Do you ever find yourself in a tough conversation that goes bad? Do you avoid uncomfortable conversations even if solving a problem could make your life much better? Do you wish you could have better results from those tough conversations? It seems when it matters most we often fail at achieving what we want from crucial conversations.
I often recommend the book Crucial Conversations. It is an excellent resource and tool on how to improve the results of your negotiations and tough conversations.
I’m often surprised at how conversations deteriorate quickly away from the goal. Arrows get slung, feelings get hurt and people do not achieve their original intent. I have coached and facilitated tough conversations with many people and have often witnessed that the first thing to degrade is the motive. This isn’t an excuse to not have the conversation and risk a damaged relationship or poor results. Learn the skills to have better conversations and it will improve your life.
The book lists a few unhealthy goals:
- Being right
- looking good or saving face
- keeping the peace
- avoiding conflict
Are you guilty of any of these? Instead the goal of dialogue could be to learn, find the truth, produce results and strengthen relationships. One tool is to learn to stay focused on what you really want out of the conversation. It’s best if you also think about what the other person wants and what is best for the relationship. Make sure everything you do and say during the conversation gets you closer to what you want. Watch your behavior and make sure you don’t get off track from that goal. Stop yourself from time to time and ask if what you are saying is getting you closer to what you want. Clarify in your mind what you want prior to having the conversation. Courage comes from clarity. Be persistent and consistent. It may take several conversations. If you don’t talk it out, you will act it out. Take responsibility for your behaviors and work on yourself first.
“One of my problems is that I internalize everything. I can’t express anger; I grow a tumor instead.” Woody Allen