Realizing your goals takes more than passion, vision, and commitment: it takes talking to other people. To be successful, your talking must go beyond the rules of well-mannered communication skills. To get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want—in work and in life—depends on how well you use four types of conversations.

Dr. Jeffrey Ford, Professor Emeritus of Management and Human Resources of the Ohio State University, explains the nature and uses of the Four Conversations.

Initiative Conversations: Whenever you propose something new or different – introduce a new goal, propose an idea, or launch some kind of change – you are initiating something. Effective Initiative Conversations will tell people what you want to accomplish, when you want to accomplish it, and why it matters. View videos.

Understanding Conversations: The most important aspect of these conversations are that they are Two-Way dialogues. When you want people to understand something—an idea, instruction, or goal—you also need to listen to what they have to say about how they could implement it in their day-to-day work. A dialogue includes explanations, questions, and yes-but’s, and the purpose is to get a full view of how to make something happen, including making any necessary changes or updates, and who will work to accomplish it. The idea is to get useful feedback, and to discover where any new resources are needed and where any new results will be delivered. View videos.

Performance Conversations: If you want people to take an action or produce a result, you want to master Performance Conversations. These are the conversations that include specific requests and promises to clarify whatever actions, results, and other requirements (such as timing, quality, etc.) you expect someone to deliver. Performance Conversations are specifically designed to get people into action, and they provide the foundation for building accountability. View videos.

Closure Conversations: Any time you report on the status of a project, follow-up on a request or promise, or tell people that a job is complete, you are having a Closure Conversation. These are the conversations that complete the past by closing out some piece of business, and they build credibility, accountability, and good relationships. View videos.