Crucial accountability – Part 2: create safety

When you create enough safety, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything. As those who are masters of accountability move from thinking to talking, and in this article you will learn how they create safety.

What to do during an accountability crucial conversation

1️⃣Describe the Gap

Describe a performance gap in a way that makes it safe for others to talk about.

Violated expectation – a gap: a difference between what you expected and what actually happened. Gaps are typical though of as: violated promises, broken commitments, and bad behaviors.

Know what not to do :

Observing people who had the guts to step up to a problem but then quickly failed:

  • Don’t play games
    • The first technique for staring an accountability discussion is the child of good intentions married to bad logic. It’s called sandwiching. You honestly believe that you have two equally poor opinions(and no other choices). You can stay quiet and keep the peace, or you can be honest and hurt someone’s feelings. So you use sandwiching in an earnest effort to be both nice and honest. TO soften the violent blow, you first say something complimentary, next you bring up the problem, and then you close with something complimentary again.
      Most people despise these indirect techniques. They’re dishonest, manipulative, and insulting. They’re also quite common.
  • Don’t play charades
    • Rather than come right out and talk about a missed commitment, many people rely on nonverbal hints and subtle innuendo. They figure that’s faster and safer than actually talking about a problem. Some deal almost exclusively in hints.
  • Don’t pass the buck
    • Another bad way to being an accountability discussion is rooted in the erroneous belief that you can play the role of good cop if you can find a way to transform the person’s boss into the bad cop.
      Nothing undermines your authority more than blaming someone else for requesting what you would be asking for if you had any guts. If you repeat this mistake, it won’t be long before you’re seen as irrelevant – merely a messenger, and a cowardly one at that.
  • Don’t play “read my mind”
    • This tactic is irritating as it is ineffective. Despite good intentions, asking others to read your mind typically comes off as patronizing or manipulative.
      It’s easy to find a leader who creates warm and lasting relationships but who struggles to get things done. It’s not much harder to find a no-nonsense, hard-hitting leader whom you might send in to put out a fire but who creates hard feelings. Consequently, when you find someone who can manage both people and production, you’ve got a real gem.

Describe the gap:

To ensure that you set the right tone during the first few seconds of any accounting, don’t shoot from the hip. Don’t charge into a situation, kick rears, take names, and let the chips fall where they may. Instead, carefully describe the gap. Here’s how:

  • Start with safety
    • Don’t play games; merely describe the gap. Describing what was expected versus what was observed is clear and simple, and it helps you get off on the right foot.
      At the foundation of every successful accountability discussion lies safety. When others feel unsafe, you can’t talk about anything. But if you can create safety, you can talk with almost anyone about almost anything – even about failed promises.
    • Establish mutual purpose – when an accountability discussion turns ugly, with greater intensity and speed than you ever imagined it could, it’s usually because others misunderstand not your content but your intent.
  • Share your path
    • As a general rule, when you are sharing your path, it’s best to start with the facts: what you saw and heard. Don’t lead with your stories. If you do, people are likely to become defensive. Instead describe what the person did.
      Every time you share a vague and possibly inflammatory story instead of a fact, you’re betting that the other person won’t become defensive and can translate what you’re thinking into what he or she did. What’s a bad bet. Share the facts. Describe the observable details of what’s happening. Cut out the guesswork.
  • End with a question
    • Diagnose the root of the problem – which of the six sources of influence is at play? Is the person unmotivated? Is he or she unable? The solution to each alternative is quite different. You don’t want to try to motivate people who can’t do what you’ve asked, or enable people who don’t care.

2️⃣Make It Motivating

Help others prioritize competing demands, and how to discipline when necessary.

Remember to diagnose:
Is it a matter of motivation, ability, or both?

“What’s the big deal? Is it really worth the effort?” From this particular response, we’ll conclude that she’s not motivated. Other signs that a person isn’t motivated include the following: “I had more important things to do.” “It wasn’t my idea to switch jobs.” “If you think I’m going to work on something that isn’t on my performance review, you’re wrong.” All point to an underlying motive. All imply “I chose not to do it.”

