Having a discussion is Easy and Fun isn’t it?
We all love having a good discussion, sitting at the fire and open our heart out to whoever is there to listen, RIGHT. NO, that is not the case nor should it be. However, in global business just like in life in general, you will end up in different situations where you have to talk to people. These people can be completely new to you, or someone that you have known for ages. Environment and the nature of those talks is irrelevant at this point. The important thing is, that you will have to be able to be there, be present, and have meaningful discussions. But for some, that is easier said than done. So, what can we do to make these natural situations easier for everyone?
Not for everyone, but should it be?
When having a discussion, personality and learned habits matter. We are all different and we all have our preferences on how we go about our life, and there is nothing wrong with that. Some of us are more introverted, some on the other hand, are more extroverted by nature. For some discussion and talking in general is easy, for others even having a casual chat with someone new is completely nerve-wracking. Especially if you are an introvert, you know what I’m talking about. How to appear natural when negotiating a business deal with a complete stranger, if having a small talk at the grocery store is already an impossible task for you. Impossible I say… Impossible unless you have forced yourself into similar situations before. Impossible, unless you try.
These situations can become so challenging that you feel like you cannot get a word out of your mouth, no matter how fluently you know a language, even if your life would depend on it. It can also be that you are extremely open for discussion with your first language, but when it comes to your second, or third language, it just seems impossible to use those naturally in everyday situations. And indeed, these challenges can happen everywhere, during your trip to overseas or when someone asks you direction in different language at the local mall. Challenges only increase if the topic of discussion is challenging, maybe a private matter.
How about in business then?
Consider yourself in a situation where you are the manager and your employee is battling with a challenge that effects their life, and their ability to work. As a manager, you should be able to listen, understand and try to help the employee.
While it is impossible to be fully prepared for all the situations you may face as a manager, as a human, you can still start learning the basic skills that these situations require, already during your studies. At the end of the day, having a meaningful discussion, being able to talk and listen are skills that make your life easier in many ways. If you are able to practice these skills, while studying subjects that provide you with the needed tools to build a career, you are on to something. Even better if you can start building a habit of having these discussions on daily basis, you will make your life easier.
What is the teacher’s role in all of this?
Then where can we learn these things, safely, if we are too shy to ever start a conversation? Everyone always tells us that the only way to learn is to start, in this case start talking- and start listening. Start putting yourself into these situations, start participating into these discussions. But then as an introvert you usually lack the courage, you just cannot force yourself to speak up. So how can we learn it then? Right, someone has to do that or the very least provide an opportunity. Provide those situations where we can talk and express ourselves, without a fear of failure or that awful feeling of… What does that person think of me? Do they think I am some sort of a weirdo, if I just go and talk to them?
In School we have the perfect opportunity to provide the safety that students need to build this skill, from ground up. As teachers, we should take the lead and provide different opportunities for our students to learn skills, for life, not only for business. After all, there are people in business as well, are there not?
So, to all teachers, provide the opportunities, safe opportunities, for students to learn skills for life. Skills like discussion, meaningful discussion. Talking but also listening. Do not only focus on the subject matter, but every now and then focus on what normally happens around the subject matter, life and discussions.