Ever experienced the feeling of knots in your stomach at the thought of a difficult conversation you knew you had to have with someone you care about? I’m a recovering people-pleaser, so confrontation with the likelihood of disappointing someone makes me want to run for the hills. I truly care about other’s feelings and personal circumstances. The thought of hurting the other person or not accommodating their circumstances makes me want to just ignore the issue to the expense of my own feelings and circumstances until finally the stress and pain of not taking care of the problem boils over and I know I need to have the conversation.
When I’m engaging in these hard conversations, my goal is to always conduct myself in a respectful way in order to maintain the friendship and/or professional relationship. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had my fair share of uncomfortable conversations with family members, friends, and colleagues. It’s never easy, but I’ve noticed when I meet the issues head on versus sweeping them under the rug, two things usually happen:
- the conversation usually doesn’t go as bad as I imagined it would
- a huge weight gets lifted off my shoulders and I experience relief, peace of mind, and a feeling of accomplishment.
I recognize handling conflict is an area of continual growth for me as I’m constantly given new opportunities to flex this muscle.
One of the many things my late husband, Andrew, accomplished after his second cancer diagnosis was getting certified to be a facilitator of Susan Scott’s training, Fierce Conversations. It’s a training program that gives companies the skills and tools to have meaningful and “fierce conversations” in every area of their lives. Andrew thought Susan Scott’s work was important and wanted to bring the material back to the company he worked for to train his co-workers in how to have “fierce conversations.”
My mom introduced us to Susan Scott’s book, Fierce Conversations, which is one of the best books on this topic. My mom is also an approved provider of Susan’s training. I’ve had the privilege of attending several of my mom’s Fierce Conversation workshops, and each time I learn something new and take away a different tool to help me with addressing the various challenging conversations in my life. Today, I want to share with you Susan Scott’s Confrontation Model in the hope it will be helpful to you next time you need to have a “fierce conversation” with someone you care about.
Opening Statement: Write this statement out and practice saying it out loud (should be 60 seconds or less) and should include the following:
1. Name the issue.
2. Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior or situation you want to change.
3. Describe your emotions about the issue.
4. Clarify what is at stake.
5. Identify your contribution to this problem.
6. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.
7. Invite your partner to respond.
8. Inquire into your partner’s views. Dig for full understanding and make sure your partner knows you fully understand and acknowledge his or her position and interests.
9. What have we learned? Where are we now? Has anything been left unsaid that needs saying? What is needed for resolution? How can we move forward from here, given our new understanding?
10. Make a new agreement and determine how you will hold each other responsible for keeping it.
Susan says, “This model allows us to confront tough issues with courage, compassion, and skill. Learning is provoked and relationships are enriched.” I encourage you to dig deeper into this topic by checking out Fierce Conversations. I believe it’s also available as an audiobook, although I like having a hard copy so I can physically see the models.
The more I grow personally and professionally, the more I value the importance of learning how to have meaningful conversations with people. I would love to hear about a tough conversation you had and how it worked out in the comments below. Robert Frost said, “The best way out is through.” Thank you for spending time with me today! Blessings and love.
PS – Just found out my mom is teaching a Fierce Conversations workshop in Tampa, Florida on April 7th & 8th! For more information go to http://kwopportunity.com/event/fierce-conversations-w-linda-mckissack/
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