become smaller.

…Our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time.

…While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, or a life—any conversation can.

…Each conversation we have with our coworkers, customers, significant others, and children either enhances those relationships, flat-lines them, or takes them down.

To be clear, the conversations Susan is referencing are not about the platitudes of life where you just talk with someone to fill the void…..she is talking about “fierce” conversations.

…A fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.

…Fierce conversations are about moral courage, clear requests, and taking action.  Fierce is an attitude.  A way of conducting business.  A way of leading.  A way of life.

The conversation I had with the bank teller could have been different. It could have been deeper and more meaningful. It could have positively colored my perceptions of that bank and the people who work within it. But it didn’t.

What kinds of conversations are you having? With loved ones? Socially? With colleagues? With clients?

Remember Susan’s advice – talk isn’t cheap.

Book Notes by David Mays
Fierce Conversations, Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time, Susan Scott, Viking, 2002, 266 pp., ISBN 0-670-01324-0

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