Motivation, it turns out, is actually rather boring. It has little to do with clout or charisma. In fact, motivation is about expectations, information, and communication.

Expectations change everything
Human beings anticipate. When deciding what to do, they look to the future and ask, “What will this particular behavior yield?” When they choose one action over another, it’s because they’re betting that that action will generate the best result. Since any action yields a combination of results, some good and some bad, it’s the expected sum total of the consequence bundle that drives behavior. If you want people to act in another way, you have to let them know how a different behavior would yield a better consequence bundle.

Here’s what motivation comes down to: change others’ view of the consequence bundle, and their behavior will follow.

How do you help people to change their view of the consequence bundle – to understand that their existing view is either inaccurate or incomplete?

Three approaches to avoid:
One thing is for certain: three of the more popular methods: charisma, power, and perks – don’t work very well.

  1. Don’t rely on charisma
    • Charisma makes for good drama; however, it has precious little to do with real leadership. Rest assured that you don’t have to be charismatic to be influential.
  2. Don’t use power
    • The flagrant and abusive use of authority, guarantees little more than short-term bitter compliance.
      The reason we intuitively rely on force: we often take a dispositional rather than a situational view of others. If others cause us a great deal of pain, we believe they must be bad to the core. The worse the impact others have on us, the worse our assumptions about their character.
      The more we feel the need to apply force, the greater is the evidence that our own thoughts are the problem.
      Of course, it starts with them when they aren’t motivated. We try and try, and nothing works. And then we become angry. That’s because we’re thinking with our dumbed-down, adrenaline lizard brains.
    • The cost of force – force kills relationships
      We move from enjoying a healthy partnership based on trust and Mutual Respect to establishing a police state that requires constant monitoring.
    • Force motivates resistance
      When we quickly move to use force to influence change, people intuitively understand that we do that because we believe they have bad motives. We don’t respect them. In addition, it communicates that we care only about our goals, not theirs.
      In other words, it destroys safety.
    • Force doesn’t last
      When people produce solely out of fear, once the fear is removed, so is the motivation to continue to follow orders.
  3. Be careful with perks
    • Now for the last of the common motivational errors: the hasty use of extrinsic rewards to motivate what should already be intrinsically motivating.
      When extrinsic rewards are applied to routine behavior, they confuse purpose. Special rewards should be reserved for special performance.

The solution:
The problem with power, perks, and charisma is not that they never work or never should be used. The problem is that people turn to them too quickly, and there are almost already better methods. For instance, savvy parents and influential leaders use their ability to teach.

Explore natural consequences
Within the three domains of personal, social and structural, there are other factors that are far better motivators, that propel action without the leader pulling strings or making threats.
Natural consequences associated with any behavior are compelling factors and are always present and always serve as a potential source of motivation.

Consequences provide the force behind all behavioral choices, and so savvy influencers motivate others by completing a consequence search: they explain natural consequences until they hit upon one or more than the other person’s values. As you start your own consequence search, your job is to find a way to make tin invisible visible while maintaining a healthy dialogue.

