Episode 12

Stop Avoiding Crucial Conversations

"People are so scared of looking stupid, that they end up looking stupid."

Stop fucking up your communication! Whether you have partners, employees, are an employee, or just want to make better friends. The UFMB crew drops one of their highest value-per-minute sessions yet. Go listen to how we can all unfuck high-stakes and emotionally charged crucial conversations for greater results.

In this episode: Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins, Kathleen Seide, Robyn Sayles


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Season Two of Unfuck My Business is sponsored by Seide Realty. Visit them at whystpete.com and let them unfuck your real estate experience.


Below is a rough transcript for your convenience. It’s not perfect because we want to spend our time unfucking your business, not unfucking this transcript.

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

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000000 Kathleen Seide

Hey, this is Kathleen. And when I'm not unfucking businesses here on the podcast, I'm on fucking real estate. Over at WhyStPete.com. My company is Seide Realty and we are excited to sponsor this episode.

000013 Intro

This is Kayla Reynoso from Tampa today. And you're listening to Unfuck My Business no bullshit advice for business owners who want to be resilient as fuck. And here are your hosts. My absolute favorite people in the world.

000034 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

What's up Unfuckers. It's your boy Jinx, back with you here on another episode of Unfuck My Business, I am joined as always by my eloquent co-host and show runner Robyn Sayles.

000047 Robyn Sayles

It is indeed an indubious pleasure to be with you today, sir.

000053 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

And my favorite real estate agent Kathleen Seide.

000057 Kathleen Seide

Hello. I can not follow that. She's much, much more fun than me today.

000103 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

I think this conversation today is an important one. In fact, you might even say a crucial one. Although, not necessarily under the definition of what we're talking about, which is Crucial Conversation s. And if you've read the book, if you haven't, I definitely recommend it. But if you have read the book, you're, you're aware that a Crucial Conversation is any discussion between two or more people where stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions run strong. And obviously, I mean, this is a concept that happens in your interpersonal relationships and all the rest of that, but in the context of unfucking your business, One of the most important aspects of a good business leadership and partnerships is good communications.

And you're going to run into times where one of two things happens either. You have a really shitty conversation where everyone leaves all pissed off and no outcome has been achieved. Or because of a pattern in history of the first two, you don't have a conversation at all. And things that do need to be talked about and determined and strategized and run through don't and your business suffers for it.

As an end result. And so I wanted to talk about these concepts, a little bit of, of what does it mean to have a Crucial Conversation , but to have an effective, Crucial Conversation , one where you actually achieve a hopefully mutually beneficial outcome. Not always, sometimes the outcome is just going to be, well, we didn't burn the house down, so we're good.

But, you know, ideally good, Crucial Conversation s should lead to everyone in the conversation, either getting an outcome that they're okay with or at the very least not having it turn into a global meltdown. So there's a couple of concepts. In fact, that Kathleen, do you want to, you want to run through just what the high level points of the Crucial Conversation system are?

And then there's a couple that I just want to zero in.

000254 Kathleen Seide

I would be happy to. So there's seven principles that are laid out in the book to master Crucial Conversation s. Principle. Number one is, start with heart. Number two is learn to look principle. Number three is make it safe. Number four is master your stories. Principle. Number five is state your path. Number six is explore other's path and seven is move to action.

000322 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

Now those are the official high-level points that the book really goes into great detail on. So, you know, I definitely recommend grab the book, give it a read. They spend a lot of time talking about each of those things, but there are three areas that I think are super, critically important in that process that really kind of drive this forward.

The first one that I want to talk about is what they call creating a shared pool of meaning. And what that refers to is a lot of times when we are talking about things, especially when emotions are high and stakes are high and all the rest of that, we may think that we're using common language between us, but we're actually saying, and hearing different things from the other people who were involved in that conversation.

One of the most common things that I see is that it gets very. Easy to take things personally, when you are responsible for some area of the business, that's maybe in question or being criticized or something along that line. And so you might hear something that really is saying, Hey, you know, our margin is down over quarter one because of some inefficiencies in our production system.

