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Communications and Conflict-Management, K. Knox 09. Ideas from Getting to Yes, Choosing Civility, Fierce Conversations, First Things First, Difficult Conversations, Verbal Judo Parts 1, 2, and 3. To a significant extent….

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Communications and Conflict-Management, K. Knox 09

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Communications and conflict management k knox 09

Communications and Conflict-Management, K. Knox 09

Ideas from Getting to Yes, Choosing Civility, Fierce Conversations, First Things First, Difficult Conversations, Verbal Judo

Parts 1, 2, and 3

To a significant extent

To a significant extent…

  • Life is what our relationships make it. ..We exist and we perceive our identity not in a vacuum but rather in relation to others. Life is relational whether we like it or not.

  • No action of ours is without consequence.

What happens when

What happens when…

  • Someone tells you you “have to” do something or gives you a “little threat?”

    “The conversation is the relationship. Incremental degradation is a compromise in authenticity in our conversations and it’s a slow and deadly slide” (FC)

Part 1 rhetoric

Part 1Rhetoric

  • The art of verbal persuasion

    • Perspective (the way you see things)

    • Audience (empathy; seek 1st to understand)

    • Voice (use the mirror; record your voice)

    • Purpose (no interruptions; be clear)

    • Conscious organization (begin with the end in mind)

  • Handout of scripts to practice with a partner: situational roleplays

Example of organization for a call

Example of organization for a call

  • Greeting and attention

  • Identification of self and reason for call

  • Notes to maintain focus and avoid birdwalks or repetition

  • Paraphrase what you heard; refocus your attention

  • Speak consciously with attention

  • Ask; seek fact finding and complete understanding

  • Listen more than speak; don’t interrupt

  • Ethical presence

  • Reassurance

  • Summarize the action plan



  • The more you clarify your position and defend it under attack, the more committed you become to it. Your ego becomes identified with your position. The more attention that is paid to positions, less attention is devoted to meeting the underlying concerns of the parties.

  • Positional bargaining becomes a contest of wills

    Assignment: review handout onpositions

More thoughts

More thoughts

  • Don’t be ruled by adrenaline

  • Daughter’s photo and mirror

  • Remember that feelings are the heart of every conversation.

  • Distinguish between severe and reasonable resistance

  • Make that 41st caller feel like the first call of the day

  • Always check your own assumptions

  • Respond don’t react with ego

  • Flexibility equals strength

  • Common sense is uncommon under pressure. If someone gets under your skin, they control you. Don’t see the “other” as the adversary.

  • Use “And” more than “but”

Unexpressed feelings are the conversation

Unexpressed feelings ARE the conversation

  • When people are having a hard time listening, often it is not because they don’t know how to listen well. It is paradoxically, because they don’t know how to express themselves well. (DC p. 89)

  • Emotions are not a single feeling

  • We tend to translate our feelings into judgments, attributions, or characterizations

Instead of trying to control the other s reaction

Instead of trying to control the other’s reaction,

  • Prepare for it with a mirror

  • Practice what you will say, and listen to yourself; opening lines, tone, choice of words, too soft/cushioned?, confusing, too much talking…?

  • Create a learning conversation with specific, mutually-agreed upon outcomes; Invite don’t impose

    Assignment: use the DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS CHECKLIST to prepare for your next DC

Civility is liberating

Civility is liberating

  • It frees us from slavery to self-absorption, impulse and mood.

  • I am not just talking with a person; I am talking with this person. “I honor your worth.”

  • We can gain a victory over carelessness, indifference, anger and inertia.

Part 2 some principles of fierce conversations

Part 2Some Principles of Fierce Conversations

  • Master the courage to interrogate reality

  • seek win-win

  • Seek first to understand

  • are we avoiding the “too hard” basket?

  • there is a huge cost (economical, emotional, intellectual) with not identifying and tackling the real issues)

  • what is impossible to do that if it were possible, would change everything?

    “Are my truths and frustrations in my way?”

Separate the people

Separate the people

  • From the perceived problem

  • Focus on interests not positions

  • Create a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do (options for mutual gain)

  • The result should be based on an objective standard

  • Evaluate your position and hard or soft stance (see handout on positioning)

Negotiate it and frame it

Negotiate it and frame it

  • Frame it “so what’s important to you is…”

  • Differences are defined by the difference between your thinking and theirs. Ultimately conflict lies not in objective reality but in people’s heads. Be prepared to withhold judgment for a while as you “try on” their views p. 22 GTY

And vs but

And vs. But

  • Without laying blame, catch yourself: replace “and” with “but”

  • Really know that the answers are “in the room”

  • Be aware of “ground truth”—what’s happening on the ground vs. in official tactics and requirements (The official truth is that we’re higher scoring than all other online schools in Colorado. The “ground truth” is…)

Principles of fierce conversations cont d

Principles of Fierce Conversations, cont’d

2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real

Know that “all conversations are with myself, and sometimes they involve other people.”

Know that the emotions roiling within you are how you are showing up to others.