  • Make the invisible visible
    • Help others see consequences they aren’t seeing (or remembering) on their own.
  • Link to existing values
    • As you consider all the consequences you could discuss with another person, turn your attention to that person’s core values. What does he or she care about the most? This will be your point of greatest leverage. Then help the other person see how his or her values will be better supported through the course you are proposing. If you have created enough safety, you can talk frankly about any value issues.
  • Connect short-term benefits with long-term pain
  • Place the focus on long-term benefits
    • Learn to let some of the smaller things go
  • Introduce the hidden victims
    • This is perhaps the most widely used method of explaining consequences. You describe the unintended and often invisible effects an action is having on others.
  • Hold up a mirror
    • To help introduce the social implications of a particular action, describe how a person’s action is being viewed by others. “It’s starting to look like you don’t care about the team’s results.”
  • Connect to existing rewards
    • This is typically not the best starting place, but eventually you may want to talk about rewards.
  • Stay in the conversation
    • Remember, as you’re doing your best to make consequences more visible, keep talking. Keep the information flowing honestly and freely in both directions.
  • Don’t turn consequences into threats
    • There’s a fine line between sharing natural consequences and threatening others. If your motives are wrong, sharing becomes threatening. If your motive is to punish or if you’re taking pleasure in describing the awful things that will happen if someone’s obnoxious behavior continues, you’re making threats. Your motive must be to solve the problem in a way that benefits both of you. Anything less than that will provoke silence or violence, not gain willing compliance.
      When they start hearing natural consequences as threats, you should recognize the situation as a safety problem and restore safety.
  • Listen to others’ view of natural consequences
    • When it comes to other people’s roles, you should be listening as they explain their view of the consequences. They may be aware of consequences you know little or nothing about. Your view of what should be done may change in the process of jointly discussing consequences. In the end, you may be convinced that they shouldn’t do what you originally asked.
  • Stop when you reach compliance
    • As you help others see consequences they didn’t realize existed, explain those consequences only until you believe others will comply. Your job isn’t to keep piling on information. It is to share consequences until the other person understands the overall effect and shares your view of what needs to be done. Don’t sell past the close.

Match methods to circumstances
Sometimes the person you’re talking to is simply unaware of the consequences associated with his or her actions.

  • When you’re teaching
    • Individuals who are good at accountability are teachers, and much of their teaching is about the consequences to varying stakeholders: “Here’s why it’s worth it.” They make the invisible visible by whatever means will work.
  • When you’re jointly exploring
    • This circumstance comes up more often than you might imagine. The other person isn’t exactly motivated, and neither of you is quite sure why. Perhaps the other person knows why but isn’t saying. In either case, you can’t figure out why the other person isn’t motivated, and you’ll need to examine the impact that personal, social and structural factors are having on the individual to determine which ones are making the task undesirable.
      The goal of exploring consequences is to bring to the surface the issues that make the task undesirable. If it’s not immediately clear, this could take some work. Once you’re both aware of the factors that are at play, decide if you still want the other person to continue (you may change your mind). If you decide that the task still makes sense, use any combination of the methods we’ve described for making the consequences visible.
  • When priorities differ
    • People know what to do but choose something else. Let’s be honest: more often that not, they already know what the consequences will be. Under these circumstances, explaining why certain parts of the job are necessary can sound quite different from routine instruction. You’re now doing your best to remind people without haranguing them.
      Reminding people is the tactic you take with hardworking ,reliable individuals who are caught in a priority battle.
  • When others resist
    • Let’s consider a more challenging case. Individuals are openly resisting your efforts. They really don’t want to fulfill their promise, they need to be convinced, and you need to be careful not to create resistance.
      The basic principle is the same: explain natural consequences until the person genuinely agrees to comply. In this case it’s a delicate search. You keep searching for consequences until you find one the other person values.

When to use discipline
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you still have to start down the path of discipline. Perhaps the other person has done something that requires immediate action. Maybe you’ve explained the consequences, and the other person isn’t going to do what you ask no matter what you say.
Perhaps you’ve had multiple conversations – describing content, pattern, and relationship – but the employee is still violating every agreement you make. It’s time to change tactics. It’s time to move away from natural consequences and start imposing consequences of your own (discipline). As you start down this precarious path, keep the following in mind:

  • Know the mechanics
    • Every organization has its own discipline steps and policies. Study them carefully. If you fail to follow procedure, your efforts may be thrown out when they are reviewed, undermining your credibility.
  • Partner with people in authority
    • If you’re in a situation in which you don’t know the person’s total history and details, explain why the action was wrong, state that you’re going to move to discipline, and say that you’ll get back to him or her later.
      Then check with specialists to learn what the actual steps should be.
  • Be appropriately sober
    • Discipline isn’t something you impose with a sense of pleasure regardless of what the other person may have done. Keep the tone serious and speak about what has to be done, not what you now get to do.
  • Explain the next step
    • As you explain what will happen as a result of the infraction, cover what will happen if the person does the same thing again. Explaining the next level of consequences informs and motivates.
  • Be consistent
    • Don’t play favorites. If you’re working with an employee who gives you fits at every turn, you can’t discipline that person for something you wouldn’t discipline everyone for simply as a means of getting even. When discipline falls under review, the first thing third parties examine is equity. Did the person get fair treatment? Don’t single people out.
  • Don’t back off under pressure
    • Once you’ve started the process, stick to it. Follow the steps and don’t be dissuaded simply because the person puts up a fight. If disciple is called for, stay the course. If you waffle, you’ll gain a reputation for making hollow threats.

