Constructive Conversations

Thoughts before Words. What you do before you talk to someone about a difficult issue will determine what tone and direction that conversation will take, constructive conversations need planning!.

The way we begin a difficult conversation impacts whether the discussion goes well, getting the opening right requires a little thought beforehand to think things through clearly and to get into a productive state of mind.

Avoid Mind Reading

Mind reading occurs when we decide that we know what the other persons motivation, agenda or intention is, mind reading produces thoughts like:  “I know what he is trying to do” or “I can tell he is deliberately trying to humiliate me”. Notice how these thoughts always assume negative intentions! Mind reading is about guessing and does not produce facts, some of your guesses may be accurate, but if you were not born with telepathic powers your mind reading may produce a totally inaccurate perception. This can create unnecessary conflict by entering the discussion with false perception

 Seeking first to understand the other person’s behaviour and actions will produce a balanced perspective. Take some time to examine what it might be like from the other persons point of view

Fortune Telling

Fortune telling sounds like this “I can predict his next move” and “I know exactly what excuse she will use”. Fortune telling is a fatally flawed strategy because we are predicting what will happen and treating those predictions as facts. Those people with special fortune telling powers create a vision of a positive outcome and then plan their approach to achieve that outcome. They recognise that their assessment no matter how well-founded — is still an opinion, a guess, and not a fact.

How to Ensure Constructive Conversations

If you are really upset, talk to a person that you trust to and release some of those strong feelings and emotions to a level where you can enter the conversation in a neutral state

Ask someone that you trust for their perspective. When we are upset our emotions can distort our perceptions, a third party perspective can be very useful, because they are not emotionally involved they are able to see the situation in a more rational way

See if you can engage the person in one or more positive conversations before approaching the difficult issue. This will increase the odds that they will enter the important conversation in a positive state

Seek feedback on the way you intend to approach the conversation. Ask a trusted adviser how they would respond if they were approached in the manner that you intend.

Unless you have special powers, if you catch yourself mind reading or fortune telling – STOP Now

A Little Extra Reading:

The conversation cul de sac