“Mineral rights” evaluation sheet handout

Principles of fc cont d

Principles of FC, cont’d

  • Be here, prepared to be nowhere else

    Humans have a universal longing

    to be known, and being known, to be loved

    “I see you”

    You must learn to rebuild the links that connect people and that provide an effective antidotes to cynicism and disaffection.

    FOCUS without multitasking

    Assignment: choose one of your challenging parents or students. Apply principle 3 in a conscious way. This will take more than one interaction. Write a journal entry about what you did and said and what’s happening.

A dialogue

A dialogue

“How’s your work going?”


“Everything working out?”


“Any questions?”


“That’s good—that’s what I like to hear. Have a good day!”


Assignment practice these guiding sentences

assignment: practice these guiding sentences

  • “What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about?”

  • “How is this issue impacting you? When you consider these impacts how are you feeling?”

  • “If nothing changes, what are the implications?” or “Imagine it is a year later and nothing has changed What is likely to happen?”

  • “How have you helped to create this situation?”

  • (“I don’t Know” triggers “what would be it be you did know?” or “that’s useful to think about.”)

  • What is the ideal outcome? What is the most potent step you can take to being to resolve this issue?

  • When should I follow up with you?

Come into the conversation with empty hands just bring yourself

Come into the conversation with empty hands; just bring yourself

  • If you ask for the issue, don’t…

    --Jump right in and offer suggestions or points

    --Share stories about yourself (takes the focus onto you)

    --Put so many pillows around a message that the message is lost all together and there is confusion (softening the message is just trying to protect ourselves)

    --get into all sorts of birdwalks and extraneous details

    --tell them right way, the rules they are violating; they know…

    --don’t let your voice include anger or angst; you may induce profound indifference

    Instead, Use the 60 second/7 question handout for review and practice

Mole whacking vs grubs

Mole whacking vs. grubs

  • Behind each mole is another one…

Some principles of fierce conversations cont d

Some principles of fierce conversations, cont’d

  • Take responsibility for your emotional wake

  • Recognize that everything you say creates an emotional wake

    --This is where we are going; this is how we are going to get there; this is why we are going to get there

  • Recognize that there are multiple truths

  • Recognize that when your emotions are negative, the more you say increases the likelihood of a negative wake, so I need to say less and listen more

  • Don’t use absolutes “you never” “you always”

  • Assignment: Practice the handout of Conversational Phrases aloud

Fierce conversations con td

Fierce conversations con’td

5. Let silence do the heavy lifting. Reflect on beliefs and paradigms; let others participate fully; scan your head for ground truths.

Don’t be guilty of:

--interrupting by talking over someone else

--formulating your own response while someone is talking

--responding quickly with little thought

--attempting to be funny, clever, charming, competent, impressive…

--jumping in with advice before an issue has been clarified

--changing topics

--talking in circles; nothing new emerging

--allowing cell or email interruptions

--cancelling an important meeting with a parent or student

--monopolizing the air space and/or talking too fast with “umms” to monopolize the air space. TALKING IS NOT CONVERSATION.

Part 3 the three conversations copy this slide

Part 3The three conversations:copy this slide

  • The “What happened” conversation

    • Includes thoughts about truth, intentions and blame

  • The feelings conversation

  • The identity conversation

This translates to

This translates to

  • Am I competent?

  • Am I a good person?

  • Am I worthy of love?




    give up…



  • Try speaking with someone you don’t really like or who is angry with you and the school

  • Try calming someone who is angry about the LMS and attacking you personally

    Use part 1 tools; use script phrases--debrief

Debrief what s happening

Debrief what’s happening

  • Respecting other’s opinions that differ strongly from yours

  • Handling interruptions

  • Body language

  • Mind-set

  • Level of “hard and soft” communications

  • The personal interferences

  • “giving in”

Redirection without passion

Redirection without passion

  • The first principle of verbal judo is to not resist your opponent. Instead move with him and redirect his energy. p. 43 VJ

  • Difficult people built this country. We need to allow room in our system for them and their questions. When you shift from resisting to appreciating and even welcoming difficult people, things become interesting and less tense. P. 44

  • MUSHIN (the “still center”)

Thinking beyond me

Thinking beyond me

  • Draw a circle with COVA in it

  • To the right draw a 5 pointed star to represent you

  • To the right of that draw a box with a C in it which stands for your contact point.

  • Now draw a figure 8 which represents your job that begins on the left, passes through you and continues to the right before passing through you again. Continue to trace the figure 8. You serve as a conduit between 2 entities in such a manner as to generate voluntary compliance.

  • Soon, you’ll see you are virtually obliterated by your representational job. If you are a mouthpiece, you don’t represent your own ego. The more ego you show; the less power you have over people.



  • Saying so doesn’t make it so

  • Tone and modulation

  • The “ending phrase”..what does she hear?

    “…you fool”

  • Redirect with WIIFH vs confront

    Roleplay assignment

    Assignment: use the Confrontation Model handout

Practice it

Practice it

Handouts; include:


framing it



Ongoing practice

Ongoing practice

  • Use two new techniques this week

  • Journaling/self reflection

  • Teacher partners

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