My first career was a television news reporter. Yup, I used to be the guy standing outside of the courthouse or alongside the massive 27 car pileup, trying to paint a picture with words about what happened there and why it mattered to the viewer.
Sometimes it was easy–because I covered some pretty big events–like elections. But other times it was challenging, because fires in abandoned buildings or a giant cow sculpture made completely out of butter (both actual stories I covered) just don’t have much meaning in the big picture.
When I became a coach, my conversations changed. Instead of describing something that had already happened, coaches have conversations with people about things that had not happened yet, but they WANT to happen.
Do you see the difference? My two careers have proved to me that conversation and action are linked. In fact one doesn’t typically happen without the other. But the order in which those happen really matters.
When we have a conversation, there’s a connection with another person. Sometimes that connection leads to a specific and predictable action. The difference is whether that action has already happened, or if it’s something you’ll instigate.
Jesus was the master of conversations that led to action. Think about the woman at the well, Peter’s confession of Jesus, or even his words to the disciple he loved from the cross. A little back and forth, and then an invitation to action.
Our prayer lives are both kinds of conversation. Sometimes we take something that has happed to God (action that leads to conversation). Other times we look for what to do next…and that’s conversation that leads to action.
Which comes first for you, conversation or action? Whichever one does can reveal a LOT about who you are and what you’re called to do.
Maybe a better question is Which one do you think is more helpful for someone who wants to live effectively? I would suggest you that finding equal doses of both is how you really maximize your effectiveness.
There will be times when something happens and you just have to talk about.
But there will be other times where deciding what to do and talking about what will happen in the future is more helpful. Living sacramentally takes two different strategies.
Here are some key observations about the two kinds of conversation:
Conversations Then Action:
– Oriented toward the future and focused on decision-making, relational health, and who will be affected by the decision.
– Designed to help a person determine their course of action and timetable.
– Facilitates noticeable and specific change.
– The larger the action the more effective the conversation!
– Open ended questions that open up possibilities for the person are the key.
– Most common in the Apostolic and Prophetic profiles.
Action Then Conversation:
– Grounded in the present and focused on understanding and emotion.
– Designed to help a person understand the details of a situation and what those details mean.
– The other person probably won’t change what they do next based on the conversation.
– If effective, the other person walks away with a deeper understanding of what is already happened.
– Closed ended questions that confirms what the person is thinking are helpful.
– Most common in the Shepherd and Teacher profiles.
Coaching conversations leverage both kinds of conversations…often a coach will start by helping another person understand what’s going on around them. Then that conversation continues with helping the other personmake a decision about what to do about their current situation. It’s a conversation that starts with action AND leads to action.
Which comes first for you, conversation or action? I’d love to hear your comments in the section below.