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Clarity in Conversations

Clarity in Conversations is about clear dialogues, in the office and at home. Full of practical tips, fascinating science and great guests who know about listening skills, language, non-verbals, mindset, clarity, relationship building and any other things that determine whether your conversations are great, or whether they suck.Your host is Frank Garten, specialized in how to have clear conversations and in cross-cultural communication. With a PhD in Physics, a background in international management and a fascination for helping people increase their impact, this show is in good hands!Just tune in to learn about communication in the aviation industry (episode 1), our brain's defensive mechanisms (episode 2), developing your listening skills (episode 3) and the famous "Yes, but..."-response that can instantly kill any conversation (episode 4). And find me at www.clarityinconversations.nl, where you can sign up to receive regular email updates.

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Warning: This podcast is a series podcast

This means episodes are recommended to be heard in order from the very start. Here's the 10 best episodes of the series anyway though!

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Why it’s so hard to listen to others

You think you’re a good listener? There’s a high chance you answered this question with some form of ‘Yes’. We all think we are good listeners. A study among 8.000 American professionals revealed that almost everybody thinks their listening skills are better-than-average. Sure.In this episode, my guest is Laura Janusik. Laura (Ph.D., M.B.A, CLP) is professor of communication at Rockhurst University, Kansas, Missouri. She works as a trainer, researcher, speaker and business consultant. Laura also used to be chair of the International Listening Association and has published a lot of research and insights internationally. She is a certified listening professional since 2010, and researches all topics related to listening skills in various contexts. Her motto is: “Helping the World to Listen: One Person at a Time...!”.In my interview with Laura, we speak about listening skills. And then discover that listening not so much relies on ‘skills’, but that listening is more of a strategy. Something you set out and choose to do deliberately, rather than something you’re just good at or not. So, you may be a very skillful listener, yet hardly ever decide to deliberately use the skill in daily work. Recognise this?Laura goes into the different styles of listening, and explains that these particular listening strategies are also the cornerstones of the ECHO instrument for listening (learn more at http://listeningtochange.com/). The difference between sensory and cognitive listening is explored, and Laura explains the best strategies we can use to ensure we really listen actively to what others tell us. Also, we will recall what Caroline Webb taught us in the previous episode: when we listen and we hear things that are identified as a threat in our brain, we switch off and go into survival mode. Exit listening. Els de Maeijer (Fontys University of Applied Science) reflects on how context-dependent our listening is. The way we listen depends to a large extent on the context we find ourselves in. We end this episode of Clarity in Conversations with 3 concrete and practical tips to improve your listening strategies, in the office and at home.For more information about the work of Laura Janusik, go to http://listeningtochange.com/, or visit her page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurajanusikphd/.


15 Dec 2019

Rank #1

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When we get defensive in conversations

Ever wondered why conversations can unexpectedly go downhill and become unfriendly, toxic encounters instead of productive dialogue? It’s our brain – equipped with survival mechanisms that were built in when we were still hunters and collectors – that responds defensively. I speak with Caroline Webb, author of the best-selling book How To Have A Good Day. Caroline worked for 30 years as an economist at the Bank of England, and as a Partner at McKinsey and Company. Today she is an executive coach and speaker and runs her own business. Caroline published her book How To Have a Good Day in 2016. Published in 60 countries and translated into the most common languages in the world, How to Have a Good Day covers insights from economics, behavioural psychology and neuroscience, and translates these into practical advice to improve working lifeIn this episode, we speak about what causes defensive responses in the workplace. Simple, innocent events can cause unexpectedly strong reactions in our brain. This response – triggered by the amygdala – comes at the same moment our ‘thinking brain’ goes off-line and is no longer available for rational thinking and dealing with emotions. Especially, we speak about what managers can do to respond more constructively to circumstances that trigger our defenses. Caroline shares some of her most powerful tips and insights.Like every week I also speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on each episode and puts the insights in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Caroline Webb's book How To Have A Good Day, check her facebook (facebook.com/CarolineWebbAuthor) or twitter (caroline_webb_) feeds.


