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Copy of Taking the Stress out of Stressful Conversations

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tooba ahmed

on 20 April 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Taking the Stress out of Stressful Conversations

Taking the Stress
out of Stressful Conversations
- Holly Weeks

Those SENSITIVE exchanges that can hurt or haunt us in ways no other kind of talking does.”
differ from usual conversations because of the emotions they carry : embarrassment, confusion, anxiety, anger, pain...
likely to be avoided --> but sometimes costly to dodge certain issues
Stressful Conversations
"I have bad news for you."
"What's going on here?"
"You're attacking me!"
3 Basic stressful Conversations
Example: Nonprofit Organization

"I have bad news for you"
David, director needs to talk to Jeremy
Jeremy performs well
Problem: his cutting sense of humor
quality of his work suffers
Recommended approach
split conversation in two parts:
1. confrontation with the issue
2. discussion itself
start off with admission of regret
some personal contribution to the problem
"What's going on here?"
Elizabeth and Rafael are consultants who work together
needs to be rescheduled due to some delays.
E: tries appeasement
E assumes that R’s tension is automatically her fault
Rafael’s perception: Elizabeth is taking over
R overreacts
Recommended strategy
not always apologize
clarification strategy
leading confrontation into a point of agreement
"You're attacking me!"
Nick and Karen are working on the same level in an IT firm
K : poor presentation to client
N asks K what happened
K feels provoked and throws out accusations and threats
Matter reaches MD
Both passed over for promotion
Recommended strategy
Separate character from behavior
Neutralize tactic: name it
Honor your counterpart!
Disarm by restating your intentions!
Fight tactics, not people!
Holy Weeks: Taking the Stress out of Stressful Situations, published in Harvard Business Review on Communicating Effectively (2011)
Stressful Conversations are THRUST UPON US
WE are caught in a black cloud
Example: consulting firm
Tooba Ahmed
Zahid Qureshi

presented by:
A good start is to become aware of your own weaknesses to people and situations.”
Know your danger zones.
Rehearse with a neutral friend.
Fine-tuning the phrasing.
The DNA of Conversation Management

Three techniques for successful conversation:
Preparing for Stressful Conversation
Become aware of your own weaknesses.
Know your danger zones.
Rehearse with a neutral friend.
Fine-tuning the phrasing.

Honor thy partner
There is no one good technique
Communicating honor is to be highly valued
Ability to act with dignity can
make or break the conversation

Disarm by restating your intentions
Clarification technique
Can change confrontation to agreement
No one loses face

Fight tactics not people
Separate character from behavior
Best way to neutralize tactic is to name it
Openly identifying a tactic is a disarming technique

Stressful conversations are inevitable
They need not have bad resolutions
We can deal with these situations better if:
1:We develop greater awareness of our vulnerabilities
2: gauge better techniques for handling ourselves
Phrasing should be natural
Preparing for such conversations
Full transcript