And what you hear is, Hey, we're not making as much money because you're a poor manager. And that's an easy mistake to make, right. Especially when you're personally connected to the conversation and personally connected to the outcome, but it's, it's really fundamentally because the people involved in the conversation don't have that shared pool of meaning.

They're not speaking the same language in the moment and communicating the same ideas. And so I've heard a number of techniques to sort of help foster and facilitate this shared pool of meaning. One of the things that is almost counterintuitive from what you hear often in relationship advice, but it's to talk about the, I, instead of actually, I heard I've heard some of that about relationship advice, but to talk about the "I", instead of talking about the "you".

Instead of leading into a conversation with, "Your team hasn't been meeting these guidelines," framing it in such a way as, "My team, hasn't been receiving these materials in the timeframe that we need them to be able to complete our side of the equation." Because in doing so you create this clear understanding of what your specific problem is that doesn't necessarily assign any blame, but it's a very neutral framework to talk about where your needs aren't being met and that particular process and allows for the other person in that conversation to be part of your solution. "Oh, well, I can see that this is holding you back. So maybe my team can do this thing, which will help speed up our production a little bit and get that out to you a little faster..." or something along that line.

It recruits. Instead of combats, when you create this shared pool of meaning where the focus is on the actual outcome required, you have a chance to have a better conversation where people don't feel personally attacked. No. I know Robyn, you spend a lot of time in the communications space, and I imagine that you've had to foster and facilitate a few conversations like this in the past.

How has your approach, how do you try to structure creating that shared pool of meaning?

000639 Robyn Sayles

So much of what I do is providing the shared common language for teams, especially. Coming into established teams, whether they're a small business or corporations, you'd be amazed at how much misunderstanding happens.

And so I'm going to tell you a quick favorite story that I use specifically about shared common language and shared meaning, and then give you the number one question you can take moving forward to help you establish the shared common language and the shared common meaning. So back in my sales manager days, I had just for the sake of context, I had 42 branches across the Tampa bay area that I was the sales manager for.

And I had to make it to every one of those 42 branches once a quarter. Sometimes multiple times a quarter and check in with those managers, how's it going? You know, how's your sales performance, what's working for you. What's not working for you. Some managers were really good at integrating and applying certain parts of our sales process and not others.

So this one manager whom I loved, I love this guy. I thought he was a great guy. He was working really hard to get his branch where it needed to be. He inherited the branch. He inherited half the staff, including his assistant branch manager. They were not seeing eye to eye. And so. We found ourselves in a situation where every time I came back to visit him, he was still complaining that his assistant branch manager wasn't organized, wasn't organized.

I keep telling her to get organized, but she's not organized. And so probably about the second or third time, I found us in this loop of having the same conversation. I went and had a private conversation with the assistant branch manager. And she's like, I know he's disappointed in me. I keep doing all these things to try to get organized and nothing ever seems to make him happy.

I don't know what he wants. And so I went back to that manager and I said, Hey, when you say organized, what does that mean to you? And do you think it means the same thing to her? Turns out they were speaking completely different languages around the word organized. She thought organized, meant color, coded files and filing systems and a clean desk and things of that nature.

And so she's doing all these things to like get cleaned up and get the perception of organized. When, what he wanted was, I want you to have a process that you follow that allows you to get things done effectively. He didn't care about color coded files and things of that nature. So they were going literally in opposite directions and yet saying the same word.

And so what I took from that and what I advise people to move forward with is when you find yourself in a situation where. I always think of that line from The Princess Bride, "This word, you keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Inigo Montoya was brilliant in that deduction.

So when you find yourself in that situation where somebody is telling you a word and you do not think it means what they think it means, the number one thing you can do for both you and them, the future of that project and the future of that working relationship is the following question. What does blank look like to you?

So in the case of the manager, what does organization look like to you in the case of working on a project? What does success for this project look like to you? A lot of times when I'm brought in to work on a project, I will ask, what do you need to see or hear from me on a regular basis to demonstrate that the project is making progress?

