Crucial Conversations

I tend to avoid confrontation.  Many times it is because I am able to “put myself in their shoes”.  I can understand where they are coming from and so can accept or adapt to the situation as it presents.  I also tend to live in my head so I do not even notice things that may irritate others.  That is my style.  It is important to know your style and, if possible, the style of the person you are going to be conversing with.  Do you run from confrontation?  Do you get super defensive?  Do you shut down?

As I approach a conversation that may become emotional and involve disagreement, I try to be mindful of my purpose and creating a safe atmosphere. It can be helpful to give the person a heads up about the discussion.  You can schedule a time to meet with them. If I approach a person the wrong way, perhaps when I am angry, they will likely shut down or get get defensive and start yelling back.  This will not accomplish anything!

One of the hardest things, for me, is to be aware of when my tiny adrenal glands try to join the conversation.  The other person may say something that really pushes my buttons.  All the blood leaves my brain.  I feel my face flush with fire.  My heart beats out of my chest.  My palms get moist as my fists begin to clinch.  Breathe!  I have to remember that my goal (ex: delivering the best service to clients or having a clean and healthy house).   Maybe ask, “So it seems like you feel that no one understands how much you do.  Is that right?”  Making an effort to understand their point of view and motivations will help them to feel safe in the conversation and they may become more open to having a discussion, not a yelling match.

Do you have any tips for these tough moments?

I still need to work on this, but I am getting better.  There is a book, Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan,  and Al Switzler, that can help you navigate tough conversations.  There is actually an app for it as well.  The app gives you the forward and the first chapter.  The rest you have to purchase.

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18 thoughts on “Crucial Conversations

  1. Thanks Katie. I think I should read the book. I’ve been working towards avoiding useless confrontations. So how and when to have productive confrontations, if and when necessary? My intuition says a middle ground is best, between avoidance and abusiveness. Some irritants are signs about my spiritual condition and some are chances to productively guide others. All are growth opportunities!

  2. Sometimes if the subject of discussion is not something I’m prepared to talk about at the time I might say that “I’d rather think for a while about what you’ve said’. Maybe we can talk tomorrow” or something similar… Diane

    • Funny, I was just adding a line that I had forgot to put in about giving the person a warning or notice that you want to discuss something. I know that I react much better given time to reflect and am not ambushed.

  3. I can completely relate. I actually recently downloaded that book – glad to hear it will be a good read. I could certainly use help with difficult coversations. I totally avoid conflict – even when I am annoyed. Something I have to work on, for sure. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

    • I hope it helps! I read it awhile ago and am still trying to improve. It was actually suggested through work but is applicable to all areas. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. I, too, tend to lose myself in my head and can be oblivious to what’s going on around me. This probably avoids a lot of conflict for me, because I’m also not a fan of that. Sounds like a useful book.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it. 🙂

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