Come on. You know you’ve been avoiding it. There just never seems to be a “good time” to have it, right? We know that the avoidance tactic doesn’t work forever and won’t lead us to a resolution, in fact, it will only make it more difficult to communicate as time goes on. There is a price that comes with avoidance and that can be the feelings of dread, anxiety and disappointment in oneself.
When we feel dread, anxiety and disappointment in ourselves, those feelings steal our focus from doing and shift it to distraction – as in distracting ourselves from uncomfortable emotions. Cue Netflix!
So how can you and I “mind the gap” of our differences and still have conversations that will lead us to greater fulfillment in any relationship?
He Said. She Said.
Instead of getting caught up in who is right and who said what, a more accurate description of what happened is that you know it from your point of view with your wealth of life experiences, beliefs and perspectives and I know it from mine. The real question is, “Now what?”
(By the way Einstein had a great experiment that illustrated perspective beautifully. I found a young scientist, Hilary Andales, who did a fantastic job explaining perspective. If you want the science of why you are both right, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnJuKXhFaQ8)
THE BOOK THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE
I love learning and I love learning techniques, frameworks and tools that, not only help me be a better coach, but, also, help me to be a better human being. Therefore, I’m always on the look out for books, courses, tools et al that teach me the mindset or the skill I need, so that, I can have more joy, more success, and more fulfillment in my life and help my clients to get the results they want in their lives.
Difficult Conversations, How To Discuss What Matters, written by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, pulls back the veil of conversational dynamics and gives the reader a thorough understanding of how to be more effective in a variety of conversations that could go South quickly.
Written from the “Best Practices” perspective, they navigate the complexities of our conversations and get to the heart of what really makes us avoid the “difficult” ones and what to do to make these conversations easier and more successful.
One of the the greatest insights I found was that a diffiuclt conversation is not just one conversation, but actually, three conversations in one! It made perfect sense when they broke down what was going on:
- The “What Happened?” Conversation – Who said what and did what?
- The Feelings Conversation – Are my feelings valid? Appropriate? What do I do about the other person’s feelings?
- The Identity Conversation – This is the conversation we, each, have with ourselves about what the situation means to us
Your point of view does matter so communicate it earlier rather than later – Christine Jeffrey
Another insight that stood out to me, especially as a woman, is that my point of view is valid and I need to share it. That concept resonated with me, because I had learned a model that devalued my words and my contribution. How many of us have experienced our points of view being dismissed or ridiculed?
Here is the communication model from the book in condensed form.This book can also be a great reference tool when you prepare for “The Talk.” Please read the book for a more detailed discussion of the following steps and how to apply them to your own situation.
Key Framework To Use When Having ‘The Talk’
- Data Gathering – Find out what happened from each person’s point of view and how each of you feel.
- Identify Differences – You know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Each person’s experience of the same event can be different based on where they are? Describe the problem as the difference between your stories.
- Listen to Understand – Just as your point of view matters, so does theirs. By aknowldeging the feelings behind the circumstances and paraphrasing what they say, you can move forward together even if you are in disagreement.
- Problem Solve – What standards do you agree on? What options do you have? What else is possible if you were able to come together or agree to disagree? When you hold the space open and don’t automatically reject another’s idea, you may just come up with a third way.
How much better will your conversations go if you use this four step process? You feel heard and understood. They feel heard and understood. What’s even better is that you are less likely to avoid difficult conversations now that you have the tools to help you be successful in them.
You don’t have to take my word for it! Try it for yourself and see and let me know how it goes.
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You got this. Leave a comment, ask a question, I am here to help.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time,
Remember, you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!