What Happened Conversations Tips and Strategies
Move from Certainty to Curiosity
- Instead of asking yourself, “How can they think that?!” ask yourself “I wonder what information they have that I don’t?”
- Instead of asking “How can they be so irrational?” ask “How might they see the world such that their view makes sense?”
- Be curious about what you don’t know about yourself.
- Reflect on the way you have constructed your story. Understanding the origin of your story helps you to identify your implicit rules: rules that tell us how things ARE or how things SHOULD be.
Adopt the “And Stance”
- Don’t choose between two stories; embrace them both. This should not be heard as “Pretend both stories are right.” Rather it says something more like: Don’t pretend anything. Don’t accept or reject either story. Work to understand both.
- The world is complex. You can feel hurt, angry, and wronged AND they can feel just as hurt, angry and wronged.
- They can be doing the best job possible AND you can think that it’s not good enough.
- You may have done something stupid, AND they will have contributed in important ways to the ways to the problem as well.
- You can feel furious with them, AND you can also feel love and appreciation for them.
Don’t Assume They Meant It: Disentangle Intent from Impact
- Avoid the automatic leap from “I was hurt” to “You Intended to Hurt Me.”
- Actions: “What did the other person actually say or do?”
- Impact “What was the impact of this on me?
- Assumption: “Based on this impact, what assumption am I making about what the other person intended?”
- Hold your view as a hypothesis.
|Aware of||Unaware of|
|My intentions||Other people’s Intentions|
|Other peoples impact on me||My impact on others|
- Share the impact on you: Inquire about their intentions
- Don’t pretend you don’t have a hypothesis
- Some defensiveness in inevitable.
- When your impact isn’t what you intended:
- Listen to and acknowledge their feelings first.
- Secondly try to explain your intentions
- Be open to reflecting on the complexity of your intentions.
Avoid blame: Map the contribution system
- Don’t focus exclusively on your contribution, but starting there may open others up to looking at thiers.
- Express emotions appropriately, and do so without blaming.
- Exploring contribution is not blaming the victim; It’s blaming NO person.
- Recognize hard to spot contributions:
- Avoiding until now.
- Being Unapproachable.
- Intersections: happening to be in the same place at the same time with different histories and worldviews.
- Problematic Role Assumptions: This is what bosses (parents, kids, employees, etc.) are supposed to do.
- Role Reversal: “What would they say I’m contributing?”
- The Observer’s Insight: Imagine you were a consultant or outsider. How would you describe each person’s contribution in a neutral, nonjudgmental way.
- Map contribution by listing:
- My contributions.
- Their contributions.
- Who else is involved?
- Taking responsibility for your contribution early opens the door for the other person to join in the process.
- Make your observations and reasoning explicit.
- Clarify what you would have them do differently.