Have you ever wanted to have an important conversation with someone but were worried that it wouldn’t go well? When we say important conversations we mean crucial ones–the kind that if they don’t go well would have a major negative impact. If you’ve ever felt tense about having one of these talks, you’re not alone. Most people feel nervous about having this kind of crucial conversation.
Sadly enough, communicating effectively isn’t a skill that’s taught in most schools and often isn’t learned at home. Sad because this is an essential skill for enjoying a satisfying life.
Help Has Arrived
We’ve developed the following checklist to support you in having successful conversations in all areas of your life, regardless of the situation. So before your next crucial conversation, go down the list and do your best to pay attention to each and every item. If you do, we’re confident that you’ll be much more satisfied with the outcome.
Whether you’re aware of it or not you always have an intention, whether it’s a conscious intention or an unconscious intention. Your intention can be sensed by the people you’re interacting with, and it creates the foundation of your conversation.
Prior to any important talk, create a clear, value-based intention for the conversation. Then, before you say a word to the other person, remind yourself to stay focused on your intention. This value based foundation will help you build the kind of connection that will produce satisfying results for everyone concerned.
___ Underlying Concerns
Check to see if you have any underlying concerns about having this conversation. You may want to have a conversation about the family budget or how much quality time you spend together. But you may have an underlying fear that the other person isn’t willing to discuss this issue with you in the first place.
Know that “any unexpressed fear is often interpreted as aggression.” So start by expressing any underlying concern and quickly let the other person know what, if anything, you would like from them about this. In our example, you may want to get a green light from the other person about their willingness to have the discussion.
___ Get on the Same Page
As the first part of the conversation, make sure you get on the same page about what may have happened in the past or offer a concise description of the present circumstances. It’s essential just to speak about what’s going on in terms of specific events. Absolutely no judging or labeling.
___ Economy of Words
in an important conversation, more words are not better. An economy of words is essential for creating understanding and clarity.
___ Intention Again
Next, if it fits in the conversation, let the other person know what you would like to create in the this conversation and in your relationship with them: verbalize your intention.
___Get Their Point of View
Find out what’s important to them in the situation. What outcomes might they want, and how could you support them in creating their intention for the situation? In this step it’s critical that you do not attempt to interject your point of view or analyze what they want.
Now you’re ready to come up with strategies that will help both of you get what you want in the situation. Work together and brainstorm ideas. Before you agree on any strategies, make sure that your ideas don’t leave anything out for either of you.
This is the point where you decide who will take the actions necessary to move ahead with the strategies you’ve come up with. These assignments need to be satisfying to both of you. And you also need to agree about who will take which of the actions, and when they will be completed.
Following-up on your agreements is critical. Set the date for your next meeting to see how everything is going. Don’t wait until things are going badly to check-in. At this accountability meeting see if anything is missing for either of you or if you’d like to make any adjustments in the agreements you’ve made.
One last thing, after every conversation, check in with yourself. Did you enjoy the way the conversation went? If you did, it’s time to celebrate! If not, it’s a great time to identify what was missing for you.
Review your conversation using this checklist. What points on the checklist were missed? Which ones could you have spent more time on?
Remember communication isn’t a science it’s an art. So practice, practice, practice!
With much love and a commitment to your success,
Beth and Neill