Want to Have More 'Breakthrough' Conversations in Your Business? 11 Key Strategies for Success

If you want your business and your team to keep growing and evolving, you need to have breakthrough conversations that get you to the next level.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights. Photos courtesy of the individual members.

Initiating and fostering the exchange of ideas is essential for moving a business forward. It can be tricky to encourage these discussions to happen organically. However, if done right, sparking these "breakthrough" conversations can lead to the next innovative breakthrough for your business.

The best way to create a safe and open dialogue for teams, business partners and other industry leaders starts with your willingness to create it as a business owner. Below, 11 members of Newsweek Expert Forum each explain one key factor in opening up your business to these breakthrough conversations.

1. Set the Right Tone

Set the tone to disarm any defensiveness or nervousness right out of the gates by stating that this is a non-judgmental, safe environment for the conversation to take place in. The biggest breakthroughs happen when people can truly be themselves and let their guard down. - Jenna Hinrichsen, Advanced RPO

2. Start With Empathy

Empathy is a critical factor in creating psychologically safes spaces for breakthrough conversations. The pandemic has created an environment for teams, business partners and industry leaders that requires intentionality and considering stakeholder perspectives. - Dave Green, Otter Public Relations

3. Prepare to Speak Your Mind Respectfully

Say what's on your mind — just don't be a jerk about it. People have a pattern of shying away from difficult conversations until they reach a point where they blurt out something overly emotional or hurtful. Don't put off those conversations until it's too late; prepare for them well in advance. Breakthrough conversations require candor, but they have to come from a place of empathy first. - Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

4. Foster Open Communication

There is no such thing as a stupid question. We make it clear that all input is valuable and foster an environment of open communication. This is also why we include all areas of the business in every meeting. Operations, science, engineering, business development and marketing are part of the discussion. Also, we include these topics in all customer discussions. - John Butler, Quantumcyte, Inc

5. Ask Open-Ended Questions

If you want to have breakthrough conversations, leverage the law of curiosity. Ask questions the right way. First, ask open-ended questions that generate more than a one-word response. That will enable you to listen and probe further or share something based on the response. Second, ask a question you actually want to know the answer to and will engage on. With curiosity comes connection. - Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials LLC

6. Shift Everyone's Mindset to Create a Blame-Free Space

A way to foster breakthrough conversations and insights is to create a safe space for all opinions to be heard. We do this by making sure everyone understands that it's "us versus the problem" instead of "me versus you and the problem." This subtle shift in mindset creates a blame-free space, giving people permission to be "wrong" and reach outside of their normal bounds of thought. - Chloe Alpert, Medinas

7. Listen Without Judgment

If you want to truly foster breakthroughs, listen without judgment. Within my team and professional relationships, I encourage the sharing of "bad' ideas. It encourages people to share anything relevant under the assumption that it doesn't have to be good to be shared. The truth is that all breakthroughs start as a bad idea and, through sharing and massaging, turn into real gems. - Emily Thompson, Being Boss

8. Be Open and Vulnerable

Vulnerability is not just a buzzword. It is a critical leadership trait that all executives should possess. Speak openly about your concerns, fears and issues you are trying to solve. The stakeholders in your business won't sweep things under the rug and present problems before they arise. Breakthrough conversations are open, honest and relevant to the times. - Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences

9. Uncover Key Data Points With Qualifying Questions

Fostering breakthrough conversations means listening more than you speak. I find that asking qualifying questions helps me uncover key data points quickly. What is this person saying they need? Keep asking qualifying questions until you can gather enough feedback to offer a solution for that need. Or, at the very least, help them identify the barriers in the way of achieving that need. - Brooke Sellas, B Squared Media, LLC

10. Practice Radical Candor

We employ a practice of radical candor. I challenge people directly while demonstrating that I care about them deeply. - Arturo Elizondo, Clara Foods

11. Use the Impossibility Question

Use the Impossibility Question to bypass objections. Respond to "yes, buts" by asking: "What is something that would be impossible to do, but if we could do it would exponentially increase our positive measurable results?" Then after they answer, ask, "What would make that possible?" - Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, M.D., Inc.

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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