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April 21, 2011

Conversations for

12 Ways to Say It Right When It

Matters Most
Shawn Kent Hayashi
Adapted by permission of McGraw-Hill from Conversations
for Change by Shawn Kent Hayashi. 2011 by Shawn Kent
ISBN: 978-0-07-174528-4

Conversation is inherent to work and to socializing,
and so it seems like it should be a natural and easy
skill. Still, some people manage to create momentum
with their conversations, moving people and organizations forward while others create a sour emotional
wake, and demotivate people.
Meaningful conversation is a learned skill, writes
Shawn Kent Hayashi in Conversations for Change.
Hayashi has spent more than 20 years coaching
people to improve their conversation skills in order to
build stronger relationships and organizations. Conversations for Change is the culmination of that work
and is rich with real-world cases from Hayashis clients. Hayashi has created assessment methodologies
to identify the key conversational skills and individual styles of communication. Hayashi then takes the
reader through 12 essential business conversations

(for example, a conversation for commitment, a conversation to resolve conflict), and how to use them.

Part I: Foundations
Great conversations are built on a foundation of
awareness, which includes:
1. Emotional intelligence: an awareness of emotions
in oneself and others that helps people navigate
2. Motivators: values, which inform what people
want to talk about.
3. Style: how people approach communication.
Perhaps on the surface, emotion has no place in business, but that is unrealistic. People are influenced by
emotions, but star performers and great communica-

Business Book Summaries April 21, 2011 Copyright 2011 EBSCO Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved

Conversations for Change

tors have some mastery of those emotions. They are

emotionally intelligent, able to process their own
emotions and self-regulate even in upsetting circumstances, and they connect well in conversations, or
with crowds, with their ability to inspire, motivate,
and engage. Consider that Presidents Ronald Reagan
and Bill Clinton were each credited with being inspirational, and Reagan was known as The Great
According to Hayashi, there are seven core emotions
that produce measurable chemical changes in the
Each in turn produces physical manifestations, like
trembling, stomachache, and sweaty palms. Finally,
those seven core emotions produce any one (or more)
of 26 emotional states of being feelings like hatred,
jealousy, frustration, freedom, passion, optimism, and
so on. Gaining control of those seven core emotions is
a way to control those 26 states.
It is possible to develop emotional intelligence; to
gain control of the feelings by being aware of those
core emotions and choosing thoughts and actions that
inspire a desired feeling. This requires five emotional
intelligence competencies:

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Key Concepts
In Conversations for Change, author Shawn
Kent Hayashi discusses how conversations are
an opportunity to build momentum and meaningful growth in relationships and business.
Every conversation is built upon three foundations:
1. Emotional intelligence: a kind of literacy about
ones own emotions and those of others, and
recognizing when they are constructive or
2. Values: otherwise known as workplace motivators, which determine what drives a person,
and what that person wants to talk about.
Values run the gamut from utilitarian (productive and useful) to aesthetic (being artistic and sensual). Individuals have values, as
do organizations.
3. Communication styles: being how people like
to talk. The styles are High Dominant; High
Influence; High Steady; and High Compliance. People with similar styles tend to
converse well.

g g g g

Information about the author and subject:

1. Self awareness: knowing what one feels in the moment.

Information about this book and other business titles:

2. Self regulation: being proactive rather than reactive

toward emotions, thus choosing the end behavior.

Related summaries in the BBS Library:

3. Motivation: playing to ones own passions, skills

and abilities.
4. Empathy: the ability to identify what someone else
feels, and use that ability to create rapport.
5. Social skills: the ability to work in a group and
align members toward progress.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

What the Most Effective People Do Differently
John C. Maxwell
The Communication Problem Solver
Simple Tools and Techniques for Busy Managers
Nannette Rundle Carroll

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Page 2

Conversations for Change

It is also possible for an individual to be stuck in an

emotion to have a default emotion, which in turn
influences every action and mood. Even if the emotion is positive (like joy), that emotion may not be
appropriate to every conversation, such as a conversation to terminate an employee. This displays a lack
of empathy and an emotionally illiterate speaker.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Finally, people leave behind them an emotional wake,

for good or bad. Emotionally illiterate people are
likely to be surprised when they learn that they leave
everyone in a room feeling angry or fearful. An emotionally intelligent person will recognize and process
emotions, and leave an emotional wake of hopefulness or joy (where that is appropriate).

