Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fierce Conversations

I recently read the book Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott. Fierce means robus, intense, strong, powerful passionate, eager, unbridled. I was struck by the title, and then the book was assigned in my coaching class.

I particularly liked the author's suggestion on how to confront difficult issues--you know, the conversations that we avoid. Here are here suggestions.
  1. Name the issue.

  2. Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior or situation you want to change.

  3. Describe your emtions about this issue.

  4. Clarify what is a stake.

  5. Identify your contribution to this problem.

  6. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.

  7. Invite your partner to respond.
Scott counsels against other approaches such as asking someone, "How's it going" when there is a clear other agenda.

This is a direct approach, something I sometimes avoid. I prefer to persuade, bring along, educate, and the like. But sometimes confrontation or directness is necessary, and there are conversations that we ought not avoid. Often, everyone is relieved when such issues are brought out in the open in an honest, up front way. For instance, a struggling employee often knows when he or she is struggling or misplaced, and is relieved to be able to talk about.

Scott's book is a quick read and decently interesting. But I think that this is the best part of the book.

What do you think of the author's advice on fierce conversations?


Anonymous said...

I, personally, appreciate the direct approach, or a "fierce conversation", as this author describes it. However, many people do not, even when all the 'parts' are included.

I think the successful resolution of an issue really depends on the heart of the one being approached, whether directly OR indirectly. If he has a heart for improvement or for 'right' behavior or for truth, any approach can succeed. But if he resents any implication that he may be in the wrong, no approach will help.

James said...

I think that the heart of the one approaching is also significant. We must be perceived as caring about the other person to really break through defenses.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm...too bad this book wasn't around in the first century. Jesus and the apostles could have benefited from it, don't you think? I can't think of a single time that they ever described their emotions about a situation, or identified their contribution to the problem or implemented any of the other suggestions by this author...and all of them had quite a number of "fierce conversations'. I'm afraid I'll have to agree with the other anonymous on this one. The attitude of the one being approached is probably the biggest factor. (and James, this is of course assuming that the one doing the approaching is doing so with the right attitude. and I am figuring that the other anonymous made this assumption as well because that only makes sense imho.)

James said...

I cannot think off hand of Jesus or his disciples having exactly this type of conversation. But just because we have no record of it does not mean that it did not happen. Of course, it would have been difficult for Jesus to talk about his contributions to a problem, since he was perfect.

The Bible mainly gives us principles. It is not primarily a step-by-step how-to manual. The Bible does not contain a lot of things which are drawn from psychology and the social sciences that are nonetheless helpful.

This technique is not Scripture. But it seems that it could be helpful in the right situation.