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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

How to Find Confidence in Conflict #2


I recently introduced you (in previous post) to Kwame Christians’ three strategies in feeling more confidence in conflict.

  1. Acknowledge emotion

  2. Get curious with compassion

  3. Joint problem solving

We reviewed “Acknowledging emotion” and this week we will go through the final two. If you missed last week's email either read it first or find it on my website.

I hope you had an opportunity to try out your new skill! Now that you have decreased the tension and acknowledged the emotional barriers at play it is time to start asking open-ended questions and move into a deeper discussion.

#2 Compassionate curiosity requires you to approach the other person with a calmness and an openness that is palpable. It is important to be genuinely interested in learning and connecting around a greater idea or vision as opposed to just striving for an outcome.

Check the tone in your voice, are you still amped up? Are you quiet and thoughtful? The tone of your words and the body language you convey will be the real test of your authenticity. Both of these will set the stage for your success.

Compassionate curiosity is closely tied to deep listening. Are you ready to hear the other’s thoughts and perspectives? Are you prepared to accept and consider their needs?

Listen to learn, don’t listen to respond.

Open-ended questions are key. Now is an opportunity to draw out insight and information so you may deeply understand and connect. Most people want similar success and are not looking to be vindictive although emotions and assumptions can get the best of us. Take the time to learn and unravel these inaccurate thoughts, to talk through your shared needs and perspective.

The nice part of Kwame’s framework is that you can repeat these steps as needed. If emotions begin to get high, go back to “acknowledging emotion” (#1) and then move forward again.

#3 Joint and creative problem solving: Instead of lobbing a grenade of solutions to the other person in an attempt to reach an agreement, see if you can view this final stage as a joint brainstorming session. Work together to find a compromise or an outcome that acknowledges everyone's needs and priorities.

While the discussion is going back and forth, you are drawing from compassionate curiosity and forming ideas based on the “why” rather than your own drive to win.

Kwame notes that “negotiation is not the art of deal-making it is the art of deal discovery”.

A big part of what you are doing is creating a relationship that will be sustained over time. Creating a discussion based on trust and understanding drives further conversation and alignment. Not all deals will be made today, and that is ok. Approach conversations as an investment in the future, small learnings, and mutual bonds that will lead to larger insights over time.

One final resource, Tom Henschel has a great podcast (The Look and Sound of Leadership) outlining Tough Conversations: how to convey difficult information while maintaining a good relationship. Tom created a four-step process to work through this skill.

  1. ACT don’t RE-act

  2. Express intention

  3. Be clear

  4. Attend to the relationship

If you are serious about improving your approach and mindset, I would listen to both Kwame and Tom’s podcast. They offer tremendous value and thoughtful insight.

My Challenge to You:

This is a skill that is absolutely worth the investment in learning. It is amazing as to how many people have unfulfilled relationships or jobs because they are chronically avoiding conflict and thus have compromised their integrity and truth over time.

  • Identify one previously avoided discussion and schedule a time to address it. Follow the process above with the intent on learning and connecting not “winning”.

  • Become aware of how often you are avoiding an uncomfortable conversation. Delaying a phone call, averting your eyes as not to connect, tacitly agreeing as to not voice your concern. Awareness of how often you do this may strengthen the case for investing time in learning this skill.

  • Partner with someone to hold you accountable to have difficult conversations and work together to develop the skill and confidence.

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