To move up the emotional People who are emotionally literate earn more money, adapt
ladder from #7 (fear) to #1
better, complete tasks faster, and have fewer career derailments.
(love), one must recognize and
acknowledge the emotion of a
moment; then take actions to select another emotion.
The second foundation of every conversation is values
Key to this is not judging an emotion as undesirable
and motivators. These are distinct to every individual
the emotion simply is. Anger is not an evil emotion.
and inform what they are likely to talk about and
Rather, it can be an indicator that someone has crossed
hear. Values and motivators also inform a good fit for
a boundary, and the situation calls for a conversation.
employment. Consider two distinct workplaces, such
The conversation will defuse the cause of the anger,
as TD Ameritrade and the non-profit World Wildlife
and in turn, the anger itself.
Fund. Chances are that a broker from TD Ameritrade
would be a bad fit at WWF. The values of each orgaStill, some emotions are more constructive, more solunization are simply different, and the values of the
tion focused than problem focused. Angry employees
workers must align with their workplaces if they are
may say that their bosses are slave drivers or are
to be content and stand behind an organizations misvague in their directions. If instead those employees
focus on their bosses strengths and envision a more
positive workplace that relies on those strengths, then
Eduard Spranger in Types of Men (1928) described six
the employees are ready for a constructive conversabasic workplace values:
1. Utilitarian, favoring usefulness, productivity, and
financial well-being. Utilitarians are the salespeople, entrepreneurs, financial officers, and bankers
of the world; they tend to be self made and profitoriented.
Shawn Kent Hayashi is the founder and CEO

About the Author

of The Professional Development Group, and

is the author of five business communication
books. Hayashi also coaches organizations on
how to apply the assessment methodology to
their talent management efforts. Clients include
Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies, universities, and entrepreneurial organizations. A
certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, Shawn
earned her M.S. in Organization Dynamics from
The University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she
holds a number of certifications in assessment
analysis and serves on the boards of several
professional organizations, and is active in the
Forum of Executive Women.

2. Aesthetic, being more artistic, sensual, and creative. People with aesthetic values are interior
designers, physical trainers, chefs and so on.
Martha Stewart has strong aesthetic values; she
enjoys peace and harmony. But she is also quite
utilitarian, as evidenced by her empire (under the
umbrella of her company, Omnimedia).
3. Theoretical, wanting answers, truth, and knowledge sharing. Theoreticals are the professors,
scientists, doctors, investigators.
4. Traditional, favoring clear-cut instructions and
procedures. The traditionals enjoy living by rules
and standards, and include police officers, quality
control experts, pastors, and teachers.

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Conversations for Change

5. Social, aimed toward enriching the lives of others.

The social type wants to make a difference in
peoples lives. This type includes teachers, firefighters, fund-raisers, and nonprofit employees.
6. Individualistic, in which an expert leads with
world-class ideas. The individualists are leaders,
and lead by example and with enthusiasm. They
are CEOs, politicians, and chairpeople. (Donald
Trump is a conspicuous example.)

Shawn Kent Hayashi

3. Steady - The high steady style favors security, structure, and calm. (This represents 40 percent of the
4. Compliant - The high compliance style favors accuracy and caution, policies and procedures.
Someone with a high dominant style will likely find
someone with a compliant style as plodding and too
methodical an anchor who holds up progress. In
reverse, that compliant type may find the high dominant type rash and impulsive.

The four communication styles are Dominant, Influential,

Steady, and Compliant. Each has its own cluster of predictable
As in the case of Martha Stewart, a person is usually
driven by more than one value. Someone whose first
value is social, but second is individualistic, is likely
to start a nonprofit organization. Someone who is theoretical and traditional would likely enjoy data and
research; and would have a miserable time working
at Omnimedia.
Very likely, that person would have a difficult time
even talking to Ms. Stewart. People connect and disconnect on their values. The aesthete may dine on
some fantastic Mediterranean dish and declare, This
is incredible! You should try this! while the utilitarian wonders how the dish can be packaged and sold.
Emotionally intelligent people are aware of their own
values, the values of the organizations they work for,
and the values of other people in a conversation. They
adapt to those values, as needed. A hard-driven utilitarian recognizes that a more methodical-theoretical
person prefers to back up decisions with research,
and so will not demand, I need your answer now.
The third foundation is communication style. Just as
people of similar values connect easily, people of similar communication styles do as well. There are four
general styles, represented by the acronym DISC:
1. Dominant - Someone with a high dominant style
takes charge, relies on gut instincts, and relishes a
2. Influential - Those with the high influence style like
to interact and persuade, and are good at including others in conversations and decisions.

