About to Have a Difficult Conversation? First Take a Deep Breath

Sep 8, 2017

Heated conversations—especially political ones can be unsatisfying and emotionally draining.  In this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with the co-facilitators of a "difficult conversations" workshop organized by the University of Iowa School of Social Work.  Guests are Alison Oliver and Jefri Pallermo from the University of Iowa, and North Liberty based consultant, coach, and speaker Heather Woody joins in for advice for workplace conversations.

Oliver says that before embarking on a conversation with someone you disagree with, take a moment to breath.  "The skills we talk about in the workshop are ones that require a certain access of cognitive processing, and it's about some emotional management as well...in order to be able to access these skills it's about being able to center yourself and acknowledge that you're having an emotion reaction, and you're going to keep that in check right now.  Those feelings are absolutely valid, they're important, and sometimes that helps us decide whether or not we can actually have a conversation right now. "

Sometimes she says it's not the right time for that conversation.

But if it is the right time, then there are two skills to work on.  First is to lead with empathy and repeat back to the person what they have said.  Then look for deeper inquiry through context and to explore personal experiences and emotional attachment to the person's ideas.