Ever have a bomb go off in your life and not really know what happened?
Or maybe you are meeting with someone and they are clearly talking through something but you can’t quite figure it out (and neither can they!)
The Vital Smarts people have a proven pathway that can help. In their book Crucial Conversations they propose a plan that is simple but oh so powerful.
Step 1: Uncover the incident.
- When did you begin feeling this way?
- Was there an event that precipitated this all?
- Think back – what started the spiral?
Step 2: State your thoughts.
- What did you start telling yourself when that happened?
- What did you think the other person was saying about you with their words or actions?
Step 3: Express your feelings.
- When that thing happened and then you thought something, how did it make you feel?
- What’s going on inside?
Step 4: Own your actions.
- Something happened, you thought something, then felt something and then what did you do?
- How are you reacting?
You can also do it backwards.
I’m lashing out because I feel hurt.(my action and my feelings) It seems like that person thinks I’m not doing my job.(my thoughts) He was talking to the boss and they were both looking at me… (the incident)
Let me share my own story.
Last week I sent an email with a request that was a bit cheeky. When the recipient responded he was a bit “telly” teaching me why my email was out of line. I could accept that, but it seemed like he went on and on. One paragraph even started with “Further, …” (the incident)
It made me think he thought he was wise and I was inferior.(my thoughts)
I felt belittled.(my feelings)
And unfortunately I emailed him back with a lesser version of myself than I intended.(my reaction)
(At least I offered a phone call to talk it out which he accepted and we did talk it out. Fence mended.)
This process always helps me help myself and often helps me help others.
So, the next time you aren’t really sure why you are doing something you are doing – think backwards. Recognize your angsty behavior, think about how you are feeling, what you were thinking before that and finally where it all started.
AND THEN share that with the other person involved and ask them to do the same. Ask them what they are thinking and feeling etc.
The Vital Smarts people call that jumping in the pool of shared meaning.
Let’s get real with each other and live together in the best possible way!
Here’s the Vital Smart’s Crucial Conversations Diagram
This book is up in my top ten!