Have you ever been in a conversation when opinions differed and emotions were intense? Kerry Patterson et al. labels these types of communication Crucial Conversations in his book with the same name.
Through ‘everyday’ dialogue, we aim simply to exchange information. But difficult conversation often triggers an emotion somewhere between retreat and aggression. When this happens, our heart rate increases and our peripheral vision narrows. Our minds are flooded with thoughts like: “We’ll just see about that!” or “Not after I forward your email!” I know, it would be so much easier if people just saw things your way! (I happen to be a big fan of ‘my way’, too!)
But, we must dedicate ourselves to finding ‘mutual purpose’ while making the environment ‘safe’. A safe environment excludes attacking, name-calling, storming out, bringing up the past, and clamming up. Clamming up? Yep, keeping valid concerns to yourself during a conflict can impede progress, too. Remember, negative responses can signal misunderstood motives or unmentioned fears. Each party is encouraged to calmly and patiently uncover common goals and concerns with ‘and statements’ (my goal + your goal = our goal).
Most importantly, when you find yourself in an intense conversion, be aware of the physical and verbal caution signs. These signs can be very subtle and can hold the key to resolution! Slow down and reestablish safety and a common purpose.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.