The following is the introduction to Module 4 of “Essential Skills for Engaging Conflict”, a course that Sound Options Group developed in partnership with Oklahoma State University. These modules are a great resource to lead your team through as you work to improve your conflict engagement skills.
We stated earlier that effective collaboration is contingent on the ability to “balance advocacy and inquiry”. In the previous module, Listening for Understanding, we focused on supporting inquiry. In this context our energy is primarily focused on understanding what the other party wants and needs to have understood. We shared from the classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey where he encourages us to:
Seek First to Understand . . . Then to be Understood
Engagement in collaboration that is committed to mutual purpose and mutual gain requires that we also be able to advocate our interests in relationship to the shared issue(s). This, at times, can be experienced as the most challenging aspect of a difficult conversation. Too often the person to whom we have been listening experiences the sharing of our perspective as a rebuttal to what they have been sharing. We want to share our thoughts in a way that increase our shared pool of meaning rather that arguing the veracity of our individual perspectives.
In this module you and your team will:
- Learn the keys to creating safety in a challenging conversation,
- Learn to sort facts, interpretations, and interests
- Identify strategies for sharing perspective in a way that makes it “easier” for the other person to hear, and
- Know when to “loop back” to listening in order to continue to balance advocacy with inquiry.