An individual is hardwired
with a communication style,
called a natural style; but likely
has an adapted style as well, one
the individual uses to get along in an organization.
Someone may adapt a style to suit an organization or
a manager, but this tends to lead to discontentment.
An adapted style is better used in a given situation,
for example, speaking to a high compliant person in
terms of policies. This is people-reading, and superior
communicators adapt in order to communicate well.

Part II: The Conversations

Great conversations are built on the foundations of
emotional intelligence, motivators, and communication styles.
The conversations themselves fall along a continuum,
beginning with a Conversation for Connection and
ending with a Conversation for Moving On. In between
are conversations for action, conflict resolution, and
accountabilityall key conversations in effective
communication, but also in creating momentum, be it
in someones career, a given project, or the growth of
an organization. The twelve conversations are these:
1. A Conversation for Connection is a sort of kick-off
in which individuals build rapport and trust
through listening.
2. A Conversation for Creating New Possibilities builds
upon that connection. It is in these conversations
that ideas are conceived, such as new product
lines or ideas for professional development; a
manager asks an employee, in essence, What are
you capable of? What do you want to achieve?
3. A Conversation for Structure is one in which the

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Conversations for Change

plan is conceived for achieving those possibilities.

4. A Conversation for Commitment is one which, in
essence, asks the individuals involved, Do we
have your commitment to this idea? Will you be
responsible for your part in it?
5. A Conversation for Action discovers, What do we
(or you) do next? What actions will realize goals
and professional dreams?
6. The Conversation for Accountability ensures that
individuals understand that they are accountable
for delivering what they agreed to do. This may
be corrective, for a non-performer.
7. A Conversation for Conflict Resolution is a
constructive one, aimed at creating a safe, nonfearful environment with positive outcomes for all
8. A Conversation for Breakdown acknowledges some
insoluble conflict or breakdown in communication, perhaps a persistent and unresolved cause of
anger. The individuals ask, directly, for what they
need to move past the breakdown.
9. Failing that, a Conversation for Withdrawal and Disengagement ends that misconnection, making room
for more constructive and enjoyable professional
10. The Conversation for Change may be with an individual, a team, or an entire organization. The aim
is to guide the conversation to acknowledge a
change or to effect some much-needed change.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

A Conversation for Connection usually takes place
at the beginning of a new relationship; for example,
in attending a conference, in a job interview, or in
meeting a new employee or boss. A Conversation for
Connection can also help two people move beyond
prejudices the frozen-in-time perceptions they have
of one another from when they first met.
On the surface, such a conversation may feel like
chit-chat, but is far more meaningful. It creates the
opportunity for the two parties to use their emotional
intelligence to feel one another out for motivators and
communication styles.
What goes wrong frequently during connection is
a lack of presence. One or more of the individuals
is distracted and not practicing deep listening; that
individual is missing those values, motivators and
communication styles, thus missing the foundations
of a valuable relationship. The individual also misses
whatever opportunity the connection holds; Serendipityhappens when you stay in the moment,
writes the author. A Conversation for Connection
uncovers opportunity, setting the stage for a Conversation for Creating New Possibilities.
The deep listener must consciously practice what the
author calls powerful listening in order to cultivate
trust. The techniques of powerful listening are:
To be fully present actively listening to what is
Maintaining eye contact for three to four seconds
at a time.

