Awkward Conversation? Determine your Objective

I consider the piece of advice below to be one of the singular most important lessons I've picked up in my professional life.

I can't find the original article that I made notes from, so if I've 'stolen' your intellectual property, I'll apologise in advance and happily republish this blog if you contact me :-)

My notes of the advice:
Have you thought about whether you really need to have the conversation?

Have you considered exactly what you are trying to accomplish?

  1. Some conversations are unnecessary. Sometimes the conflict you are feeling may be inside your head, rather than between you and someone else. Sometimes, what's called for is a change in behavior rather than a conversation.

  2. Some objectives are inappropriate. You may be entering a difficult conversation hoping to change the other person. But that's not a realistic goal. Alternatively, you may be looking to blow off steam. Acknowledging emotions can be helpful as part of a conversation - but just venting your feelings and then walking out isn't likely to be productive.

  3. Some conversations should be given up. Sometimes despite our best efforts, nothing helps. And if changing the whole situation is impossible, then you have to learn to live with it.
There are really only three reasonable objectives for a difficult conversation: learning the other person's story, expressing your views, and attempting to solve the problem together.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:46 AM,


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