How to Be More Resilient in ‘Difficult Conversations’

In my ‘Difficult Conversations’ workshops, ‘being more resilient’ is one of the most common objectives people have. Stressed with Conflict
‘How can I build better coping skills?’
‘How do I stop myself from going over and over the situation in my head’.
Does this sound like you?

The dictionary defines resilience as the ‘capacity to recover quickly from difficulties’ or ‘ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’.

But where does resilience come from?

Is resilience some quality/skill out there that you can learn with practice? Or are some people inherently more resilient than others?

Much of the current thinking on ‘resilience’ appears to support the idea that resilience is something one learns or develops. People talk about toughening up, growing a thicker skin, learning to keep a stiff upper lip.
Other advice around resilience advocates working on our own internal mind-talk, having a more positive outlook, seeing the silver lining behind the cloud. So a friend might suggest you ‘don’t take it personally’ or ‘just let it go and move on…you can’t let them bring you down’.

And all of this has some validity. We all know people who seem to be naturally resilient, for whom a clash or heated conversation in the office is all par for the course. They seem to fall sunny-side-up all the time and pick themselves up and dust themselves down very quickly after any setback.

Why does ‘conflict’ have such an impact on us? 

So why can’t the rest of us all do this? Why do we feel bruised and impacted after an angry encounter? Why do we spend days worrying in advance, and nights ruminating after, a meeting to talk to John about his poor attitude at work?

As someone who has spent the past 12 years training, coaching and mediating with people who are trapped in a difficult or conflictual relationship, I have meted out the advice above on a regular basis: ‘try and see it differently’, ‘do deep breathing’, ‘imagine them as an angry toddler…’

Yet in my own personal conflict experiences, such advice always felt hollow, somewhat glib and a lot easier said than done. I’d find myself dwelling and rehashing a scenario in my mind. Upset feelings seemed to linger like a shadow at the back of my mind and I’d be extra cross for letting them ‘make me feel so upset’. I’d overthink my next encounter – ‘should I be nice…’ ‘should I be cool’…’how the hell should I be with them…’

A new understanding about how our minds work 

That was until I came across an understanding that has led to a revolutionary shift, over the past two years, in how I experience not only ‘difficult’ conversations but every single aspect of my life. (Read more here about this understanding here too)

What I now see, is that this idea of resilience as being a ‘thing’ out there that I have to work on, practice and ‘build up’ is no longer true. That the whole gamut of emotions – frustration, upset, hurt, anger… that arise in a conflict situation, are something that if I worked hard enough on myself (or was born ‘naturally resilient!) wouldn’t arise. And most significantly…that I needed to master some magical art of zen to quash and get rid of all the relentless agonising and analysing – mental gymnastics that just leave you exhausted.

All of the above well-meaning tips and suggestions fail to address some of the fundamental misunderstandings about how our experience is generated, and where resilience and emotional well-being come from. And it is these misunderstandings that are keeping us stuck.

Misunderstanding 1: 
The unpleasant thoughts and feelings you are experiencing about the difficult conversation or conflict are coming from the person(s) you are dealing with (or your boss, your team, the organisational culture…).
Not true.
All these thoughts and feelings are coming from inside of us. Our minds generate our experience of every event, person, behaviour we encounter. This is not saying that the person we are in conflict with isn’t real or they didn’t raise their voice or fail to follow through on what we asked of them. It’s simply saying that the thinking and feeling that are arising for us about this situation are created internally.

Misunderstanding 2:
You need to get better at controlling your thoughts and feelings (that others are making you feel) and practice having a more positive and optimistic outlook. Then you would be more resilient.

Not true.
We cannot control our thoughts any more than we can control the weather. Thoughts come and go all the time: apparently we have between 50,000 and 80,000 per day (how do they count this I wonder!). Trying to control or change them is like holding back a river. Nigh impossible, which is why when we are trying to ‘fix’ our thinking, we feel stressed and exhausted.

And, what we think, we feel. There are libraries full of theories of emotions, where they come from, what to do with them and how to manage them. But the simple (although utterly profound) fact is, that feelings are a reflection of our state of mind. Period.
Our angry and upset feelings aren’t actually coming from John, who isn’t doing his work effectively or speaks rudely. They are generated within us and linked to the thinking that we engage in when we bring John to mind or meet him.

