Recognise this? You are engaged in frequent conversations with a friend who asked for your guidance to solve a personal issue. Each time your friend is knocking on your door, you are ready to listen and offer advice . You start to become frustrated and depleted, As you start to realise your friend is not doing a single thing with your advice and only leaves you with all the drama and emptying your box of Kleenex.
Or, your boss is talking to you as if you are a junior intern and can only lead by controlling rather than inspiring you. Making you want to leave the company you still love working for. Or, you realise the colleague you just started that project with, has real bad body odor and each time you dread to be in the same room with him and not being able to concentrate on matters important to you.
I recently had the pleasure to work with a client to introduce the principles of “Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” – a book and approach written by Kerry Patterson*. For each of my above mentioned scenarios, some people opt for the ‘silent killer‘ which means withdrawing from the conversation, avoiding, diverting the issue and hope it will go away just like that. Other personalities feel more comfortable to go into ‘violent mode‘ and want to control the situation, attack and label the outcome of the conversation from a single minded point of view. When under stress and often the stakes are high, we tend to run into either silent or violent mode fast and furious.
There’s obviously a better way to recognise those crucial moments, in your relationship with others, which can have a disproportionate impact on your quality of life. This book provides great insight and tools to guide us through a pattern to improve our communication skills.
My favourite steps are: ‘starting from the heart’, realising firstly what is important to you and state your intention. Secondly, ‘make it safe’, creating an environment of trust and mutual respect. To me respect is like the air we breathe, once it’s there we don’t even think twice about it, however when it’s gone, we’re in trouble. Lastly, ‘move to action’, in other words how do you move forward, make happen what is agreed. In my sales days I learned to ‘never forget to ask for the business’, otherwise nothing happens.
Do your interactions with people turn into crucial conversations as apposed to just plain vanilla? I am qurious to hear from you and do let me know what works best for you.