Three reasons to have a scrappy conversation


A scrappy conversation is a bit bitty, a sketchy take on a subject that doesn’t yet make sense. The permission to be scrappy means I can just blurt what’s on my mind however disorganised my thinking – definitely not perfect – it’s messy with no pressure to find a tidy solution and that’s what works!

As someone who needs to articulate what’s on my mind to make sense of it. I’ve frequently fallen foul (especially in corporate life) of speaking before I’m ready and immediately regretting not presenting my idea more coherently or sensitively. As a result, if a subject felt difficult I’d hold back, telling myself ‘I’m not ready,’ and then miss the opportunity to contribute my idea or make my point.

Scrappy conversations have changed all of this for me.

They’re a way of signalling that it’s OK to just talk, to express what you’re thinking and feeling about a subject in the moment, without it having to be thought through and set in stone forever. It’s a great way to dream out loud or express what worries you about a situation.

“Can we have a scrappy conversation about this?” says my husband, “sure,” I say, with relief. We’re talking about where we’re going on holiday next year, a difficult subject for us because often we want different things from our time off. He likes a city break and doing lots of activities, I like some relaxation too with at least a few days near the sea or a pool.

Our time is precious and depending when the subject is raised the pressure to agree and make a decision can lead to an unsatisfactory outcome – aka an argument! Usually this is because one of us is distracted, not really sure what we want so we try to delay the conversation, or don’t engage with it fully and then we start to compromise and no one wins.

Here are my three reasons for a scrappy conversation:

  1. Where there’s a subject that’s difficult to talk about with someone, like my holiday scenario. A bit like a mini brainstorm it can unlock a problem and because people know it’s meant to be imperfect they don’t get all ‘judgy.’
  2. When your own thoughts about something aren’t fully formed and you need help from a listening ear to get things straight in your head.
  3. When you sense that someone has something on their mind and isn’t talking about it. It takes a bit of courage and curiosity but gets to the heart of an issue more quickly and moves it along.

I use scrappy conversations with my coaching clients whenever I feel there’s something they want to say but don’t quite know where to start. Being scrappy gives them permission to blurt it out, and strangely, once voiced issues aren’t ever as scary as they seemed.

Who can you have a scrappy conversation with?

Just start the conversation with ‘can we have a scrappy conversation about this?’ and see where it goes…


Carol Conway CPCC
Coach & Collaborator
eight circles