So there are questions that you can ask that establish that shared common link. So I might think that I'm doing things and showing you like, yeah, yeah, yeah. We're moving forward. But if I'm not giving you the one piece of information that you're looking for, you think I'm sitting around doing nothing. So what does blank look like to you?

Get the answer to that question and it's going to eliminate a ton of confusion and a ton of misinformation.

001046 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

Shout out to all my office fans, but it reminds me so much of that episode where, Charlie played by Idris Alba's asked Jim for a rundown on the current sales situation and Jim spends the whole day panicking, freaking out.

And, you know, he keeps getting asked, Hey, when's that rundown coming? And he's like, oh, working on it right now. And the whole time he's running around the office asking what's a rundown, what's a rundown. I don't know what a run down is. And when there is no common meeting there, you know, that's what you get.

You get these artificially stressful situations where if there was a clear understanding on both sides of what was actually expected, you just wouldn't have that issue. Kathleen, I saw you had a thought there.

001126 Kathleen Seide

Yeah. Two thoughts, really? one, I think it's really important. I want to put a little more focus on what Robyn said. That if you find yourself in a repeated issue, like keep your eyes open for if this keeps coming up. More than twice, that's a great time to stop and see if there's another way you can approach it. Is there a way you can get curious? Can you ask for more information, an old therapy technique or active listening technique is to repeat it in different words back to them.

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying is this is what I heard. Keep an eye out for repeated issues. If it's the second or the third time that something is coming back around, you're obviously not on the same page in some way. And that's a great opportunity to get curious and dig deeper into it so that you can create a shared meaning.

001219 Robyn Sayles

And then I just want to talk about too, based on jinxes example, especially if you're in a company or an environment where there's lots of jargon or acronyms or inside language people aren't trying to exclude you. I think people forget that. Not everybody understands the jargon, the acronyms, the inside language.

So you're not an idiot for asking clarification. They probably just forgot that you don't know that yet. Right. Especially if you're new, especially if you're coming from the outside. So it is perfectly reasonable to go hang on what is a rundown? And if you want to take the whole, "I" approach that jinx was talking about earlier, forgive me, perhaps I should already know this, but can you clarify what a rundown is?

Right. Fall on the sword. If you feel like you have to, but get the answer so that you're not spinning your wheels

001311 Kathleen Seide

or even better, can you give me a sample?

001314 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

Oh yeah. That's, that's really hard. People are so scared of looking stupid, that they end up looking stupid. And, and it's like, one of the things that I've gotten really good at is, you know, somebody will be like, oh, do you know what this is?

And I, you know, my twenty-something year old self would have been like fake it till you make it son. yeah. You know, and, and these days I'll just stop. no, you know, or even in the middle of a conversation, they say something that I, I'm not familiar with, I'll stop them right there and be like, Hey, can you help me understand what this means?

I don't understand that. We had a conversation in one of my investing groups yesterday, and somebody had talked about a specific phrase and investing, and I was like, I don't think I've ever heard that used in this context. Can you explain it? And they provided a link that perfectly explained it. I was like, oh, thanks.

Now I'm more educated about this. You know, if we are in a place where learning is a fundamental part of how we lead and it should be, then you should never be scared to stop the conversation and say, I don't understand what this means. I need some more insight here. I need some more input here. And the thing is not only does that solve your problem and give you that insight and give you that knowledge.

It also makes the other person feel heard. They know you're actively listening to the conversation and enough, so that you saw something you didn't understand and asked for more clarification that makes them more engaged and it makes them feel that their input is actually valued. I mean, so this, this is just a win-win scenario all the way around.

Never be scared to look stupid in leadership, because if you're not scared to look stupid, chances are you're going to. If you are scared to look stupid, chances are you're going to.

