Checklist for Difficult Conversations

"Preparing for the Conversation
Before going into the conversation, ask yourself some questions.
1. What is your purpose for having the conversation? What do you hope to accomplish? What would be an ideal outcome?...
2. What assumptions are you making about this person's intentions?...
3. What "buttons" of yours are being pushed?...
4. How is your attitude toward the conversation influencing your perception of it?...
5. Who is the "opponent"? What might he be thinking about this situation?...What are his needs and fears?...Begin to reframe the opponent as a partner.
6. What are your needs and fears? Are there any common concerns? Could there be?
7. How have you contributed to the problem? How has the other person?...

Four Steps to a Successful Outcome
Step #1: Inquiry
Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity...
Step #2: Acknowledgment
Acknowledgment means showing that you've heard and understood...Acknowledgment can be difficult if we associate it with agreement. Keep them separate. My saying, "This sounds really important to you" doesn't mean I'm going to go along with your decision.
Step #3: Advocacy
When you sense that your opponent has expressed all her energy on the topic, it's your turn...
Step #4: Problem-Solving
Now you're ready to begin building solutions...

Practice, Practice, Practice
The art of conversation is like any art—with continued practice, you acquire skill and ease. Here are some additional hints:

A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.

Acknowledge emotional energy—yours and your opponent/partner's—and direct it toward a useful purpose.

Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments.

Don't take verbal attacks personally. Help your opponent/partner come back to center.

Don't assume your opponent/partner can see things from your point of view.

Practice the conversation with a friend before holding the real one.

Mentally rehearse the conversation. See various possibilities and visualize yourself handling them with ease. Envision the outcome you're hoping for..."

Read much more in this excellent article from Pegasus.com from which the foregoing was quoted


Tips on Resolving Conflict

"Here are a few tips...for resolving conflict in your workplace and professional life:

"Don't be afraid of conflict...because conflict is a part of nature, a part of life...Consider conflict a way of learning to see things more clearly.

"Abandon the concept of winning and losing when faced with conflict. Instead, adopt a strategy of resolution...

"Be flexible...

"Avoid negative or confrontational language...try using positive language that disarms rather than confronts, such as 'I understand your position and...' or 'I can see your point and here is where I'm coming from...'

"Talk through the situation with a neutral party...

"Think of redirecting the energy toward a common target. Look for similarities in your positions rather than focusing on your differences...

Find something to distract you from the conflict...clear your mind, reevaluate your position, and perhaps come back to it with a fresh vision of what needs to be done to resolve the matter."

From the Beliefnet "From the Masters Newsletter