11. A Conversation for Appreciation is a meaningful

one, tailored to the communication style and
Mentally summarizing what the listener hears.
motivators of the appreciated; done well, these
Asking questions about what has been said.
conversations build stronger
relationships and momenGreat conversations are built on a foundation of awareness
that includes emotional intelligence, what people want to talk

12. Finally, a Conversation for

about (motivators), and how they approach communication
Moving On puts some rela(style).
tionship in the past. It is not
necessarily a parting of ways; it can also be one
As mechanical as these feel, they require practice until
that occurs around a transfer or retirement. The
deep listening becomes a natural skill.
people involved may reconnect some time later,
New Possibilities
but not necessarily so.
A Conversation for Creating New Possibilities begins
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Conversations for Change

with such phrases as, What would you like to

create? I have an idea Id like you to consider
or Where do you see things going? Those opening
statements create a constructive framework.
These conversations are typically focused on creating
some solution, growth, or opportunity. They may also
serve to overcome some stagnation rehashing of dislikes, grudges, opportunities missed, or bad feelings.
Gossiping and kvetching are Dirty Laundry Conversations which impede possibilities, but alas, come
naturally. A Conversation for Creating New Possibilities stops that cycle when someone asks, What do
you want to create next? rather than takes part in (or
listens to) stagnant emotions.
These positive conversations usually begin with
someone putting a stick in the ground, making some
conscious declaration of what the possibility is. The
author encourages students to list 100 possibilities, as
large as starting a company or as small as learning
some new technology. Someone who can list only 20
possibilities has, in effect, created a glass ceiling.
Still, the largest ideas create the greatest possibilities,
such as Walt Disneys idea for creating one new attraction at each of his theme parks every year. Also, the
largest ideas may start through one-on-one connection
before they connect to millions. Thomas Edison, Bill
Gates, and Nelson Mandela each created Conversations for Creating New Possibilities with individuals
before taking those new possibilities to a global scale.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

progress? or, What is the timeline for the steps?

These conversations are particularly useful when
laying out a project plan, negotiating details of how
to proceed, or creating a process map of specific steps.
It is at this stage where possibilities often go off the
rails. An individual may declare a possibility, like
losing 25 pounds, but does not create a structure for
achieving it. Similarly, a company with the idea for a
new product line or a new company ideal (perhaps
going green) may never have this kick-off conversation.
Professional organizers engage their clients in Conversations for Structure; in a real-world example, an
organizer pointed out to her client that she organized
her kitchen far better than she did her office; hence,
she never lost a cooking implement, but frequently
dropped balls at work. The client benefited from a
few simple tools and techniques, like keeping a single
calendar versus relying on Post-It reminders, and
setting aside a half hour in the morning to prioritize
tasks for the day.

The Conversation for Commitment builds upon the
earlier conversations. In it, someone asks, Are you
interested in these outcomes? Can we count on you
to take this step? Will you commit 10 hours per
week to this objective? Sometimes the conversation
is exploratory Here is an outline of responsibilities
in this role, and I am considering
you for it.

Connecting with others happens when we slow down enough

to be in the present and really listen to one another. Rapport
building requires listening now.
This demonstrates the value of making and maintaining connections; every connection has possibilities
of its own. For example, an old business connection
can represent the possibility of a new job opening, a
business partnership, or simply the source of a great
product idea.

A Conversation for Structure is a functional one, aimed
at giving a possibility bones by creating a plan that
launches that possibility into a reality. What are the
priorities? one might ask. How will we track our

These are useful conversations in

determining who is responsible
for a given step, for recruiting
team members, or for requesting
management or budget support.
These conversations do more than solicit engagement,
they create engagement. In another example, a company found itself unable to manage the rising cost of
healthcare. Rather than make executive decisions, the
management engaged all levels of the employees in a
conversation aimed at finding solutions. The employees succeeded by suggesting an a-la-carte approach
to healthcare insurance, and agreed to a raise in
employee contributions. The employees were thus

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Conversations for Change

committed to and engaged in the solution.

These conversations also reiterate commitment where
someone has lost it. For example, a manager caught
a young employee in a white lie, and could have
upbraided him. Instead, she held a Conversation for
Commitment. She told him she had observed more
integrity from him in the past, and asked how he
thought he could rebuild trust, and if he was committed to seeing those actions through. The result was an
employee who returned to the level of commitment
and integrity that he had demonstrated before.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Note that these are questions, not commands. As

questions, they enable people to use their expertise
and values to select the next action; and because that
next action is their idea, they will be engaged in it and
committed to seeing it through to completion.

