essential conversations

How to turn difficult conversations into Essential Conversations

Have you ever had occasions at the office where you knew you had to confront someone and you were avoiding it? Maybe you were angry with them, maybe you were unhappy with their work, or maybe you felt disrespected or offended by something they said or did.

You spent A LOT of time thinking about how the confrontation was going to go and dreading it.

Maybe you played all the possible worst-case scenarios through in your mind. You KNOW she or he is not going to take it well. They might get angry, maybe they’re even a yeller or worst of all – they tend to respond passive-aggressively. Ugh.

You twist it around a few times in your head and decide, “Maybe it’s not such a big deal, maybe I should let it go… just this time. It will be easier for everyone if I just forget about it.”

But, then, it happened again or got worse. It started to feel like it was too late to say something and now it sort of seems like you’ve been sitting on this and if you challenge them about it now, it’s going to feel like you should have said something sooner. But, you’re also growing more and more frustrated or upset.

This happens way too often.

Why? Because we’re human. Because we all see things differently. Because one person’s expectations are often different than another’s. And because many of us avoid conflict.

I’ve been in this situation. Many times. I tried to keep the peace by not saying anything. Sometimes I was worried if I said something I would get too angry (my Irish temper had been a challenge at times). Or, I wondered if perhaps I was overreacting and should let things slide. I’d think, maybe it’s me, not them.

The trouble is, if I didn’t say anything I would never know. And, a number of times that I did avoid the conversation, things continued to get worse and eventually I did lose my temper or react strongly or out of utter frustration.

You can probably see where I’m going with this – stuffing the emotions back in, keeping things under your hat, avoiding confrontation – they’re all pretty common traits and they almost always lead to a worse situation.

So, how do we fix this?

Enter Essential Conversations.

We fix difficult and frustrating conversations with a roadmap – a path from frustration to clarity.

Essential Conversations is a conflict resolution model that we’ve developed based on many other great models including Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott and Kerry Patterson’s book Crucial Conversations.

We took what we loved about the models we used in our coaching approach and weaved in other ideas that we learned over time from working with senior leaders and executives.

What we offer is a series of steps that you take to prepare, address, and resolve whatever issue it is that you’re facing. It ensures that the concern is detailed, emotions are understood, and the desired outcome is clear.

Essential Conversations make room for dialogue by building in space for listening to the other person and helping them to articulate their perspective, their emotions, their concerns or frustrations. We interrogate our own reality and we interrogate theirs – we seek to understand and to be understood.  We help them share their thoughts as much as we help ourselves.

Most importantly, Essential Conversations help us to commit to a solution.

We wanted to give you the opportunity to see the exact steps and try them out for yourself. Scroll down to download the step-by-step guide to Essential Conversations to help you:

  1. Think through the conversation that needs to be had and
  2. Keep you focused as you initiate the Essential Conversation with the other person.

By all means, download them, share them, use them as often as you can. Let me know how they’ve helped you – I’d love to hear from you. If you have questions, add them below and we’ll respond.

Coach’s Question: What conversation have you been putting off, that you need to have? Grab our handouts below and see if you can have it.

To learn more about our team workshop where we help you and your team learn how to have Essential Conversations.