difficult conversations

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Post on 19-Jan-2015



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  • 1. Making DifficultConversations Easier

2. Success Covers aMultitude of Blunders. George Bernard Shaw 3. Goals for Today

  • Learn how to approach a difficult conversation in a way that assures success.
  • Learn to understand the factors that make some interactions more uncomfortable then they should be.
  • Learn the basics of good interpersonal communication - that makes all conversations easier.
  • Learn how timing andfocus can help us make difficult conversations - easier.
  • Learn how to set goals and priorities so that difficult conversations have positive outcomes.
  • Learn the incredible value of reframing in difficult conversations.
  • Learn to recognize and deal effectively with difficult personalities

4. Our Agenda

  • What Makes Difficult Conversations Difficult?
  • The Basics - Better Interpersonal Skills Make for Easier Conversations
  • Turning Conflict into Cooperation
  • Face to Face - Walking the Walk & Talking the Talk
  • Comments, Thoughts, Conclusions, Evaluations

5. Part I What Makes DifficultConversations Difficult

  • Lets remember to think in terms of individual context.
    • Different conversations are difficult, for different people, for different reasons.
  • The difficulty factor often increases when we:
    • Assume that the other person thinks, or feels, the same way about the problem as we do.
    • Make assumptions about their motivations.

6. Please remember, were only human. It is impossible not to make mistakesthat may offend others.And, if we areverydiligent,we can always manage to be offended. 7. So, Again, What Makes DifficultConversations Difficult?Is It Difficult Subjects?

  • Like What?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

8. Is It Difficult Contexts?

  • Like what?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

9. Is It Difficult Roles?

  • Professional roles?
    • What roles?
  • Personal roles?
    • In what way?

10. Is It Difficult Personalities?

  • Traits? Habits? Responses?
  • What makes someone difficult?

11. Is It Chemistry?

  • What makes bad chemistry?
  • Whatmakes good chemistry?

12. Some of It Is FearBut of What?

  • The outcomes?
  • Reactions?
  • Consequences?
  • The conflict?
  • Social/conversational discomfort?
  • ?

13. Exercise#1:Your Most Difficult Three? 14. Your Most Difficult Three... Do You See a Theme? 15. Secondary Gain So, what are the benefits ofbeing difficult to talk to?

  • In a psychological context,secondary gainis a term used to describe any less obvious benefitsof non-productive behaviors or conditions.

16. Exercise#2:Aaaggghhh!!!Im Not. But, if I were, where would I be difficult to talk to?I Dont. But if I did, where do I get a secondary gain from being difficult? 17. Part II - The Basics:Better Interpersonal Skills Make for Easier Conversations 18. Attending Skills Are65-85% of the Game

  • Your posture and body language create a feeling of involvement on your part.
  • Appropriate body movements and attention create a productive atmosphere.
  • Use eye contact appropriately.
  • A calm, quiet, environment allows for better communication.

19. When Is PhysicalContact Appropriate?

  • In a professional context perhaps shaking hands as a type of greeting.
  • In a personal or friendly context (where there is a pre-existing personal relationship).

20. When Is Physical Contact Inappropriate?

  • Whenever there is the slightest chance that it will make someone uncomfortable.
  • When it is incongruous with the social context,situation, topic, or preexisting relationship.

21. Exercise #3:First, Lets Havean Easy Conversation 22. Exercise#4:Now, Lets Have an Easy Meaningful Conversation:an Exercise of Interpretation, Insight, and Analysis 23. Part III Turning Conflict into Cooperation 24. Everyone hits the target they aim at, dead center every time. Unfortunately,a lot of us are aiming too low or else we're simply shooting at the wrong target. 25. Exercise#5Lets Identify Some Scenarios

  • What are some situations that are likely to be difficult for you?
  • What makes them difficult for you?

26. Accept the Undeniable...

  • Wishing that the dynamics or realities of the current situation were different from what they are will not change or improve the reality of what is.
  • In a sense, that wish is what has made the situation as difficult as it is.
  • Often what makes a difficult conversation difficult, is that an issue WILL NOT go away on its own.We have to do something or it stays bad.

27. In a sense we can learn everything we need to know about resolving a problem from a sign we see at any mall in the country... 28. X You are here 29. The First RuleSee Solutions

  • We usually make two mistakes...
  • We convince ourselves that there is only one perfect (usually unattainable) solution.
  • We get desperate and convince ourselves that there is no solution.
  • ...usually, neither is true.

30. The Second RuleAcknowledge the Difficulties

  • If the conversation or subject is difficult, say so.
  • Its OK to say what aspect of the conversation is difficult for you.

31. The Third RuleRemember We Are OnlyHalf of Any Conversation

  • Ultimately, we cant control how people feel or what they think.
  • We can only do our best.
  • This is both scary and liberating.

32. Keep Light No Position IsTotallyIntractable

  • Identify the subject - this is harder than it seems.
  • Often we find that the difficulty is not what we assumed it was.

33. Use the Magic of Reframing

  • " Framingrefers to the way a conflict is described or a proposal is worded;reframingis the process of changing the way a thought is presented so that it maintains its fundamental meaning but is more likely to support resolution efforts...
  • "The art of reframing is to maintain the conflict in all its richness but to help people look at it in a more open-minded and hopeful way."
  • -- Bernard Mayer, inThe Dynamics of Conflict Resolution

34. Outcomes and Solutions

  • Dont stand on principle.
  • Dont make winning your goal. There may be nothing to win.
  • The goal is to MOVE FORWARD!

35. Focus Have an Outcome In Mind

  • Difficult conversations are not casual chit-chat.Dont pretend that they are.
  • Compartmentalize your emotions.
    • Emotions are not thoughts! They tell us something important is going on but they dont tell us what or what to do about it.
    • Thats what thoughts are for.

36. ... A quick word about emotions...

  • FEAR throws you into an anxiety filled future
  • ANGER drags you into a revenge colored past

37. Exercise#6 Master the Zen of No 38. Separate the PeopleFrom the Problem 39. Helping Difficult Personalities

  • Dont be a slave to the emotions/tactics of others.
  • The Liar
  • Ms Fragile
  • The Easily Insulted
  • The Instigator
  • And Other Favorites...
  • The Bulldog
  • The Bully
  • The Blamer
  • The Martyr
  • Mr. Teflon

40. The Big Question Confront or Avoid?

  • Timing is everything: the Broken Window Theory tells us to address problems quickly...
    • Before incidents turn into patterns.
    • Before small problems become large problems.
    • Waiting is guaranteed to turn a molehill into a mountain.

41. Its Usually Not Fact or Fiction

  • Its More Like Rashomon there are often several interpretations to every story.
  • Hidden Issues? You Bet! Frequently what you are arguing about is never the actual problem.

42. Part IV Face to Face Walking the Walk & Talking the Talk 43. Use Good Following Skillsto Keep Track of the Conversation

  • Get started - calmly identify the subject
  • Acknowledge your own difficulties in addressing the existing problem speak for yourself and not for them
  • Ask useful questions don't assume you know someone elses motivations or thoughts
  • Silence is golden allow them to speak. Dont speak for them.
  • Acknowledge, dont challenge their feelings.

44. Dont Know How to Start?Try Something Like This...

  • "I have something Id like to discuss with you that I think will help us work toge