Last week, Consensio had the pleasure of hosting a client event with Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, Professor of Social Interaction at Loughborough University. Like most people, we didn’t realise that there was such a thing as a “conversation analyst” before we came across Professor Stokoe. But what she does is not only extremely interesting, but also hugely relevant to those of us who are interested in workplace mediation, how to have difficult conversations, and how to better communicate with other people.
Professor Stokoe, who has analysed thousands of transcripts of people engaging in all types of conversations – including in doctors’ surgeries, police interrogations, speed dating and mediation services – explained how talk actually works, and the connection between what we say and the effect on how others will respond. She shared with us some fascinating insights into what phrases and even particular words will make a difference to the outcome of a conversation. For example, did you know that changing just one word in a sentence will make a difference to how someone responds to the same question?
Besides spending time in a beautiful venue in London, overlooking Tower Bridge, our clients left the event with some concrete ways to improve how they communicate in their day-to-day lives as well. For those Consensio clients who are themselves workplace mediators or work in an organisation that has embedded mediation, they also learnt how to raise awareness of mediation in a way in which parties will be willing to engage with it.