Fierce Conversations

I read the following in The Alternative Board’s newsletter today and want to pass this on to presenters and persuasive speakers.

What conversations are you avoiding?  Maybe it’s with a good friend you don’t want to hurt.  Maybe it’s with a difficult person and you are concerned about their response.  Or maybe it’s with a family member in your business.

Susan Scott, the author of the book “Fierce Conversations,” tells us that people want to hear the truth, even if it is unpalatable.  There is something within us that responds deeply to people who level with us.

The Seven Principles of Fierce Conversations:

  1. Interrogate reality:  Get everything out in the open.  Identify the issue, check for understanding and agreement.
  2. Make it real:  What are you pretending not to know?  Authenticity is not something you have; it is something you choose.
  3. Be in the moment:  Simply paying attention to someone, really asking, really listening can evoke a wholehearted response.
  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today:  Go directly to the source and confront the person, one-to-one, privately.
  5. Find a way to say the things that can’t be said:  Bring some of your private thoughts into the conversation without labeling them as truth, only conjecture to be explored together.
  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake:  Deliver your message without the emotional load – blaming, sarcasm, exaggerating, labeling.  Leave every conversation with the other person feeling better than before.
  7. Use silence:  Fierce conversations require silence.  Ask a question that expands possibilities, then, wait.

The Three Steps in a Fierce Conversation

Make a clear, concise opening statement:  Name the issue; give examples; describe your emotions; clarify what’s at stake; identify your own contribution to the problem; indicate clearly your wish to resolve the issue; invite the other person to respond.

Inquire into the other person’s view:  Really try to understand their perspective, but don’t be satisfied with defensiveness or surface explanations.  Ask for more, saying “I see things quite differently.”

Resolution:  What have we learned?  Where are we now?  Make an agreement and determine how you will hold each other accountable.

What fierce conversations are you avoiding?  Or what fierce presentation are you avoiding?

Maybe it’s time for a fierce conversation.  Maybe it’s time for a fierce presentation!  Thank you Susan.

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