In my How to Have Difficult Conversations course, the first video is about adopting a Collaborative Mindset before entering the conversation.

Recently, two tips occurred to me about how to do that that:

Tip One: Get Calm

Firstly, having a collaborative mindset involves being connected to yourself in some way. That’s why I have such an emphasis on self-command, self-soothing, self-management. Certainly, emotional intelligence has been verified in much research as being foundational to good leadership.

So, how do you do that? Essentially, it’s about intentionally putting yourself in a good mood before you enter a difficult conversation (if you have that luxury). 

You can do that quickly by taking some deep breaths. You could intentionally stretch a few body parts or simply rub your hands together mindfully. You could increase your mood by listening to an awesome, motivating piece of music. Go for a walk. There are a myriad of things you can do to enact that positive state, depending on your time and your context.

The key is to practice remembering doing that, so it becomes a habit to think about putting yourself in a positive state before entering into a conversation.

That’s one part of it. You want to shift your brain state so that you are more open and flexible going into the conversation. 

Tip Two: Get Curious

The second tip is to go into the conversation thinking you’re missing some piece of information. Go in curious about what’s happening for them. 

This is in stark contrast to how we usually go into difficult conversations. Usually, we are going to give this person a piece of mind. We’re going to tell them about our difficulties and how hard things are for us. Thinking your main job is to tell the other person how you are suffering because of them, will automatically trigger their defenses.

Looking at the word “entropy” might help highlight this reframe to getting curious about missing information. Entropy can be defined as the phenomena where things fall apart. 

It can be defined as missing information. 

That is so interesting because if you can accept the definition of entropy as the experience of information missing, we can see entropy between people too. 

There is entropy in the relational field when there is conflict. There is disintegration in the relational field and the relational bond because information is missing.

This reframes the task of a difficult conversation. If there is entropy, then the task of a difficult conversation becomes finding out about, and sharing, missing information so that a more informed decision can be made by all.

Open yourself up to be on the hunt for new information that will make sense of where they are coming from – from their point of view. Then be prepared to share your information. 

That way, information shared builds a new relational field.

Get calm.

Get curious.

Get a collaborative mindset!

“Collaboration is the essence of life. The wind, bees and flowers work together, to spread the pollen.” … Amit Ray