Tangential Conversations

Have you ever been in conversation that was challenged to stay focused? Did you find the participants diverging from the original purpose or course of the conversation? Tangential conversations can be delightfully distracting or maddeningly meandering.
Here are three ways to ensure that your conversation stays on course:

  • – Begin with the end in mind – make sure that everyone understands the purpose and objectives of the conversation. If there is no end goal then any path will get you there and tangents are sure to happen.
  • – Have a “focus phrase” – this is a statement that brings back conversations from the brink of a tangent and gets everyone re-focused on the original conversation. An example is, “let me summarize our conversation” or “we all agreed that…”
  • – Use the Focused Conversation Process –this is a four-stage process (observe, reflect, interpret and decide) that enables the conversation leader to set the context and orchestrate a significant conversation.

Alternatively you can enjoy the journey of the tangential conversation, put a place marker in the conversation and come back to the original topic later. This is an art form that many have perfected. Just make sure those you are in conversation with are willing travelers on your tangential conversation journey!

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