May 1, 2014
We all have a powerful need to be heard and understood.
We want to connect, and yet we often find it’s way easier said than done. The next time you’re having or planning to have a difficult conversation, consider replacing ‘Gotcha!’ with the following ABC’s:
1) Assume positive intentions.
Seriously, have you ever (I mean ever) gotten a good outcome from blaming somebody for anything??
Ex: “I was surprised when you didn’t call.” (The next sentence is where you win or lose the round.)
You can follow with “I was waiting for your call—you completely wrecked my night.” What are the odds that you’re going to get a good outcome??
Or you can say: “I know you didn’t do it on purpose so I assumed that something important came up. Please tell me about it.” The vast majority of us are not creating Machiavellian plots to do each other in. Assume the best and you’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting it. Assume the worst and you hugely lower your odds.
2) Be open and curious.
Pause, breathe, drop your story and open up.
Ex: “I was surprised when you didn’t call. Did something happen that got in the way?”
Open up to hearing their truth. Not yours. If you get back something like this, ‘I just never thought of it” and no apology, then that’s another conversation. But most likely you’ll get something like “Wow! I’m so sorry. I meant to, thought of it a bunch of times, but then this, and this, and this happened…I’m really sorry”.
3) Clarify the difference between a fact and an opinion
We hold many beliefs/ideas/opinions that we treat as facts. When we treat an opinion or an idea like a fact we move into needing to prove our fact is right. If we can remember it’s an idea, we have wiggle room to discuss other ideas that might widen our perspective.
Ex: “I was surprised when you didn’t call.” That sentence was a fact. “I think you remembered and you just decided I don’t matter.” The second sentence was an opinion.
I’ve seen people fall on the sword to prove that their idea about the meaning behind a situation is a fact. It can get REALLY crazy.
Pause, breathe, drop your story and use your ABC’s:
A – Assume positive intentions
B – Be open and curious
C – Clarify the difference between a fact and an opinion
I’d love to hear if they help!