Why is It So Hard?
I’m frequently asked: “How do I talk to this upset client?”, “How do I diplomatically correct this team member?”, “How do I share my concerns with my partner without offending?” We struggle to communicate productively in tough conversations.
Why is it so hard?
The short answer is the complexity of human interaction. Words are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface are layers of interpretation, motivation, emotion, and intention. It’s remarkably easy to smack into hidden obstacles that disrupt the communication and the relationship. But there are good paths forward.
7 Steps to Productive Collaboration
In any potentially difficult conversation, start with the seven steps to productive collaboration. These clear emotional obstacles to rational problem-solving:
- Start with empathy and insight listening
- Use your eyes
- Listen for feelings
- Don’t be fooled by anger
- Normalize the feelings
- Uncover inferences and assumptions
(7 steps explained fully in Tough Talks)