Our blog about communicating throughout conflict
Have you seen our latest course, How to Lead Effective and Engaging Meetings? If you have, you'll probably recognize the first element - purpose. And you may remember the tools we talked about to help with it. So, today I want to explore a couple different styles of motivation, because motivation can act as a purpose in some conversations.
In the course, we mentioned that we're aiming for the "highest positive purpose." Yet, when it comes to motivation, there are two types: away and toward.
Toward motivation is the positive motivation, where someone is aiming to accomplish something, often to work toward something else. They may, for example, want to lose weight in order to be healthier, look better in their clothes, etc.
Away motivation is the incentive to do something in order to get away from or prevent something else. For example, some people want to lose weight so they don't have knee pain or have trouble keeping up with their child.
When we are first getting started on a...
Efficiency is something many professionals aspire to. But what does it mean to be efficient? It's not just about completing tasks as quickly as possible. When other people are involved, it's also about communicating effectively, and technology may be setting us back in this. Take the online calendars such as Calendly or Acuity, for example.
The calendar may save time and reduce the frustration of going back and forth, but when people send a link with only a message of "Here's a link," that, alone, is not efficient. If you do that, you miss an opportunity to connect. And that may actually set you back in the long run because you fail to connect well and consistently. If you've ever been annoyed by an automated receptionist, you know what I'm talking about. The automated receptionists make us feel like a number, like the company's time and efficiency is more important than ours, right?
The online schedulers seem to be used most when first meeting a person because people schedule the...
...Communication. We've all had clients who are reluctant to move forward with something. For example, sometimes clients are reluctant to move forward with mediation, not wanting to face the opposing party. That can bring up a lot of emotions, so they may not be at their best or get the best outcomes.
If you preframe, their focus can shift to a feature that makes it more palatable, or at least more tolerable. So, instead of them going into it with negative expectations, they can go in feeling empowered, focusing on something positive to work toward.
A frame, in communication, is very much like you relate to a frame for a picture. Frames contain the content, and they also set the perspective. Where a picture frame might draw out specific colors while others fade, a frame in communication may draw out specific perspectives around the topic while others fade. So, it's a great tool to use in the second essential element, or step, of conversations - relating.
In the world of coaching, I frequently heard "Think outside the box" as being the best way to solve a problem. And I've said it, too. But now I'm reconsidering.
What if the best way to find better solutions is to, first, look within the box?
Communication training, for most of us, is limited. We learn subject, verb, predicate, etc, how to give a speech, and how to write an essay/report. In law school, we may also learn about writing a (not-so) brief and how to make an argument. But there's more to communication than that.
One thing we can learn is feedback. Not just the type where someone may holler at us or send a nasty email, but through subtle, nonverbal communication. How would your practice improve if you used an early warning system, giving you time to respond before things got out of hand? And that's just one listening skill we all have, but may not have developed fully.
There's another listening skill that is gifted to all of us at birth, and yet few of us actually know its...
People like to be kept in the loop, especially when it involves a legal case. There's just something about turning over a big deal to a stranger, you know? So, the question becomes, "How do we keep clients in the loop?"
Clients may not like to make calls for status updates. Sometimes they feel annoyed at having to. Other times they hate to "be a bother." But there are ways to handle this, and following these suggestions for client communication benefits both you and the client.
1.) Set a reasonable expectation for the client.
Say when you hope to know more, and invite them to contact you if they haven't heard from you by then. This does a number of things: 1.) It empowers the client, which can help to put them at ease. And whe a client is at ease, the job has one less complication. 2.) It can be a good trigger. Set a reminder to follow through on the case a few days ahead of when you suggested the client call. Of course, feel free to call ahead of time, too, especially if you...
Impasse. Before we even ask the question of what we do about it when we get there, it's a good idea to ask what more we can do to avoid it. Two ideas come to mind, and both happen before the parties even enter the room. Because like any picture, where the backdrop, the lighting, and the camera can make an extraordinary photograph of an ordinary object, setting the stage for mediation can also offer powerful results. Because like any picture, where the backdrop, the lighting, and the camera can make an extraordinary photograph of an ordinary object, setting the stage for mediation can also offer powerful results.
One way is to help clients set a standard for success, and that may also mean that you help them shift from a single point of expectation to the greater range of a standard. That alone can increase the chances of a satisfactory outcome for clients. One reason for this is that it helps you ensure that your style is appropriate. It also gives a little context, setting the...
In trainings for mediation, parrot phrasing has been identified as the way to reflect back what we hear the parties say in their opening statements, and I'm not so sure that's the best way to do that. In fact, it's one of my pet peeves for a number of reasons:
1.) By itself, it may break rapport with the other person. If a party says something, and it creates a shift in another party, repeating it could put us, unnecessarily, on thin ice and cause that other party to escalate or shut down.
2.) At the same time, it may come across as mimicking or unnatural, and parties can pick up on that, causing them to question what we say. That's a tough thing to recover from, especially when that is an early impression.
3.) Using the same words back doesn't mean we "get it." It means we can copy, and that may not build confidence right out of the gate. It also may represent a lost opportunity to start bringing the parties together.
4.) In fact, if we do use the same words, it could reinforce...
Have you ever gone deeper into something you didn't expect to like, only to discover you actually did like it after all? I did that with business law in college. The course I took to prove to myself it wasn't a good fit turned out to be something I liked so well I went to law school and got a license to practice law. And you can see how law school can change the way you see the world around you. A banana, for example, is no longer just a fruit; it is also a harbinger for a tort. Life experiences, especially as a first-year law student, suddenly present as questions for a final or a bar exam.
When we change our perception of one thing, we are in a different position than we were in before, and that means we are now in a different position with respect to other things. That's why if we quit looking for our keys or glasses and focus on something else, the keys or glasses turn up. Conflict resolution works the same way.
When I am mediating cases, one of the best things I can do is...