There are as many opinions in the world as there are people. Sharing them through conversation offers real potential for learning and personal development. In the end, we all come to our own conclusions about things, but we remember the people who helped us in that process. In other words, we retain memories of close interactions even if we don’t remember the detail of where and when they took place.

Conversation causes innovation

21st century companies operate in fluid conditions, as market forces constantly shift. New technologies, materials and systems affect competitiveness. Changing attitudes and values, amongst employees and customers, disrupt business – although, of course, not always negatively. Businesses must be agile and innovative to sustain progress towards their objectives.

All this reinforces the need for dialogue. Marketing communications involve listening as well as telling. Social media platforms have created dynamic environments in which information and ideas spread with lightning speed, but at the personal level individuals need “slow news” that they can absorb and understand fully.

Company meetings, for sales teams, operational groups, or for all employees, are a great opportunity to share information but also to influence attitudes and change behaviours. Their other most exciting feature is being a platform which provides for personal interaction and expression between stakeholders in a “neutral” setting. The power of conversation can be the catalyst for the emergence of new ideas and the formation of new working relationships.

Conferences, hospitality events and incentive travel programmes are ways in which we, at PAEM, help clients to communicate with people who are essential to the future of their businesses. Tailoring content and designing the agenda to address individual interests and ambitions will make live events more productive and profitable. Conversation is the oil that lubricates the engine of enterprise.

Making memories

When you share an experience with a friend or acquaintance, the memory of that event is linked with the person and the circumstances. So, by building connections through conversation you create a memory bank and, by association, a connection with the sponsor of that event. The event itself is the medium through which relationships are forged and understanding is improved. We may all have different perspectives, but the company hosting the event can use it to create a common vision and purpose for the benefit of everyone involved.

Memory and memories are valuable assets for business leaders and their associates. Developing memory skills will help anyone to communicate better and to be able to relate more closely to the people around them.

Memories arouse emotions. There is great potential in a well-organised incentive travel programme to create unique memories that continue to motivate the participants long after they have returned to work. The power of positive memories extends well beyond these obvious examples, however.

Much scientific research has been conducted into the medical benefits of memories. Researchers from the University of Liverpool have published a study highlighting the effectiveness of using positive memories and images to help generate positive emotions, which they hope to use in the treatment of mental health problems. They suggest that savouring positive memories can generate positive emotions, with increasing positive emotions having a range of benefits including reducing attention to and experiences of threat.

For the purpose of business, you could perhaps translate “threat” as relating to competitive business pressures and the inherent risks associated with business. It’s clear that to support staff, clients, third party resellers, board members and other key stakeholders through the inevitable hard decisions and stressful times that come with being part of a successful organisation (the threats), it’s important to provide happier moments, meaningful interactions and great memories of being in tune with one another.

The important link

In Padraig O’Morain’s entertaining and incisive Irish Times article ‘The power of talking to each other‘, the point that “sharing memories is a key to quality friendships between people” is so important that it isn’t hidden within the article body – it is the subheading!

Within the article, Padraig states that:

According to an article in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, “memory interdependence” is the number one predictor of the quality of friendships between people. The more people build up each other’s recall of events in conversation the more likely they are to have a high-quality friendship. This turns out to be even more important than how long they know each other or how much they trust each other. It’s almost as though to have someone else to share our reality is a deep need in human relationships.

He then goes on to say:

All of this suggests if you want to get closer to somebody, then talking about shared memories might be the way to do it. I suppose that’s what people are doing who work together all day and spend part of the evening going over memories of who said what and who did what. It can all sound like nonsense to an outsider, and in and of itself that’s probably what it is, but it’s actually about building a relationship.

Some client relationships seem impossible to crack, despite the hard work, extra touches and long hours you put in. The issue may be that lack of shared time. Treating top clients to a trip in a foreign country provides networking opportunities for all parties, as well as the chance to really hear at length what their business issues are – perhaps some not yet discussed! – before returning, with your name popping to mind first when they are in need.

Similarly, taking time away from the office to undertake team meetings in an off-premises location provides the new stimulus that can bring innovation and conversation, as well as moments that can be reflected upon between the team once back at their usual desks, driving motivation, performance and loyalty.