The next natural step is a Conversation for Accountability one that, as the author describes, Brings
authority and responsibility into alignment.
These conversations begin with such phrases as,
When will you have this ready for the client? How
can I be helpful to you in reaching this deliverable?
May we talk at 5 p.m. every day to discuss the progress?

A common mistake is to assume commitment simply

because someone is in a given role. Presumably, a
project manager is committed to managing projects, but if the scope of the job
were to change, or new tasks are When we take a stand and make it clear with our words and
introduced to it, then the project actions, it is easier to get other people inspired to make a
manager may be less engaged in
change too.
the work than before. If performance lags, the project manager
The two (or more) people in the conversation become
is ripe for a Conversation for Commitment with a
accountability partners who, when all goes well, undermanager (or mentor).
stand exactly what the parameters and deliverables
are. In one instance, a senior manager asked a new
The Conversation for Action usually answers the
junior manager to get to know his direct reports.
question, What next? It also answers that question
There were nearly 100 of them across the U.S. Unforspecifically. It begins with phrases like, What is the
tunately, these two managers communication styles
priority now? Lets create a checklist so we can see
were a mismatch. The senior manager had a High
all the action steps and check them off and What
Compliant style, and so she expected the junior manone action will help us all move forward?
ager to read reports and background information
about those 100 employees. The junior manager had
This conversation seems similar to the Conversation
more of a person-to-person High Influence style, and
for Structure, but that conversation was for planning
went on a long and expensive road trip to meet onea course of action; this one is for taking the actions
to-one with his direct reports. The two filtered the task
themselves. The Conversation for Structure may
through their own communication styles both of
include, The Quality Assurance department will
which are perfectly valid but could have avoided the
identify all recurring defects from the last quarter.
misunderstanding with a Conversation for AccountThe Conversation for Action might include, It is up
ability, asking, What will it look like when this task is
to the R&D department to determine what actions it
done well? and checking in with one another as the
will take to achieve that goal.
task progressed.
Three questions that usually keep action moving forWhen accountability goes wrong, it calls for a confronward are these:
tation but a civil one, which is still a Conversation
1. What are the options for what we can do today?
for Accountability. The six steps in this Conversation
for Accountability are these:
2. What is the next action?
3. Then what?

1. Approach the person, pledging to solve a problem

rather than upbraid.

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Conversations for Change

Shawn Kent Hayashi

2. Describe the persons behavior objectively (I have


sion or resentment, or make one party cease to ignore

another. (Some conflict does involve enmity, after all.)

3. Express feelings and thoughts about the persons

behavior (I feel frustrated).

One peril in conflict is to ignore it and avoid holding a conversation about the conflict at all. Those who
turn the other cheek or rise above it are taking
responsibility for keeping the peace without gaining any personal satisfaction. This is a difficult and
non-constructive emotional state. Those people doom
themselves to suffer in silence. The solution is to push
past that fear of conflict and hold a conversation to
resolve it.

4. Suggest a specific change in terms (May I suggest or I would prefer).

5. Explain the benefits of the new behavior (I will
be more open to your ideas)
6. Ask for commitment to the new behavior. (May I
count on you? or Will you agree to this?)

