And so we split into two separate groups, with an actor assigned to each. In my group we were each given our own set of scenarios where we had to partake in a conversation of a challenging or sensitive nature with Jamie. These included giving difficult feedback, managing poor team dynamics and lack of contributions, and negotiating summer placement terms.
There were some great takeaways from participating and observing how each of these scenarios played out. Here’s some things I learnt.
First, Set the Tone
This is more about managing yourself, than any particular technique for achieving your desires. Here you ensure that you’ve approached the conversation from a positive standpoint – or neutral standpoint if you have negative news to convey. Greet the person you’re talking to pleasantly, engage and create the environment for the other person to be receptive to what you are about to say. The consequences of this are most keenly experienced when done incorrectly. Even if the other party is in the wrong, approaches that are negative, accusatory and dismissive only serve to make people defensive and uncooperative.
Do not set yourself up for failure. You want to build rapport here, not destroy it.
Now, get to the point
After a break, we switched actors, expecting to try new scenarios. Whilst the context remained the same for the aforementioned situations, Marie presented an entirely different, and more difficult personality. From this point, it now became crucial to follow my third point of learning.
Always aim for the win-win.
And so concluded our workshop with Lucy, Jamie and Marie. It became clear that considering the goals of others as well as your own, in an environment conducive to a respectful discussion revolving around the point of contention, is the ideal approach. I hope these three lessons help you navigate the uneven terrain of difficult situations, and honest conversations, just as the workshop did for me.