Most people don’t have the conversation skills. You’ll talk about understanding and they’ll talk about who’s right. You’ll talk about contribution and they’ll talk about blame. And so on.
Reframe, Reframe, Reframe
You Can Reframe Anything
|Accusations||Intentions and Impact|
|What’s Wrong With You||What’s Going On For Them|
“I’m right and there’s no two ways about it”. Respond with “You obviously feel strongly about it. I want to make sure I understand your perspective as well as share mine.”
“You hurt me on purpose”. Respond with “I can see you are angry about it, which is upsetting to me, as it was not my intention. Can you say more about it?”
“This is all your fault” Respond with “Rather than focus on blame, let’s explore how we got here.” Explore both people’s roles.
“You are the nastiest person I’ve ever met”. Respond with “It sounds like you’re feeling really bad.”
“I am not a bad neighbor!” Respond with “I don’t think you are, and I hope you don’t think I am. I do think we have a disgreement on the issue which is normal between neighbors.”
Often, one sentence alone will not work. The above is a start.
The “You-Me” And
When given with “either/or”, switch to “and”. Example: Choice between what you felt vs what they felt.
It’s Always The Right Time To Listen
The most important rule: You can’t move the conversation in a positive direction until the other person feels heard and understood. You get there by listening. And acknowledging.
If they accuse you, don’t defend without trying to understand their view.
Be Persistent About Listening
Don’t persist by asserting. Persist by listening and asking.
Name The Dynamic: Make The Trouble Explicit
Reframing and listening lead the conversation in the direction you want to go. Listening is not passive.
They may not be enough, though. The other side may continue to be difficult. In such cases, steer the conversation to the problem. Run out of time? Schedule an hour. Always talking over me? Point it out. “If something is on your mind, say it and then let me speak.”
Try this only if nothing works, because it occasionally backfires.
Now What? Begin To Problem Solve
It Takes Two To Agree
If problem solving is difficult, consider whether you are sticking to a position, or being uncompromising. Are you trying to persuade them?
You need to persuade them no more or less than they need to persuade you. You always have the option to ask them to persuade you. If you are open to persuasion, prepared, and willing to live with no agreement, you can be quite firm.
Gather Information and Test Your Perceptions
Propose crafting a test: What are the assumptions on both sides? Then design tests for those assumptions.
Say What Is Still Missing
Each of you needs to explicitly state unambiguously where the other person’s story still doesn’t make sense to you.
Say What Would Persuade You
State it! Signaling that you can be persuaded is powerful!
Ask What (If Anything) Would Persuade Them
Ask Their Advice
“If you were in my shoes, what would you do?”
Propose joint brainstorming
Ask What Standards Should Apply
Law, precedence, ethics, etc. How do others with the same problem solve it?
If You Still Can’t Agree, Consider Your Alternatives
If walking away, explain the interests of yours that are not being met. And you need to accept the consequences.