Misunderstanding 3:
Resilience in dealing with difficult conversations is about building coping skills and practicing not taking things personally. You just need to practice and develop your capacity for dealing with hard knocks.

Not true

Resilience isn’t some abstract quality/characteristic outside me that we have to strive and strain to attain. Instead, it is our natural state and default state. Well-being, good feelings, self-confidence are already inside us. We are primed and designed, to reset to this state of being, regardless of what’s happening outside and around us.
Yes, unwelcome thoughts and feelings will arise in us. The creative potential of our mind can give us both negative as well as positive experiences of our reality. Resilience is what emerges when we see the truth of this phenomena.

Let your thinking settle 

So what does that all add up to?

Imagine our mind is like a snow globe. Left sitting on the mantelpiece, the snow is settled and you can easily see the miniaturised Christmas landscape inside. But when you shake it, the snow swirls around and masks your view of the pretty scene. Thought Snowstorm

Our mind operates the same way. In its natural, default state, our mind is settled and calm and we can see clearly and easily how to deal with problems and challenges that life throws at us. But when something happens that upsets, frustrates or annoys us the fight/flight response kicks in and leads to a whirl of negative thoughts and feelings. We begin to feel churned up inside, just like the shaken snow globe.

That’s all a normal part of being human. The problem arises because we also believe:

      • The feelings and thoughts are an accurate picture of reality (‘John is a jerk and behaving badly and this has to stop’ versus ‘John raised his voice twice at the meeting’)
      • We have to get rid of or manage the unpleasant thoughts and feelings that have arisen and/or stop John from causing us to think/feel like this
      • The best way to sort the problem is to keep thinking about it and go over and over it in our minds. (We don’t do this on purpose but at some level, we believe this to be true).

And it’s these misunderstandings (about the nature of thoughts and feelings and where resilience comes from) that keep us stuck. We add more thinking and ruminating to an already shaken-up snow globe, instead of just putting it down and letting the snow in our minds settle.

The problem isn’t that we get upset or annoyed or frustrated with people. The problem is the thought-storm we get into, in order to try and fix the upset feelings and thoughts that have arisen in the first place.

If we can begin to see that the only thing separating us from our innate well-being and clarity is our own temporary maelstrom of thought, that will settle on its own if we let it, then we can bounce back much more quickly.

When we realise that trying to ‘fix’ thoughts and feelings, exacerbates rather than eliminates them, we see the futility of it.
Our churned up thoughts and feelings go away much quicker by themselves than when we try to do something with them.
And from this less agitated state of mind, we can more easily tap into our wisdom and common sense about how best to deal with the person/situation.

Try it yourself 

The next time you find yourself caught up in some sort of stressful or anxious thinking, see if you can take a mental step back and notice the snow globe of whirling thoughts in your mind.
Explore the idea of not engaging with the thoughts and feelings, seeing them for what they are and not being seduced into believing them.
Be curious about what it might be like to drop the stormy thoughts and feelings and letting your natural aptitude for clear and objective problem-solving emerge.

But don’t forget…this is much less about a ‘technique’ and much more about a journey of self-discovery so don’t force this…or you’ll just add the fuel of ‘more thinking’ to the fire of stormy thoughts and feelings.

I’d love to know how you get on!
 

The Number One Temptation in the ‘Mediator Role’ and Six Reasons Why Not to Succumb!

There you are, calm, level headed, objective. 8338158 - multiracial business meeting in boardroom, sitting at a table
You’ve helpfully offered to mediate between two employees who’ve clashed. They are at the initial ‘story telling’ stage and you sit composed, with your impartial and non-judgmental hat on.

You are patient, attentive, doing the rapport thing… nodding, kindly eye contact, open body posture and empathic ‘hmms’ at appropriate intervals. You let them ‘vent’ a bit…they need to get it off their chests.

But as each unfolds their side of the story the spark plugs in your brain are firing into action mode. You can see immediately and with unerring clarity what the problem between them is.
Simple and obvious solutions flash into your mind. Yet, you remind yourself it’s not your job to tell them what to do – this is mediation after all. So you let them argue on.
But they just don’t seem to be able to make progress.

You can see the answer so clearly. You have a real hunch what would sort this out in just a few minutes.
Perhaps a little ‘have you thought of …’ question might nudge them in the right direction…
Ah…it’s so tempting to want to jump in and fix it for them.