The next thing that I wanted to talk about a bit, and this one is, is really, I think it's just like a life hack. All things considered when it comes to conflicts, it's embrace "and" over "or" when making decisions. And the way that works is this. If someone says "I'm having issues, getting materials from your department on time," instead of it being well, you know, "you guys are just trying to move ahead of the schedule ,or process, or something else..." where there's an "or"... an alternative you're rebutting their statement.

Instead, if you come back to that and you say, and we've been short-staffed consistently, and I'm having a hard time getting the budget that I need for this. Now, all of a sudden you've created some mutuality in this situation where your both like, "Hey, we're not getting what we need here. So any solution that we develop at this point, Needs to solve both of our problems for it to be, you know, a positive outcome."

One of the concepts that is really important in the Crucial Conversation is mutuality., We have to start with this idea that we're both looking to accomplish similar goals. If we're not, then fundamentally we're just in conflict and it's going to be hard to have a clear, productive conversation on that.

The problem is, I think sometimes people think that there is only A or B as a solution to this problem when A, or B, or possibly and C moves you towards that mutual solution. If my team's already overworked and we can't produce any faster, but your team isn't getting what you need fast enough to be able to do your part, we have an, "and" problem here and the whole thing needs to be solved in order for us to achieve our mutual goal of hitting our sales or production quotas or things along that line. Maybe getting our bonuses at the end of the year.

001648 Kathleen Seide

Adding onto that. And I think it's really interesting how this works. The whole concept of these critical conversations is that there's this emotionally charged. Right. That's part of why they're critical conversations. And when that's the case, we tend to get tunnel vision. When we're emotionally charged our brains, don't engage in the same way when they're stressed and we get this tunnel vision.

We may see a solution. We may see a problem. But we're not necessarily open to the idea that there are more solutions than that. And when we approach it from an "and" perspective, recently I was reading about, "but" right. Don't use "but" don't use "or" because that stops a sentence. When you approach it from an "and" situation, you create a place where you can collaborate with somebody, you can set out what your mutual goals are and come to a situation where you can both talk about how to achieve them and what the actual priority is.

So maybe in that instance where there's a department, that's overworked and not delivering things on a certain time schedule, And this other department is waiting, right. Well, what are they actually waiting for? Are you overworking to get what your deliverable actually is? Are there other points where you can be maybe passing information along where you now are creating success and eliminating stress, but you just weren't having a conversation about what those needs actually are to reach this mutually effective goal.

So getting to a point where one, you realize this is an emotional charged situation, and that makes me less effective in solving it myself and then coming to somebody with that in mind. And maybe even admitting that,, like, Hey, I'm a little stressed about this. Can you help me? That creates a situation where the conversation can go so much better.

001838 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

One of the things that the book talks about is, you know, digging into the stories and not just your story, but also theirs,, because when we get that tunnel vision, especially we're in the high emotion situation, we tend to lock into our first sort of gut instinct or knee-jerk version of the story.

And as soon as we do that, And present ourselves in an antagonistic way. We've already shut down the ability to have a further exploration of the story, because now this is an adversary instead of a partner in this solution. So the whole and approach is a way of, of making sure that everyone has that ability to tell their part of the story.

And I don't want to say their side of the story because that's still feels adversarial., They're part of the story, because if we're assuming the mutuality, if we, if we understand we're all looking for the same big picture goal, then we're all part of the same story. But your chapter might be a little different from mine and your chapter might have a different perspective than mine or whatever the case may be.

We have to get to a place where everyone's story can be part of that collective, total aim when you're doing butts or orders or, or defensive reactions in conversations that just doesn't happen. And this is something that I have struggled with a lot in my career. From early on, I was always, you know, sort of a black sheep who didn't follow the rules a lot and all the rest of that.

But I was a high producer and I would sort of challenge the political hierarchy of the organization that I was in because when I saw problems in the organization, I would just bring them out, but I was bringing them out purely from my own story and perspective. And 20 years later, looking back, it's like, okay, I had no clue what was going on in departmental manager meetings.

I have no clue whose budget was getting cut, who had to decide whether or not they were going to have to do layoffs based around decisions that they made. There were so many other pieces to the story and I was correctly calling out where our problem was. But I was only seeing part of the story. And so, you know, snap solutions or ultimatums don't really work in that environment, which is fine if I'd been open to having those conversations.