These conversations are best held when both parties

are committed to resolving the conflict not winning
it. In winning, someone loses or surrenders, and will
In essence, a complaint is an inverted request. In a
be unengaged in the resolution; the conflict is merely
complaint, someone articulates dissatisfaction with
squashed, not resolved. Also, winning and loss are
the behavior of another. A Conversation for Accountstrong emotional stimulants. However logical the
ability is the mechanism to turn that complaint into a
conflict, the usual emotional states are fear and anger;
request for some other behavior.
fear of a loss of status, anger at being questioned or
not heard or valued. Thus a ConConversations for Conflict Resolution works best when neither versation for Conflict Resolution
tasks its participants to protect
party approaches the dialogue with a focus on proving the
themselves emotionally, but also
other party wrong or trying to get everyone to see that his or
to protect the other individual.
her own idea is the only right one.
The two parties do not sacrifice
their own well being or that of one
Conversation for Conflict Resolution
another. Only then can a conflict truly be resolved to
Conversations that begin with, Id like to better
full and mutual satisfaction.
understand your perspective, or, What do you need
Conversations for Breakdown
from me to get past this issue and take the next step?
or, Lets explore what we do agree on, and where
If the Conversation for Conflict Resolution produces
we go from there, are all Conversations for Conflict
no results, then a breakdown occurs. A breakdown is
an oscillating pattern a repetitive pattern with no forward momentum.
Conflict is not necessarily fighting; nor does it necessarily involve any enmity between two parties.
A common breakdown is a case in which an individRather, it may be some disagreement upon which idea
ual has some negative behavior and persists in that
is best for moving forward. Hayashi observes that
behavior despite all warnings. In one case, an individno one challenged IBM Chairman Thomas Watson
ual left a miserable emotional wake with customers,
who declared in 1943 that the world had no need for
managers, and team mates who disliked his abruptmore than five computers; likely, several of his own
ness and ill temper. From his point of view, it was not
employees disagreed, but would not challenge so
his fault, rather, his manager, and those customers
powerful a man. Thousands of innovators have had
and coworkers, were simply too touchy. Rather than
to defend ideas that others thought were impossible
move forward to a higher emotional intelligence, this
or improbable.
individual stayed stuck in an oscillating pattern.
Such a conversation fosters trust, where belittlement
would have destroyed that trust.

Conversations for Conflict Resolution can reveal a

path to agreement, move beyond some chronic ten-

One of the parties (but preferably all) must acknowledge the breakdown before it can be resolved. This

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Conversations for Change

may begin with some phrase like, How do you think

someone outside of this situation would perceive
it?or,We have held this discussion before; why do
you think we keep coming back to it?

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Such a conversation may be held to disengage with a
vendor, or to choose one service provider over another.
These conversations need not include lengthy justifications, nor must they give the dumped party a plan
for maintaining a fruitless relationship. Ideally, that
party accepts the conversation with grace and grows
from the experience. Hayashi herself was the object of
such a conversation, and came to realize that she had
placed undue demands on a professional associate;
she took far more than she gave. Rather than attempt
to repair the relationship, she treated the experience
as an opportunity for growth. Now I heed the lesson
I learned from this person, and I ask my clients more
questions rather than assumingthey still want to
continue working together.

This may call for an executive decision. Hayashi

coached a manager in just such a case, in which a
technical support professional refused to share his
knowledge with team mates. This type of knowledge-hoarding ensured that he remained invaluable
in theory. In reality, he created resentment among
coworkers, and unnecessary expense for the company
which had to compensate him for long hours. The
individual defied his managers numerous requests to
cross train co-workers. Only the threat of termination
in 30 days convinced him that he was accountable for
moving beyond the breakdown. Interestingly, that
employee became an enthused
team member after the experi- Just admitting to yourself that you are in a breakdown around
ence; and the manager let go of an issue can cause you to let go of the resistance and trigger a
her anger toward the employee.
move into a new conversation.
Both grew from the experience of
a Conversation for Breakdown.
Some useful phrases in these conversations are,
Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. It
Conversation for Withdrawal
is time for me to move on and continue learning elseand Disengagement
where, or, I am narrowing my client list to the top
Not all relationships need to go forward. A relationthree, or, This role no longer fits my vision, and I
ship with an employer, colleague, or even a friend,
feel the need to move on. None of those phrases is
may simply feel toxic and enervating. The emotional
accusatory; in fact, the speaker takes on the responsiwake from an individual is always negative, or,
bility (if not the fault) for the disengagement.
people find themselves stuck in a pattern of anger or
fear, with no promise of resolution.

Conversation for Change

Disengagement need not be drastic, complete, or permanent. For example, refusing to take part in office
gossip is a Conversation for Withdrawal and Disengagement simply stating, I would rather not talk
about someone who is not here. Declining to serve
as a reference for people one barely knows is another
such conversation.

The possible changes in an organization, or among

individuals, are limitless. A merger and acquisition is
a significant change. So is hiring a new employee, or
working for a new manager. A department may find
itself facing added responsibilities, or someones performance may have changed for the worse over time.

