Listening is one of the most important bit of difficult conversations. This usually results in internal identity conversation about ones competency, goodness, or whether they are worthy of being loved. The second level is a combination of emotions, perceptions, and judgments at work as we speak within our discussions. Take your leadership skills to the next level by getting comfortable with confrontation. It is here where conversations can get murky because people will look at the same scenario and read it differently. If you are like me, we not only are listening, but we formulate our responses in reaction to the discussion. Second, there is the feelings level which often remains unspoken (Sarah felt angry about not being informed). [1] These levels are insightful and effectively describe the action of listening. Level 3 is for advanced ESL (English as a second language) students. For example, when my wife complains about my not helping her enough or not caring about her, my instinct is to get defensive, defend myself (emotional level) and feel attacked as not being a good husband (identity level). Our questions aren’t often shared and yet can be what is directing how we respond and why. The simple solution is to ask the other party what was their intent. Assumption 1: Each of us is bringing different information and perceptions to the situation. Progress can grind to a halt when everyone takes for granted that their own view is correct, and that any opposition stems from self-interest. One of the core elements of conversation involves the three levels to work simultaneously. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, writes for the Christianity Today’s Places and Space series, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College, Chosen People Ministries, and the Institute for Global Engagement.. His articles appear in leading publications. Patience is running low and stress levels are unusually high so as you enter the holidays, be mindful of how tired and tender we all are as we strain to see any light at the end of this long and arduous tunnel known as 2020 that we are in together. Difficult Conversations: Summary in PDF (W/ Examples), The identity side will always hit harder those people who have a fixed mindset. If there is push for debate, to assess, and make judgments, ask them to defer those questions until there’s a mutual agreement of understanding for each other’s position. It is discomforting, can erode the listener’s sense of worth and in the Asian context result in loss of face. The authors rightly point out that the other party has likely not read Difficult Conversations, so they might remain focused on blaming and arguing on right and wrong. That will give you more insights and will also give you a better idea on whether it makes sense to have a conversation or if it’s mostly an issue that you have within yourself only -an identity crisis for example-. Each party must understand that their own views and feelings are just their own and there’s no wrong or right. Also, the personal views and feelings are no less -and no more- legitimate and important than any other party. When there's a problem at work, it should be tackled quickly. Often it is in defense of our position. But discom- fort and awkwardness are not limited to topics on the editorial page. From then on you can then explain you don’t mean to “hurt” them or inconvenience them, so that the conversation can move to two human beings understanding each other. This term refers to something playing on three sound channels at once. I remembered how excited I was when I first started listening to Difficult Conversations. My response ought to probe why she feels this way and what I can do better to help her. A job review for example, or talking about how to fix a big mistake. The notion that all difficult conversations carry a common underlying structure that can be divided into three distinguishable categories or . Is there anything I’m doing to make it hard for you to look at your own contributions in the situation?”. In cultural engagement, conversations are a primary means of relational commerce. In a difficult conversation, this is usually where the real action is. Handling difficult conversations well can put a stop to poor team performance, financial misunderstandings, and plain old unrealistic client expectations before they become issues that put your project at serious risk. Third Party Style: you prefer having the window open why I prefer having it closed during the cold season. Avoid the blame game, venting or dismissive labeling of the response. Every difficult conversation is really comprised of 3 conversations in one: the What Happened conversation, the Feelings conversation, and; the Identity conversation. Am I looking bad or good in this?”. That emotive leap can short circuit a good conversation by placing blame for breakdown on another (often for other reasons than the topic) while ignoring what may be going on within us. In this level, we engage with the purpose of establishing assertions, garnering our evidence, and making the case. Now in engagement, there often is a case to be made, and the rationale for the position taken is crucial. This would be stating the conversation from your own perspective: Your Own Perspetive: you always open the window open and it’s very cold in here”. When we put up phasor shields in reaction to comments, we often short circuit a conversation that has some potential for learning. Difficult conversations often have three levels. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most A High-Level Summary of the Book by Stone, Patton and Heen Office of Human Resources The Ohio State University 1590 N. High St. Suite 300 Columbus, OH 43201-2190 . We tend to focus on what we are “broadcasting” to others, and in doing so, we miss much of what often is going on. Encourage them to paraphrase or offer to paraphrase what they have said. Be aware of the three levels of conversation. How is this playing out? The authors say it’s a human tendency of thinking in terms of all or nothing that can make the identity level of the conversation so touchy. What does paying attention to triphonics and to the other person accomplish in a conversation? It is not simple English anymore as in Level 1 and Level 2. That’s the feeling I get any time I feel like I have struck gold: I get excited at how much I am going to learn.And by the end of it, I certainly was a better communicator and a better man. Whether in marriage, business, politics, theology, over skype, social media, or the phone, human conversations are precious commodities. The authors say we should instead focus on finding out how we all contribute to the situation. Difficult Conversations is possibly the best book I have read on effective communication (and indeed it ranks first in my “best communication skills books“). They are not husband and wife as I had originally thought but, as they say themselves, still friends after 20 years of learning and teaching together. It's natural to fear difficult conversations, however the truth is that when we practice compassion and treat each other with respect, the conversations rarely are as difficult as we expect. Also, there’s a certain tendency of going with the worst possible option, which certainly doesn’t help in conflict resolution. Raising an issue at work video. Difficult Conversations: The Three Conversations . 