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The Centre for

Creative Conversation

7 Habits of Creative Conversation

Updated: Apr 12

Graphic showing the seven habits of creative conversation.

Creative conversation is a way of engaging with people in which you strive to make something positive happen – whether or not you agree.


It's not based on abstract theory but rooted in the detailed nitty-gritty of how we human beings connect with each other when we're at our best.


And it's precisely there, in the nitty-gritty of those connections, that it delivers value – through meeting the needs of everyone involved.


The skills and attitudes – the 7 Habits – that make up creative conversation are usually taken for granted. For some they might even seem a bit 'basic' – but that's actually their strength.


Sign saying 'A little progress each day adds up to big results'

There's huge benefit to be gained by simply getting the basics right and applying them consistently.


By practising a little and often – every day if you can– you'll gradually develop the habits of creative conversation to improve your connection with others.


So what exactly are the 7 Habits?


1. UNDERSTAND FIRST


Young woman smiling with understanding

If there's one habit above all others that helps build stronger connections, it's seeking to understand the other person before expecting them to understand us. It helps because it meets a fundamental human need to be heard and understood.


But genuine understanding is often in short supply. That's why Understand First is first on our list of habits to develop.


2. BE UNDERSTOOD 


We might feel clear about what we're saying but it's what the other person understands that really counts – and those two things might not match.


So how can we express ourselves in a way that maximises the chances of being understood – clearly and fully – by whoever we're talking to?


The key is empathy – and using it when we're sharing or explaining something is as important as when we’re trying to understand somebody else.


3. TAKE OWNERSHIP


'Take ownership' post-it on car steering-wheel

Taking ownership means putting ourselves in the driving seat – seeing ourselves as the active agent at the centre of our own, unique human network.


It’s about understanding that we have the power to change things for the better, even if just a bit. And that when we change our approach to conversations, our relationships will reflect that change.


Whether we decide to understand first or to be understood more clearly, we’re taking responsibility for that conversation – ‘owning’ it. 


4. STAY OPEN


Why are we more open to certain people and ideas than others? And how can we stay open when we're confronted by people and ideas that usually trip our fight-flight-freeze reflex?

 

Habit 4 is all about understanding the dynamics of basic human needs and how we can develop the habit of responding rather than reacting to 'negative' triggers.


5. MEET NEEDS


Hands cupping water in public drinking fountain

At the heart of this course is the principle that the most effective way to create value is to meet needs – for ourselves and others. 


Habit 5 looks at how, through creative conversation, we can quickly and accurately get to the needs at the heart of things – to the benefit of everyone involved.


6. CHALLENGE & BE CHALLENGED

Healthy relationships rely on healthy challenging. But what is that exactly?


How do we challenge something we disagree with – maybe even deeply – in a way that moves things forward, so everyone 'wins'? And how do we handle challenge that feels unfair or like a personal attack? 


As Habit 6 explains, the secret lies in applying some key TIPS…


7. BE PREPARED

Graphic showing 'Ambush-Fail-Try Again-Success'

'Difficult' conversations. Unexpected opportunities. Unwelcome ambushes. Life is full of surprises, pleasant or otherwise, and situations we'd rather avoid. And in dealing with them we often fail , fall short, cock up. We're human!

Habit 7 looks at how best to use creative conversation to be prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road of daily life – whether or not we can see them coming.

 

Developing any one of these habits will have a significant positive effect on your relationships. Developing all of them will be transformative – we promise!


So look out for this roundel as you progress through the course.


Animated roundel saying 'learning is 70% application'

It flags up specific, practical actions you can take to develop the 7 Habits – wherever you are, little and often, every day.

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