It took me a while to appreciate the power and beauty of this conversation outline. At first I thought that having a structure for a discussion was unnecessary. Boy, was I wrong! This guide keeps the conversation on track, ensures everyone has input, creates more options, and fosters positive relationships. Impressive!
Open. We open a conversation simply by stating what we are going to talk about. It helps the conversation stay on track.
Discover and Share. This is the most important step in a conversation. We often skip this step and move straight to positional arguing about the best thing to do.
In Discover and Share, we take time to listen fully by being completely present and listening for understanding. We pay attention to the words being said, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. We are curious about everything and ask a lot of questions.
Giving focused attention to someone is a gift. We don’t often feel like we are in the spotlight of someone’s attention, even though we like being seen and heard.
Finding out how the other person or people view the situation creates more possible solutions and helps to maintain positive relationships. We also share our perspectives and feelings during this step.
Develop Solutions. Once we have all the facts and feelings on the table, brainstorming begins. I see it as a funnel that begins with a wide variety of options and slowly narrows down to the best choice. During this phase, it’s important to continually ask what is best for the people involved in the decision – whether that is a couple, a team, a family, or an organization.
Agree. If we’ve done a good job during Discover and Share, it’s easier to come to an agreement.
Close. We check to make sure everyone is on board and explicitly state the agreement. It’s also a good time to check in one last time on how everyone is feeling about the agreement.
When having a conversation, focus on the Discover and Share step of the conversation. The other steps happen naturally and don’t need as much emphasis. The information needed to resolve conflicts never comes to light if we jump straight to developing solutions without fully listening and understanding each person’s perspective and feelings. It’s totally worth the time that it takes to be sure each person feels listened to, understood, and respected.
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