2 Ingredients of Difficult Conversations Differing Perceptions In most difficult conversations, there are different perceptions of the same reality. 15 Expert Tips to Tackle Difficult Conversations. Every difficult conversation operates at three levels. First, there is the what happened level which is mostly about facts (e.g. Frame a difficult topic in a way that encourages open discussion. Staying aware of the triphonics of conversations may just be the anvil we need to turn difficult dialogue into revealing learning. We call these levels the "Three Conversations." It is rephrasing what another has said for the sake of understanding. This is dangerous, the authors say, because unexpressed feelings tend to fester, find their way back into the conversation in nasty ways and prevent us from listening properly. Ask them what would persuade them, and tell them what would persuade you. Difficult conversations don’t need to be discussions to fight through; they may become moments where iron really does sharpen iron. Tag:difficult conversations how to discuss what matters most. Seeking mutual understanding about the conversation first and then moving to assessment may provide a way that arrives to a better destination. Unfortunately, these type of exchanges are unavoidable in life. Both their feelings and your feelings. When difficult conversations turn toxic, it’s often because we’ve made a key mistake: we’ve fallen into a combat mentality. The second step is deciding whether or not you want to raise the issue. So we should hesitate to go in a direction that tries to attribute motive to another and deflects the conversation in the process. The first conversation is about the substance. It communicates respect for the other person and allows the potential for a better exchange. #3. 2. Unfortunately, what we do is seek to mind-read the other person at these levels and even speak to their presence (“You are angry with me so much of the time”), while ignoring what is going on with us at the same level. Three voices (triphonics) are in play in us at different levels, and they can drown out our ability to listen and connect to the other person in the conversation. Be curious and ask questions not to defeat the other person, but to move toward mutual understanding about where the differences and tension points are or why there is a disagreement. At this level, we see a strange brew of emotions and perspectives that work as filters in what we see and how we arrange the “facts.” Sometimes we promote these elements to level one, but they may not belong there. What gets us off track is that often we only think consciously about one of those levels. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. That’s what most conversations are—discussions operating on three channels at the same time. In difficult discussions seek to be more curious as to why the person thinks differently without trying to be a prophet about the other person’s head. I would like to find out why you want it open, explain why it’s important for me to close it and find possible solutions. In order to manage a difficult conversation you need to think carefully about: the way you communicate; your ability to take control of a meeting and; your levels of self-belief. Taking the right approach will help defuse some of the tension, and allow you to create an open forum for conversation. Most hard conversations have layers of argument tied to any major subpoint in the conversation. Just like Jack Webb on the old TV show, Dragnet, this is about the content of our conversations, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” Here is where we concentrate our attention—communicating what we see and why—often with a goal of persuading. State the facts. Expressing emotions openly is difficult for many of us. So if we are hurt, then we tend to believe the other party intention was to hurt us, and that’s often just not the case. For example, in my case my neighbor always opens the window of the common building entrance area. A core goal in good conversation is understanding these differences and why they are there. We all have an inner voice that tells us when we need to have a difficult conversation with someone—a conversation that, if it took place, would improve life at the office for ourselves and for everyone else on our team. Ask questions and invite them to ask about something that was said. The Four Types of Conversations. The answer is short. That is where understanding triphonics comes in handy. Think about what happens as we engage, especially on difficult topics. We tend indeed to avoid being too open about how we feel. The three levels remind us that things are going on in our conversations other than the facts and the topic. When people perceive that we care about and understand them, they open up more and are in a better position to listen to what we have to say. Telling first our own contributions can help the other party move away from the natural tendency of blaming. Once that decision is made, start from the third story. Usually the reason behind such strong feelings and emotions is that they have a lot at stake and they dread the consequences such as a conflict. They suggest that working out on your own the three level of the conversation and drafting a “contribution map” without having the difficult conversation. 1. “What if I try this but the other person is not there and just wants to duke it out in debate? “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” James 1:19. What we should do instead is to understand what interpretations of those events are and what is important to each party. So let’s look at the triphonics of conversation and how our awareness of them can help us in our conversations, especially with those difficult dialogues that life in a fallen world often compels us to have. Ask the other person to do the same, so mutual understanding and listening are achieved. We tend to focus on what we are “broadcasting” to others, and in doing so, we miss much of what often is going on. All leaders have difficult conversations at some point in time, whether it’s telling an employee they aren’t getting a raise or a promotion, disciplining poor performance, or … In all of it, we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Here are 12 ways to diffuse difficult people. Rarely do understanding the facts alone resolve the situation. The following items are tagged three conversations: Negotiating Difficult Conversations: Dealing with Tough Topics Productively. Our challenge: the situation is more complex than either person alone can see. The willingness to look for and think about these layers and pursue them can open fresh avenues in the conversation. What gets us off track is that often we only think consciously about one of