One of the best things producers can do when confronting a business partner or team member about an uncomfortable topic is to remove the word “you” from your vocabulary, says Carolyn Rodenberg of Alternatives to Conflict. Instead, use “I” statements to frame the conversation from your own perspective, then employ reflective listening to show the other person what they are saying has registered with you.
Phrases such as “I feel,” “I’m hurt,” “I think,” “in my opinion” all can be used at the appropriate time to share what you feel about a situation, not just what you think at a high level.
“They don’t listen when we start pointing our finger at each other because we’ve all been children at one time and we don’t want to feel that we’re in that role again with our peers, our siblings, our parents,” Rodenberg tells “Top Producer Podcast” host Pam Fretwell in an episode that aired in early November. “Make sure we use ‘I’ messages.”
Once you’ve said your piece, use reflective listening techniques to show you understand and want to fully appreciate the other person’s words.
“Hear the message and then put it in your own words. We all speak English, but sometimes we are speaking a different language. So I can say, ‘Pam, what I heard you say is that you were really having trouble with this new tractor we bought yesterday.’ That’s listening. That’s reflecting back to you what I heard you say and then you can say, ‘No, Carolyn, it has nothing to do with the tractor. It’s the fact that I don’t have enough time to go out and work in the fields.’”
If you encounter a situation where the conversation fails to make traction, you can call the meeting to a close and schedule another time to visit further about the issue in question.
“If we’re an avoider, we need time to reprocess and figure out what we want to say. If we’re a confronter, we want to say it all right then and get it said and done and win,” Rodenberg says. “But both of us need to have time. So if we’re not making progress, we say ‘Stop, let’s set another where and when.’ Then you’ll try it again. Making intentional time to talk is the secret to success.”
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