3️⃣ Make It Easy

“Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.” CONFUCIUS

Help others deal with ability barriers by jointly exploring solutions. Help others comply by making compliance easier. Understand the principles of empowerment.

Your job: make it easy
Let’s say you’ve diagnosed the cause and the other person can complete the task, but it’s really horrible and tedious. Now what? It’s your job to help remove the barrier. It’s your job to help make it easy. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this. In fact, some people take pride in their ability to inspire others to complete noxious or tedious tasks.
In truth: there is no great honor in being a leader or parent who is able to encourage people to continually achieve the nearly impossible. It can be gratifying to be an effective motivator, but the best leaders don’t simply inspire people to continue to do the gut-wrenching, mind-boggling, and noxious. They help people find ways to ease the gut-wrenching, simplify the mind-boggling, and nullify the noxious.
This is where accountability experts truly shine. They see themselves as facilitators, enablers, and supporters, not armed guards or cheerleaders. This self-image may go further in separating the best from the rest than does any skill they actually possess. Skilled individuals take pride in helping others make things easy. It’s part of the Golder Rule. IT’s what they do.

Tools for making it easy:

  • Jointly explore barriers
    • Knowing what to do with an ability barrier is actually fairly simple: jointly explore the underlying ability blocks and remove them. That’s easy. In contrast, knowing how to remove those barriers requires our attention. That means we need to know if others can’t do something because of personal (they don’t have the skills or knowledge), social (friends, family, or coworkers are withholding information or material), or structural (the world around them is structured poorly) factors.
  • Avoid quick advice
  • Should you do it yourself?
    • Resourceful people realize that when others face an ability block, you can either tell them outright what to do (if you know) or invite them to help come up with a solution: “What do you think it’ll take to fix this?” “Would you like to help me?” Savvy folks choose to work jointly through ability blocks. They fight their natural tendency to jump in with an answer and instead involve the other person.
      Involvement both enables and motivates
      • Enables
        If you involve others in solving problems, 2 important things happen. First, you get to hear their ideas. People may not know exactly what to do, but they probably have a good idea about what doesn’t work. Actually, they may know exactly what to do but need materials or permission to do it. In any case, start ability discussions with a simple question: “You’ve been working on the problem. What do you think needs to be done?”
      • Motivates
        There’s an important secondary benefit to involving others. When people are included in coming up with a potential solution, they’re more likely to be motivated to implement it, and that’s important. Consider the following formula:
        Effectiveness = accuracy * commitment
        Most problems have multiple solutions. The effectiveness of a solution depends on the accuracy of the chosen tactic. That’s obvious. IT’s equally important that the person implementing the tactic believe in it. That’s where commitment comes into play.
        A solution that is tactically inferior, but has the full commitment of those who implement it, may be more effective than one that is tactically superior but is resisted by those who have to make it work.
    • Start by asking for ideas
    • Don’t bias the response
      • Unfortunately, when you’re speaking from a power base, offering up your idea first and then asking for the other person’s approval misses the mark. You’re likely to bias the other person. First, you’re filling his or her head with your idea, and this can cut off new thinking. Second, you may inadvertently be sending the message that your idea is what you really want, and so others are not about to disagree with you.
        Ask other people for their thoughts; wait for them to share their best ideas, and then, if it is still necessary, chime in with your thoughts.
    • Don’t pretend to involve others
      • Involve others in solving ability blocks only if you’re willing to listen to their suggestions.
    • Don’t feel the need to have all the answers
      • Leaders earn their keep, not by knowing everything, but by knowing how to bring together the right combination of people (most of whom know a great deal more about certain topics than the leader will ever know) and propel them toward common objectives.
        Confident leaders are very comfortable saying “It beats me. Does anyone know the answer to that?” or “I don’t know, but I can find out.”

