If you haven’t been involved in one, I’m sure you’ve witnessed a heated conversation between work colleagues in which potentially beneficial discussion gets lost in the tension.
A colleague of mine, Donald Jessep from Profitableteams.com, was describing a heated exchange between Mike, a Financial Controller, and Steve, a Sales Manager. Mike suggested they close one of the company’s branches.
“You can’t do that” was Steve’s retort to Mike’s suggestion. Mike fired back a dirty look and the blood pressure of both men clicked up a notch. Mike’s enthusiasm evaporated and what could have been an idea worth discussing went no further.
If Steve had exercised discipline in applying the three steps of an age-old process there would have been a different outcome to the discussion.
Step 1 — Acknowledge the person. Even if you don’t agree with the comment. Acknowledgment can be a smile or the gift of undivided attention.
Step 2 — Give a reason to explore another angle. The reason has to be plausible, even encouraging to the person who proposed the idea … and free of all judgment.
Step 3 — Ask a question, a high-quality question. A high-quality question demands just the right amount of mental stretch to answer.
They’re simple ideas, but sadly, especially once we become familiar with people we sometimes lack the awareness and discipline to apply them. Highly influential people have this process deeply ingrained and can apply it even under pressure