Conversation Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Once I am clear on what’s going on for me, I’m ready to focus on the real conversation. Here are my six steps to help you have the conversation effectively:

1. Prepare: What is my intention in having this conversation? Intention is different than result. Intention answers these questions: Why is it important for me to have this conversation? What do I hope to gain or improve? What is it costing me to continue to avoid the issue? Do I want to improve our relationship? Do I want to finally be honest? Am I trying to change someone else? (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: not an effective goal—it is always the other person’s choice whether they choose to change their behavior or not.)

2. Clarity wins: What is the real issue? What is at stake? What happens if we do nothing?

3. Timing and permission: We live in a busy, multitasker world. This is not a good foundation for difficult conversations. Difficult conversations take time and commitment. Be honest with yourself be sure you choose to make the time to commit fully before you begin. Secondly, ask for permission from the other party. Do they have the time and are they willing to commit to the conversation now? If not, do it when you’re both able AND willing.

4. Start with the mirror first: What do I want? Why is it important to me? Why is this difficult for me (what am I afraid of?) What is true for me (my description of the issue) Ask for permission to have the conversation?

5. Listen: Listen with curiosity, not judgment. Ask a question, then again, and again. You get the truth the deeper you go – I like to use a 3-5 rule—keep asking questions until you get to 3, 4 or 5 and then the conversation gets real.

6. Use ’I’ language: Just for fun, count how many times you use the word ‘you’ in your conversations. We are great at telling others what they need to do or should do. When I start a sentence off with ‘You’……. you should, you need to, you are that creates defensiveness in the other party. I can be much more effective if I come from my perspective. My experience is… I believe…I want…

Difficult conversations don’t ‘have’ to be difficult—it is our choice, whether conscious or not. Stop blaming others for being difficult or making conversations difficult. Show up the way you want and get the result you want.

SkillsMastery Group, Inc., a management consulting company that helps managers and leaders operate at their best and get the best from their people. Read more at www. You can also reach her through the Ask The Coach blog on BankTalentHQ. com. Donna can be reached at

MIB ommun



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