A client of Hayashi, one of 10 partners in a services

firm, came to the realization that his own values
and that of the other nine partners were simply a
mismatch. He was able to articulate his points in a
non-confrontational Conversation for Withdrawal
and Disengagement, which left both sides feeling
respected. There were no hard feelings, and all
were able to maintain amicable relationships with one

Change may be positive, negative, uplifting or enervating, but must be acknowledged in a Conversation
for Change. We have to bring others along to understand how we went from one way of thinkingto
another way, explains Hayashi.
In a case study from Hayashis client base, a project
manager had operated successfully for a decade under
a given job description. A new manager required her to
be more proactive in creating an internal customer

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Conversations for Change

focus. Suddenly, the position was more customer-oriented than task oriented, and the project manager felt
as if she was simply wasting her time with tasks that
were not germane to her work.
What the manager had not done is hold a Conversation for Change, in which she acknowledged that the
nature of the job would change; nor did she articulate
what the new accountabilities would be. The new job
is not one I would want, said the project manager
in a Conversation for Change (which came one year
after the change), and asked to be moved into a more
suitable role.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Conversation for Appreciation

Conversations for Appreciation are uplifting deposits into the emotional bank account between people,
writes Hayashi. They may begin with such phrases as
I want you to know I noticed how well you
Thank you for putting in so much time to see this
work through. and
Jodi told me that you really excel at

Such conversations do more than foster good will;

they create momentum in a
relationship, turning it into a relaNot all relationships need to go forward. Sometimes, when
tionship that can achieve greater
things just are not working out, we have to take a step back
commitment, overcome conflict,
and create more positive change.
and disengage from a job, friend, colleague, or business part-


Conversations for Change call for high emotional

intelligence on both sides; what appears to be an
opportunity to one party may appear to be a threat
or an imposition to the other. That party may not be
opposed to change, but must understand the change
in order to accept it.
Business conversation is the source of new ideas,
new energy, and new directions, wrote the editors
of Fast Company, the magazine for entrepreneurs. An
effective Conversation for Change begins with such
phrases as these:
I have a dream that we could
A vision that inspires me is
How can we be proactive, instead of reactive?
Here are some trends we need to be prepared
Is anything happening within the company that
we havent talked about?
The risk of failing to hold a Conversation for Change
is a reticence to change. People like the project manager described above attempt to continue working
as they always have, but for a company or a department that has evolved. That project manager had not
been given the time to process her emotions about the
changes, and no one had spoken to her in her communication style.

There are four ways of showing

appreciation in business:
1. Affirmation is verbal or written and underscores
the recipients strengths and worth;
2. Quality time is more of a conversation, which perhaps feels like coaching. The recipient benefits by
the positive affirmation of value, but also leaves
feeling optimistic about possibilities and opportunities.
3. Gifts, perhaps in the form of a pen or bonus, or
concert tickets.
4. Acts of Service; something that helps the recipient,
like budgeting to upgrade his computer equipment or finding office space for him.
Appreciation need not be elaborate, but management must consider the consequence of a lack of
appreciation; an individual does not feel valued, or is
unmotivated to work hard in the future. Why bother,
if less effort offers the same reward (or lack of it)?

Conversation for Moving On

The Conversation for Moving On is the punctuation that emotionally closes a connection, much like
the period at the end of a sentence.
Such a conversation may come at a retirement party,
or when a project ends; when a team disbands, but
wishes to leave on good terms; or when an employee
leaves for another opportunity. The individuals may

Business Book Summaries April 21, 2011 Copyright 2011 EBSCO Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Conversations for Change

or may not maintain connection in the future, but

usually allow for the possibility.
A termination is such a conversation. One young hire
let his late-night party lifestyle get in the way of his
studying for a training exam and was terminated.
(This was a pattern of behavior about which he had
been warned.) The manager ended the termination
meeting by advising the young man that something
about this one situation did not work for him at this
time and suggested he should figure out why so that
he could meet expectations in his next opportunity.
She also invited the young man, sincerely, to keep in
touch and let her know where he went with his career.
This conversation showed tremendous emotional
intelligence on the part of the manager; she neither
demeaned nor upbraided the young man, nor did
she withdraw from him professionally all of which
would have been emotionally difficult for him. Rather,
she created a conversation that moved them past an
unworkable situation into a workable one. Left with
his dignity, the young man learned from the experience and found a position better suited to him.
More remarkably, the two felt positively enough about
the outcome that they did maintain professional contact, comfortably.

