Last time, I wrote about honor and its importance. In a world where shallow self-centeredness and broken promises are commonplace, those who manage to act with honor will shine through; especially if they can maintain that honor through difficult circumstances long-term. I have had reason to think on this recently, due to an unconscious breech of my own honor. A promise I had made was forgotten, and through that neglect I caused a significant amount of strife.
It is inevitable that we will break promises, miss deadlines, and fail to meet expectations 100% of the time. Nobody is perfect. So, how do we maintain our honor in such circumstances?
In the past, I have found helpful advice in a lovely little book by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler called Crucial Conversations. The book talks about what a crucial conversation is and provides some methods for handling them well. Per the definition in the book:
Crucial Conversation - A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.
Many of us dislike confrontation in any form, especially if the confrontation occurs between us and someone we hold a high opinion of. But truly impactful conversations often tend to happen in concordance with an element of confrontation. In these situations, we all have our own coping mechanisms: the silent treatment, sarcasm, anger, etc. But really, everyone involved in the conversation has a desire to be heard, not attacked, for their differing opinions. If we utilize some simple tools (and a whole lot of patience and empathy), everybody can walk away from a crucial conversation better off.
A central concept of the book is called the “Pool of Shared Meaning,” which contains the ideas, theories, feelings, thoughts, and opinions that have been openly shared. The more people contribute to the pool, the more information there is to work with, which can lead to new insights. As you can guess, these insights can be much more useful in finding a well-rounded and effective solution than by jumping to conclusions. The more time we take to add to the pool, the better the result for everyone involved.
Next, we need to ask ourselves what we really want. Taking a moment to pause and reflect on why we feel hurt or disappointed (or otherwise) can be very enlightening as we hone in on specifics that will be our guide throughout a conversation. Once we have a “North star,” so to speak, we can keep our proverbial eye on that as the discussion progresses and more information gets added to the Pool of Shared Meaning.
The last element I will mention here is safety. How many times have you been in a dialogue where you felt attacked, belittled, or otherwise put out? There are two elements that need to be universally established in any crucial conversation in order for it to bear good results: mutual respect and caring. Once everyone feels respected and that their best interests are at the heart of others in the conversations, the tension in the room will go down drastically. Then we can actually have a good conversation!
If you start your tough conversations with these elements, you will be well along the path to a successful resolution to whatever conflict that has cast its shadow on your life. There are only a handful more concepts outlined in the book that further enhance the foundation I have provided for you here. If you would like to understand a bit more before picking up the book, you can read an excellent summary on Wikisummaries.org.
And, as always, we here at Protagonist are dedicated to helping you through difficult business and life circumstances. If you should ever desire our assistance our simply need someone to listen, let us know at hello(at)protagonist.life