WomanUP delves into the craft of conversation

August 26, 2019

What makes for a good conversation? How does one approach tough business topics? For thought leader and author Cheri Torres, the answer lies in the questions. 

In the latest WomanUP Workshop, Torres delved into the world of appreciative inquiry with more than 450 business women (and smart men). Together, under the guidance of trained WomanUP table mentors, attendees learned the art of creating conversations worth having — and how asking a question the right way can often be the difference between progress and backtracking. 

“Having a great conversation is one of the easiest ways to release oxytocin, endorphins and increase your energy levels,” explained Torres. “It helps us access our creativity and generate new ideas.”

So how do we harness the true potential of conversation instead of leaving it up to chance? Torres maintains that by using appreciative inquiry and positive framing we can encourage fulfilling discussions on a regular basis. She classified conversations as falling between two intersecting continuums: appreciation and depreciation, as well as the spectrum between a statement and a question. 

“When we approach a situation with appreciation, we are valuing the best of each other,” Torres explained. “And by incorporating inquiry, it helps us wonder and search for what generates life and emergence.” 

The concept is similar with positive framing. “It’s all about talking about what you want instead of what you don’t,” she explained. “It’s not about ignoring the problem; it’s about focusing on what you truly want.” 

This is exactly how one hospital managed to turn around its history of negative reviews and bad reputations with customers, Torres explained. When it was struggling, the hospital decided to reframe the situation by asking staff and patients what was going right instead of what was going wrong. The results? Both feedback and staff morale increased. 

The true power of conversation, asserts Torres, lies in its ability to direct our thoughts to a shared destination. Our dreams are fulfilled one conversation in a time; if we’re not talking about those dreams and how to achieve them, they’re never going to come true.