Between meetings: Prepare for the difficult conversation
Difficult conversations worry many people. You do not know the outcome of the conversation, and chances that you will hurt another person, or be hurt yourself, are high.
(The questions for reflection start 1.22 minutes into the audio file.)
But you are in a workplace with different types of people - each with their own background and each with their own expectations for the future, so you cannot avoid disagreements.
Disagreements are a condition. Neither good nor bad – just a condition.
Our brain is equipped with an ability to make ourselves the hero in our life. Therefore, you will often find that your counterpart believes that he or she has done exactly the right thing, even if you strongly disagree.
If you forget your own hero status for a moment, and make sure to be present and curious about the other person, you might get some nuances in your disagreement that can soften a potential conflict and maybe even find solutions that benefit both of you.
Therefore, start by changing the difficult conversation to the present conversation. Decide to be present, non-judgmental and curious.
Here are a number of questions you can use in preparation for the conversation:
- What kind of image have you created of the person in front of you?
- What image would you like to have of him or her in the future?
- What image would you like him or her to have of you?
- What is the problem and its consequences?
- Which goals will you set for solving the problem?
- What resources and strengths does he or she have?
- What has he or she done in the past that worked well - what experience might help here?
- What challenges do you foresee along the way and how will you handle them?
- If help is needed, who can possibly help here?
- How do you imagine the problem looks like if you are sitting in the other person's chair? Try to be empathetic.
- What makes the problem stronger – and what weakens the problem?
- How will you attend the meeting?
- How will you ensure that you listen actively so that the other person feels met?
- How can you reformulate the problem in order to contribute to make him or her be responsible for own thoughts and actions - and thus of his or her part of the problem?
And remember to share that you are responsible for your thoughts and actions if you are part of the problem.
How can you together with him or her create a common goal for solving the problem?
- What should each of you do after the conversation?
- How will you follow up?
- How will you ensure continued progress?
I wish you a present conversation with a professional and curious approach to the situation.