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Difficult conversations a productive approach


									 Difficult Conversations

The value of uncomfortable experiences in the search for
               professional competency
                                     Dr P. Culbertson
     Difficult conversations

a productive approach
   How to discuss what matters most

          Based on research by Carol Cardno
                  Practice leading to change

Comfort                        Disequilibrium                          Threat

   Critical dialogue = a conversation that is simultaneously critical and collaborative
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of
       vision for the limits of the world”

                               Arthur Schopenhauer (1851)
What are the characteristics of a difficult conversation

• Defensiveness
  –   Covering up
  –   Bypassing threat
  –   Being indirect
  –   Giving mixed messages
  –   Withholding information

  Avoidance and control are the two major strategies of defensiveness
Productive or defensive

“Productive reasoning is based on what we call mutuality.
   Principles of shared control, shared thinking, shared evidence,
   shared planning for improvement and joint responsibility for
   monitoring” (Piggot Irvine & Cardno, 2006 )

“Defensive reasoning is the tendency to protect oneself from
   potential threat or embarrassment. Defensive routines are those
   behaviors which allow us to cover up or bypass threats” (Ibid)
                             Productive Reasoning

Productive reasoning involves a balancing act between the two predominant
   features of advocacy and inquiry.

Advocacy: supporting that position that in such a way that is both hypothetical and invites
   evaluation and challenge.

Inquiry: checking our own and others perceptions in ways which reveal implicit and explicit

Bilaterality (two sidedness): Informed mutual checking of meaning, understanding, perspective,
     and agreement, is central to the success of the approach.
Defensive reasoning                  Productive reasoning

Guiding values:                      Guiding values:
•Win - don’t lose                    •Seek and give valid information
•Avoid unpleasantness'               •Share control and solution
•Maintain control                    •Monitor solutions jointly

Strategies:                          Strategies:
•Not checking assumptions            •Checking assumptions
•Giving indirect or mixed messages   •being forthright
•Not explaining reasoning            •Disclosing reasoning
•Using questioning to control
                                     •asking questions as genuine
             The triple I approach


Information - focus on giving and getting quality information
                  Disclose your position

Illustration -    explain the basis for making judgment, give examples

Inquiry         - ask relevant questions to seek information
                - ask questions that check your assumptions
• Overcoming defensiveness first involves looking at
   the way that we personally are implicated in the

                            Eileen Piggot-Irvine 1995
Expressives                                      Amiable

                            Motivated by

              recognition           acceptance

              Achievement           security

 Driver                                           Analytical

“To un-learn defensive approaches you have to become a reflective

“You have to learn how to slow down or stop when you become aware that
   your normal approach is not producing a desired result.”

                Reflective practice
                                       Donald Schon

Reflective practice is about focusing on action

 Knowing-in-action              Be able to understand and
                                describe what we know we do
                                in a given situation

 Reflection-on-action           Ability to stop, stand back, and
                                think about what has happened

 Reflection-in-action           Ability to think about what we
                                are doing while we are doing it
                                and are capable of changing
                                our actions mid-performance
                  How style impacts on climate

Effective leaders develop the capacity to make judgments based on
   their knowledge of:
• Themselves
• The situation and the people involved
• Each style and its capacity, demands and effects

The quality of these judgments is strongly linked to Emotional
  Intelligence and its three pillars:
• Self awareness
• Empathy
• Understanding of communication and relationship dynamics
               Learning conversations

“In learning conversations people recognise the importance of
    treating different accounts of a problem as a resource for
    learning better ways of thinking about or resolving a problem”
 Its about being open to learning from others and surfacing values,
    beliefs and assumptions. The drive in a learning conversation is
    for better quality thinking and reasoning” (Robinson & Lai, 2006)
    Conversation                                Self/peer critique     Collaboration

D   Well I need to have a little bit of a       No evidence
    conversation with you Anne

L                                               Not checking
    Ok,Ok, that’s fine
D   Yes, I'm afraid that I have to address
    something with you                          Giving false
                                                reassurance to fudge
    OK                                          essential message
    Its just that, well its probably not that   etc……………
D   big a deal really, but someone has
    noticed that you are coming really late
    into school sometimes

L   Oh really?

D   I’m afraid so. I've had a few
    comments about it from a few people
    Oh, Ok who?
Difficult      Your response   Self/peer critique   Co construction

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