The Journey
Much of the success of a conversation comes down
to communication styles; but also the emotional intelligence to adapt.
High Dominant communicators will jump eagerly
into Conversations for Action they enjoy action and
momentum but typically find a Conversation for
Structure tedious.
High Influential types likely find a Conversation for
Connection easy they meet new people, exercise
their knowledge and powers of persuasion but they
may find Conversations for Commitment difficult if
the results are not of their choosing; their influence
has failed.
The High Stability communicator will not leap into
a Conversation for Commitment, because they do
not make snap decisions. Once convinced, they will
commit fully; yet will be daunted by Conversations
for Creating New Possibilities, as possibilities are dis-

Shawn Kent Hayashi

ruptive (in a positive way) rather than stable.

Finally, the High Compliant communicators willingly participate in Conversations for Accountability;
accountability and compliance are close cousins. That
same communicator will try to avoid a Conversation
for Conflict Resolution, as conflict and defiance are
also close cousins.
Each of the communication styles is purposeful and
It appears to be hard work to master emotional intelligence, values, and communication styles; but skilled
leaders take time to master those foundations through
conscious practice and effort. Momentum and
growth do not occur naturally; they are created and
maintained by skilled communicators, and through
meaningful conversation.

g g g g

Features of the Book

Reading Time: 4 Hours, 225 pages
With these strategies, I have a tool to lead conversations in purposeful directions and not get flustered
and frustrated, said Oracle executive Rod Hanby in
praise of Shawn Hayashis Conversations for Change.
This quick-reading book features dozens of case studies from Ms. Hayashis years of consulting at Fortune
500 companies, and also at smaller organizations.
The reader may simply absorb the book and its principles, or, use it as a tool for self assessment. The book
includes a free online assessment through Hayashis
company, The Professional Development Group. The
10 to 15-minute assessment asks the readers to rank
themselves on personality traits (Bold and Talkative, Shy and Reserved, etc.).
Hayashi walks the reader through each of the conversation styles, with both anecdotal and practical
information. Each chapter includes a list of situations
that call for a particular conversation; for example,
holding a Conversation for Breakdown, aimed at
motivating a person or team that is not meeting objectives. Each chapter as well features Phrases and

Business Book Summaries April 21, 2011 Copyright 2011 EBSCO Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved

Page 11

Conversations for Change

Questions to Start a Conversation in the case of a

breakdown, phrases like It seems to me we are stuck.
Do you see it that way too?
As the book comes to its close, it features a When the
Conversation Changes Journey Map, a handy job-aid
that summarizes the foundations for every conversation, and the continuum of the 12 conversations.

Shawn Kent Hayashi

Chapter 15: Conversation for Appreciation

Chapter 16: Conversation for Moving On
Chapter 17: Putting It All Together: The Conversation

The book is best read start to finish; the conversations are meant to proceed linearly. Two people must
achieve connection before creating new possibilities;
a conversation for action before a conversation for
The book is aimed at business readers, but is useful
to readers at all levels, from rank-and-file employees
to top management. The case studies involve employees at all levels, like young employees who must seek
organizations that match their values; and top managers who must hold a Conversation for Change with
an entire organization in a company meeting.

Part I: Foundations For Every Conversation
Chapter 1: Emotional Intelligence
Chapter 2: Values: Workplace Motivators
Chapter 3: Communication Styles
Part II: The 12 Conversations
Chapter 4: Overview of the 12 Conversations
Chapter 5: Conversation for Connection
Chapter 6: Conversation for Creating New Possibilities
Chapter 7: Conversation for Structure
Chapter 8: Conversation for Commitment
Chapter 9: Conversation for Action
Chapter 10: Conversation for Accountability
Chapter 11: Conversation for Conflict Resolution
Chapter 12: Conversation for Breakdown
Chapter 13: Conversation for Withdrawal and Disengagement
Chapter 14: Conversation for Change
Business Book Summaries April 21, 2011 Copyright 2011 EBSCO Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Conversations for Change

Shawn Kent Hayashi

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