Sound familiar?

Do you often find yourself in the mediator chair tempted to solution-ise, maybe not quite directing people but definitely leaning towards the ‘would-you-not-try…’ questions?

This is a clear sign that you have fallen in to one of the most common pitfalls that can trip rookie mediators. Staying out of ‘fixing it’ is always the number one challenge identified in reflective learning assignments from my mediation trainees.
But seasoned mediators can falter here too.

It’s the ‘I-Can-Fix-It’ feeling… that gnawing ache to stick your oar in, that frisson, the tingling sensation of having the perfect solution in your head to someone else’s problem… combined with a compelling impulse to impose it on them.

Culturally we are programmed to see problems as something we need to roll our sleeves up and sort out. Many of the roles we occupy at work are ones where we are expected to use our training and expertise in whatever field we work in, to solve problems.

Michael Bungay Stanier in his book ‘The Coaching Habit’ talks about the challenge of staying out of the advice-giving role:

‘You’ve spent years delivering advice and getting promoted and praised for it. You’re seen to be “adding value” and you’ve the added bonus of staying in control of the situation.
On the other hand, when you’re asking questions, you might feel less certain about whether you’re being useful, the conversation can feel slower and you might feel like you’ve somewhat lost control of the conversation (and indeed you have. That’s called “empowering”). Put like that it doesn’t sound like that good an offer’

So here is a reminder of some of the negative consequences of succumbing to the ‘I-Can-Fix-It’ feeling when you are wearing the Mediator hat:

1.  You fail to unearth what’s really at stake for the parties and trying to broker a deal around positions:

When people are frustrated or upset, they tend to articulate a strong, often defensive-sounding view about what needs to be different – a position. Often what’s really important to them, their ‘interests’ can be hidden from view – even from themselves. So the mediator in fix-it mode may well be coming up with solutions to the wrong problem. You end up falling prey to your own confirmation bias and missing what’s the true underlying issue. For what to do instead, check this earlier post.

 

2.  You foster dependence instead of autonomy:

Stanier draws on research from Edgar Henry Schein, former professor at MIT Sloan School of Management who has written extensively on the role of helping in organisations. One of the key drivers to engagement and motivation is that people have a sense of choice and autonomy over what they do. Giving people solutions undermines this – it’s like you blow out some of the fire that will light their own motivation to do something. If you provide the answer you inhibit them having to seek it out for themselves. You preclude them having to make a decision for themselves. So the resolution to the conflict is likely to be short-lived because it’s your agreement, not theirs.

 

3.  You create resistance to the solutions you propose:

Schein points out that jumping in to offer solutions diminishes the status of the other person(s). You are positing yourself as the person who ‘knows’ the answer so they are automatically on a lower status level. This unconsciously creates a barrier between you and them and lead them to resisting the help or advice being offered.  So even if your idea or solution is really the ‘best’ one, you may well have put people off it by being the one to put it on the table.

 

4.  You undermine parties’ confidence and ability to take responsibility for their own problems:

People in conflict are upset, angry, anxious. When they come for help to a mediator, they have run out of road in terms of their own resources to sort it out.
Your job as the mediator is to point them back to their own inner resilience and ability to effectively manage this situation. Telling them or hinting at solutions that you’ve come up with just reinforces their helplessness. You are giving them fish instead of helping them figure out how to fish themselves. Revolving door mediation is the next stop for them.

 

5.  You are likely to come across as partial or favouring one side:

One of the pillars underpinning the role of the mediator is that each of the parties trusts that you have their interests at heart. You are not taking sides – either theirs or the other person’s. They trust that you have created a safe and non-judgemental space for them to think and talk this situation through.
If you propose a suggestions or solution, it’s likely to be more acceptable to one side than the other. The less-favoured person will immediately interpret this as you being ‘on the other person’ side’. You have now lost their trust.
Time to pack up and go home once you have lost the connection and trust with either party in the mediator’s chair.

 

6.  You will feel drained, exhausted and frustrated pretty quickly:

Mediation is a fantastic process and tool. But despite the many benefits it offers people to dialogue and communicate about their issues, they don’t always come to a resolution. There are lots of reasons why – most of which have to do with the mindset the participants are in. The reason is seldom their inability to come up with the enlightening or inspiring suggestions like those you might be putting forward. Taking on the burden of trying to resolve the unresolvable is really hard work.  And it’s not even your job, in the role of a mediator.