But instead I'd become very defensive and get more aggressive in trying to present what I thought was the right approach to solve these things. There just isn't. People say they hate playing politics inside organizations, but at the end of the day, diplomacy is the art of compromise. And if you are all operating from that mutuality and you really get to the, "and" of everybody's story, a chain of "ands" if needed, then you start to build solutions that really do achieve the best possible outcome for everyone along with a little compromise.

And maybe you don't always get everything you want along the way, but you're all working towards the common. Good. And that's the most important part of the equation.

002129 Robyn Sayles

I think everyone should take an improv class.

002132 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins


002133 Robyn Sayles

Speaking of, and I tell all the time that my improv training and my improv background has served me better than any other formal business training I've ever had.

And so to your points of like, we're on the same team, nothing will teach you teamwork and collaboration like improv will, when you watch something like whose line is in any way. And it looks so effortless. It's because they've done so much fucking work to get to know each other as a team. You don't get to that point until, you know, if I say this he'll go there and then we can do that.

They're not good at this. So I can't lead them in that direction. I've got to lead them in this direction. Oh, I can throw them for this loop and they'll pick up what I'm putting down and no run with it. Right. But none of that works if you don't use "and" the number one tenant of improv is "yes, and..." "Yes, and..." continues the story.

"Yes, and..." Gives you a place to go the minute you say, "no," show's over. So I can come at you with the most ridiculous thing. Like holy shit, jinx. There's a pterodactyl up there. And if you go, no, there is. Fucking scenes over done., We've just board an audience full of people, even if you disagree with me and that's not the direction you want it to go, you can't say no, you have to.

"Yes, and..." Your way. Right. So I might say, holy shit, GenX. There's a pterodactyl in this guy and you might go. Yeah. And Robyn, did you take your medication today? Yeah. And then that creates a platform for us to work on, to go there. Isn't really a Tara dactyl and now we can move in a different direction. Right.

I used to teach improv and retail to help employees understand the importance of floor coverage. Right. And we'd play a particular game called Standup. Sit down. Lean over. So the entire skit somebody has to be standing up. Somebody has to be lying down and somebody has to be leaning over. Somebody has to be standing. Somebody has to be sitting. Somebody has to be leaning over. So that means you not only have to carry the conversation forward, you have to pay attention to what everybody else is doing, because if I'm sitting down and I stand up, you gotta sit down. Somebody has to cover all three things. So that level of improv understanding will help you figure out all of these tricky conversations.

It keeps you open. You have to listen, you have to watch people's body language, because otherwise you're only looking at your part of the story, as Jinx said. And your single part of the story is really fucking boring. It's when we all play together, when we're all listening and we're all trying to get everybody to bring out their best.

That's when it's fun. That's when it's entertaining. If more people could figure out how to apply those improv fundamentals to business team communication, we wouldn't need fucking HR departments.

002428 Kathleen Seide

One thing that you just said makes me reflect back. So you were talking about almost like tunnel vision, and I think a really important part of having these conversations is active listening.

We spend so much time, especially when it's emotionally charged planning, what we're going to say next, or making sure that this point I need to make gets made. Instead of actually getting curious, getting vulnerable and hearing what the other person is saying, really getting into what is important for them.

And until you, you can engage and they actually feel heard. I don't think it's very easy to make progress. So if both of the parties are sitting there waiting for their time to talk and they're talking at each other, you're not actually having a Crucial Conversation . You're talking to a wall.

002520 Robyn Sayles

And I think that message that you're actively listening to comes across in more than the words.

In fact, the words that come out of people's mouth are actually the least important part of the message, their tone, their facial expression, their body language. And so as a leader, especially if you're issuing addictive from the front of a conference room and you're not paying attention to the facial expressions and the body language of the people around the conference room, you don't know if you have them or not.

