One of my clients was kind enough to give me a copy of the new book Conversational Capacity by Craig Weber. I’m sharing it with you because the core idea of this book is powerful and when practiced will fundamentally transform the quality of any team.

One of the reasons I’m particularly fond of Weber’s approach is that it’s aligned with my strong belief that a single individual can change a team.  If you want to change your team for the better, improving your conversational capacity will certainly help.

Premise and Purpose

The main idea of the book is that our lack of prowess in having effective conversations is rendering too many topics undiscussable; handicapping our teams’ ability to deal with adaptive challenges, and in many cases resulting in grave consequences–including, in a few of Weber’s horrifying case studies, the loss of life.

Big Idea

The big idea in the book is that, when faced with a difficult conversation, too few people are able to manage the instinctual tendencies of fight or flight. Those whose tendency is flight tend to minimize the importance of the issue or the value of their unique perspective on it (which allows them to rationalize keeping mum), whereas those who fight tend to downplay the ideas of others.  Weber refers to this as the MIN(imize) or WIN bias.

MINers have insufficient candor whereas WINers have insufficient curiosity.

What follows is a beautifully simple (yet incredibly difficult to enact) process for enhancing conversational capacity.

The formula: Ensure candor by (1) stating a clear position and then by (2) explaining your thinking.  Next, demonstrate curiosity by (3) testing your view and then (4) inquiring. Yup, just four simple steps to remember but imagine the power of actually implementing them!

The Verdict

Conversational Capacity is well-written, so you don’t have to work hard to extract the value. If you’re investing an hour, focus on Chapters 4 and 6.  If you go cover-to-cover as I did, you’ll get the added benefit of more great stories, some core skills, and in many cases the actual language to try out in your next conversation.

I’m going to apply Weber’s approach myself…here’s to embracing productive conflict!

Further Reading

The Case for More Conflict

Managing Underground Conflict

Book Review: Conflict Management Coaching The CINERGY Model