1st Edition

Conversational Wisdom Strengthening Human Connection through the Power of Conversation

By Emily Cosgrove, Sara Hope Copyright 2023
    200 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    200 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Conversation: the heartbeat of our organisations. Right now, we’re at risk of losing the art of doing it well. We need to radically change how we talk to each other, to create workplaces where people feel they belong and can thrive. This book will help you understand how to grow your conversational wisdom to create more inclusive and collaborative environments and to make work more meaningful.

    Conversations carry the greatest potential to impact culture, performance, brand, and engagement. Yet conversation is an under-rated and under-developed skill. Emily Cosgrove and Sara Hope have spent the last 25 years helping people and organisations strengthen human connection through the power of conversation. Drawing on their experience of working with organisations from global jewellers to charities, professional services to B Corporations, they share a wealth of tips, tools, stories, and case studies. Written in a style that is easy to understand, they offer advice on how to get the best out of conversations and get underneath some of the challenges we all face.

    This is essential reading for learning and development experts, people leaders, coaches and mentors, and HR managers.

    Part 1: Conversational Wisdom  1. Changing the conversation, why now?  2. Becoming more conversationally wise  3. Being Aware  4. Being Human  5. Being Skilled  Part 2: Conversational Wisdom in practice  6. Developing the conversational wisdom of others  7. Mentoring Programmes – Driving conversational change through mentoring  8. Talk to the Top  9. Widening our conversational lens  10. Conclusion


    Emily Cosgrove and Sara Hope are co-founders of The Conversation Space, an award-winning consultancy with the aim of improving organisations through the power of conversation. They work with people at all levels of organisations to help them step into more courageous and human conversations – something we all crave. When not working, Emily can be found recharging her batteries at the Kenwood Ladies Pond, wild swimming throughout the year. Sara can be found in the Devon countryside where she lives with her family and numerous animals.

    "We need to talk. Now more than ever. This book is packed full of ideas that will change how we talk at work. If you want to change your workplace culture Conversational Wisdom is a must read."

    Professor Catherine Pope, Associate Head of People & EDI, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford 

    "I once saw the phrase 'Conversations are the smallest unit of change' and I've held that since very close to my core. And what Emily and Sara have done with Conversational Wisdom is added a serious amount of clarity to the heavy-lifting that conversations do in our everyday life and work. In change and shifting circumstances but more importantly, in pursuit of understanding. Understanding each other, understanding things and understanding how to act and achieve positive outcomes through the time-honoured tradition of conversations."

    Perry Timms, Founder and Chief Energy Officer of People and Transformational HR. Ranked No 1 Most Influential Thinker in HR in 2022. Author, TEDx Speaker, Guest Professor/Visiting Fellow

    "If we can crack conversing wisely with others – and ourselves –  we have the potential to transform our lives, our organisations, and wider society. This gem of a book will make all the difference in helping us do just that."

    Liz Hall, editor of Coaching at Work, leadership coach, mindfulness teacher and author of Mindful Coaching and Coach your Team

    "This book is a timely reminder that there is more to conversation than communication. We are in fact reminded of the power of conversation. Not only can conversation promote inclusion, build relationships and enhance understanding but from an organisational perspective conversations can directly impact culture and climate. This book explains that in developing the skills and mindset to hold meaningful conversations at all levels within organisations, we can actually add value to the bottom line. It offers insight to spark ideas and wisdom to help readers to realise the potential conversations have for their people and their organisation."

    Dr Arlene Egan, Chief Executive Officer Roffey Park Institute

    "So many problems in our world are a result of a lack of, or poor, communication. Conversation lies at the heart of communication, and Emily and Sara’s focus on developing conversational skills in the world of business is exemplary. This book is deeply underpinned by organisational experience and a strong understanding of coaching and communication theory."

    Debbie Carter, learning and development expert, founder of InMotion Communication and former editor-in-chief of TJ

    "This important book redefines the art of conversation in the post-pandemic digital age. It reminds us that there is really no substitute for face to face communication with our colleagues and why we shouldn’t hide behind our screens in the workplace."

    Georgina Fuller, freelance journalist, editor and media consultant

    "The art of good conversation is indeed just that, an art. This book is a bible for leaders on one of the most overlooked parts of their role; engaging with your people in meaningful ways, that bring more joy and connection. And nobody does it better than these two. An essential read."

    Natalie Mayer, Founder of Kerning The Gap

    "A timely reminder about the importance and power of conversations at work. Emily and Sara have succinctly pulled together the key ingredients of great conversations and given us practical tools and guidance on how to become more conversationally wise. A must-read!"

    Sue Brooks, CEO, IMAGINE

    "Conversation not only enlightens you but empowers you in a way that you are equipped to draw deeper, more authentic, and genuine connections with your leaders, stakeholders, and colleagues. If you want to unleash your conversational wisdom, this book is ‘for you’ as it brings multiple case studies from practice highlighting the essence of meaningful conversation."

    Sanghamitra Chaudhuri, Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota, USA

    "‘Thinking out loud’ is Sara and Emily’s approach. Having worked with them both for 1-1 coaching and also group work, they were able to provide the space and time for real conversation. The structure they bring to conversations enabled an inclusive space allowing some to ‘think out loud’ but others to also use silence to think and communicate wisely. It is actually quite unique how they are able to create space for a different quality of conversation. They provide an opportunity to practice what we believe we know about conversation, but we are then able to prove we can have wiser more meaningful conversations with a few great nudges from Sara and Emily."

    Anna Cocca, Global HR Business Partner, The Adecco Group