Relationships and Difficult Conversations
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that started out badly from the get-go? Have you ever had a difficult conversation with someone that just blew up and got completely out of control?
Kiki and I help people understand how to communicate more effectively. We have been asked to speak at different engagements about techniques to use in a difficult conversation. We recently gave a talk to a diverse audience, and I was approached afterword with a request to speak to me. I obliged.
At first I thought the gentleman wanted to speak with me about possibly making an appointment to come into our office for legal assistance. Oh man was I wrong! After agreeing to talk with him, he stated “I heard what you had to say and you are wrong.”
Different Perspectives – Neither is Right nor Wrong, Just Different
Initially, I was a bit taken aback. Kiki and I had just finished our talk on difficult conversations which includes quite a bit of information on the value of different perspectives. We talked about how each of us sees the world through our own unique lenses or filters. In other words, two people could see the same event and end up having very different perceptions of the same event.
We shared with everyone the power of acknowledging another person’s perspective as neither right nor wrong, merely different. So here comes a member of the audience who tells me right off the bat that my perspective has no value because it is “wrong” in his opinion. So what did I do with this?
Have a Learning Conversation
First, I smiled. Then I actively listened to his perspective, nodding my head and interjecting positive comments about what he was sharing with me. Why? Because I knew right away that I was not going to convince him that my perspective had merit. He was not acknowledging it as having any value and specifically labeled it as “wrong.”
If I had more time to speak with him, I would have told him that I was very interested in hearing more about his perspective because I really wanted to understand where he was coming from. Mentally, I disengaged myself from the conversation because I recognized that it was not going to be a conversation.
Rather, it had all the ear-markings of a monologue about why his perspective was “right” and mine was “wrong.” So, I gave him about five minutes of my time and then thanked him for talking to me.
Divorcing Couples Need Help Communicating
Divorcing couples with young children need to be able to communicate in a positive and supportive way. They are going to be a family for the rest of their lives, and it will likely look quite different from the way it looked prior to the divorce. You don’t stop being a family just because mom and dad decide not to live with each other any more.
Unfortunately, in many divorce scenarios we hear about at our Winter Garden family law office, the communication between the spouses plummets into a continuous downward-spiraling circle of negativity, attacks, and judgments. Labeling the other spouse as “wrong” or judging a decision as ludicrous and without merit is commonplace.
Choosing the wrong attorneys can escalate the hate, the conflict, and drive a deeper wedge between the couple which ends up harming the future family. It is my belief that attorneys should be masters of communication and should help clients learn about communicating in a more positive and constructive way.
We do that with our clients. Are we always successful? No. Have we been successful? Yes.
Communication impacts and affects every relationship we have. Whether it be a spouse, sibling, supervisor, parent or co-worker. Helping people learn how to communicate better is just one of the things our Winter Garden law firm does because we are passionate about it.
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Our talk on difficult conversations significantly relies on the wonderful book Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most by members of the Harvard Negotiation Project.