Some people will only have difficult conversations when it is safe and they genuinely feel you care. When people don’t think the conversation is safe they either remain quiet or they turn verbally violent. (“Quiet or riot”). Silence is masking to agree or being sarcastic), avoiding (steering conversation away from subject) or withdrawing. Violence is trying to control the conversation, labeling (name calling) or attacking (belittling or threatening). We tend to be more forceful with quiet people when discussing controversial subjects.  The quiet person just nods. They don’t agree and have something to say, but your style didn’t let them. Use this formula: Say I feel______(insert emotion), When_______ (insert action) and Why________ (insert result of their action). Example: I feel frustrated, when you arrive late for work, because every other employee feels why do they have to be on time? Build rapport by asking an opinion (“What’s your advice?”) Whether you care about their opinion or not, it shows respect.

When there is a conflict, ask a question (Do I understand your perspective?). When focus is lost, ask a question that will get it back on track. (So what do we need to accomplish). To know more is by noticing more. Do you really know what is going on? We train people on how to treat us. You can’t be the doormat without you allowing it to happen. You create the environment. If you come under attack, a question turns the focus back on the attacker (Why do yo feel that way? What would make you say that?).  The ultimate defusing question would be (What would you do if you were me?). When others become furious, you should become curious. (Your question will defuse the attack). A question to a family while making arrangements might be: “What would you like to see happen at the service?” When a relationship is in jeopardy, questions build bridges. (“How are we going to make this work”). When you run out of ideas, ask a question. It will get you unstuck and open up the conversation again.

Before you start talking you must know the answers to these five questions:

  1. What do I really want for myself?
  2. What don’t I want?
  3. What do I really want for others?
  4. What do I want for the relationship?
  5. How would I behave if I really wanted these results?

When conversation isn’t going well:
Pause (the deep breath), apologize (I am sorry if you feel I am attacking you), clarify (I am not sure you understand why this is a problem), if you must stop the conversation, commit to continued dialogue in a few minutes or tomorrow.

Commit to dialogue than monologue. A good listener will now in a disagreement what you are disagreeing on.