 

So let’s be clear about it.
As the mediator there are many ways you can support people to resolve their issue.

Coming up with the answers for them isn’t on that list.

Your role is to facilitate dialogue, not to give people solutions.

Remember, when you act on the ‘I-Can-Fix-It’ feeling, the only person’s needs getting met in that moment are yours.

 

Do you get caught in the ‘yes…but…’ trap?

Think about the last ‘difficult’ conversation you had to have with someone.

Did you find yourself using some version of the phrase ‘Yes…but…’?

You were trying to get your point across but they didn’t seem to be listening.

Despite all your attempts to clarify where you were coming from in a reasonable and rational way, they just didn’t seem to be hearing it.

And what did that feel like on the inside… a rising sense of impatience… ‘when are they going to get it’. A furrowed brow, a feeling that you weren’t going to be able to persuade them, frustration and irritation replacing any earlier optimism that this could be a constructive conversation.

Words shape our attitudes and our energy – not only when we are on the receiving end of a conversation. As the speaker the words we choose can also influence how we feel. And it can be at a very subtle level. The word ‘but’ with only three little letters might not seem so significant. Yet they have a powerful impact on both speaker and receiver.

‘but’ negates whatever comes before it

The problem with ‘but’ is that it negates everything that comes before it. The dictionary definition states that ‘but’ is a conjunction used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. The implication of using the word ‘but’ is that it negates everything that comes before it.

For example:
‘I really like the plan you have drafted but I think the timelines won’t work’.
What the person hears is ‘not much of a plan with timelines like that’.
This in turn can spark a defensive response from them. Your ‘but’ has had the effect of failing to show appreciation for their plan and instead just seeing its flaws. Gradually the dynamic between you and them becomes more polarised where each of you is trying to convince the other of the rightness of their position. ‘But’ sets up unnecessary resistance and competition between the speaker and the listener.

Swap ‘but’ for ‘and’

Now imagine just making one simple change. Swap the ‘but’ for ‘and’.

I really like the plan you have drafted and I’d like to review the timelines to be sure we don’t overpromise

Doesn’t that feel more collaborative? Doesn’t it change how you feel towards them?
Using ‘and’ in the place of ‘but’ not only evokes less resistance on their side. It also transforms your energy and connection with them. The dynamic is no longer one of you trying to convince with increasing frustration. Instead you are both on the same joining forces to come up with the best plan possible to address the work task.

(To see the contrast played out in a fun way between ‘yes…but’ and ‘yes…and’ watch this 3 minute YouTube video!)

The ‘Agreement Frame’

You can take this idea of ‘yes… and…’ a little further when you are faced with resistance to an idea from another person. This is known in Neurolinguistic Programming jargon as the ‘Agreement Frame’.

You use another version of the ‘yes…and…’ structure:

I agree ….and… ‘or ‘I appreciate your viewpoint…and…’ and then in the second part of the sentence introduce the idea or concept you are trying to help them consider.

For example, imagine you are trying to convince someone to roll with a new system being introduced. Their reaction might be something along the lines of:

This new system is much more cumbersome to use and I don’t see how it’s going to make anything work any better’.
It’s tempting to respond something like ‘yes but… you could at least try it…’ or ‘I don’t think you understand…’ and then get into arguing back your viewpoint.

Using the ‘agreement frame’ you might say instead
Yes, I can appreciate that it is a big change… and I’d like to support you around the changes that need to be brought about…’ and then follow that up with ‘what are the key concerns that you would like to be supported with

The whole energy and direction of the conversation has been transformed. You are no longer pitted against each other with one trying to force your viewpoint on the other.

Performance Management Conversations

Suppose you raise concerns with an employee not being a ‘team player’ and their response is:

I don’t know where you’re coming from. I think I am a team player – it’s the rest of the team that has the problem

How might you use the agreement frame to respond to them in a way that shifts from a defensive to a co-operative mindset?
You are trying to swap a ‘yes…but…’ to a ‘yes…and…’, where the second part of the sentence is directed towards the desired outcome.

