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7 Steps to Magical Conversation

Passage

A few weeks ago I posted about Magical Conversations and in that post I promised to share the tool I developed called 7 Steps to Magical Conversation. Here it is:

7 STEPS TO MAGICAL CONVERSATION

1: What is the centermost deepest part of your core? What is the one word that springs to mind, that is your essential core value?

2: Take a deep breath and breathe in your core value. Hold the value in your mind as you hold your breath in your chest for as long as is comfortable. Breathe out anything that gets in the way of that value, such as fear, anxiety, apprehension, etc.

REPEAT STEP TWO THREE TIMES.

3: Set your intention congruent with your core value. What is your intention? Is it a phone call? Is it a meeting? Is it an encounter? Is it a transaction? Remember you have control over your intention.

4: Stay conscious, stay focused, remain unshakeable. The world, events, circumstances, individuals, will attempt to distract and derail you, stay in control.

5: Slow down. Observe silence, listen deeply. Search for the interests behind the declarations, accusations, and statements you hear. Think before you speak, consider what you might say, what you could say, as distinguished from what you should say, in order to achieve the outcome congruent with your core value.

6: Inquire politely. Respond civilly, be courteous, and respectful. Do not accuse, threaten, argue, or object.

7: Express interest, concern, and appreciation. Do not try to fix the problem until requested to do so. Wait for an invitation. Simply allow the matter to conclude with the notion that you have heard completely everything the other is trying to say.

The Five Pillars of Marital Success

Relationship experts tell us that there are five pillars which can support a healthy marriage, but not all marriages have all five pillars supporting them. Four or five strong pillars can support a relationship that will last the age.  But if a relationship has only one or two strong pillars and the others are weak, the marriage might not survive the ravages of time. During the honeymoon period when the weather is fair, the marriage stands tall — but when stormy weather comes, when the winds start blowing and there’s been some erosion, the whole structure might come tumbling down.

Before people get married they should assess their pillars. Couples already married can shore up their pillars. People can make an effort to stay in shape and preserve the first pillar, they can write budgets and meet with financial advisors to shore up the second. They can agree to compromise on going out Saturday night. They can read books together. They can learn to accept the other’s spiritual journey. Knowing that the pillars exist is the first step, assessing and working on them comes next and takes time.

Spinning Record

photo by joshfassbind.com via PhotoRee


YourTango.com recently posted a great article by Dr. Margaret Paul called “Do You Have The Same Fight Over and Over?” about why couples can sometimes resolve conflict easily and why other times resolving conflict seems completely impossible. From the article:

As long as avoiding pain is more important to you than being loving to yourself and your partner, you will be closed and protected and the conflict cannot reach a mutually satisfying resolution.

Dr. Paul says, “If you are stuck in resolving conflicts, let go of the issues and look at your intent. I assure you that when both of you are open to learning about yourselves and each other, and want to support your own and your partner’s highest good, you will be able to easily resolve your conflicts.”

Read the article HERE.

Havasupai Talking Stick Ceremony

By Ty Supancic, Esquire

The following is a powerful communication exercise developed by America’s native peoples.  It was used in tribal counsels to insure everybody was heard and any resentments were addressed.

The parties sit facing each other with notepaper and writing utensils.  The person who asked for the ceremony is designated “the Speaker.”  During the ceremony, the Speaker may hold some item designated as the “talking stick” in their hands, while the other person (the “Listener”) should hold paper and pen for note taking.

1.  The Speaker begins saying what he/she wants to say to the Listener while the Listener takes detailed notes.  The Listener does not comment or interrupt except to ask non-accusatory clarifying questions.  “So you’re calling me a liar” is not appropriate. “So you heard me say, ‘I missed the bus’.” is acceptable.

2.  When the Speaker has said everything they need to say and they feel “empty”, the Listener repeats back what he/she heard in their own words (direct quotes are okay).  If the Listener misstates what they heard, the Speaker may interrupt to correct them.

3.  When the Listener has repeated everything to the Speaker’s satisfaction, the Listener asks if the Speaker has anything they wish to add.  If the Speaker wishes to say more, go back to step 1.  Repeat steps 1-3 until the Speaker is “empty”.

4.  Only when the Speaker is empty does the Listener get to respond to the things the Speaker said.  Step 4 is actually a reversal of roles; the Listener becomes the Speaker and the Speaker the Listener, bound by the same rules as before but reversed.  With the roles now reversed, the parties go through steps 1-3 as many times as necessary until the new Speaker feels empty.  Once empty, the parties may switch roles again and continue the exercise as many times are necessary until both parties are empty.

Important notes:

If the parties cannot follow the protocol, schedule a time to reconvene when emotions have subsided..

The Listener may not argue, correct, or do anything else except ask questions with the intention of understanding what the Speaker is saying.

As many tribal groups did not have efficient written language, originally the “Speaker” would speak for shorter intervals to allow the Listener to repeat what was heard more easily.  Note taking provides a more efficient and effective exercise, but if the parties find it works better for the Speaker to speak in shorter segments with the Listener repeating what was heard between segments, that is fine. But the roles should not reverse, and the Listener should not respond or comment, until the Speaker is truly empty.

The goal is clear, complete communication, not persuasion.  If both parties walk away feeling they have been heard, the exercise is a success.

Negotiation

Photo by Grendl on Flickr

There are steps you can take to transform a potential zero-sum competition of wills into an interaction that is aligned toward problem solving—even with the hardest bargainer.

First, beware the common tendency to equate being collaborative with being nice. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice, but niceness is not the point of mutual-gains negotiation. Rather, a collaborative approach is more of a bargaining stance than a personality style. Some negotiators view their counterparts as competitors with whom they must spar. Others jointly identify the issues up for discussion and work together to address them. It’s possible to be nice or less than nice when you’re taking either approach. Call them on their behavior, demeanor, and tone. Point out to them what they are doing to obfuscate or derail the process. Do it politely.

Second, examine your assumptions about the hard bargaining you expect to face. Consider that the other party may have a policy of acting difficult, or he/she may be unaware of the damage he/she’s doing. Regardless, when you try to collaborate, you may feel you’re stuck between either conceding or reverting to an old-school game of haggling. In most cases, this perceived either/or choice is a false one. Look for options, suggest alternatives, identify solutions not yet discussed. Think creatively.

Third, an effective antidote to troublesome behavior is active listening. Active listening doesn’t mean waiting patiently for the other side to end a rant or nodding and saying, “I understand, but… ”. Instead, active listening entails proactively interrupting the other party to paraphrase what they said, asking follow-up questions to better understand confusing assertions, and acknowledging the highly charged emotions that may lurk below the surface. When done well, active listening can tame the hardest bargainer—which is why it’s a central component of hostage- and crisis-negotiation training.

As you Master the Tactics & Strategies of Communication Skills you will find yourself bringing people together in Win-Win Solutions more frequently. It is simple. It is not easy. It is aspirational. It takes time.