The Leader’s Lens: How To Become A Supercommunicator By Mastering 3 Types Of Crucial Conversations At Work

Jacob Morgan
3 min readApr 18, 2024

Today’s Leader’s Lens comes Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and bestselling author of “The Power of Habit,” “Smarter Faster Better,” and a brand new book called Super Communicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection.”

Here’s Charles

A few years ago, I fell into a bad pattern with my wife: I would come home after a bad day, complaining about my co-workers, and my wife would reply with practical suggestions, such as ‘why don’t you invite your boss out for lunch?’

But that would only make me even more upset, and we would both would walk away frustrated.

Why? Because we were having different kinds of conversations.

It’s easy to believe that some people are born great communicators, or we need to be charismatic or an extrovert to connect with others. But what we’ve learned is exactly the opposite: Communication is a learned skill, and anyone can get better at it. We can all learn new ways to hear, and speak so others want to listen. Anyone can become a supercommunicator.

We’re living through a golden age of understanding the neurology of communication. Thanks to advances in neural imaging and data collection, research has shown that nearly every discussion is actually made up of three different kinds of conversation:

1. There is a practical conversation, where we are discussing What’s This Really About?, and the goal is to discover — and negotiate — over what each person wants out of this discussion.

2. There is an emotional conversation, or How Do We Feel?, where the aim is to recognize — and reciprocate — vulnerability.

3. And there is a social conversation, Who Are We?, where each person explains how their background — where they grew up, or where they work or went to school, or how they worship or are friends with, or how they see themselves — influences they ways they listen and speak.

Here’s the big insight: If you don’t know what kind of conversation is occurring, you’re unlikely to connect. This is known as the Matching Principle of Communication. In order to connect with someone, we need to be having the same kind of conversation, at the same time. If we want to be heard, and hear others, we need to recognize which kind of conversation is occurring, and match others and invite them to match us.

This, in fact, is what was happening with my wife: I was having an emotional conversation, and she was having a practical conversation — and so we had trouble hearing each other and connecting.

Once we learn how to recognize what kind of conversation is occurring, we need to match our companions and invite them to match us, and there’s a science to this:

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Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work