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How to Have Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High

Crucial Conversations exist when the stakes are high, opinions vary, and when emotions run strong and it is in these conversations where our greatest potential lies, we will discuss ways to handle these conversations in a healthy and productive way. Crucial Conversations creates a new language around communications and how they can best be handled. It approaches the issue in a very human way that stimulates our desire to relate to others while feeling good about us. You will read some real and concrete methods for getting control of yourself and staying focused through those challenging moments that pop up in everyone’s life.

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Watch Those Assumptions! Strategies to Step Up Your Clear Communication

assume1Communication I believe is most important thing in all human interactions, whether it is at home, in school, out in social settings with friends, or in the workplace. People have told me throughout my life that I have high expectations; sometimes too high because I often want perfection. I will admit this can be true. I recently planned my wedding and like most brides, I wanted the day to be perfect, and for the most part it was. I credit my spectacular wedding day to outstanding communication. I gave a very detailed description of exactly what I wanted to every vendor I met. I left no room for interpretation. One vendor mentioned how she preferred all the details because many brides don’t communicate their expectations and needs and then, get upset when things are not exactly how they wanted.

Merriam-Webster defines communication as, “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” When people don’t communicate what they want, using a lot of details, it leaves room for incorrect assumptions and interpretations.

Workplace settings is an environment that needs clear and consistent communication in order to be successful. CEO’s and upper management need to provide clear and concise expectations of what they need and want from their employees. When employees get hired, they need to be given a detailed description of what exactly their job entails and what will be expected of them while working there. If, for some reason, their job requirements are changed, they need to be communicated so that there is not any confusion. Teams within an organization need to talk with their fellow teammates about project expectations, work issues, and who will handle which parts. The goal of every organization, CEO, manager, employee, should be to communicate as much as possible so that no one will have the excuse that they didn’t know.

Conflict arises when negative or false assumptions occur leading people to react negatively. One of my first jobs was doing clerical work. My immediate supervisor asked me to go through the mounds of unfiled papers and remove any documents that were over ten years old and stack them in a pile while keeping the most current documents in another pile. My supervisor only gave me this instruction. I spent most of the day doing what she asked. When she came to check on me around lunch, she became frustrated because I was not organizing the files alphabetically in the piles. She assumed I knew I was supposed to do this, but I was only following her basic instructions. I ended up organizing the piles alphabetically which took up more of my time and prevented me from completing other tasks. If my supervisor had not assumed and clearly communicated what she wanted, this issue would not have arisen.

The art of communicating well is something we can all practice. Here are strategies to step up your communication:

  1. Check your assumptions. Ask yourself, what are you assuming everyone knows? If you say to yourself, “Everyone should know that.” Then you are making an assumption.
  2. Think before you speak. Take some time before any conversation to lay out the message you want to convey. Think how to say what you want and anticipate what could potentially get misunderstood.
  3. Give details, details, details. You want to be clear and concise when relaying the message, but it is also important to give as much detail as possible. The more information provided, the less chance someone can say they didn’t know this information. If possible, type out what you want to say and distribute it to all parties involved.
  4. Listen to other’s questions. There is a chance you missed an important point. Let others ask clarifying questions that could reduce miscommunication and misinterpretations.

Keep in mind that if you were not explicit in your instructions or message, you risk being misunderstood. Be patient and keep those emotions in check!

Check out some of our previous programs on effective communication here:

The New Trend in Listening: How to Improve Your Communication Skills and Enrich Relationships

How to Have Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High

 

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Back to Conflict Basics – September Series

The Texas Conflict Coach™ blog talk radio show announces its Back to Conflict Basics series for September. This series is intended to educate consumers and the public with the basics to managing conflict.

We appreciate you spreading the word.

The Texas Conflict Coach blog talk radio show will host a number of special guests.

When: Every Tuesday evening

Time: 5:00-5:30 pm PST/ 7:00-7:30 pm CST/8:00-8:30 pm EST

How: Call in live at 347-324-3591

Listen live and join the chat at www.blogtalkradio.com/texas-conflict-coach

Listen to archive shows or learn more at www.texasconflictcoach.com

September 6 – What Gives Conflict a Bad Name?

Susan Shearouse, author of Conflict 101: A Manager’s Guide to Resolving Problems So Everyone Can Get Back to Work will discuss the stumbling blocks to resolving conflict effectively and the strategies for addressing conflict at various escalation points.

September 13 – The Science and Fun of Nonverbal Communication

Jeff Thompson, a New York Police Detective and mediator, will address the nonverbal cues in body language and gestures that impact our communications. Learn about some fun facts and his METTA acronym to nonverbal cues.

September 20 – Beyond Fight or Flight: Making Different Choices to How We Approach Conflict

Zena Zumeta, special guest host of the Texas Conflict Coach and I (Pattie Porter-Host) will go beyond the instinctual fight or flight responses to when we feel threatened and examine other choices we can make.

September 27 – How to Have Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Randy Mayes, Executive Coach, addresses crucial conversations and how It approaches the issue in a very human way that stimulates our desire to relate to others while feeling good about us. There are real and concrete methods for getting control of yourself and staying focused through those challenging moments that pop up in everyone’s life.

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