1 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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From vulnerable positions to courageous conversations

When we feel uncertain at work about our actions or we’re not sure how others will react, these feelings are real. Yet we often pretend these feelings are not there, because we don’t feel comfortable with the feeling. We certainly don’t want others to see our vulnerabilities. We have all kind of stories in our head about what would happen if we would really open up.But avoiding those conversations also limits us from asking for help or sharing our doubts about this new project. We’re not really showing ourselves, we play a kind of theater, pretending all is fine. In courageous conversations however, we open up and accept the discomfort that comes with showing our true selves.In this episode of Clarity in Conversations, I speak with Mieke Coupé. Mieke helps leaders and teams to have courageous conversations, and to lead and communicate with courage, and purposefully work on creating safe company cultures. Mieke is a facilitator of the well-known Dare To Lead program, and worked with Brené Brown to get fully certified to help individuals and teams with this material. Mieke talks about the feelings of shame we can have when finding ourselves in a vulnerable position. Openly addressing uncertainty and doubt in many office environments is not done, and for us individually it would also be a big leap outside our comfort zone. Mieke stresses that these feelings of discomfort are natural and will not go away. But we can definitely learn to better deal with those feelings and even embrace them to engage in courageous conversations.  I reflect on the interview with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els reflects on expressing vulnerability in the office and makes a link with the concepts of ‘competence trust’ and ‘goodwill trust’.  Like every week, the podcast ends with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Mieke Coupé and her work, check her website!


19 Feb 2020

Rank #3

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Socratic Dialogues: Conversations that matter

Many conversations we have are just casual. A chat at the coffee machine, a gossip about the mistakes of a colleague, an exchange about a customer project with your manager… But some conversations require a bit more attention and depth: difficult dilemma’s, strategic choices that have to be made, or conversations to clarity why we’re doing certain things. In this episode I speak with Erik Boers. Erik is a philosopher who helps companies and organizations to have deeper conversations about topics that matter. He owns his own company Het Nieuwe Trivium to facilitate deeper dialogues in organizations, and he educates other professionals in this ‘art’. Erik is a colleague of mine, with whom I work already for many years. His interventions in teams, boardrooms and the public space are very powerful, and in this episode we will learn more about his field of work. We will speak about why we find it so difficult to have a good conversation, and why good conversations are an art that requires purposeful attention. Erik will share how he ensures teams are prepared to go in-depth and spend time on so-called Socratic dialogues, while many business professionals will initially be skeptical about anything that costs valuable time. Also, Erik will reflect on dialogues in the public space, to which he switched his attention recently. Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, reflects on the interview with Erik Boers, and gives some further thoughts about the “old school” model of communication (sender-receiver) versus the current view of conversations: meaning only is created in interaction. Like every week, the podcast ends with some practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Erik Boers, check his company website.


19 Jan 2020

Rank #4

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Making Difficult Conversations Less Hard

We often talk about ‘difficult conversations”, but maybe ‘difficult’ is not the right words. When we should speak to a co-worker about a mistake she made. When we want to give our boss some negative feedback. When we need to resolve a conflict with a rather assertive person. In all these situations we feel uncomfortable and for that reason speak about ‘difficult conversations’.In this episode I speak with Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Franklin Covey, and author of the book Management Mess to Leadership Success, 30 challenges to become the leader you would follow. Scott has a 23-year career at Franklin Covey, and studied effective leadership consistently during that time. His book is very clear, to-the-point, outspoken, no-nonsense and practical. Reason enough to invite Scott in Clarity in Conversations to speak about ‘difficult conversations’.Scott will give examples of his own “Management Messes” and how he learned from these to become an effective leader. In several role-plays he gives examples of difficult conversations, and the various techniques you can use to make these less difficult. Next to a lot of practical advice, Scott has valuable lessons about promotions into leadership positions, and how we are often insufficiently prepared for such a move.I reflect back on the dialogue with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands. Els reflects on the various role-plays Scott included, and how this left her with many questions she would love to ask Scott. Like every week, the podcast ends with 3 practical tips to enhance the Clarity of your Conversations, in the office and at home.For more information about Scott Miller, check the Franklin Covey website. More information about the book Management Mess to Leadership Success can be found here.


3 Feb 2020

Rank #5