You don't know if they get it or not. I can't tell you how many rooms full of people. I've sat in where somebody goes, aha, I get it. And I have to go really cause everything about your face right now is telling me that you don't get it. So let's break it down and let's figure out which part you don't get.

And if I'm not paying attention to that, I'm just going to let that person walk out the room. Totally not understanding why we're doing what we're doing. That doesn't help me. So 70, 20 10, 70% is how you look 20% is how you sound. And only 10% of your message is communicated through the actual words coming out of your mouth.

So if we're really truly listening to people, we have to also listen with our eyes and we have to listen with our hearts. Because their face and their tone and their bodies are telling us way more than the words that they're saying.

002636 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

Oof. Yeah. And you know, it's, it's funny cause you, in that last, go around, you talk about.

You know, those, those quick moments and, and watching people's faces and all the rest of that. And you said something leading into that, that really struck me that, you know, when you tell your own story, it's boring. When it's the only way you know, that one, we need your heart, the more stressed we are and the more under fire we feel, the more defensive we become.

And conversations so quickly become unproductive because now you're talking at each other or past each other instead of to each other. And so the last major point that I wanted to cover from the, the, the book concept was about creating a safe environment for voicing productive conflict by establishing mutual ground and goals.

Well, first of all, yeah, you've got to establish mutual ground and goals. You've got to establish that you're on the same team. You've got to establish that you're working towards the same thing and framing questions and directing questions are a really great place to start in this part. Right. Asking things like, you know, okay.

So what are we trying to accomplish here? You know, which problems are we trying to solve and using those and questions to make sure that it's everyone's problems that are trying to get solved. But this concept of creating a safe environment for voicing productive conflict, I think is super important because the crux of the Crucial Conversation is that somebody has a problem that may be your fault may be not and you've got to be open to determining if that's the case. If it's actually something that you can fix without feeling attacked. And or if you're the person who's, you know, on the other side of the equation, who's voicing that problem. You have to try to do your best to voice it in such a way that it doesn't feel like an attack, right.

That you're just clearly communicating those things. And so setting some ground rules and moderating the conversation, I think is a super important aspect. And a lot of people in business. I don't think do a good job of moderating conflict conversations. it makes us uncomfortable. Nobody likes it when a conflict is occurring and because there is no moderation of that conflict, it can very quickly become an acceleration of, you know, higher and higher emotional state.

I've certainly been there. I've banged heads in the past with other peoples on management teams over, you know, various issues. When I just feel like fundamentally I'm not being heard, I'm not being understood or I'm having to explain things or answer to things that should be obvious. I'm so in my own story, in those moments that I'm not doing a good job of, of sort of fostering and facilitating that safe space. And so I think like when it comes to really effectively having Crucial Conversation s in business, I'm going to use a word I like to use a lot, which is "plan." And then the other one is "document." And in this particular instance, when you see that there is a conflict that's beginning to occur, if it's building up to some emotional state, emotions are running, high stakes are high and opinions are varying.

I think it's important to do almost the kind of approach that you do sometimes with your kids when they're fighting, which is put everybody in timeout. Start with that. Okay. Nope. This is not productive right now. Clearly I can see this. We are going to have a productive conversation about this, but we're all going to go get lunch first and we're going to come back one o'clock and I want you guys to have your notes together about what the key points in each of the issue, the situation or issues or whatever that you're having.

And we are going to have a rational, calm discussion about what those things are and I'm going to be facilitating or moderating this conversation. Now you can't, obviously you can't always do that. If it's just a one-to-one conversation, then you kind of both have to agree to self moderate, but you approach that exactly the same way.

We're going to back away from this for a minute and collect our thoughts., Not calm down, calm down is never a good phrase to use in any conflict environment, but we're going to collect our thoughts. And we're going to document what the concerns are and what the various points of discussion are.

And then we're going to come back to this table and we're going to document the outcome of that together on what we were agreeing is the right way to move forward. And that, that begins to set a framework for you to, you know, carry it forward in a way that's easily referenceable that's universally agreed on the is not done until everyone has said.