Look at the Six Sources of Influence

You stop, pause long enough to stifle your ingrained impulse to jump in with your best and smartest recommendation and say, “You’re closest to the problem. What do you think needs to be done?”

When it comes to motivating others, any single source can overcome all the detractors. You may hate doing your job, your friends may make fun of you doing it, and your family may offer no support whatsoever, but you need the money. You’re motivated. When it comes to motivation, one source is all it takes.
With the ability, the opposite is true. Any single barrier can trump all the enabling forces. You know what to do and have the right materials to do it, but your coworker hasn’t done his or her part. You’re missing only one element, but you’re dead in the water.

Six Sources of Influence – Ability

Check both sides

People tend to point to an ability block because it’s less threatening – even when they may also have conflicting priorities.
The fact that people start by identifying an ability block doesn’t guarantee that once it’s removed, they’ll actually want to do what they’ve promised to do. Once you’ve finished identifying and removing ability barriers, check both sides of the model. Ask, “If I get the work-up to you by two o’clock, are you willing to do what it takes to finish the job by five, or is there something else I need to know?”
Checking both sides means that you end a discussion of ability by checking for motivation. Of course, it goes both ways. If a person starts with “Do you really want me to do that? It’s such a pain,” and you spend time explaining the natural consequences until he or she agrees to comply, there’s a chance the person may also be facing an ability barrier or two. Once the person has agreed to comply, check the other side. Check for ability problems: “It sounds like you’re willing to do this, but is there anything standing in your way? Is there anything else we need to deal with, or can I count on you to have this to me by Tuesday at nine?”
Once you’ve dealt with motivation check your ability. If you start with ability check motivation. Remember to check both sides.

Ask for permission
If you lack the authority to require another person to discuss root causes, you can do so only by permission. So ask for it. If you do have the authority, ask for it anyway: “Since we agree on the problem, could we take a few minutes to talk about what’s in the way of solving it? I’d like to be as helpful as I can in making it easy to avoid the problem in the future. Would that be okay?”

4️⃣ Stay Focused and Flexible

How to deal with unexpected problems or emotions that may come up during an accountability discussion.

For instance, you’re talking to a coworker about doing his fair share of the workload, and he becomes angry. You’re chatting with your daughter about failing to practice the piano, and she lies to you. You’re talking to an employee about missing a deadline, and he becomes insubordinate. You’re talking to your unemployed husband about actively looking for work, and he tries to divert you from the problem by playing the martyr. Your head accountant clams up when you ask her why the end-of-month reports aren’t ready. Then she gets angry. All these situations present you with new, emergent problems.

We must be focused and flexible
When a brand-new problem with a life of its own comes up in the middle of an accountability discussion, we have to make a decision. Do we step away from the current infraction (putting a bookmark in place so that we can get back to it later) and address the new problem? Or do we stay the course? This takes us back to the issue: What is the right conversation?
The answer to this new if the question is simple. IF the new emergent problem is more serious, time-sensitive, or emotional than the original one or if it’s important to the other person, you have to deal with it right there, on the spot. You can’t allow the new and more important issue to be at the mercy of the original violation.

In short, as new and emergent problems surface, do the following:

  • Be flexible:
    • Note new problems
    • Select the right problem: the original problem, the new one, or both
    • Resolve the new problem and return to the original issue
  • Be focused:
    • Deal with problems one at a time
    • Consciously choose to deal with new issues; don’t allow them to be forced upon you

4 different emergent problems and how to address them
To see how this works, let’s look at 4 different categories of new problems: there is a loss of safety, there is a loss of trust, a completely different issue becomes a problem, and explosive emotions take over.

