Have you ever noticed how, when we enter a conversation, we adopt different personas? This applies whether we’re interacting online, in social media or face-to-face.
The persona we choose determines the level of energy and the extent to which it lifts us (and others in the conversation) up and moves us forward.
The four personas (The Lurker, The Loudmouth, The Looker and The Liker) span two dimensions.
The first concerns whether we engage actively or passively with the conversation.
Do we openly give feedback?
Do we publicly show what we think?
Or, do we sit and observe?
Do we think but not say?
The second dimension concerns the lens through which we listen to and participate in the conversation.
Do we approach it with a positive lens
Do we believe intentions are generally good?
Or, do we approach it with a negative (or cynical) lens?
Do we believe that intentions are generally bad?
As with many things, curly conversations require balance. They need people who are willing to say what they think as well as listen. They need thinkers as well as talkers.
Each of the Four Personas has a positive and a negative side.
While supportive, Likers can also be too agreeable and encourage group think.
Loud mouths and Lurkers can be the critical thinkers that open up the conversation and everyone in it to new ideas and possibilities. They can also keep the conversation grounded in reality.
Lookers are often great listeners, who hear not only what is said but the connections or threads that run through the conversation.
Part of the challenge is to find the positive element of each persona (whether in ourselves or in others) and be mindful of how it is showing up in the conversation.
Is it helping or hindering?
So, think about the last conversation you had in your team.
Which Conversation Personas turned up for that meeting?
Which Conversation Persona did you adopt?
How did that ‘Persona Posse’ (ie. the team of personas) impact the conversation?
Did it lift everyone up and move forward or drag everyone down and hold the issue back?