Yep. Okay. Those covers those concerns and all the rest of that. But you do that in an environment where everyone agrees that we are going to deescalate our emotions here., And we are going to, approach this from purely a storytelling perspective. I'm going to tell you my story. You're going to tell me your story and we're going to figure out what combined story together works us getting forward to where we want to be. And I know that like, it's, you know, again, I have referenced myself so many times in these situations because I've always been so hot blooded and passionate about debate, you know, and, and I hate not being right. I have a pathological need to be correct. and so it's very difficult in times where maybe I'm not, you know, to even like consider that or entertain that.

And frequently I am right. But the fact that I don't take the time to entertain that it goes back to that. Is that input valued? Are they being heard? You know, my a, I used to have that knee jerk response to just cut people off and correct them as opposed to taking what they were saying on board and then redirecting it to the correct information in a way that felt safe and productive.

and so I think that we really have to consciously create these environments. You can't just like, will it to happen. You can't just like put writing on the wall, like live, laugh, love, and make it in our corporate culture is... No. These are things that you fundamentally have to have a plan for. And you have to find that's your first stage of mutual agreement.

When you begin to have this Crucial Conversation , is that you're going to have. This mutual, safe, productive environment. We're not going to raise our voices or insult each other as much as possible idiot. but you know, like you actually have to have, some way to, to, to frame that conversation so that there's rules of engagement.

And I hate to use a phrase that signifies combat when we're talking about how to be non-combative. but when these situations, when, when the guns are out, you know, you, you have to have some rules around that so that you don't end up shooting each other. The goal is to get each other, to put our guns away.

Yeah. so I think really fundamentally consciously establishing that upfront as uncomfortable as it might be to have to say that, Hey, let's, let's take a breath and, and regroup and collect our thoughts and come back to this. I think it's probably one of the most useful tools you can have to deescalate a conversation while giving an and that we are going to come back around and help get this problem solved.

003351 Robyn Sayles

I'd like to provide some specifics and some examples for folks. Because it's really easy to say, like, you need to moderate the conversation, fucking how GenX, how do I do that? You need to set expectations for how the conversation is going to go. How do I do that? So, number one, regardless of whether you're a leader or a participant in one of these high stakes, emotionally charged conversations, if you are an emotional processor, it, then here's an example of something you could say, "Before we get started, I just want everyone in the room to know that I process things emotionally. And there's no way I'm going to get through this conversation without crying. Okay. So you're going to see that. And I just want you to understand that even if you see me crying, I am still engaged. I am still a part of this conversation. And if I get to the point where I feel like the emotions that I'm processing are overwhelming and counterproductive to conversation, I will ask for a break so that I can go get my thoughts together and rejoin the conversation in a productive way. And so I invite you to have the same space in the same opportunity.

The other end of that is some people really are internal processors and they're, it's a mystery how they're thinking and feeling throughout the conversation. And they also have an opportunity to set those expectations. "Hey, I go very internal when I have to process something big and heavy. So if you see me with like dead face in the corner, I promise I'm not zoning out.

I hear everything and I'm observing everything. It's just that all of my processing happens in here. Not out here when I'm ready to contribute, I will contribute." So there's some examples of language that you can use to set expectations for how you're going to behave. You know, yourself, you know, how you get in these types of environments.

I think the biggest lie that corporate America ever sold us is that emotions don't belong in business. Nobody ever started a business without emotion. You know, nobody buys anything without it coming from a place of emotion. So. I think it's one thing to acknowledge that emotions can get in the way of a productive conversation, but it's stupid to think that they're just not there and that we shouldn't allow space for them to get expressed in some way, shape or form.

But the minute to jinxes point that it starts to derail the conversation. That's when we have to take a break, get some snacks, process your thoughts and your feelings, and let's come back and let's try to move this forward.

The other thing I'd like to provide everybody is a framework for moving those conversations forward.