  • People feel unsafe
    • To restore safety, you point to your sharer purpose. You assure the other person that you care about what he or she cares about. You use Contrasting to clarify the misunderstanding. You apologize when necessary.
  • People violate your trust
    • This is probably the most dangerous emergent problem, the number one killer of accountability and the chief reason most people can’t hold others accountable without breaking out in hives.
      Companies that continually allow things to come up without dealing with the breach of promise don’t survive very long. And while they are limping along, they’re horrible places to work. Nothing destroys trust more than casually giving assignments and then hoping against hope that people will deliver. You may like the fact that your boss doesn’t always follow up with you, giving you substantial freedom, but you hate it when others are equally loose and unpredictable.
  • The intersection of flexibility and focus
    • how can you be at once focused and flexible? It’s actually easy. At the heart of every workable accountability system, there is one simple sentence: “If something comes up, let me know as soon as you can.”
      This sentence represents the marriage of flexibility and focus. In these 12 words, two seemingly contradictory elements form a perfect harmony: the yin and yang of accountability.
      With a policy of “If something comes up, let me know as soon as you can,” we should expect pretty immediate communication. Thanks to modern technology, when we say, “Let’s talk as soon as you can,” we know that can be pretty fast. Between e-mail, voice mail, text messages, and cell phones, we are always no farther away from each other than the speed of light and the click of button.
  • The foundation of crucial accountability
    • In fact, in a huge number of companies (and families are no different), the following is true:
      Results = no results + a good story
      In institutions where accountability is shaky, people treat you as if you’ve succeeded as long as you have a good excuse or story. In this inventive culture, failure accompanied by a plausible excuse equals success.
      To establish a climate in which accountability discussions are built on a bedrock of trust, stay focused. Set clear and firm expectations. Stay flexible. End by stating, “If something comes up, let me know as soon as you can.” Finally, when you’re talking with someone who tries to excuse a missed assignment by saying that “something came up,” deal with this emergent problem – this violation of trust – as a new challenge. Net let it slide.
  • New problems sneak onto the scene
    • To deal with this tricky emergent problem, start by announcing the change in topic. It’s okay to change topics, but always clarify what you’re doing. Place a bookmark where you just were so that it will be easy to return to it later. If you don’t, you lose your place and sometimes forget that you changed topics: “I’d like to talk about what just happened.” This stops the conversation dead in its tracks. Next, do everything you’ve learned so far. Pick the problem you want to discuss. Bring your emotions under control by telling a more accurate story. Then describe the gap. Move from the content conversation to the relationship one (his disrespectful behavior). You then close the discussion by seeking a clear commitment: “So I can count on you to treat me like a professional in the future?”
    • Now you face one more issue. Do you return to the original problem? You still haven’t resolved the job equity issue. This is something you have to decide in the moment. Sometimes, having dealt with a much larger problem, you decide to return to the original problem another time. Continuing now could seem like piling it on. Besides, in this case he may want to make a hasty exit to regain his dignity and composure. Naturally, if there is enough safety to continue, go ahead and finish what you started. Retrieve the bookmark and continue where you left off.
      These steps can be applied to any new problem that emerges in the middle of an accountability discussion. Pull out of the original infraction, announce the change in topic, discuss the new infraction, bring it to a satisfactory resolution, and then decide whether you need to return to the original issue.
    • Pull out, announce the change in topic, confront the new problem, work it through to a satisfactory resolution, and then decide whether you want to return to the original infraction. Of course, this can work only if you spot the new problem and then choose to deal with it. This can be difficult when you’re already trying to handle another problem ,but that’s how the world of human interaction unfolds. New problems emerge all the time.
  • Explosive emotions take over
    • New let’s take emergent problems to the final level. The other person goes to silence or violence and becomes quite emotional. This person isn’t merely pushing his or her argument too hard; he or she is becoming angry and abusive. Now what? You can’t use the standard method for creating safety until the other person has calmed down.

What is this thing called anger?
To deal with a person who becomes emotional (this includes anger, frustration, fear, sorrow, etc), we have to get to the source of all feelings. Let’s return to the Path of Action.

Once again, emotions don’t come from outer space. We create them ourselves. A person violates an expectation, we see it, and then we tell ourselves a story. The story then leads to a feeling.
To create a strong feeling, we tell a story that includes a strong value. For instance, a coworker lets you down on purpose. She disrespects you. Your boss double-checked your work because he doesn’t trust you. You become quite upset. Then, of course, your adrenaline kicks in, and it’s off to the world of strong feelings, weak mind.
If you want to deal with your own emotions, you have to deal with your own stories. You have to find a way to tell them differently, leading to a different feeling and different actions.

