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Friday, September 18, 2009

Fierce Conversation: One Format

This is the second of several posts this week based on my review of the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott (The Penguin Group 2002)—available on Amazon. I highly recommend this book for solving problems and building deeper relationships—in both your personal and professional lives.

Here are these steps to a fierce conversation with a hypothetical example:

Opening Statement: Author, Susan Scott, suggests scripting this out and rehearsing it. Write it out and rehearse as if you were in a movie. Here are the seven components of the opening statement. This statement usually takes a minute: 60 seconds. It is to the point but powerful…not rambling but very focused. What follows is an example of a direct report chatting with his boss (Joe) about their relationship:

a. Name the Issue: Put a name on it to identify the issue, clearly and succinctly. Focus will help the solution process. Example: “Joe, I want to talk about our working relationship.”

b. Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior or situation you want to change. Find an incident or behavior that hits the heart of the issue without rambling on—which gets very distracting and undercuts your point. Example: “Last week in a meeting, you told me to shut up and listen. And two weeks ago, you cut me off when I was offering an observation about the new building plans.”

c. Describe your emotions about this issue. It’s important to let people know how you feel, otherwise they’re clueless. Often, a clear declaration about how you feel can be disarming. Example: “Joe, when you say things like “shut up” especially in a public setting, I get angry and insulted…then de-motivated and unhappy.”

d. Clarify what’s at stake—for the person you’re talking to, for you, and for the company. Example: “There’s some important things at stake here. Our working relationship and the success of our division.”

e. Identify your contribution to this problem. What have you done to help produce the very results that are making you unhappy. In short, how are you to blame for the situation. Example: “Joe, I know I’ve contributed to this problem, by not speaking up on the first day when you told me to shut up. I just thought that behavior would stop over time, but it hasn’t, and I’m very concerned.

f. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue. Be sure to use the word “resolve.” It’s not a termination or a win-lose word…one that shows hope and an interest in clearing things up. Example: “Joe, I want to resolve how we can work together in a way that works for you and also gives me the kind of respect I think I deserve.”

g.Invite your partner to resolve. Now that you’ve succinctly set up the problem (in less than a minute), you need to invite the other person to join the conversation…time to listen. Example: “I want to understand what’s happening from your perspective. What do you think about what I’ve said?”

When all is said and done, this part of the conversation is only 1 minute--it's important to keep it focused and brief.

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