STOP that argument in its tracks

From time to time I like to pass along other good websites or blogs, etc. that are really good stuff.

This is from Robbins-Madanes Training (Tony Robbins and Chloe Madanes) http://robbinsmadanescoachtraining.com/?p=1464

I highly recommend that you take time to read it and watch the video(s)…….

It starts here…..

Have you ever been in an argument with someone where you realize, “Wow. This might be the end of our relationship!” It could be a tough conversation with a friend about hurt feelings that could end the friendship and make you enemies. It might be a business negotiation where instead becoming partners you become competitors. It could be a conversation with your spouse that could lead to a decision that you regret forever. These are dangerous minutes, right? Well, conversations like this we call “high stakes conversations.” If you win, you win it all. If you lose, you lose it all. The stakes are high. So how do you turn it around?

Today let’s explore one simple strategy called the Outcome Strategy.

You see, the problem with high stakes conversations is that two speakers tend to get stuck in an emotional opposition to each other. In other words: the more you take your position, the more I disagree with you and take the opposite position, and vica versa. When you get opposed to each other like this, you start reacting to me and the emotional dynamics of our conversation rather than the actual outcome you want. Instead of being proactive – and thinking creatively about what’s best for everyone, the conversation plays out as if only one of you can win this game. Now, what’s wrong with getting stuck in an opposition is that any two people having a high-stakes conversation are likely to have a lot in common: a relationship, a history, and shared objectives. When you get stuck in an opposition, you stop reacting to what’s good and only react to what you see as bad – the other person’s disagreements, opposition, disrespect. That’s what’s so dangerous – you’re likely to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Outcome Strategy is there to stop that pattern, see past the opposition, align with each other, and find creative solutions for your outcomes. The strategy has three basic parts:

1. ASK TO UNDERSTAND. Simply tell the person, “I really want to understand you,  your experience, and what you want. Please tell me what is most important to you right now.” In other words, you’re asking to understand their outcome. Most conflicts are triggered by a specific emotion -when the other person doesn’t feel you will look after their interests. When you become a great listener, this changes fast. The thing they’re upset about could be a policy decision, it could be that they want to feel respected, it could mean they sick of deadlines not being met. At bottom, what is upsetting them is the feeling that you are not willing to help them. Listen, listen, listen. Align with them so that you’re helping them get what they need.

2. ASK HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN – AND OFFER HELP. Pretty common-sense, right? When we rally for something, when we push for something to happen, we usually have a vision – an expectation, an idea, a preconception, a bias – on how it should happen or will happen. You need to understand the other person’s vision in very concrete terms. So just say, “What’s important to you is important to me, and I want you (and us) to have this outcome. How are you thinking it’s going to take place? What has to happen? What do you need? What’s the sequence of steps we need to take?” Don’t ask this in a challenging way. Instead, think of yourself as rolling up your sleeves, going side-by-side with the other person, saying, “OK, where do we start?” If you can, take notes and get the sequence of action steps to get to the outcome. Remember: if this is a high-stakes conversation, the upset was caused by the feeling that you’re not looking after your friend… so counter that by committing now to some steps and turn that around. Write your commitments down on paper. This sends a strong signal that you are cooperating and that the argument is over. Once the person understands that you are on their side and that you will help, you also have an opportunity to offer solutions that get you to the outcome more quickly.

3. RAISE THE COMMON INTENT. Now, once the person feels you understand their outcome and how they want to get it, once they feel you are no longer opposed to them, raise the intent. Here’s how this works. When we get into a high stakes argument, it usually devolves to you vs. me. Now that’s a restricted kind of “survival mode” thinking that kicks in when we get into a personal conflict. Now that you’ve aligned with the other person, share a broader intention – of helping you, helping me, of helping those around us, and helping in the long term. When you raise the common intent and widening the circle of people who will get benefits, you have the opportunity also to introduce action steps that may help more people or bring the outcome on more quickly and effectively.

SOUND SIMPLE? The Outcome Strategy sounds simple because it makes a lot of sense intellectually. It’s actually a fundamental skill of problem solving that is useful in just about every high-stakes conversation you’ll encounter. So let’s take a real-world example. The day is September 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks in New York. Tony Robbins had been giving a workshop in Hawaii for 2,000 people from over 30 countries, 50 of whom had just lost friends, family, or businesses in the World Trade Center attacks. The group was incredibly upset, and there had already been outbreaks of arguments and fights. Tony stepped onstage and was guiding the group through a process of emotional mastery to deal with the fact of the event… when a young Pakistani man stood up to exclaim that he felt sympathy with the terrorists. So there you have it: a high-stakes conversation. One man with a minority point of view in the group, speaking in a highly charged, raw way about something that has upset everyone, while others in the room were having to be restrained from attacking him. How does Tony deal with this intelligently? The Outcome Conversation. It’s only 15 minutes long – but it transformed everything.

(there is a video at http://robbinsmadanescoachtraining.com/?p=1464 that I can’t copy here)

How did the Outcome Conversation work with Asad? Let’s review.

1. Tony asked Asad to share how he feels and why, so that Tony can grasp is point of view. Understanding Asad is Tony’s path to mastering the situation. He listens non-judgmentally, thanks Asad for explaining himself, and acknowledges his point of view completely. He also says over and over: “I haven’t had your experience, so I have zero judgment. This is just my opinion. If you want to tell me I’m full of it, I’m totally OK with that, because I’m not you.” This tells Asad that he’s justified in his emotions and that he has been heard and understood.

2. Tony asks Asad “How do you expect this will happen?” In this case, how is the terrorist attack supposed to further the Muslim cause? At this point, the conversation shifted. Asad realized that his position doesn’t make sense… violence would not lead the west to understand, it would just lead to more violence in the cycle. Tony gives Asad a non-judgmental space to figure this out himself. Once Asad realizes that it doesn’t make sense, he’s open to help.

3. Tony raises Asad’s intent. Asad is thinking big – he’s thinking about the Muslim cause and the plight of Iraqis torn by the war, so Tony meets him there and raises his intent even higher: how can we impact the people Asad loves in the most effective way? By condoning violence, or by making violence unacceptable? When Asad accepts this higher intent, he also accepts the responsibilities of being a leader – of seeing how his behavior will impact hundreds and/or thousands.

As a result, a conversation that could have been dangerous or disappointing ended up bringing everyone in the room to a higher level of intent, understanding, compassion, and intelligent action. Asad clarified his outcome and achieved it on that day – and as a result, he became a crusader for tolerance and greater understanding.

After this conversation, Tony invited Asad onstage, along with Bernie, a Jewish man from New York who had stood up to challenge Asad. Tony guided the two through a process of Indirect Negotiation. By the end of the evening, the two men had each had breakthroughs, embraced, and started an organization for religious tolerance. Today Asad continues to work as a crusader for peace. Here is his talk at a TED conference in Karachi, Pakistan.

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One thought on “STOP that argument in its tracks

  1. marrymeknot September 19, 2012 at 12:52 AM Reply

    Wow, this was really good. I liked learning about the “high-stakes” arguments. I feel like my partner and I have one good blow out about once a year. I always referred to them as the “fight of ’09, or ’11” but now I know what it really is. It’s probably months and months of one of us feeling like we are not heard or appreciated. Then, once things start to heighten it’s not about the problem anymore it’s about bruised egos. My friend once told me, “Our ego’s can’t live in the present.” If you live in the moment, you aren’t thinking about the past or the future, you are out of your head, you are thinking as Asad said, “from your body.” Thanks for the tips.

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