How do we get Unstuck?

ARE YOU STUCK? Sometimes we get bogged down when we are trying to effectively communicate with others. This is especially true in Business, when it is very important to have conversations with others when there are issues that must be dealt with. In this week’s Power Idea, Senior Strategic Partner, Laura Dillingham discusses a topic that she facilitates on a regular basis. Possessing the ability to have “crucial conversations” with others is critical to Leadership Success.

Based on the Book “Crucial Conversations” Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

What’s the motivation to get unstuck; why move outside of your comfort zone and learn skills and tools to improve communication? Start by asking yourself this question; When we avoid a crucial conversation, what happens? Avoiding can:

* Affect our career
* Eliminate an opportunity to improve our organization
* Affect our health
* Affect our relationships, personal and professional

Isn’t that enough to at least get us to start thinking about learning crucial conversation skills? There’s a quote in the book that really got my attention, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. What do you think that quote is saying? Do you agree or disagree with the quote? Why or why not?

The first step in crucial conversations is to identify where you’re stuck. You can begin by using a technique known as Content, Pattern, Relationship (CPR).

* Content – the ability to get all relevant information out into the open (from yourself and others)
* Pattern – insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; is there a pattern in your communication and no matter what the issue is, are the results the same?
* Relationship – what is the relationship and how important is it to you?

Every crucial conversation starts with Dialogue. Dialogue is defined as the free flow of meaning between two or more people. Dialogue brings up two major questions you have to ask yourself:

1. How does free flow of meaning lead to success?
2. What do you do to encourage meaning to flow freely?

Let’s start by answering the first question. When two or more people enter a conversation they each come with their own suitcase. This suitcase holds their opinions, feelings, philosophies, skills and experiences. We each bring our own personal “pool of meaning” to the dialogue based on what’s in our suitcase. This pool not only provides us with information; it drives our actions.

I know this may come as a surprise to you, but we don’t all share the same pool. Individuals who are skilled at dialogue recognize the need for a pool and when it is established, they strive to make it safe for everyone to add to it. It doesn’t matter if the ideas being added are extreme, controversial, at odds with everyone else’s or even wrong. As everyone adds to the pool it grows and helps everyone in two ways:

1. As everyone is exposed to more accurate and relevant information, they make better choices.
2. The larger the shared “pool of meaning”, the better the decisions.

The “pool of shared meaning” is the beginning of synergy. (Synergy is when the sum is greater than its parts.) When meaning is shared, everyone willingly acts on decisions, there is a commitment, as well as, a sense of unification. Everyone begins to realize that when they share information they make better decisions and as a result, they are more committed to their decisions.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that every decision needs to be made by a committee. The point is if time is spent in the beginning by establishing a “shared pool of meaning” it can ultimately lead to faster, more collective, committed action later. The good news is the skills to learn how to master high-stakes interactions and the tools needed can be learned.

I know we didn’t answer the second question; What do you do to encourage meaning to flow freely? It would take a lot more time and space than is available in today’s Power Idea. However, if you’re interested in learning the answer and the skills and tools for crucial conversations, my suggestion would be to spend some quality time with us. How do you do that? Contact us at