Mastering the stories in your head and staying with your motives in a dialogue when you're angry, scared or hurt, can be hard. I recently had the opportunity to attend a course on Crucial Conversations, run by Vital Smarts, which offers tools for talking when the stakes are high.
I learned that some of us naturally move to 'silence' or 'violence' modes when things are going down with which we are not comfortable. In my case, its silence. Neither are helpful.
Here are the five steps we learned as supports to help us share tough messages:
1. Share our feelings.
2. Tell your story.
3. Ask for others' paths.
4. Talk tentatively.
5. Encourage testing.
Visit this link to find out more about crucial conversations training: https://www.vitalsmarts.com/crucial-conversations-training/.
But what if you're dealing with someone who doesn't want to 'play', isn't rational or reasonable, doesn't want to think about the way they behave and how it affects others? Well, the method doesn't work.
And what if someone uses the technique on you to hide behind: to require you to change your behaviours when its their issues or inadequacies that are the problem? Then, its a challenge.
And how can you tell which one of these, if any, the situation might be?
I was thinking about this as I climbed Mt Holdsworth on the weekend. It was one of those glorious days that start chilly and end up sunny and hot with no breeze. In the early morning, a haze hung over the mountains, making them look fifty shades of blue and painted in oils.
Both of those scenarios were acted out in the last two roles I've had as policy manager of small teams where the team members had never actually done any policy and where the general managers were focused almost solely on their positions. It was these experiences that kicked off the development of my Public Policy 101 training course - part of the course deals with how to deal with people.
In the policy world, people and their machinations, prejudices and blind spots can come out of left field at any time and bowl you over. The past thirty years have given me great experiences, insights, and understanding of where I went wrong, on which to draw for my novels and my Public Policy 101 course.
I knew there had to be a reason why I've stayed with policy all these years.