In this new series of articles about how to manage crucial conversations we will continue to deep dive in learning tools for talking when stakes are high. In the previous article we defined what a crucial conversation is, and the current one we will address the power of dialogue.
The Fool’s Choice – fight(violence) or flight(silence)
Option 1: Speak up and turn the most powerful person in the company into their sworn enemy.
Option 2: Suffer in silence and make a bad decision that might ruin the company.
The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend. We begin believing in the Fool’s Choice from an early age. For instance, we learned that when grandma served an enormous wedge of her famous pie and then asks, “Do you like it?” – she really meant: “Do you like me?”
When we answered honestly and saw the look of hurt and horror on her face – we made a decision that affected the rest of our lives: “From this day forward, I will be alert for moments when I must choose between candor and kindness.”
When it comes to risky, controversial, and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves and others out into the open).
Rather than make the Fool’s Choice, choose a third option: DIALOGUE.
When people aren’t involved, when they sit back quietly during touchy conversations, they’re rarely committed to the final decision. Since their ideas remain in their hands and their opinions never make it to the “pool of shared meaning”, they end up quietly criticizing and passively resisting. Worse still, when others force their ideas into the pool, people have a harder time accepting the information. They may say they’re on board, but then walk away and follow through halfheartedly.
Not suggesting that every decision be made by consensus or that the boss shouldn’t take part in or even make the final choice. We’re simply suggesting that whatever the decision-making method, the greater the shared meaning in the pool, the better the choice, the more the unity, and the stronger the conviction – whoever makes the choice.