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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting the Conversation Right When Stakes Are Crucial

When stakes are high and stress is at its peak,
The conversation needs Mutual Purpose and Respect.
It needs at least one party to be committed to being meek,
If a good outcome is anything either is to collect.
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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
   GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson et al, harnesses important information on how to understand why crucial conversations usually go south.
Simply put, when the stakes are high and opinions are opposed and divided, strong emotions are elicited and sides polarise and protect themselves; trust diminishes because respect plummets. The higher the stakes are, and the more divided the opinions, the worse the outcome is likely to be, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
If we have any interest in good relational outcomes, and we should, we will want to ensure we communicate that we believe mutual purpose and mutual respect are the foundation for negotiating crucial conversations.
Communicating a Commitment to Mutual Purpose
It’s vitally important that a common purpose can be established, and it’s possible, even when opinions and goals vary a lot. Finding some commonality in purpose, and communicating an understanding of their purpose, promotes a sense for safety where the other party can relax knowing we have their back. The primary reason this feeling of safety is so important is for the maintenance of trust; that we are working with an ally notwithstanding our differences.
When people know we care about their concerns we are halfway to an environment free of anger, hurt and fear.
Communicating a Heart for Mutual Respect
When we not only communicate a commitment to mutual purpose, that we care for their concerns, but we also communicate a heart for mutual respect, that we care for them, we give them room and reason to debunk their defensiveness.
When we communicate we care for someone we see their defences are down and they are truly able to be honest.
Only when people know we care for what they care for and that we actually care for them will they trust us enough to be open to logic that runs against their view.
***
Being serious about negotiating with people means we will care about what’s important for them and we will care about them, too.
We cannot forge a way we are convinced is best until we have fully engaged with the counter arguments.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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