We balance a lot of different polarities when we have difficult conversations.
Sometimes we need to focus on dialing up assertiveness, risk, and speaking up… but this doesn’t mean that we need to totally let go of empathy, safety and deep listening. We can do both.
These polarities may each be balanced differently at any given moment during a difficult conversation. The trick is to try and do this consciously instead of falling into our regular patterns by default.
What polarities do you balance during difficult conversations?
I did the Sparktype test recently and it really hit the nail on the head when it comes to what type of work makes me come alive!
My primary Sparktype is the Maker – creation is my calling :) I’m most alive when I’m making things… whether it’s creating a workshop, preparing for an upcoming mediation, or making the drawing below… I absolutely love the creative process and get completely lost in it.
My shadow (secondary) Sparktype is the Maven – I love diving into a topic, industry or field and learning as much as I can about it… there is so much joy in this for me, but as my results accurately explained, this work is really in service of my primary Sparktype – i.e., love Iearning so that I can use what I learned to make something.
When I’m mediating, one of the many things that keeps me on my toes is helping the parties to map out all of the factors that led to the escalation of their conflict.
👉🏾 INTERNAL FACTORS: Was someone having a bad day? Running on no sleep? Stressed out about something unrelated?
👉🏾 EXTERNAL FACTORS: Was a lack of resources at play? A lack of clarity about roles or objectives? Were tight deadlines part of the mix?
👉🏾 THE DYNAMIC: What dynamic did the parties become locked into? Was it tit for tat? One-upping? Stonewalling?
Unpacking these factors generally turns up the heat in the discussion, which needs to be managed… but it’s well worth the work involved because this is what allows us to then move onto the second question – How could they have dealt with each of these factors better?
And that’s where the magic starts to happen :)
The great news is that you don’t need a mediator to do this if you find yourself in a conflict at work (or in any setting for that matter). Many issues can be resolved using this technique and a bit patience, vulnerability, and understanding.