When Crucial Conversations Matter

By Stephanie Demiris, MA Member Relations & Services Specialist, AACN

Conflict Resolution:

Objectives:
• Gain a mutual understanding of the definition of conflict resolution. • Gain a mutual understanding of what crucial conversations are and when we need to have them? • Identify our individual styles under stress. • Gain a mutual understanding of the key components of conflict resolution. • Explore the art of contrasting.
• Role playing group activity

• Bring it all together.

Conflict Resolution Defined:
What is conflict resolution?
Conflict resolution is a process of working through opposing views in order to reach a common goal or mutual purpose.

Historical context of conflict resolution:
• Evolved in 1950s and 1960s at the height of the Cold War when the development of nuclear weapons and conflict between superpowers was threatening human survival. • Small group of scholars from different disciplines came together to study conflict as a general phenomenon (e.g., international relations, domestic politics, industrial relations, communities, families and between individuals). • Conflict resolution as we know it in the business world came about in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Crucial Conversations:
A discussion between two or more people where:
• The stakes are high • Opinions vary • Emotions run strong

We typically handle these conversations by:
• Avoiding them • Facing them and handling them poorly • Facing them and handling them well

Two Responses to Crucial Conversations:

Fight  or  Flight or Silence  to  Violence

If we go to silence:
• We avoid – we steer clear of sensitive subjects; quickly change the subject • Don’t say anything – we withdraw or leave • Blame the group, hoping the message will hit the right target • Looks of disgust • Sarcasm – we mask our true feelings; we sugarcoat

We go to silence when we feel unsafe

If we go to violence:
• We verbally attack – we are threatening or belittling • Act like we know everything • We discredit others • Use the power of the boss to force our way • Control – we force our views by cutting others off, speaking in absolutes, changing subjects and in turn not giving others a chance to share their view • Subtly manipulate • We label or stereotype

We go to violence when we feel unsafe

Why should we have crucial conversations?
• It will improve our health • It will improve our relationships • It will enhance our job performance and success • It will make a difference

How do we have crucial conversations?

DIALOGUE

What’s your style under stress?
• Let’s find out by spending some time answering the questions. • When you complete the questions, refer to the scoring sheet to find out what your score means. -We are always in control to change our behavior-

Key Components of Conflict Resolution:
There are 4 key components to conflict resolution: • Controlling emotional responses • Seeking understanding • Identifying needs and common interests • Seeking mutual benefit or purpose

Control Emotional Responses:
• • Start with yourself first – the only person you can control Reflect – what story are you telling yourself about the situation? Is it either/or thinking (look for the “and”)? • recognize how you are positioned (your personal bias’; your beliefs, attitudes, values, etc.). Clarify what you don’t want • Ask yourself what your motives are. Do others trust your motives? • Ask yourself what you really want out of this. Do others believe I care about their goals in the conversation?

-Step Out. Make It Safe. Step Back In.-

Seek Understanding:
• Master your story • Notice your behavior – are you moving to silence or violence? • Get in touch with your feelings • Refocus on facts – hold your view as a hypothesis (we are aware of our own intentions, but we are rarely aware of other person’s intentions) Ask for their story • Make it safe – help make others feel safe to share their story • Carefully listen – acknowledge feelings • Be willing to change your story as they add to the pool of shared meaning Keep in mind . . . . • Storytelling is automatic and happens quickly • A set of facts can be used to tell a number of stories • Once a story is told, it controls us

Understand Impact and Intentions:
We interpret the impact on us We judge and interpret other’s intent We Interpret what we see/hear Our past stories, experiences and life history We react to the feelings from these thoughts

Event

Our values and identities

Identify Needs and Common Interests:
• Listen and hear clearly what others need • Look for mutuality • Use contrasting statements to state clearly what your needs are

Why Contrasting Statements?
• Contrasting statements are Do/Don’t statements that:
• Address others’ concerns that you don’t respect them or that you had a malicious purpose (e.g., I don’t want . . . .) • Confirms your respect or clarifies your real purpose (e.g., I do want . . . .) • It deals with the misunderstanding that has put safety at risk • It provides context and proportion • Can be used as prevention or first aid • Break up into 3 groups and spend some time going over the contrasting activity

• Contrasting is important because:

• Group Contrasting Role Playing Exercise

Seeking Mutual Benefit or Purpose:
• • • • • • Commit to seek mutual purpose by truly caring about the interests of others Work towards mutual respect – do others believe I respect them? Brainstorm new strategies together – invite opposing viewpoints and play devil’s advocate Agree where you can If others leave something out, then agree where you can and build from there If you differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong, rather, compare your views.

Points to Consider:
Ask yourself the following questions: • How did we each contribute to the current situation? • How can we change it? What can we do about it as we move forward?

Don’t let the conflict control you. The conflict is not who we are.

Six things to keep in mind when in a crucial conversation
• Start with yourself – reflect • Share your facts • Tell your story • Ask for their story (and be open to hearing it!) • Encourage dialogue by enacting mutual purpose • Talk, Talk, Talk

Conclusion:

References Cited:
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. 2002. It’s All About You: A Blueprint for Influencing Practice. Aliso Viejo, Calif: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Publication. Patterson, K., et.al. 2002. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. New York: McGraw-Hill. http://www.crucialconversations.com

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