A Search For Common Ground – Part Three: Conversations That Work!

A Search For Common Ground – Part One: Authentic Discourse

A Search For Common Ground – Part Two: Overcoming Resistance

None of us wants to be judged or criticized, especially for our thoughts and beliefs. We want to feel safe before we’re willing to talk openly and share our opinions, especially about “hot” topics. Because uncertainty induces fear, we want to trust in each other’s good intentions.

If you’ve decided to tackle a tough topic with someone and desire to have a constructive conversation rather than an adversarial debate or a conflict, recognize that there are always (at least) two sides in any situation.

TO PREPARE, ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS

1) Are you emotionally ready to resist the temptation to judge, criticize, denigrate or attack the person with whom you disagree in order to pursue mutual understanding?

2) Is your true motive for engaging in a tough talk about a social or political issue, to learn, to understand, to persuade the other person, or to win?

3) Are you ready and willing to listen in order to understand, without interrupting or judging?

4) Are you willing to be civil and speak with care and respect?

READY TO PROCEED WITH AN INVITATION TO CONVERSE?
1) Determine whether the other person would be interested in establishing clarity of purpose and a spirit of collaboration. Is it someone who would make the same kind of effort that you are prepared to make? If the person declines, accept the response.

2) Establish “ground rules” for how to proceed: one topic at a time, a time and place with no distractions or interruptions, no acting out (yelling, walking away, bad language, attacking), and shared speaking and listening time.

3) Bring your best self to the conversation. Manage yourself so you have no regrets about your behavior.

4) Listen actively — seek to understand with no interrupting. Paraphrase the meaning you hear and show respect by responding to the points made and affirm your understanding. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and ensures that you are both discussing the same thing and not talking past each other — a common problem with challenging conversations.

5) Speak only for yourself, from personal experience, not defending or representing an ideological approach or an entire political party.

6) Maintain a positive spirit of dialogue; a learning attitude. Avoid a critical or dismissive tone or other negative non-verbal communication— lack of eye contact, deep sighs, crossing your arms. This is important because the most powerful and credible communication is not the actual words we use.

7) Engage to comprehend the other person’s perspectives and beliefs, not to persuade. You cannot change people. The only person you can change is you.

8) Seek first to understand (facts, issues, perspectives, priorities), then to be understood. Assumptions are deadly and are usually wrong. Paraphrase the person’s meaning before you disagree.

Most of the time, discovery of common ground results from mutual understanding and regard for the hopes, fears and values that underlie individual perspectives and beliefs. For example, while we enjoy and value the liberties and freedoms assured by our Constitution, we may disagree about how to achieve and sustain them. Such are the challenges and opportunities of free speech provided by the Founding Fathers and protected by many wars. Freedom is not free.

Talks At The End Of Life (Conversations No One Wants To Have)

 

Talks At The End Of Life (Conversations No One Wants To Have)

Someone you care for is at the end of his or her life. How do we talk with someone who is dying? No one is ever really prepared for conversations near the end of life. What do we say and how do we say it? These are very important talks for both the living and the dying.

 

Reasonable Expectations

Our own emotional vulnerability makes it difficult to find the right words and to avoid awkward displays of grief. While it is not our role to create meaningful moments of conversation, we can bring comfort to the dying person by recognizing and respecting their attitudes and feelings. [Read more…]

Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Tools for talking when stakes are high

By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

crucial conversations

This is a terrific book! It delivers practical skills that will help you succeed with any crucial conversation in your life, whether personal or professional. Most people avoid having really important conversations because they fear a negative outcome. This is particularly true if the talk is with someone of importance in your life or it is a particularly difficult and meaningful topic.

Crucial Conversations will [Read more…]

Tough Talk Coach: In The News

I am happy to report that a recent edition of Pacific Coast Business Times featured an article of mine, “Tough talks can help you root out the real problems in your business.” Business owners and managers may find the article particularly useful, as communication problems and conflicts in their workplace may have causes that are not readily apparent. See the full article here.

The Fall. The Call. The Talk.

If you are concerned about your elderly parents, it’s probably with good reason. As our population ages and folks live into their 80s and 90s, there is a very good chance that caregiving is something you will have to deal with.

It is exciting to know that about 15 years have been added to our lives. The challenge, however, is that many of us will be living with several chronic diseases.  While not life threatening, they can cause impairment of body or mind or both.

This is the case with many of our parents. They reach a point where they need help, but [Read more…]