Posts Tagged ‘Authentic Conversation’

How far would you go for a conversation?

Nov 30, 2010 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Approximately 700 kilometers, 10 1/2 hours of travelling time, and waking up at the wee hours to catch an early train to the coach-bus station at Novena Square. That’s how far I went recently to have a conversation and thought I would like to share this story with you.

Last Friday, I travelled north on a coach-bus from Singapore to KL to meet with Kimberly Ong, the Learning & Development manager of Fuji Xerox Malaysia. It all started from a friendship forged with Paul Lim, whom I have never met, he is the husband of a friend based in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. He also happens to be the General Manager – HR of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia Operations). He is one of the biggest supporter of ConversationCircles in the past year. He subscribed and followed  CC Touchpoint since June this year, reading and commenting on my blog posting and sending encouraging emails periodically. In September, I wrote to thank him for his support and encouragement and began a conversation. Paul asked how ConversationCircles might help in his organisation training plan for next year and a meeting was duly set up for November.

When the meeting date draws near, Kimberly – who has since taken over the training matters wanted to know the agenda and specific outcomes of the meeting. She asked to have a call three days before to confirm some details of the meeting and here’s my respond:

“My intention is to have a conversation and meet with your good self and of course Paul if his schedules permit…”. I responded to Kimberly’s well intentioned.

“That’s nice but we wanted your trip to be useful so if we can have some sort of agenda that will help…”. Kim seeks my approval.

“Kim, the agenda evolves with the conversation. Trust that process and we will enjoy each others company.” I thank and assured her.

After an almost 6 hours bus ride and 350km later, I was at the technology and industrial corridor of Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. A 15 minutes taxi ride took me to the spanking office cum product showroom amidst many industrial giants such as Honda, Honeywell and Colgate. I was met with a beaming Kimberly and quickly led me to a boardroom style meeting room and was soon joined by Paul. He is a stoutly build man with a attention gripping voice, proudly wearing his company colors on his sleeve with the latest slogan on ‘green technology’. Our conversation quickly went from brief introduction of ourselves to overview of organisation setting…and much more.

Paul spent about 30 minutes with us and left for another meeting. Kimberly and I continue the conversation for more than an hour and a half and we both end with some plans and intention to help the people.

I am grateful to be embraced as a friend and confident in the challenges that is facing the organisation. The conversation did not entail promises and solutions but useful questions that help us to be careful in taking the next step. I could be back again soon to have another conversation – and hopefully this time with a larger group than before.

In my six hours bus trip up north, I met a Singaporean businessman whom is going to KL to attend a wedding reception. When he realized that I am taking this trip without any promises of economics or business benefits, he was surprised. But after we shared and learned about the intention of conversation itself can be richly rewarding, I sensed that he understood my purposed and wishes me well.

Once again, a big thank you to Paul, Kimberly and Kit (whom has assist in my travel plan).

See you all again soon!

PS: I returned on the same evening after dinner with a friend also based in KL – to my sleepy family at 2am the next morning.

Do you have a Simon Cowell in your life?

Jun 29, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation

Simon Philip Cowell

Simon Philip Cowell

Simon Philip Cowell – the British television and music producer, entrepreneur and but more famously known as the ruthless, blunt American Idol talent judge for a controversial nine seasons…

When I first followed the American Idol in their debut season in 2002, I was not entirely surprised with its winning formula as a talent show and most crucially a panel of judges that catered to the innate judgmental needs of worldwide audiences as critic ourselves. The trio of judges in my opinion represents the GOOD (Paula Abdul), the BAD (Randy Jackson) and the Ugly (Simon Cowell) not for their look front but their entertaining quotes and comments. In Simon Cowell, one of his many famous quotes that ring in me for a long time is…

“I find Paula patronizing. It’s as simple as that. Paula is more damaging than I am to these contestants because a lot of people just shouldn’t be singing for a living. – Simon Cowell”

In the beginning, I irks at Simon’s blunt and straight-forwardness. But as the season went, I realized that his frankness actually do more good than harm…though I must say that personally he will do great with some level of tact, but I guess this is how the show sells. His straightforwardness reminded me of someone in the last 10 years of my life that has ‘touched’ me, mentored and practice conversation that goes beyond diplomacy and bluntness…which he first introduced me to the term forthrightness and the concept of Communication Paradox.

Communication ParadoxThe paradox explains that in order for us to be an effective communicator, we need to practice authentic communication beyond the tendencies of being just FRANK; without caring the feeling of others, and the tendencies of being just DIPLOMATIC; stating views in an indirect and evasive manners.  The key is to be FORTHRIGHT and RESPECTFUL at the same time!

Till today, we will meet once almost every 3 months to share thoughts, feelings and for me a time to reflect on my being. Once I complimented him for his truthfulness but he added that the conversation between us can only be manifested mutually because of my willingness to receive as much as he is willing to give. For that friendship, here’s a gift for you, Francis.

“Once I was naive, invitingly you shared your observation openly.

Once I was restless, responsively you guided my enthusiasm forthrightly.

Once I was unsure, brotherly you expressed your ‘first touch’ gently.

Once I was lost, lovingly you provided your counsel heartedly.

Once I was disappointed, boldly you challenged my intention biblically.

Once I was elated, cautiously you show me where the ground is.

I long for our conversation, always precious to me…and you humbly acknowledge that you need it as much as me.”

I am sure we all need someone in our life to be forthright from time to time…have you got that someone?

360 Eulogy – How would you want to be remembered?

Apr 07, 2010 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Leadership Infusion

Picture source: James Neeley via Flickr

Picture source: Gone Fishing by James Neeley via Flickr

“This picture is dedicated to the late Mr. Koh Kong Boo. Mr. Koh passed away at the age of 82 while fishing on 3 April morning…his all time favorite past-time. May you rest in peace (and fishing) with our heavenly Father!”

I was at a friend’s father wake service last night. He lives a good and simple life – God-centered, Friends-focused and Purpose-driven. What struck me deeply was the eulogies given by three different generations of friends and love ones; his grand-daughter, his son, a close friend and a senior paster that worked with him closely in church ministry. I believed that when he eventually stand facing his eternal Father, he will received his crown with flying colors. As I listened intently to how he was remembered; though importantly what he has done in his living year, but most significantly for who he was to them.

That reminded me of the similarity to 360 feedback and appraisal most organization used to evaluate leaders in yearly basis.

I recently asked a friend whom assume a leadership role when posted to Shanghai.

“How would you want to be remembered?” I asked.

“That’s a good question, I did thought of it lately but I am always so busy and tied down with things…” came an almost apologetic respond.

“Why do you think this is important?” I sensed a possible personal realization.

” Well, I think at the end of the day is not what I do that matters, but who I am in relations to them does…” she revealed.

Who are you in relations to your colleagues?

What matters to you at work?

When was the last time you have connect with someone intentionally? Listening…really listen.

At ConversationCircles, we aspire to bring authentic conversation back to workplace environment. Helping YOU to find time and space to connect in safe and purposeful conversational circle. Do feel free to email me at to find out more about what we do.