Tip #881: How to Communicate Under Pressure

…When people do not have the right balance of candor and curiosity, we make bad decisions keeping us from the results and outcomes we need.” Craig Weber

I recently attended an excellent webinar with Craig Weber titled: Conversations about Change: Increasing Your Conversational Capacity. He is the author of two books: Conversational Capacity and Influence in Action. Weber emphasized how important non-defensive communication skills are for managers, particularly in difficult conversations.

Conversational Capacity

“Conversational capacity” is “the ability of a person or team to engage in open, balanced, non-defensive dialogue about difficult subjects and in challenging circumstances.” The goal is to achieve the “sweet spot” where candor and curiosity are balanced, even under pressure.

We know that conversational capacity is missing when there are undiscussable issues or unproductively discussable issues. Building conversational capacity requires a new awareness, mindset, and skillset.


We first need to be aware if we are approaching a difficult conversation by either minimizing the issue or trying to win the discussion. If we want to make good decisions, we cannot let our fears or egos get in the way.


We need to approach these conversations as learning opportunities. We should now want to have a productive dialogue where views are openly and honestly expressed and clarifying questions are asked in a respectful manner.


A productive dialogue requires four skills. Directly stating our position and explaining our thinking demonstrates our candor. Testing our view and inquiring into the others’ views demonstrates our curiosity.

Conversational Capacity is Fundamental

Weber suggests that managers and teams require high conversational capacity to hold conversations and make informed decisions about current difficult-to-discuss issues, such as post-pandemic work changes and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Misunderstandings, conflicts, or unmet expectations are inevitable. These conversations should be non-defensive dialogues where candor and curiosity are balanced and where resulting actions and decisions are well-informed and understood by all parties.

Question: Do you agree that a balance of candor and curiosity will make it easier to have difficult conversations?

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


#trainingdevelopment #workplacelearning #conversationalcapacity

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