Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Those Difficult Conversations

Yesterday my son asked me if I thought he avoided confrontations with people. My answer was something like, "Is the Pope Catholic?" Then he told me that he learned in his Pscyhology class that most people dislike and avoid confronting others. I was pleased that my son might actually be emerging from his "Age of Infinite Wisdom" (term borrowed from Robert Ringer), would be so open to learning something. Thus, I refrained from screaming at him, "DUHHHHHH."

I have found that the trick with sticky situations is confronting others early in the game, long before meltdown is even a possibility. And certainly people who confront via email should have their fingers rapped with a sharp metal ruler!

Debra Fine, in her book, The Big Talk, recommends the following openings to difficult-but-hugely-important conversations. These suggestions are far better than what I absolutely abhor hearing, that "I need to talk to you!"

There is something I'd like to talk with you about that I expect will improve our work together.

I'd like to discuss ________ with you, but first I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Do you have some time to talk? I need your help with what just transpired

I'd like to discuss the _____. We may have different ideas on how best to ________.

I'd like to come to an agreement about ________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well.

Remember, successfully dealing with conflict, like everything else, requires practice.