Having effective engagements has never been as important as it is today. In our virtual environment where robots have taken over text, emails, messages, and phone calls it is critical to ensure important conversations include a meaningful connection. There are some communications that are intended to be one way. But, in a situation where shared dialogue is necessary change your perspective to view the situation from the other side.
Engaging your audience is important in getting them to listen. For communications to be effective they must combine your interest with what matters to the other side. To turn the conversation into action there must be agreement that change is needed and an owner to that change is identified. Effective engagements involve clearing the air, finding common ground, and recruiting the other party to be party to help. Take time to plan communications before jumping into a discussion you are not ready for.
Clearing the air.
This first part will require reflection. Think through the following:
Define the issue
What is the issue?
What is the desired outcome?
What is consequence of the issue?
Define the roadblock
What is keeping both parties from resolving the issue?
What steps need to be taken to remove the roadblocks for all parties?
Do you know who could remove the roadblocks?
When writing this out remove “you” and “me” and replace them with “we.” Restructure your communication to make it into a shared problem and a shared solution. Where possible, focus on processes, policies, and systems. Going through these steps write out a statement that summarizes the issue and what resolution you want to achieve.
Finding common ground.
This second part will require you to thinking about the other party. Think through the following:
Define the other person’s perspective
What is their priority?
What are their responsibilities?
What are you expecting of them?
Once you write out the answers to these questions, form it into a statement explaining the other parties objective as you understand it. In your discussion it will be important to validate this statement to ensure you are fairly look at the issue from their perspective.
To put common ground between your statement and the other perspective put them together in one sentence with an AND. Avoid using OR. Using AND ensures both sides are getting what is most important.
Once you have taken time to process through the above it is time to think through resolution. Ensure that your solutions are supporting both sides of the statement you drafted in finding common ground. Think through the following:
Define the possible solutions
Why is solving the issue important?
How does the solution benefit you?
How does the solution benefit the other party?
How can the solution be accomplished?
Who needs to be involved in the changes needed?
Going through this line of questioning will ensure you are having the discussion with the right parties involved. As you prepare for your conversation make sure you include the ask for their help at the end of the discussion. With action-based dialogue summarize the discussion and then close out with actions that include WHO is doing WHAT by WHEN and schedule a reasonable FOLLOW-UP date.
If a conversation is important, it is worth the time to plan. We make our biggest mistakes by thinking we can start a meaningful dialogue without a plan. We say things we do not intended or do not mean. But if we really want to be heard and we want the other party to engage it is critical to change our perspective. Clear the air, find common ground, and recruit the other party to be party to help.
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