Tips for the dreaded conversation

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Are you putting off a meeting with someone because it is uncomfortable, even though you know it is very important? Here are some ideas that turn SCILLSS into the SKILLS you need.  When we are trying something new or different, or fearsome, having a structure can help us succeed.  Here is a quick summary of steps you can take until these conversations become second nature.

1.  S: Self-assessment

How am I feeling? Identify what you are feeling. . . can you get past mad – mad is often a default that covers more uncomfortable feelings like hurt, disrespected, left out.

What am I telling myself?  This is the most critical part of the process because our feelings are generated from our thoughts. If I think they should know better, I react one way. If I think they are doing the best they can, I open up possibilities to different reactions.

What else could be going on? Explore other possibilities – why else might they be acting/doing what they are doing?

2. C: Cue to invite conversation

If we are taking the risk of having an uncomfortable conversation, let the other person know what is going on.  “I’d like to discuss something with you if you are willing  . . . Is this a good time? Is this a good place?”

3. I: Use I-messages

How we describe our concern will impact their response.  Be careful of judgmental or accusatory words that come out of what we are telling ourselves. As much as possible be objective and descriptive.  You might want to write down a few notes for this step.

When you … (objective, behavioral – watch for judgments)
I feel… (use a feeling word – avoid saying “that you…” after “feel”) This is where you get really vulnerable – how are you experiencing what is happening…
Because… (how does this impact me, the work environment or product, our customers/clients?)

4. L: Listen to response and paraphrase what you have heard

Remember, this is about relationship and building trust. Take time for the other person to respond and share how they see the situation. Let them know in your own words that you get the point/s they are trying to make. Remember, you do not have to agree with their perspective, you just have to show them that they have been heard. Then explain more of your point of view if needed.

5. L: Listen some more to response and paraphrase until both perspectives are understood.

6. S: Seek a solution that works for both/all parties involved.

Now you get to figure out how to change from a frustrating situation to a productive solution.  Can you see how this can build trust?

Ask, “how can we solve this?”  Turn the person into a “conflict partner” with you.
Brainstorm possible strategies.Write down possibilities. All possibilities – no commentary, no judgement.
Then identify those that would help and both can agree to.

7. S: See if it works

We frequently forget this step.  It is possible that the solution or agreement you came up with will not work or only partially address the situation. You might need to revisit things to get it right.  Remember that change takes conscious and mindful effort.

Agree to try a solution for a certain amount of time. Set a time to check back to see if it is working or what needs to be fine tuned.