Dealing with anger

  1. Ensure your safety
    • That is exactly what you should be determining. When other people become angry, there is always the chance that hey will become violent. They’ve stepped over one line. Will they step over the next one? Fortunately, most bosses never face anything close to this form of danger at work, at least not from employees. People go to silence more then they go to violence. Nevertheless, there are exceptions. That’s why you must determine how dangerous the situation is. Don’t be a hero. If you think you’re in danger, leave. Remove yourself from the situation. Take flight; don’t fight. Then call the appropriate authorities. In most companies that’s security or human resources. Let your boss know what happened. Don’t even think about dealing with the danger yourself.
  2. Dissipate the emotion
    • If you’re not in danger, go straight to the emotion; don’t deal with the argument per se. Anger-based chemicals are legal, of course but they prepare the body to spring into action, and that doesn’t mean talking politely. Therefore, don’t deal with the content of the argument until you’ve dealt with the emotion. The other person isn’t very likely to listen to you – or, for that matter, explain his or her own argument clearly and calmly – until the chemical surge has subsided. Any argument you make won’t be heard. Any suggestions you offer are likely to come across as an assault. Stifle your desire to jump into the content of the argument. Instead, dissipate the emotion.
    • Common but not good practices
      • Don’t get hooked. Left to our natural tendencies, most of us respond to anger in kind.
      • Don’t one-up. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would treat anger with smug indifference, but it happens
      • Don’t patronize. Telling people to calm down or grow up throws gas on the flames of violated values. They’re already fuming about being mistreated, and then you heap on more abuse.
  3. Explore the other person’s Path to Action
    • Because we can never see what’s going on inside other people’s heads, it’s important to help bring their thoughts and feelings into the open. This requires some skill on our part. We’ve seen the action; now it’s our job to retrace their Path to Action to whatever it was that ticked them off. We must move from the emotional outburst back to the feeling, the story, and the original observation. Therein lies the source of the emotion as well as the solution to the problem.
    • Use AMPP(ask, mirror, paraphrase, prime) to power up your listening skills. Next, we have to find a way to understand why others get emotional as well as to let them know that we understand. We have 4 power listening tools to help us.
  4. Take action
    • Once we’ve uncovered the story and the action that led to it, we’re in a position to deal with the problem itself, and this is what we should do. We’re not listening for the sake of listening. Once again, we’re learning about how to carry on an accountability discussion, in this case how to listen actively not as an intellectual exercise but as a way to get to results.
      If your emotions are in control but you’re about to lose your temper, also take a strategic delay. Your grandmother was wrong when she counseled you on the eve of your wedding never to go to bed angry. When you’re angry, going to bed may be exactly the thing you need to do dissipate your adrenaline, regain your brainpower, and prepare to return to the conversation.
  • When new problems emerge, remain flexible enough to deal with them – without getting sidetracked. Each time you step up to a new problem, it should be by choice not y accident. Choose; don’t meander.
  • When people feel unsafe, step out of the conversation create safety, and then return.
  • When people don’t deliver on a promise because “something came up,” deal with this inadequate excuse. Others need to let you know that plans may be changing as soon as they can.
  • When people don’t deliver on a promise because “something came up,” deal with this inadequate excuse. Others need to let you know that plans may be changing as soon as they can.
  • When a worse problem emerges, step out of the original problem, leave a bookmark so you’ll know where to return, and then start over with the new problem. Once you’ve dealt with the emergent problem, return to the original issue.
  • When others become upset, retrace their Path to Action to the original source. Talking about the facts helps dissipate the emotions and takes you to the place where you can resolve the problem.

2 thoughts on “Crucial accountability – Part 2: create safety

  1. Pingback: Crucial accountability – Part 3: move to action   | alin miu

  2. Pingback: Crucial Conversations & Crucial Accountability | alin miu

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