employees giving each other a high five for positive conversations

Yeah, I know, I lost a lot of you just with the title, but for those of you who are still with me, let’s briefly dive into what this means and what it can, and does, look like.

To start, we need to get the negative context associated with Confrontation out of our heads. For most people, when they hear the word “Confrontation” they immediately think of going “head-to-head” or “toe-to-toe”. Armed and armored, ready for what they are certain will be an immense battle of wills. How about we stop there and try on a different context?

Take, for example, the Boy Scout handshake. For those of you familiar with this, it is done with the left hand, not the right. There are two main reasons for this. First, the left hand is closer to the heart, which indicates the warmth and friendship between all Scouts. Second – and this is what I really want to drive home – in shaking hands with their left hand, it would require a warrior to first put down their shield. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, engaged with Ashanti warriors in West Africa this way. It showed the bravery, and I would add the authenticity, in the conversation since you were dropping your shields and protection.

THIS is where we need to be as it relates to confrontation. It’s not a battle, it’s a collaboration. In fact, it is “THE” definition of:

The 4 Objectives of a Fierce Conversation

1. Interrogate Reality – We have said it time and time again. Competing realities, can, and do, exist within literally everything under the sun. Look no further than the political commentary you see and hear every day. The same topic, yet vastly different realities being presented. We need to enter into these conversations full of curiosity, not condemnation.

2. Provoke Learning – OUR learning. Rather than standing there wagging a finger at the other person, why not get curious? and ask yourself, “might there be something that I haven’t considered?” If we head into these conversations certain we have ALL of the information and know exactly why and what the other person was doing, there is very little learning going on. In fact, it tends to fall into “versation” territory. You know, when someone is being talked “to” without the benefit of any back and forth. Let’s make this a true conversation, where each side participates and each side is curious to understand all of the realities at play.

3.Tackle Tough Challenges – Together, as in collaboratively, you AND the other person. At this point, we are facing, what is now, a very tough challenge and likely to have some ownership over where things stand. Think about it, were there not opportunities for this to be a far easier conversation, had it been held the first time you suspected something was not quite right? Really, take the time to ask yourself this.

4. Enrich Relationships – This is the main goal and reason we put down the shield. We want to work with the other person to gain an understanding of what we can do, together, to resolve this and enrich and improve our relationship.

Not head-to-head, not toe-to-toe. Collaboratively, side-by-side

Taking the time to be curious and truly understand all the realities, so each of us can come away with something learned, an issue resolved, and a relationship enriched. Like I said at the beginning, the positive side to confrontation!

Thanks for sticking with me!

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