The Four Cs of Conversation

“The constant free flow of communication amount us-enabling the free interchange of ideas-forms the very bloodstream of our nation. It keeps the mind and body of our democracy eternally vital, eternally young.”

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Four Cs of Conversation

By Paul Axtell

Clarity means everyone understands what is being said in the same way. When people leave conversations without clarity, they are forced to make interpretations about what happened or what someone truly thinks. Or they leave thinking one thing and others leave thinking something else.

Candor means everyone says what they think. It means being authentic, honest, and straightforward. It’s not about saying anything and everything that occurs to you. It’s about being willing to express what hasn’t been said that would add value or would let people know where you stand on an issue. Without candor, you sacrifice ideas and alignments.

Commitment means agree on who will take what actions and in what time frame after the conversation. Without specific commitments in time, you shouldn’t expect anything to happen. Discussing an idea does not mean anyone will do anything about it. It’s simply good project management to determine who will do what by when.

Completion means everything that needs to be said or asked has been expressed before moving on to the next topic. If things are left unsaid or questions are not asked, you can’t expect that people are either clear or aligned (p. 33).”

From: Axtell, P. (2015). Meetings matter: eight powerful strategies for remarkable conversations. Corvallis, OR: Jackson Creek Press.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,


Choose one of the 4 Cs that will improve your conversations and make them more effective. Share what you learned below.