Source: Difficult Conversations, by Stone,Patton, and Heen; p18-19
cf.: Observable Data, and Difficult Conversations Checklist.
|Conversation||A Battle of Messages||A Learning Conversation|
|The “What Happened?” conversation.Challenge: The situation is more complex than either person can see||Assumption: I know all I need to know to understand what happened
Goal: persuade them I’m right
|Assumption: Each of us is bringing different information and perceptions to the table; there are likely to be important things that each of us doesn’t know.
Goal: Explore each other’s stories: how we understand the situation and why.
|Assumption: I know what they intended
Goal: Let them know what they did was wrong
|Assumption: I know what I intended, and the impact their actions had on me. I don’t and can’t know what’s in their head.
Goal: Share the impact on me, and find out what they were thinking. Also find out what impact I’m having on them.
|Assumption: It’s all their fault. (Or it’s all my fault.)Goal: Get them to admit blame and take responsibility for making amends.||Assumption: We have probably both contributed to this mess.
Goal: Understand the contribution system; how our actions interact to produce this result.
|The Feeling Conversation.Challenge: The situation is emotionally charged.||Assumption: Feelings are irrelevant and wouldn’t be helpful to share. (Or, my feelings are their fault and they need to hear about them.)
Goal: Avoid talking about feelings. (Or let ’em have it!)
|Assumption: Feelings are the heart of the situation. Feelings are usually complex. I may have to dig a bit to understand my feelings.
Goal: Address feelings (mine and theirs) without judgments or attributions. Acknowledge feelings before problem solving.
|The Identity Conversation Challenge: The situation threatens our identity.||Assumption: I’m competent or incompetent, good or bad, lovable or unlovable. There is no in-between.
Goal: Protect my all-or-nothing self-image.
|Assumption: There may be a lot at stake psychologically for both of us. Each of us is complex, neither of us is perfect.
Goal: Understand the identity issues on the line for each of us. Build a more complex self-image to maintain my balance better.