Action Diminishes ArgumentFeb 21, 2023
Conversations become exponentially more complicated the longer we ruminate, and the more we discuss the issue with anyone who will listen while avoiding the individuals who need to be part of the conversation.
There is no shortage of resources to support the HOW of the conversation. Use them.
Escaping difficult conversations is a futile gamble.
According to the authors of Crucial Conversations, a crucial conversation is one in which, “opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong”. You amplify the intensity of difficult conversations by handling them poorly or not at all. Surrender to the inevitable.
Conquer by making the conversation non-negotiable.
Clarity Reduces Repetition
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What is the conversation about, really?
Unnecessary waste of mental and emotional energy is thrown into the looming fear of a conversation with little imagination as to what is at the heart of an issue.
Conversations become complicated when you have the wrong conversation resulting in the wrong outcome.
Ever find yourself frustrated that a colleague is late to work?
Ever ask yourself what it is about this person being late to work that is dominating your frustration.
The aggravating challenge, clients acknowledge, is having the conversation only to find the outcome does not meet expectations. Their colleague starts coming to work on time only for my client to realize that what time they get to work is not the issue.
It is what they do, or don’t do once they arrive.
To say, “I hate conflict” oversimplifies the real problem.
What the client really wants is colleagues on time, ready to work, meeting deadlines.
In his book, The Conclusion Trap author Dan Markovitz illuminates how this problem occurs at all levels of an organization. Conversations become increasingly more difficult when you must have what seems to be “the same conversation over and over”.
Conquer this by addressing your real issue the first time!
Learn the Language
You read the books, watched the videos, have even taken training, yet continue to escape these conversations.
You openly admit to this as though it is a chronic illness you can’t shake.
Developing the skill of artfully navigating a difficult conversation to favorable outcomes requires deliberate practice.
One and done won’t do it.
I know, you enthusiastically read the book and relished the opportunity to use what you learned. You weren’t avoiding a conversation; you were scavenging for one. Only, it did not end well.
You fell into old habits, forgot to empathize, and got angry instead. It all went so horribly wrong.
Clearly, you are incapable of successfully employing what you learned.
I am not buying it.
Developing the skill of effectively tackling difficult conversations requires you to start a difficult conversation and speak the language.
Hear the words come out of your mouth. Acknowledge when it comes out wrong when you invoke the wrong word or phrase.
Stop. Pause. Process. Begin again. You got this.
The first difficult conversation at work usually goes one of two ways. You knock it out of the park leaving you confident to have the next one, only to be disappointed that it did not go as planned and well, you won’t do that again.
The first difficult conversation was dead on arrival, leaving you more frustrated for having tried, and well, you won’t do that again.
Like learning to play an instrument, become proficient in a sport, or learn a foreign language, it is in the doing.
Even role-playing difficult conversation scenarios will get you further faster.
Conquer with consistency.
Shift Your Focus
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“The biggest lever for change is not a change merely in self-belief but a fundamental change in the way people see and regard their connections and obligations to others.” The Arbinger Institute.
While much of what makes a conversation difficult is habit, it is complicated by our mindset. That is how we see, hear, and experience our interactions with others.
What adds to the difficulty of a conversation is a failure to acknowledge our peers, co-workers, and even family members as having individual needs, interests, motivations, and grievances much like our own.
When we learn about and appreciate the complicated challenges, influences, and hurdles of others, we approach our interactions with them differently.
We respect the differences with less judgment and assumptions.
Yes, we can hold this mindset while still holding people responsible for their behavior and accountable for their results. These two processes need not be in conflict.
When you approach a conversation with a shift in mindset, the experience shifts for all involved.
Perhaps individuals on the receiving end of the conversation will feel less judged, and less defensive while feeling more respected and heard.
Experiment with this shift while applying the recommendations. Invoke a sense of curiosity about the shifts made possible by a change in your approach.
Conquer with a change of perspective.
Ready to conquer a difficult conversation with less complication?
Picture your next difficult conversation.
You are duly prepared and feel confident in the discussion you are about to embark on.
Instead of second-guessing yourself and putting it off, you assertively engage the conversation, clear on the impact you desire and confident in your approach resulting in mutual agreement on future performance.
Sound inconceivable? Not anymore.
You have adopted a new habit.
Go forth and conquer a difficult conversation!