It comes from a type of coaching called Inside Out Coaching. We'll put a link in the show notes and they have a very simple and effective model for these types of conversations called grow. G R O W. The G stands for goal. The R stands for reality, the O stands for options and the W stands for way forward.

So what's our...

003652 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

I love that the R stands for reality.

003654 Robyn Sayles

Well, and let me tell you why, cause it's one thing to get everybody together and say, this is our goal, but a lot of times leaders, they don't mean to, but they have a tendency to overlook the actual reality of the situation and what is actually going to be in our way towards achieving that goal.

Right. And so the whole point of the R stage and the grow model is to give people that opportunity to say, here's how I think it's going to get fucked up. Here's why I don't think I can meet that. Here's all the roadblocks. And so one of the fundamental tenants of Inside Out Coaching is allowing people to use the information, dump the information and the knowledge that they already have to make room for new information and new knowledge.

And so the R and the grow part of that model is to give people a brief and effective opportunity to unearth everything that they're already carrying. Be it emotional knowledge, Hey, I already have some ideas for what we can do,, so the, R stage has to be very facilitated to let people go and word vomit, everything they already know and feel about the situation.

Once everybody gets through the R stage, you move into, "Great. What are our options? Now that we know the goal, we know the reality of the situation that we're in, what are our options," and then you can narrow down your options and figure out your way forward. And that's when compromise and collaboration come in, but someone's going to feel left out if the R phase doesn't happen, the R phase is where you let everyone contribute. That's your, "and, and, and" part of the conversation. That's where everybody tells their piece of the story.

So GROW Goals. Reality. Opportunity. Way Forward

You can look it up to know it more deeply, but even if you just remember that and you just try to simply apply that to your future high stakes conversations, I guarantee you just providing people a framework to be able to express their thoughts and opinions as they work towards that mutual understanding is going to help you hugely.

003859 Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

And to sort of move things along to our wrap up here. I do want to agree and clarify that when we talk about deescalation, we're simply talking about moving the conversation back into a place where it's productive, not stripping out emotions. There have been conversations that I've had in the past where I was white knuckling it the whole time, but I was deescalated enough that I was able to participate in a productive conversation, despite the fact that I was agitated or stressed out or, you know, felt under fire or whatever the case may be. Communication is the key. And when you're talking past each other, you're not moving towards a solution. And that's really the goal. And in Crucial Conversation s that has to be about finding that most beneficial outcome.

We're going to make sure that we put the link to the book, Crucial Conversation s or the book summary in our show notes. So you can check that out. I do highly recommend it. I don't recommend a lot of business books. I'm not that guy, but I think that's a good one that, you know, has a lot of benefit both in your personal and business life.

And given some of the Crucial Conversations that I've had to have in business over the years, it's just an important skill set to have your call to action leaving. This is, you know, making sure that you dig into that and, and create a framework. In fact, you know, create a charter in your own company with your management team or, you know, your employees or whatever the case may be, that when there is conflict, you'll engage in these principles and use them as part of conflict resolution.

And, and take a little time and actually teach people about it. You can't just like, you know, drop it out there on the website and say, it's a thing. They have to understand it. So foster and facilitate that. Create safe space environments, where people can talk about these issues using those ands and ORs, make sure that you're using a shared pool of language, a shared pool of meanings that people clearly understand what we're all talking about.

And at the end of the day, mutuality is the key. It's all about we're all on the same team. We all want the same outcome. We have to start by establishing that amongst ourselves in order to deescalate and move things forward. So I hope you have some good, Crucial Conversation s when they have to come in the future, but from a, all of us here at Unfuck My Business.

Keep it cool. Y'all

004127 Outtro

What the fuck are you waiting for? Take what you learned in this episode and do something with it. You'll find all the links and resources we talked about in our show notes for this episode. And go to UnfuckMyBusiness.com.com to subscribe to the show.

About the Podcast

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Unf*ck My Business
No bullshit advice for business owners who want to be resilient AF.

About your hosts

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Robyn Sayles

Twitter + IG: @robynsayles
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Chris 'Jinx' Jenkins

Twitter: @immrdubious

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