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Transformational Conversations: Creating a Culture of Collaboration

May 11, 2017 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

Conversations in a Disney Institute Professional Development CourseHave you ever heard of a “level three” conversation? Judith E. Glaser, author and self-described “organizational anthropologist,” reveals through her research that there are three major levels of conversation: 

  • Level One: purely transactional—dispensing of information
  • Level Two: positional, either defending a belief or attempting to influence someone
  • Level Three: transformational and collaborative—involving sharing and learning together, creating a space for trust and progress

A recent Convene magazine article, The Chemistry of Conversations, shares Glaser’s ideas and makes a connection between level-three conversations, and organizations conducting effective business meetings. The author argues that by creating meetings with more collaboration and conversation, and less one-way dialog, it will build trust and empowerment. According to the author, “a high-sharing culture needs to be a part of your meeting purpose.” 

But, perhaps most interesting was what the author pointed out, “conference success does not depend on the quality of the content delivered to your participants…as much as it depends on the quality of the participants’ interactions.”

Think about that. What the author suggests is that business meetings should be focused on creating meaningful opportunities for participants to interact with each other, sharing and learning together, to achieve “level three” conversations. And, it’s these higher-level conversations - and the relationships they help to create - that tend to influence engagement, message retention, and shared commitment to taking action.

At Disney Institute, this is an area where we are very intentional. Throughout our professional development courses, we purposefully build in time for healthy dialogue between participants about a specific learning topic, with the goal of promoting a high-sharing, collaborative culture throughout the learning experience. If you have a chance to attend one of our training courses or learning events, we hope this is a distinction you’ll notice.

Participants in a Disney Institute Course

Of course, this should not just apply to attending a training course, conference, or formal business meeting. Consider what you can do today to foster more “level-three” conversations among your team and within your organization. Starting with internal meetings, staff training sessions, and other gatherings, look for opportunities to build in time, perhaps in small groups or pairs, for the team to discuss their take on a new idea or process that was introduced. 

After all, according to Glaser, “a true conversation goes deeper and is stronger than just sharing information. A transformative level-three conversation actually releases chemicals that cause us to bond with one another.” And, it’s these emotional connections that can have a significant impact on your organization’s employee engagement, and ultimately, on your customer experience as well.    

Think about it: How will you create more opportunities for “level three” conversations during business meetings?


Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form




Posted in Employee Engagement | Tagged Bruce Jones, Workplace Relationships, Collaboration, Workplace Culture, Company Culture, Employee Engagement, Employee Culture, Organizational Culture | 0 Comments


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