Here are some options:

I agree that ‘team player’ can mean lots of things…and I’d like to explore with you how you see it and how we can get to a place where there is greater co-operation between everyone on the team

Or

I appreciate that you see it differently…and let me explain what I mean and how I can support you and the rest of the team to work more collaboratively

Try this yourself

Over the coming week watch for the number of times you use the ‘yes…but…’ phrase in your communication with others. Then experiment with substituting for one of the ‘yes…and…’ approaches described above and be amazed by how it can transform the dynamic between you and them!

Relationships that Endlessly Frustrate: Can the Dynamic Be Changed?

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ~ Anaïs Nin Optical Illusion

The above quote neatly captures the psychological phenomenon, that while there is a factual and concrete reality out there, none of us have a truly objective view. There can be many different perceptions of the same situation. As an example, I show this picture to my mediation/conflict management training groups and ask people what they see. (What do you see by the way? An old man – side profile or facing forward… can you see the young woman and her baby?). And most of us get that it’s the same glass with water at the half-way mark that’s varyingly described as half-full or half-empty.

But when it comes to translating that theory into practice, in the negative emotional space of a difficult relationship, it’s much harder to believe that you are just operating from your own bias. You think you are seeing them as they are.

That was a challenge I’ve had for many years in a close personal relationship. I found this person difficult to be around. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t just my perception, this was one of those exceptions…where the person truly is ‘difficult’ to handle.

We don’t experience events… we experience our thinking about events

For years, there has been ample research to demonstrate that what we perceive as reality is mediated through our own filters of thought – attitudes, beliefs, preconceptions. But what many psychologists are starting to realise, is that it’s not just that we have different interpretations of reality but that the reality we experience is 100% created by us – by our own thoughts and feelings occurring in every moment. Rather than us being at the mercy of our circumstances which are causing us to feel or think a certain way, life is an inside-out job.

No matter how scary or oppressive or insecure your experience of life may be, once you realize that it’s only your own thinking that you’re experiencing, that thinking loses much of its hold over you. We don’t experience the world; we experience our thinking about the world.
Michael Neill, The Inside Out Revolution

As the Mediator or Conflict Coach it’s easy to see this in action with clients – how they are experiencing their thinking rather than the concrete events. But when you are caught up yourself in a difficult relationship and the accompanying thoughts and feelings that get generated, it’s much harder to step back and be objective.

But it felt like objective reality…

This has been my experience in a longstanding relationship in my personal/family life which I have always found problematic. While there were arguments and stand-up rows in the past, in more recent years, I had applied all my own good ‘conflict management’ skills to our interactions. For the most part, I could remain constructive, calm, do the listening thing, be tolerant and accepting, manage my boundaries etc. Our relationship had certainly improved (on the outside) but truth be told, underneath my calm exterior, I felt irritated and resentful a lot of the time in their company. Every so often I’d erupt with a passive aggressive comment or side-swipe which didn’t help the situation.

At one level I could understand that it was my perceptions of this person that were somehow skewed. Yet at another level, I really believed that in this particular case, what I was seeing was objective reality. In other words, this person was truly a negative, self-centred, repetitive, judgemental, moody… you-name-it person and my only choice was to live with it and manage it to the best extent possible.

I’ve been dipping into a new approach to understanding the interplay between thoughts, feeling and behaviour. So I was curious to see if this could help me deal differently with this person in my life.

How we create a negative story in our minds and then substitute it for reality

In a coaching session with author and coach Dr Anne Curtis she invited me to slow down and reflect on what was going through my mind when I was in this person’s company. I began to see that even before I would meet them, I would have a whole negative story and history in my mind about what they might say or do. And I would even think through how I might cope with this behaviour when it would come up. When I was in their company then, I wasn’t really connecting with the person, rather I was listening to confirm my negative assumptions in a ‘here we go again’ kind of way.

Slowly it started to dawn on me that rather than this person causing me to feel/think a certain way, I was the creator of that experience. Sure they might be behaving in a way that would reinforce my ‘story’ but the unpleasant feelings were all coming from my own stream of negative thoughts about them.

Not only this, but this whole cacophony of pre-conceptions was getting in the way of any true connection or listening to this other person. I wasn’t really experiencing them; I was just experiencing my thinking about them. And that in turn was leading me to feel tetchy and impatient. Sure I didn’t react or express this but neither was I truly open to seeing beyond my own prejudices about them.

The freedom that comes from realising where feelings come from

These reflections were insightful but would it really change anything? Would I find it easier to spend time with them? Would I be less irritated and on edge?