those levels. Some conversations are difficult because they make one uncomfortable with their identity. Difficult conversations are all those conversations we’d rather avoid. Final thoughts. While difficult conversations can be stressful, you can navigate them calmly by having an inquisitive attitude and being genuinely interested in what the other person says. the project missed the deadline). When the parties cannot find a solution working for both, they must decide on whether to accept a smaller solution, deal with the consequences or walk away. That will give you more insights and will also give you a better idea on whether it makes sense to have a conversation or if it’s mostly an issue that you have within yourself only -an identity crisis for example-. Sometimes those other levels are drivers in the conversation, an important point to understand. Commit to getting to that stage of conversation, but only after there’s an understanding of each other’s position and why it is working that way. Let him or her speak and take the responses as sincere. Keep the conversation on track with these three steps: 1. This premature leap often creates a misunderstanding in what is happening, so that progress in the conversation ceases. The authors say that while many of us tend too often to avoid difficult conversations, sometimes it does indeed make no sense to have the conversation. The solution is for all the parties to share their feelings openly and clearly. How am I impacted in my soul by what is going on? Ask questions, ask for examples and paraphrase what they said to make sure you understand. Once the other party feels heard, it calms them down, makes them more likely to hear you and exponentially increases the chances of effective problem resolution. A core goal in good conversation is understanding these differences and why they are there. Some conversations are very tough because they inherently touch our own sense of worth. Understanding how discussions work and what can make them break down is important. And once you can adit admit your mistakes and emotions, chances that your difficult conversations will go well will immediately rise. Read here. Speak for yourself and you can speak with power, You can’t move the conversation on a positive direction until the other feels heard and understood. The “What happened?” conversation. Try starting the conversation off by explaining the issue and immediately asking them for their perspective. Remember to listen from a viewpoint of genuine curiosity and ask questions to show that you are curious. The most difficult conversations threaten our ego and sense of identity by calling into question our competency or even whether we are worthy of being loved and appreciated (for more details on the importance of feeling worthy of love read Brene Brown – Daring Greatly). In other words, redirect the conversation in a way that walks through the listening door searching to be curious. There will be time for assessment down the road. What do I do then?” The approach in this situation is to try and reframe the conversation in a direction that pushes toward the curiosity door. But our assumption are often wrong because we base them on our own feelings. They include complaining to a neighbor about their barking dog or asking for a salary increase at work. We are taught to debate and win our arguments, but we may need to recalibrate our goals in difficult conversations. So first, understand what the people involved are thinking and feeling, but not saying to each other. The one element that is often missing in this mode of conversation is curiosity and actual engagement with the other person about what is driving them to express themselves. A difficult conversation typically suggests that one party has to deliver news that is potentially unwelcome to the other. When talking with someone, it is helpful to know what type of conversation you are in. Don’t present your views as if they were the only truth, use the “and stance” and avoid any exaggeration such as “you always” or “you never”, which are a sure fire way of raising the other party’s defensive walls. Note how sometimes our reactions may be about something else that was unresolved. Needlessly to say, I highly recommend “Difficult Conversations”. The first level is the topic at hand. And the third mistake is to assign blame, which can quickly escalate the situation and take us further from any resolution. #4. The second common mistake is that people often assume to know what the other party’s intentions are. The “what happened” conversation gets to the facts without placing blame or guessing the others’ intentions. Pay attention to the three levels within the conversational perspective that might be getting in the way, but also seek to understand where the other person is coming from and why. Often discussions taking place here are where the mix of emotional drivers and differing perceptions require a need not only to advocate, but to listen to the conversation partner for why differences exist. It is the one we tend to focus on the most—the object of discussion and our contribution to the subject matter. Whether it be in marriage, business, politics, theology, over skype, social media or the phone, human conversations are precious commodities. For a good resolution, the parties involved should move from their own views of the fact to a curiosity about the other person’s view of the events. Try these nine crucial rules. As a basic introduction to our method of managing difficult conversations, this worksheet will ask you to reflect on questions about each conversation. We tend to think we are either great and everyone loves us, or we are terrible and unworthy.The solution is in adopting the “And Stance” and ditching the “all or nothing” paradigm. You’re not bad because you have done a mistake.And you can keep interacting and working on things: an issue, a refusal or a mistake does not spell the end fo anything. How many times have you left a difficult conversation and replayed the scenario in your mind over and over again? Being aware of our own emotions, perceptions, and judgments helps us in these conversations, especially difficult ones. The key to being a good listener is very simple: be genuinely curious and genuinely concerned about the other party. Conversations are a primary way we relate to others. Level 3: Global Listening — Listening to others in the context of their entire surroundings. Having this kind of a conversation takes discipline, but it also can pay rich dividends if both can arrive at an agreement and honor the sequence of understanding each other first, and then assessing what to do about it. Douglas and Heen provide a lot of practical advice and real-life examples. Training can help to give you the confidence you need. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Being open to “owning our junk” means making an effort to listen to what is being said to us. But even the most experienced project managers can feel nervous about having a difficult conversation. 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