As executive leadership coaches, we understand the power of language.
Language has the power to connect, co-create, and to generate real action. We typically see two types of communication with our clients: Descriptive and Generative.
What’s the Difference?
- Generative language puts people into action through intentionally designed conversations that create dialogues that lead to action by making clear requests, offers, and promises with others.
- Descriptive language explains, tells, creates one-way monologues, and describes situations and experiences; it does not create action.
Example: Descriptive vs Generative Communication
|Descriptive Communication||Generative Communication|
|Describes a Current State
Using vague language that creates a monologue and generates not action.
|Creates a New Future
Able to use language that generates action through words.
|Controller goes to CFO’s office and states that he/she is frustrated with the VP of Sales. The VP of Sales is always late with reports which leads to an inability to make key decisions.||Controller goes to CFO’s office and states that he/she is frustrated with the VP of Sales. The VP of Sales is always late with reports which leads to an inability to make key decisions. The Controller requests support in designing an intentional conversation with the VP of Sales.|
|CFO states that he will go and speak with the VP of Sales to sort out the issue.||CFO agrees to provide support. Together they design a conversation that empowers the Controller.|
|CFO speaks with VP of Sales and tells him/her to start getting the reports in on time. No excuses.||Controller goes to VP of Sales and has a generative conversation regarding the late reports. The VP of Sales explains why the reports are often late and the Controller explains the impact the late reports have on his/her job.|
|The Controller and VP of Sales have not spoken. The VP of Sales is upset about the CFO not allowing him to speak, and the Controller is uncertain if the reports will continue to be late or not.||Together, the Controller and the VP of Sales create a clear agreement on when the report will be sent and agree to connect if there will be a delay in the future.|
|Descriptive Communication Led to No Action!||Generative Communication Led to Action!|
5 Key Distinctions of Generative Communication
- Deep Listening
- Make clear requests and real promises that create quality agreements
- Able to enroll (commitment) vs convince/sell/persuade others
- Design intentional conversations (purposeful) vs. vague conversations (automatic speaking)
- Asking empowering questions
- Who needs to be in action with your issue?
- What is missing for action to occur?
- Is this a threat or opportunity?
Design one intentional conversation that leads to action.