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Have a Heart-to-Heart

The key to having a successful relationship, both personal and professional, is to have open and honest communication. Chapter 16 of The Success Principles Workbook goes over the ABC's of having a fruitful conversation with those who are important to you. This can be your mom, your spouse, or friends or your work colleagues. Below is a group shot of my time at ABC New York last year. I was a part of the Asian American Journalist Association's Executive Leadership Program, and our favorite activity was having a heart talk with each other about our lives. We got vulnerable with each other and shared our dreams, fears and hopes. I'm pretty sure everyone cried, and it felt very therapeutic to open up in ways we typically can't in work settings.

The book describes a heart talk as a powerful communication process that creates a safe environment for a deep level of communication to occur - without fear of condemnation, unsolicited advice or any interruption. Here are some results from having a heart-to-heart with others:

  1. We become better aware of each other's feelings.

  2. We learn not to take things seriously.

  3. We feel more comfortable about saying what we really think about each other, our behavior, and how it affects us.

  4. It can reduce staff turnover at work.

Here is how we conducted our heart talk at our AAJA ELP program. It's similar to how the workbook describes it:

  1. Sit in a circle, either on the floor or at a table.

  2. Get an object the speaker can hold on to.

  3. Set a time limit - about 5-10 minutes per person is a good suggestion.

  4. Review some basic guidelines to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe.

a. Only the person with the object speaks.

b. Pass the heart after you speak.

c. Say "pass" if you're not ready to speak.

d. Talk about how you feel as well as what you think regarding the topic at hand.

e. Refrain from judging. Just listen and be open.

f. Keep all information confidential.

g. Don't leave until the moderator ends the session.

h. Be considerate of others. Don't hog too much time.

Here are some good times to have a heart talk:

- When there is a conflict between individuals or departments

- When someone got injured, fell very ill or died

- During a challenging financial crisis

- When people aren't clear about a goal/vision/objective

- Before/after a downsizing/merger/acquisition

- When a new boss/manager/owner arrives

- As a part of a long meeting or a corporate retreat

- After a major disappointment, such as a failure to meet an important goal

- When someone important to the group got fired or left

- After a traumatic event

Here are some great topics to focus on:

- What are you most concerned about in regard to...?

- What is the greatest challenge you're facing right now?

- What are you feeling about...?

- What do you need to say before we move forward with this plan?

A heart talk can lead to the expansion of some skills including listening, expression of feelings and improved conflict resolution.

The workbook guides me to list individuals with whom I should ask to have a heart talk. Keep in mind though, that not everybody may be willing to do this, especially if they're not used to this style of communication. So perhaps with such individuals, it's a good idea to focus on spending some intentional one-on-one time with them, so that their comfort level rises and they become more open to the idea over time.

The back of the workbook has me journaling about my heart talk if I had the chance to do one. I'm still developing my relationships with the people I wish to do this with, so I'll keep you posted if it happens!




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