Category Archives: Conversation Starter

Use Books to Catalyse Conversations That Matter®

It was late 1996 and my boss presented me with a gift. It was a book. And it wasn’t my birthday.

“Read this,” he said. “I think it will help you to understand what we are trying to do here. Don’t worry if it takes you a while to get through it. Let’s touch base regularly to talk about how you’re making sense of it.”

He had previously given me a couple of relatively easy books to read and I had consumed them like a hungry tiger. So he ‘knew’ I was up to the task.

The book was The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. It was a tough read and took me six months to get through it. True to his word, however, it was okay for me to take my time to get through it.

For me, taking time to ‘make sense’ of the book worked really well. Having the opportunity to talk through what I was reading and relate it to what was happening in the organisation was extremely powerful. It allowed me to truly understand from a practical perspective what the book was saying.

At the time my boss was very busy. As was I. But these conversations were invaluable. Both to my development and my capacity to contribute to what we were trying to achieve at the organisation.

Too often I hear leaders say that they have given books to their direct reports but they don’t follow up on whether they have read anything. From my experience, it is the conversations that make this form of education invaluable.

If you have never used this developmental tactic, then start with short, simple books. As staff indicate their appreciation of this type of education introduce more complex books. But the most important aspect of this process is that you create conversations about the book and how the staff member is making sense of it. As much as possible your conversations should focus on your current and future work situation to provide a practical element for your conversations.

How have you used books to help educate your people, or what are your experiences of wise bosses using this tactic with you?

Gary Ryan works with successful senior and developing leaders who understand the true value of being challenged, tested and educated through focusing on real world issues,  challenges and problems.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Communicate effectively through multiple channels

The use of email is still a main driver for miscommunication within the workplace. People simply rely too much on it for their communication, or rather they rely too much on it as the main channel for workplace communication.

Given that up to 90% of the written word is interpreted by the recipient of the message, email is a risky channel of communication especially when the author of the message suspects that it has a high chance of being interpreted negatively.

Yet people continue to press ‘send’. And again and again and again. And they wonder why their workplace relationships suffer. And they wonder why performance suffers when negative energy is wasted on unnecessary miscommunication.

Communicating any message by a single channel is risky business. And even riskier when the message has a high probability of being misinterpreted.

Unless you are deliberately intending for someone to read a negative message from your email, then it is best to use multiple communication channels to send your message.

A communication channel is a means through which a message is sent. It could be verbal, a text message, an email, a video, a presentation, an audio recording, a website, a blog – the list of possible channels is virtually limitless.

When you have a potentially difficult issue to convey speak to the person or people to whom you wish to convey your message first. This can be in person or at least over the phone. It is after you have conveyed your message via a verbal format that you should then follow up with an email, simply highlighting the key aspects of your verbal conversation.

This simple technique of using multiple channels to convey your message will significantly decrease the chances that the recipient of your message will misinterpret your intentions. Business relationships won’t suffer and performance won’t be reduced. A little care and forethought goes a long way.

What is your experience of using multiple channels to more effectively communicate your messages in the workplace?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Conversation Starters Catalyse Conversations That Matter®

Conversation Starters are generally single page documents that are designed to catalyse Conversations That Matter.

Through using a combination of text and illustrations, Conversation Starters provide focus for conversations that otherwise might not be able to occur.

Through enabling people to focus on something other than another person, Conversation Starters allow people to talk about things that matter to them without fear of offending anyone – after all it is the document that can be blamed rather than a person.

Access a complimentary Conversation Starter ‘Who is the Customer’ here and please let me know how you have used it.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at