Have you ever shared a big picture idea only to have a colleague respond with "what about [tiny detail]?"
Or perhaps the opposite: as you untangle a practical, present issue, the conversation gets hijacked by a long-term plan or idealistic vision.
If so, you'll find this collaboration tip adapted from Ray Dalio helpful: mark the level of conversation you want to have.
Are we talking about the big picture?
Down in the weeds?
(Somewhere in between?)
It's not apparent but immensely useful to know.
Each level of conversation benefits from different ways of thinking that are easily frustrated by higher-up or lower-down concerns.
Here's the problem: no one tends to recognize what level they're speaking from, let alone where others are speaking from. So discussion leaps and dives like a rollercoaster leaving everyone with a bit of mental whiplash.
Taking a tiny extra step – to verbally communicate the intended level of conversation – resolves so many unnecessary conflicts.
Galaxy-level conversations explore visions and ideas that may take generations to reach, never be realized, or disrupt everything next year. These kinds of conversations are best kept:
For more, read about how the future operates in a different kind of time.
Forrest-level conversations shape vague ideas into viable plans and preliminary designs; They define clear goals and set constraints for upcoming work. Successful conversations in this middle space are:
For more, see creative work is like fighting a dragon up a hill.
Tree-level conversations are all about the present details of the actual work. It's where we build, edit, refine, and repair. Conversations down here are best kept:
For more, see the past is never done.