Module 4: Sharing your Perspective – Section 3

The following is Section 3 from 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.

Additional Strategies:  What then do I share?

In the previous section we identified some critical distinctions between facts and interpretation of facts and between positions and interests.   The questions at this point could be, “Okay, I understand the distinction.  So what do I share when putting my perspective out there?”  The answer is all of it.  Once again the critical consideration is in the “how” of sharing.

When sharing in the context of facts and interpretation of the facts, it is essential that I share both if you are truly going to understand my perspective.   I want to start by sharing the data and/or facts that are informing my perspective.  I may want to describe specific observable events or behaviors that have drawn my attention.  Again, it is critical that we delineate that which we can observe from our interpretation of it.  There is no judgment attached.

To this we add our interpretation of what these events or behaviors mean to us.  It is at this point that the how becomes most critical.  I am sharing my interpretation as a hunch.  As a hunch it has not become fixed in my mind as fact but remains open to discussion.  I am sharing in such a way that says I am open to consider alternate interpretations.  I am open to the possibility that I may have misinterpreted a situation of that a radically different interpretation might make more sense.  Fundamentally I am open to learning.

What does this look like?  In a meeting with a parent I might describe a significant change in a child’s behavior on the playground.   I might share behavioral data that indicates a significant increase in aggressive behaviors by the child.  I might then state that it is now obvious (interpretation) that we as a team need to review the issue of medication for this child.  By using the word “obvious” I have elevated my interpretation to the level of fact about which I have adopted a high degree of certainty.  I dare you to argue with me.

An alternate approach would start the same way.  I would share the same behavioral data from my playground observations.  I might then propose one possible interpretation of the behavioral change as being related to an issue of medication.  I would pose this as a question, a hunch, a point for additional exploration, not a fact.   I would then open the question to the team to explore what additional plausible explanations might there be.  In asking this question we might find out about changes in the home routine or even additional evidence that supports our hunch.  Our goal is to share our perspective in such a way that it invites an on-going shared exploration of the issue.

When framing our sharing in the context of positions and interest it is equally important that we share both.  It is critical in a conversation for collaboration that we identify our common and independent interests.  This exploration, which we will cover in more detail in the next module, is critical to our capacity to achieve mutual gain or benefit from the conversation.  Our interest will become the criteria by which we evaluate a range of possible options.

So what role do our positions play?  Is taking a position bad?  The answer depends on how you hold the position.  If the position, which tends to include your proposed solution, is proposed as the only viable solution then it becomes problematic.  Your attention shifts to advocating your position while loosing sight of the more important interests.  If, on the other hand your position is held as one possible option, then it may be helpful.  There is nothing wrong with bringing and sharing potential solutions in the conversation.  It is when you become more committed to your solution than mutual gains collaboration that it becomes problematic.  It stifles the creative conversations that might emerge if we are open with curiosity to new learning.  Fundamentally we are seeking to create a conversation of shared learning.

As a group,use the following suggestions to increase your understanding what to share when sharing your perspective in a challenging conversation.

  • Identify and describe meeting where you might have confused the sharing of facts and interpretation of the facts?  What specifically did you say?
  • Identify alternate ways in which you might have share this information using the strategies identified above.  Practice with a partner
  • Identify and describe meeting where you might have focused your sharing on advocating your position while not identifying your interests?  What specifically did you say?
  • Identify alternate ways in which you might have share this information using the strategies identified above.  Practice with a partner
  • What insight has surfaced for you from this practice?
  • What action might you take to increase your effectiveness?



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