When you want an idea to be considered on its merits, it can be very hard to overcome two aspects of human nature that get in the way. If you want to reduce resistance and create space for the idea to get thoughtful consideration, how you frame your proposal can make all the difference.
Effective communication is one of the four key dimensions of every problem-solving conversation. The following articles explore word choice, good listening skills and habits, body language, and the kind of careful attention to others that together shape effective communication in transformative conversations in team and business settings.
When we’re stuck in conflict, sometimes it’s the questions we’re asking ourselves or our sparring partner. To ask better questions in conflict, try this surprisingly useful trick.
It would have been easy for Louis Head to blame his raging words the other night fully on the grand jury. Or on the Ferguson, Missouri police department. Or on Office Darren Wilson. Or on racism and injustice. And if he had, there’d be a lot of people who would have given him a pass under the circumstances. But instead, Michael Brown’s stepfather did something harder and he did it well.
If you’ve been away from your television or the Internet or are outside the U.S., maybe you missed Louis Head’s blunder. The cameras didn’t miss it.
It is a special gift to bring a non-judgmental presence into the room with you. When we’re in conflict that’s been going on for a while, we already feel judged enough. Judged by our conflict partner. Judged by those who have watched it unfold, such as co-workers, managers, family members. Judged by ourselves, late at […]
When you say you’re listening, which type of listening are you really practicing? Of the five types, there’s only one that will help you resolve conflict better, be more persuasive, and strengthen the personal or business relationship.
Muhammad wrote me with the question, “What amounts to criticizing?” He told me about a difficult situation with his son, with whom he’s presently living. He wrote,
I came across your “Conflict Habits” information on my computer from when I don’t recall, and after reading it (excellent information) I have a question…
Ting is the Chinese character for “to listen.” It reminds us of some of the most important components of good listening. Here’s a PDF download of the character.
How we frame matters. How we frame our offer, our doubt, our idea, our concern can make the difference between being heard and being ignored, between interest and aversion, between succeeding and stumbling.
Good negotiators know this secret: Persuade with your ears, not your mouth. Instead of trying to persuade by telling and then telling some more, lead with your curiosity. Good negotiators listen for:
When we’re truly listening we have to anticipate that we might become changed by what we heard, says acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, founder of The One Square Inch of Silence Foundation based in Joyce, Washington.
Over the years many readers of this blog have shared with me their favorite conflict resolution videos, particularly the funny ones that teach a good, brief lesson at the same time. Here’s one that demonstrates the difference between an artificial apology and a real one.
Doctor-patient relationship built on trust, empathy increases pain tolerance. Wonder if same is true for client-mediator relationship and emotional pain of conflict…
Going into a difficult conversation with a little forethought is wise indeed. Being curious and figuring out in advance what you want to understand better is also wise. But don’t become so wedded to your list of questions that they get in your way. There is a better way to ask good questions.
3 types of good questions.
How do you listen? Do you listen with your projections, through your projection, through your ambitions, desire, fears, anxieties, through hearing only what you want to hear, only what will be satisfactory, what will gratify, what will give comfort, what will for the moment alleviate your suffering? If you listen through the screen of your desires, then you obviously listen to your own voice. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
I was really charmed by this short movie, created by Charlie Short and Ming Hsiung for the Responsibility Project. It’s titled Lighthouse and its message warms my heart. So easy to have blamed, yet so much damage if that had been the route taken by the villagers. So tempting to blame, yet so much more […]
My husband and I have shorthand for communicating about how my day went when I walk through the door in the evening. Since my work is confidential, there’s virtually nothing I can tell him about my day with clients. So he asks, “Is it a wine night? Or…a whiskey night?” Most of the time the […]
I overheard this conversation recently at a dog agility trial: Woman 1: My dog has stopped liking jumps. So I’ve started rewarding again after every jump when we’re training. Woman 2: You should try tossing a ball to the dog after he goes over the jump. Woman 1: Well, my dog’s not really one who […]
When he was 15 years old, audio engineering pioneer Bob Heil learned how to tune pipe organs. What he learned then about listening led to a client list that reads like the Who’s Who of 60’s and 70’s rock and roll…The Who. The Grateful Dead. Jeff Beck. Joe Walsh. Peter Frampton. I heard Heil interviewed […]
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen, Anthem Forget your perfect offering. In conflict and conflict resolution your perfect offering gets in the way. It gets in the way if you’re so worried about saying exactly […]
Our evening news recently carried a story about a man who held utility line workers by gunpoint, angry that his power hadn’t been restored yet and demanding they do it immediately. My husband and I listened to the story on our battery-operated radio, in what was our 8th New Hampshire day without power or phone […]
How do you tell someone their comments sound racist? Or that they’re joke seems sexist? Or any other -ist? This video, from Jay Smooth, host of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show (WBAI’s Underground Railroad), does a perfect job of describing a really effective approach. He nails it: In mediator-speak, it’s called separating intention […]
Frequent and poorly delivered criticism is a breeder of conflict in personal and work relationships. Constant criticism tends to create a call-and-response pattern that’s none too pleasant and can slowly erode the relationship’s foundations. If you feel constantly criticized, here’s how to begin changing the dynamic by changing how you respond. A participant at one […]
Effective questions are as much about attitude as they are about word choice. Even poorly phrased questions can be reprieved when asked from an attitude of curiosity and interest instead of an attitude of judgment or doubt.
Imagine getting a phone call from the gardener at your out-of-state family home. Now imagine your gardener telling you that your house and your belongings are nowhere to be seen. That’s the call a Dallas woman received recently about her family home in Jackson, Mississippi. It turns out that a Jackson State University contractor demolished […]
It’s funny how frequently people introduce me as an anger management specialist. It used to puzzle me, because I didn’t think of myself that way. But I get it now: When I help you express disagreement and negotiate more effectively, I’m also helping you manage your emotional state better. Here, then, are my three simplest […]
“Monkey mind” is the experience of jumping from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch, lured by yet another piece of fruit even while the piece in his hand is only partially eaten. In interpersonal conflict, monkey mind is the numbing, confusing chatter in your mind every time you think about […]
What are you up to on International Women’s Day, Saturday, March 8? I’ll be celebrating the annual, global event by keynoting the kickoff to Seacoast Women’s Week in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The kickoff event is a benefit for Womenaid Portsmouth, a non-profit providing short-term financial assistance to women and families in need of help. I’ve […]
What can you learn about listening from a good mediator? We don’t listen with our answer running. Instead, we listen with our ears tuned to the curiosity channel.
What is this about a husband in Kenya? The college president for whom I was working at the time stared at me across the table during our weekly one-on-one. She looked troubled. I set my coffee mug down. A what? In yesterday’s strategic planning meeting, I heard you mention a husband in Kenya. There must […]