The What Happened? Conversation
The “What Happened?” Conversation starts with wanting to deliver a message that proves I am right.
1. The first Assumption is that there is a fundamental "Truth" : I am right – you’re wrong.
What do you believe you are right about? How could the other person be right?
2. The second Assumption is about Your Intention and My Intention: yours are good and the other person's aren't. Or, if they only saw your intention they would get with the program
• I know what your intentions are and what you meant to do.
• My rules of how people should behave are right for everyone!
What are your assumptions about the person’s intentions?
What are your judgments about the person’s intentions?
Are you acting as if your assumptions are fact and that these bad intentions mean the person is bad?
3. The third Assumption is Blame: Someone is to blame and it isn't me. Produces disagreement, denial, fear of punishment, and either/ or answer.
Shift the focus to learning...And the Contribution System...And Problem Solving:
What kept you from seeing that this was coming?
How can you prevent it from happening again?
How did everyone contribute to this problem?
What could everyone do differently?
• Move from Certainty (I am right) to Curiosity (How do they see the world so that their view makes sense?)
• Change the focus from proving a point and delivering a message to wanting to understand what has happened from the other person's point of view AND to share your point of view and feelings.
• Summarize – Active Listening and Ask “What” and “How” clarifying questions...
What do you understand about the other person’s perceptions, interpretations, and values about this situation?
• AND Self-disclose your perceptions....What are your perceptions, interpretations, and values about this situation?
Read the other conversations: The Feeling Conversation, the Identity Conversation and the Difficult Conversation
Stone, Douglas; Patton, Bruce; Heen, Sheila. 1999. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. New York: Penguin Books.