How & Why to “Get it Right” the First Time

 In Blog, Effective Dialogue, Living Organizations, Teams and Organizations

(Time to read: 3-4 minutes)

One of the things I really appreciate having learned is that a conversation is never done until you decide it is done.

At the same time, if what we say lands badly with the other person, sometimes they won’t talk to you any more, so you don’t get to complete the conversation.

Or sometimes their body is there but they’ve shut some inner door so there’s no real engagement.

That’s why it is so important to “get it right” the first time
– because you won’t always get a second chance.

Why Do People “Shut the Door”?

I’m currently working with a couple of people who are dealing with extremely difficult consequences of not having “done it right” the first time – one in a work setting, and one in a family situation.

In both cases, and in others I’ve seen, the other person is not willing to engage further because they don’t feel safe.

What does this mean?

My understanding is that people don’t feel safe when they are not confident that they can maintain their own sense of self-worth and self-esteem if they continue in conversation with you.

What Can You Do About It?

As with so many things in life, prevention is by far the easiest and cheapest solution.

So how do you prevent people from feeling unsafe with you?

There are many aspects to achieving this that I teach in my programs.

For today, I’ll share a first “piece of the puzzle” that you can start using right away.

Whenever you want something from someone:

  1. Think about things from their point of view – Articulate your understanding of their reality.
    If there are things that might make it difficult for them to do what you ask, acknowledge that.
  2. Affirm that you want those factors taken into account.
  3. Check whether there’s anything else important for them on this topic.
  4. Explain your point of view.
  5. Ask for their help in figuring out how to address the situation that takes all these factors into account.

Why Don’t We Do This?

  1. I know this from my own early experiences that it feels really risky at first.
    What if the other person doesn’t care about your point of view?
    What if they tell you to handle it yourself?
    We sometimes delude ourselves into thinking that, if we speak our truth clearly and forcefully enough, people won’t notice their own reality – the impact on them.
    They’ll just do what we ask without noticing the cost.
    Of course this is ridiculous. People are always aware of what it costs them to do something. If not in advance, then at least after the fact.
    In fact, if you are “successful” in having them do things that you want without their being aware ahead of time of what it will cost them, they are likely to feel even more unsafe around you.
    Which increases the chance that they may choose not to engage with you again if they can avoid it.
  2. A second reason that some people don’t use this kind of collaborative approach is because most people I have met don’t know how to engage in genuine mutual problem-solving – to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
    It is beyond the scope of a blog post to cover that. But I teach a simple and straight-forward process in the courses I offer and in any coaching session in which it’s needed.

What are the Benefits of Doing This?

When you start in the way I suggest above, there are almost too many benefits to count – but here are a few of my favourites:

  1. It results in better decisions, choices and outcomes.
    .Because two (or more) heads generally are better than one.
  2. It strengthens your relationship.
    And just like strong bridges, strong relationships are capable of handling heavier loads with much less strain. Which is a very valuable thing because we can never know what challenges life and work can bring us. But they are always easier when handled together.
  3. It makes life and work much more fun.
    You know how much more enjoyable it is to live and work with people when everyone feels positively connected with everyone else.
  4. It does all of this by strengthening the other person’s sense of safety, acknowledgement and inclusion. So they are more likely to think of you as a “safe” person to be around and engage with.
  5. This increases their willingness to give you a second chance in the future if, in the moment, you fail to take their point of view into account.
    I’m personally very grateful for this. Because I have a hot temper that I don’t always control very well. So I benefit from the gift of those “second chances” that allow me to maintain the positive quality of relationships that I want with the people around me.
    And I contribute to those “second chances” by recognizing, articulating, and affirming the other person’s reality as often as I have the capacity to do this.

 Next Steps:

  1. The next time you want someone to do something, try thinking about and talking about their reality first, following the steps above. Notice what happens to their willingness to collaborate with you.
  2. If you need help in holding on to what’s important to you – so solutions work for you too, here are two things that might help:
    – Join the Small Group Mentoring Program – click here for info   – click here to sign up
    – Book a private training / coaching / support session – click here to book a session
    – If you haven’t worked with me before, and want to check out how well we “click” before signing up for something, click here
    You’ll learn ways to care for your own well-being while collaborating with others.
    It doesn’t have to be either / or.
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