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Spherical Communication

Recently I was asked to give a talk on “crucial conversations”. Usually when we hear that term it refers a conversation that is going to be stressful either because of the topic, the people involved, or both.


However, these conversations don’t come out of the blue. Usually there is a pattern that allows things to be brushed under rug until the lump is too big to ignore and at this point it is almost too late.


The really crucial conversations are the ones we have every day. They are the formal and informal interactions that help us get to know and understand each other as we build the trust we need to work through change and challenges. In order for this to happen we need systems in place that encourage and support these interactions.

Meet people where they are.


A spherical, inclusive environment doesn’t force everyone into the same box. An extrovert may love a big brainstorming session full of debate and spit balling ideas. For an introvert this feel like sensory overload. Find different ways for people to contribute the talents that led you to hire them.

Healthy systems are holistic.


Spherical systems allow us to see other people for more than their context in our lives. When we take a larger view it allows us to see our world together even if we differ. When we can see the larger context, someone else’s difference doesn’t feel threatening because everything isn’t about us.


We don’t have relationships with people, we have relationships with the stories we tell ourselves about people. If we want to change the story we need to be conscious of how we are showing up for each other.


From a systemic perspective this can be facilitated by creating an environment that proactively supports open communication. A spherical communication system helps us

  • Create proactive check-ins, building in space for discussions and questions.

  • Knowing how to ask for the conversation.

  • Knowing how to determine which stakeholders need to be there.

  • Set the time and place so that everyone is ready to talk

  • Enter the conversation with curiosity.

By designing the process before things go off the rail, we create the capacity to respond effectively when change or conflict occurs.

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