Since then I’ve met with them several times. And the difference has been quite remarkable. I have completely let go of the negative stream of consciousness thinking and am now inwardly just calm and at ease. I’m able to listen at a much more empathic and genuine level. What I’m also seeing clearly is that the things they say that had previously really irked me are just them caught up in their thinking. And I don’t have to take it so seriously.

Not only is my experience different but there are subtle changes also in them. They are listening to me more, the negative and judgmental conversation has lessened.  I feel compassion and warmth now instead of judgement and resentment. Most importantly, I no longer care whether they change or not.

And… just to be clear about this… it’s not about having positive thoughts, practicing acceptance, forbearance or deep breathing. Neither is this about changing or reframing one’s thinking nor is it about denying the reality of difficult relationships.
Instead, it’s in understanding the source of our discomfort is our own arbitrary and transient thoughts which leaves us free to move beyond them and being more present to the moment and to the person in front of us.

Try it!

Read more about navigating difficult conversations with confidence and clarity download our free eBook ‘POISE NOW: 8 Steps to Winning Conversations’

Trying to resolve conflict? Are you asking the right question?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”ositions and Interests in Difficult Conversations
Einstein

The rush to solutions

One of the most common challenges participants in mediation training have is temptation to push the parties towards looking at solutions much too early in the process. As the neutral third party with no emotional stake in the issue, the solution seems obvious. But if the solution was that easy to find, then the parties wouldn’t need a mediator in the first place.
Here’s one of my favourite tools that you can use in difficult conversations of all kinds, whether you’re the mediator or trying to deal with a difficult issue yourself.

Take a dispute between Janet and Tina who share an office. Janet feels that Tina cherry-picks the tasks she likes, leaving her to do the boring and tedious filing and statistics. Tina feels Janet never does her share of the lunch time reception cover. Janet likes the place tidy and orderly, Tina sees Janet as a ‘control freak’. Argument and counter-argument get pitted against each other.

Questions that come to mind might be: “Janet, is it fair that Tina should do all the lunch time cover?” “Tina, shouldn’t you divide up the boring tasks fairly between you both?”
Alas, these questions only serve to elicit further defensive responses… each one listing off several reasons why the way they are viewing the situation is the ‘right’ one. Reframing in Mediation

Back to Einstein’s quotation above, what would be a more useful question to ask that might lead towards solving of the problem? The Coleman Raider Reframing Formula is one of my favourite tools for helping people stuck in problem (re)iteration mode.

From Positions to Needs

Parties come to mediation each of them with their position or fixed viewpoint (usually) about what the other one should do to improve the situation. Rather than trying to get them to move from this position, the mediator’s job is to probe for the meaning underpinning their stated arguments.
When Janet says ‘It’s not fair that Tina cherry picks all the nice tasks and I have to do the boring ones’ it’s not immediately obvious what’s really at the heart of this complaint statement from Janet. Is this about fairness of division of labour, a dislike of filing or is it about not being given any choices? Similarly, with Tina’s statement about Janet being a control freak, the mediator has to help Tina understand for herself and express to Janet, what’s at stake for her in this aspect of Janet’s behaviour.
Only when the mediator has elicited each person’s underlying concerns and needs can an effective question about problem-solving be posed, as per the formula below.

So in the case of Janet and Tina, you might identify that for Janet it’s about work being fairly distributed and for Tina it’s about having flexibility in organisation and timings of break. You can then pose the following question:
“How can we find a way for you both to work together, that meets your need Janet for fairness of workload and your need Tina for flexibility in the schedule”

This question has changed the frame of the problem and invites them to consider it from a collaborative and mutually inclusive rather than exclusive point of view.
Yes, it might have taken 55 minutes to get to this point but it’s a much better place to try and resolve the issues between Janet and Tina than trying to reconcile competing and polarised positions.

When a conversation is starting to go off track
You can use this process in all sorts of contexts – one-to-ones, group settings etc. where you feel the conversation is starting to go around in circles. Take a step back and start to ask questions to drill down to what’s really at stake for the other persons. Share also what’s really at stake for you… and then ask
‘How can we find a way to meet your need Joe for X and my need for Y’

Read more about navigating difficult conversations with confidence and clarity download our free eBook ‘POISE NOW: 8 Steps to Winning Conversations’