Speaking the Unspeakable – Part 2


By Kim Sawyer

Last month, the article in Speaking the Unspeakable, Part 1 addressed difficult conversations as a general concept along with some key concepts and perspectives that set the stage for how to handle them in a good way.  Situations involving difficult conversations usually involve pretty intense emotions and ones personal emotions tend to hijack their ability to think clearly.  Part 2 will build on that foundation by providing a valuable practical model called “Clearing” that is a simple, powerful five step communication process to help a person keep their ears and mind open to taking in information and respond in the best possible way.

Here is an example of a conversation one can use to deal with a conflict between you and someone else.  Start by saying, “There is something going on with me that I really would like to clear up with you because it’s is getting in the way of me having the relationship with you that I would like to have.  Are you willing to have this conversation?”  With each step you will build the interaction a little safer and a little stronger to support the increasing level of intensity of the subsequent steps.  The following are the five powerful steps you can follow in dealing with the conflict:
Step One – Name the Emotions

  • Share your emotions about what you are going to talk about.  You want the listener to own what is true about them so start out speaking the truth about yourself.  This way, you are opening them up to you a little bit allowing the start of personal connection to begin.

Step Two – State the Data

  • Now you want to share the bare facts about what was said or done at what place and time to make sure the two of you are on the same page.  Quite a number of difficult conversations arise because people have different data so they are arguing about something that doesn’t exist as a real problem.

Step Three – Share the Judgments

  • As soon as most of us hear the word “judgment”, we automatically think that is a bad thing.  In some cases that may be true but the fact is, we judge all the time whether it is done well or poorly, we can’t help it.  It’s what defines us and helps us make decisions to live.  More neutral language might be, “What meanings am I attaching to that data?  What are the stories I am telling myself about you, about me, and about this situation?”
  • The way you interpret the data is what gives you those emotions.  So here, you must state your relevant judgments as honestly and cleanly as you can about how you feel about the other person, about how you feel about yourself, and about how you feel about the situation.

Step 4 – Own Your Part

  • This part of the entire process is pivotal to a positive outcome.  What is your contribution to this situation and what part of your reaction stems from things about yourself that have nothing to do with you in this present situation?  All of what has been shared notwithstanding, you always play a part of every situation you are in.

Step 5 – Make Commitments and Requests for Change

  • Now you must take a look at how things might be different going forward.  What are your commitments for change, what are your requests for change, and what are the results you desire?
  • At this point, it is valuable to set a time to come back together again to talk about how it has been going from each of your perspectives.  Did you do what you said you would?  How has that been working for each of you and what’s next?

Perhaps you have a situation right now with someone in your life.  I challenge you to have that conversation – to speak the unspeakable but in a good way using the Clearing Model and the 5-Step Communication Tool.  What’s the risk of doing it that would be worse than the current state of affairs which might remain the same or worsen over time if left unresolved?

Based in Houston, Texas, Kim Sawyer is a highly respected executive coach, business facilitator, and professional speaker.  To find out more about Kim’s firm, theWeathSource, visit his website at www.theWealthSource.com


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