Recently I read an article about creating great dialogue for a book or screenplay. Great dialogue draws you in to a book or movie just as great communication can lead to more meaningful human connection and relationships. As I read through the tips shared in the article, it reminded me that we can all benefit from refreshers on how to have powerful conversations – one of the main keys to better and more Thoughtful leadership. So here are a few techniques for writing compelling dialogue that also serve as great lessons in being a better leader.
Let It Flow –
As a writer, getting the perfect dialogue for a character or scene is not easy. But by free-writing the dialogue and letting it flow from your ideas without worrying about using just the right word or making the right attribution, all of your great ideas and lines can come through unfettered. And then once you have allowed that free-flowing creativity, you can then go back and refine as needed.
Leaders are often hampered by the need to get it right – having the right answer, making the right decision. Adopting a “Let it Flow” approach releases that pressure and opens the door to a stronger rush of ideas. Inviting your team together for a free-flowing discussion about an issue you are grappling with or the kernel of an idea that is budding can yield new discoveries, solutions, and directions. And, just as the writer does, the group can then review all of the raw input and refine, condense, and focus as needed.
Cultivate Silence –
In dialogue writing, the “sound of silence” is just as important as words and can convey just as much emotion and action. A pause in the action or wordless emotion makes the dialogue richer, more complex, and invites the reader to imagine all that is unsaid.
Silence as a tool in leadership is also important. It creates space for others to share their thoughts and opinions, and it gives you the opportunity to quiet your mind for a moment to gain greater clarity. The acronym WAIT reminds us to ask, “Why Am I Talking?” when instead we can give others the floor to contribute their ideas and weigh in. Slowly (and silently) counting to ten after you speak will help you to be quiet long enough for others to step in and share.
Polish a Gem –
When you have a good line of dialogue, working at it to perfect it and make it a gem adds punch and memorable lines in a book. This takes effort and a willingness to stick with an idea and see it grow.
The pace at which we all operate today often discourages leaders from taking the time to look for diamonds in the rough and creating gems. What if you made it a point to dig deeper around a good idea, coalesce effort around it, and make it a gem? It certainly is not something you can do with every idea, but making a commitment to give good ideas the time and resources needed to reveal the gems that they are can pay off in huge ways.
Communication is one of the pillars of great leadership, and there are always opportunities and ways to be better at it. These three techniques not only give us great written dialogue, they develop great leadership too.
What techniques help you to create more powerful and Thoughtful communication?
Please leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For ideas on employing these techniques in your leadership, contact Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Listening to others and when I speak, I will ask questions and put myself in their world, whether they live in a world of animosity or peace or calmness or curiosity…I will match their “world” as well as body language. Sometimes I will say, I am trying to follow if I don’t understand and I’ll say I want to understand your language because people come from different cultures and may use words that may mean something different to me or them. I will nod my head to create connection and to acknowledge them. I make eye contact and smile. I also tell people they’re right because people love to be right. Love over self-righteousness.
Thank you Jaclyn! You’ve offered great suggestions to truly connect with others. I especially resonate with “trying to match their world” as we all do come from different perspectives, thought patterns, and cultures.
Communication is powerful. Often times we hear, “You’re an excellent communicator.” Sometimes we hear, “You’re a terrible communicator.” What I think is important to know or acknowledge is that we all communicate, but we communicate differently. It is easy to assign one of two values to something and ignore the nuanced shades in between. So, in order for all of us to communicate better it is important to recognize the types of communicators that we encounter on a daily basis. The more we are able to know the type of communicator we are dealing with along with the positive and negative attributes of that style of communication- we can build bridges. Like the old adage states, “It is not so much what we say, but how we say it.”
Could not agree more, Kimberly! While words do matter, your tone, approach and communication style can make the greatest difference in effective communication.
WAIT, I loved that gem. I will write this down at the top of my agenda in every meeting. I hope to get to a place where before I speak I know exactly why and how to speak to benefit the whom I am speaking to. Until then, this WAIT will help this young Jedi discipline his inclinations.
Thank you for your comment. We’re glad WAIT works for you. Let us know how it goes!!!