It’s rare that we find an abundance of good advice in one place, expressed clearly, with visual aids.
But that is what Sarah Green has done in a slide show illustrating the central ideas on Holly Weeks’ book: Failure to Communicate. Brown’s slideshow appeared on the Harvard Business Review site.
The book is not new, so I am somewhat late to the party. Yet, it’s never too late to learn how to deal with difficult conversational situations.
When a conversation risks degenerating into conflict and drama, it takes a considerable amount of skill and effort to turn it in a more productive direction. Since therapy rarely teaches any of this, we happily rely on a business consultant.
Weeks explains her approach:
This book offers a system of strategies and tactics to help us navigate the treacherous minefields we may suddenly find ourselves in when we approach and try to get through - rather than avoid - prickly conversations. Strategies are the thinking part of these conversations. Balanced strategies replace the blanking out, gut reactions, and other horrors that slip in when conversations turn tough and ordinary thinking fails. Tactics are the handling part - what we do in the moment when our counterparts, or our own emotions, are giving us trouble.
Sarah Green offers a good summary of Weeks’ ideas:
When we're caught off-guard, we're more likely to fall back into old, ineffective habits like the combat mentality. If you're not the one initiating the tough conversation, or if a problem erupts out of nowhere, stick to these basics: keep your content clear, keep your tone neutral, and keep your phrasing temperate. When disagreements flare, you'll be more likely to navigate to a productive outcome – and emerge with your reputation intact.