This week on the Peace Parlor, we have Chief Rabble Rouser Zemo Trevathan of Zemo Trevathan & Associates. Zemo is a management change consultant. We caught up with Zemo in an espresso bar in New York City for this Peace Parlor interview. 

Our conversation ranged over Zemo's extensive career and gave a number of interesting insights into what he has learned working with top executives in some of the largest companies in the world. One of Zemo's contributions to business communications is what he calls the Four Conversations. Here's how it works. 

Conversation #1:  Before you even start talking, you need to reach agreement about what are we going to do and what are you going to call it? What are you needing out of this, what do I need? You get clear on expectations. These expectations, Zemo says, can cause mischief unless they are accurately translated to into shared agreements. That's what the first conversation is about. 

Conversation #2: This is just plain connection. What we do 95% of time when we're talking to other people. Build rapport. Build caring. Build trust. Day to day being in touch, maintaining info flow and empathy that are the lifeblood of the relationship. 

Conversation #3: Next, it's time to address the gaps and potential gaps. It's important to hold this conversation in the spirit of learning and working together to fix whatever breakdowns we might encounter. These "gaps" are usually addressed by person with power to say what to do. If your first two conversations have been fruitful and connecting, it's easy to gauge the impact of tending the gaps. The sooner in real time the gap is addressed the better. Again, this is not about assigning blame, but is undertaken for discovery. As gaps come to light, it will become necessary to circle back to Conversation #1, to make new agreements. 

Conversation #4: This is the review. Relevant questions include how are we doing? What’s working, what’s not? An assessment based on the previous conversations and our ability to transform gaps into new agreements.  

Click below to see the entire interview.

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About the Author Catherine

Catherine Cooley is a mediator and a communication coach. She has worked in environments of extreme conflict including prisons, the court system and local communities teaching what she calls "Breakthrough Conversations." She specializes in helping people foster clear, respectful, warm, cooperative relationships at home and in the workplace.

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