Module 4: Sharing your Perspective – Section 4

The following is Section 4 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.

 

Some Final thoughts on Sharing your Perspective:

Asking Permission and Looping Back

We have used the habit of “Seek first to understand . . . then to be understood” proposed by Stephen Covey as a framework for this module.  Two questions often arise at this point in the discussion:

  1. When do I know when it is time to shift from listening to sharing?
  2. What do I do if the other person starts arguing with what I am sharing?

Let’s take these one at a time.  I believe that I have sufficiently heard and understood (Seek first to understand. . .) the perspective of the other person.  I will then summarize what I have heard (Active Listening) and ask the person if they believe that I am “getting” what it is they want and need me to understand.  If they say no, I might ask them to share specifically what it is that they do not think I understand.  I will then summarize my new understanding and repeat my previous question; “Am I “getting” what you need me to understand?”  If they say yes then it is time to make the transition to sharing my perspective (. . . then to be under understood).

This transition is brief and critical.  I ask permission to share my perspective.  I ask; “Would you now be willing to hear my thoughts and perspective on this issue?”  I might couch this request in a restatement of my commitment to mutual purpose.  In sharing my perspective I am not intending to rebut their point of view.  I am interested in adding my perspective to theirs in an effort at creating a deeper, shared perspective. You can not force someone to hear your perspective.  You can influence their willingness to hear by making it their choice, maintaining a commitment to mutual purpose and engaging respectfully.

This takes us to the second question; What if the other person starts arguing with what I am sharing? Despite all our best efforts the person may perceive our perspective as a rebuttal and again begin advocating their point of view.  At this point I have a choice.  We talked about these choices in module two.  I can go on the defensive with fairly predictable results.  I can also loop back into listening (seek to understand) what it is the person wants to make sure I understand.  I acknowledge this understand and then return to advocating my perspective.  This is not a linear process.  We are in essence seeking to weave our individual perspective into a shared, integrated perspective.  We are in essence taking our individual stories and weaving them into a single shared story.  We will continue to expand on this notion in the next module.

As a group,use the following suggestions to increase your understanding of the transition from listening to sharing and integrating our stories:

  •  When you are sharing your perspective, what behavior in others tends to move you to defensiveness?
  • What are the indicators you have experienced that tells you the conversation is moving from collaborative to argumentative?
  • What strategies have you used to bring the conversation back in line with mutual purpose?

 

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