Connect With Courage – Ep. 11: Having A Difficult Conversation

  • The reason why I’m so excited about this topic: This is one of the top skill you want to have in life. It will help you to turn around relationships, and it will put you in a position where other people will perceive you as a leader, it will help you to solve problems.
  • One of the three core skills: Knowing the process of courage, managing emotional reactivity, having crucial conversations
  • Just learning a little bit about this process, and applying a little bit goes a long way.
  • This process works. I’ve used it in my personal life and I’ve used it in my professional life. It helps us to gain the courage to go into difficult conversations in the first place and it helps us to make them a lot better.

Why is it important to have difficult conversations?

  • “Brave leaders are never silent about hard things.” Brené Brown
  • If we avoid the tough conversations: Issues get worse, and back-channeling might happen. So instead of being direct and upfront with someone, we talk about the person behind their back.
  • If we handle crucial conversations poorly, we can hurt each other and the relationship.
  • If we handle crucial conversations well, trust will increase, the relationship will improve and we get to better solutions.

What makes a crucial conversation crucial?

  1. Opposing Opinions
  2. Strong Emotions
  3. High Stakes

How to have the crucial conversations

  • prepare, sometimes a roleplay with a trusted person can be highly valuable
  • stay curious, crucial conversations are a learning experience

1. Start With the Heart & Focus on What You Truly Want

  • Getting clear about what we truly want helps us to steer the conversation, to communicate our intent and to fix problems in the conversation.
    These questions help:
  • What am I acting like I really want?
  • What do I really want?
    • For me?
    • For the other?
    • For the relationship?
  • How would I behave if I really did want this?
  • What do I NOT want?
  • How should I go about getting what I truly want and avoiding what I don’t want?

2. Making the conversation safe

It’s so important that we establish safety, because only when we feel safe, we can open up and listen.

Build A Safe Container

  • you establish some ground rules to make sure everyone gets what they need to feel safe in a conversation
  • Ask the other: What do you need to feel safe and respected in this conversation?
  • Ask yourself: What do I need to feel safe and to fully show up?

Learn to Look

Look for when the conversation becomes crucial.
Am I going to silence or violence?
Are others?

Make it Safe

Why is safety at risk?

  • Do others believe you care about their goals as well? Do they trust your motives?
  • Do others believe you respect them?
    Apologize When Appropriate
  • When you’ve clearly violated respect, apologize.
    Contrast to Fix Misunderstanding
  • When someone misunderstood your purpose or intent, it’s easy to start arguing over the misunderstanding, stop.
  • Others might experience your words as bigger or worse than you intend. Contrasting provides context and proportion.
  1. Start with what you DON’T intend or mean. Address others’ concerns that you don’t respect them or that you have a malicious purpose.
  2. Then explain what you DO intend or mean. Confirm your respect or clarify your real purpose.
  • Contrasting can also be useful as prevention for safety problems.

Create a Mutual Purpose
• When you sense that you are clearly pushing for different things, step out of the content and create a mutual purpose.
1. Declare that you are committed to stay in the conversation until you come up with something that serves everyone.
2. Ask people WHY they want what they’re pushing for. Separate the demand from the purpose it’s serving.
3. If you’re still going for different things, see if you can invent a higher or longer-term purpose.
4. With a clear mutual purpose you can brainstorm new strategies together.

3. Master My Stories

  • Path to action: See & hear > Tell a story > Feel > Act
  • What is my story? Retrace my path to action. Separate fact from story.
  • It’s good to do this before having the crucial conversation.
  • Watch for Victim, Villain & Helpless stories
  • Tell the rest of the story.
  • What am I pretending not to know about my role in the problem? (What’s my part?)
  • Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this?
  • What should I do right now to move toward what I really want?

4. STATE My Path

S hare your facts. These are the least controversial and most persuasive elements of your path to action.
T ell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.
A sk for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.
T alk tentatively. State your story as a story—don’t disguise it as a fact.
E ncourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views. One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears.

  • Am I really open to others’ views?
  • Am I talking about the real issue?
  • Am I confidently expressing my own views?

6. Explore Others’ Paths

“Listen with same passion, with which you want to be heard.” – Harriet Lerner

  • explore other’s path to action, this creates the free flow of meaning
  • be curious and patient, this increases safety
    1. Ask. Express interest in the other person’s views.
    2.  Mirror. Respectfully acknowledging the emotions people appear to be feeling.
    3. Paraphrase. Restate what you’ve heard. It shows them that you understand, but also that it’s safe for them to share what they’re thinking.
    4. Prime. If others continue to hold back, prime. Take your best guess at what they may be thinking and feeling.
  • “Tell me more”, “Say more”

7. The ABC Of Building Mutual Understanding

As you begin to share your views, remember:
* Agree. Agree when you share views.
* Build. If others leave something out, agree where you share views, then build.
* Compare. When you do differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong. Compare your two views.

  • Am I avoiding unneccessary disagreement?

8. Move to action

  • avoid violated expectations and inaction and get to great decisions and united action instead
  • How will we make decisions? (Command, Consult, Vote, Consensus)
  • record the commitments and then follow up
  • WHO will do WHAT by WHEN? (Make it crystal clear)
  • How will we follow up? (time)

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