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Preparing for a Conflict Conversation

Engaging in conflict conversations is a common happenstance. Some discussions however, lead to uncommon sentiments and reactions when we lose our sense of self and control. One of the consequences is that we may tend to put conflict conversations off indefinitely. Or, we may blurt out something awkwardly or at inappropriate times, or any combination of approaches that make for counterproductive communications.

Becoming masterful at conflict communications – to talk out differences, to mend fractious relationships, to apologize and to even agree to disagree – requires thoughtful preparation. It means being reflective and not reactive. It means managing our fears about the situation including the unknowns about how we or the other person may react. It also means taking a methodical approach that includes answering the following sorts of questions before entering into communications that could be unnecessarily contentious. Consider a challenging conversation you want to have and see if these questions help you prepare for it:

  • What is the outcome you want to achieve in this conversation?
  • What messages do you want to convey?
  • What outcome may the other person want?
  • What messages do you want to be prepared for that the other person may want to convey to you?
  • How do you want to respond to these messages from him or her that will help you reach the outcome you want?
  • What tone, manner or body language do you plan to have to be able to come across the way you want? How else do you want to be and be perceived?
  • What do you know from observations of others and your own positive experiences that are likely to help you interact the way you want to in this conversation?
  • What will you not say or do in this conversation, knowing it may be provocative and not aligned with your goal?
  • How do you want to feel about yourself when this conversation is over?
  • What else do you want to be prepared for?

Any other comments about this topic or other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) that help preparations for constructive conversations are welcome.

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