Rose Fass: Change The Conversation To Get The Change You Want In Your Career

Rose Fass, founder of the fassforward Consulting Group.
Rose Fass, founder of the fassforward Consulting Group.

If you want to create change in your career, you have to start changing the conversation.

That's what Rose Fass, founder of the fassforward Consulting Group and author of "The Chocolate Conversation: Lead Bittersweet Change, Transform your Business," said in her opening keynote of the Women of the Channel event in New York City Tuesday.

Fass said the first conversation women have to change is with themselves. She said women in business too often believe they aren't good enough, or have made mistakes that would count them out of their dream job.

"This is the internal conversation we have with ourselves: 'I don’t deserve this. I don't have the right to say this....' Those little voices are the absolute detriment to your personal and professional health," Fass said.

Next, Fass said women in business have to learn to control the conversation with others. Conversations are built in layers, she said, and by using the correct formula women can both change the tone and make them more effective.

In the corporate world, Fass said most conversations and meetings begin with a world view, where one person gives a broad outline of a topic. The problem with that, she said, is that not everyone agrees with the same world view and will resist if it is forced on them.

The second level of conversations Fass categorized as "standards," which she defined as the bar an individual sets for themselves. Each person has a different level of standards. What Donald Trump calls a house is different from what someone in an impoverished country might. This divide lends itself to conflict, Fass said.

Finally, Fass said that there are conversations about concerns, or unmet needs. Those concerns are driven by unmet standards, she said.

Fass said the key to changing the conversation is to flip it on its head. Instead of starting from a worldview and working towards a concern, she said start with addressing an unmet need in a "bottoms up" approach. Then, standards can be driven to address an unmet need, which will in turn drive a new world view.

"That opens up a conversation, a very different type of conversation," Fass said. "You can change the conversation with yourself and you can change the outcome."

As an example, Fass said Steve Jobs changed the technology industry not by trying to change its worldview but by addressing an unmet need through the iPod. The new need in turn created a new standard for technology as well as a new worldview. However, that wasn't without its risks and discomfort, she said.

"Leadership is messy. Don’t think for one minute it isn’t - being in the workplace and technology is messy. If you're not messy you're not taking risks and you're not coloring outside the lines. We learn from pain. We get boosted from our successful but we really learn from pain," Fass said. "You can change the conversation with yourself and you can change the outcome."