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Against the Grain on Crucial Conversations

November 09, 20234 min read

Yesterday my wife and I were on a walk and we got into a bit of a heated moment.

We call these tiffs.

I have learned that tiffs, moments of disagreement, or moments of heated conversation actually allow people to come closer together.

These are my beliefs and how I view the world and it has served me well.

The tiff was about me not feeling like she was not showing up for me the way I needed her to in the moment. For her, it was about getting clarity on a topic that was not related to what we were talking about. This caused me to get irritated and be a little bit brash, harsh, and not as kind.

Unfortunately, many people don't recognize the importance of addressing these moments of disagreement constructively.

The Power of Perspective in Conversations

Crazy how the same situation or conversation but each person views it differently.

When we got home, we took a step back and instead of being IN the conversation we decided to work ON the conversation.

Today I want to share with you a concept that has helped me communicate better with people that hold meaning in my life.

This practice has helped me get closer and create a stronger bond with them.

I learned this concept from a book called “Crucial Conversations”.

Crucial Conversations are conversations that have a huge impact on a relationship or results that affect you greatly.

  • Divorce

  • Breakups

  • Talking to a business partner about the direction of the business.

  • Asking a friend to repay a loan

  • Addressing Sexual Harassment at work

  • Asking a roommate to move out

  • Dealing with rebellious children

  • Discussing problems about sexual intimacy

Any situation that causes stress or strain in our lives and if we don’t approach them correctly, can have massive consequences.

Reasons People Struggle with Crucial Conversations

  • They hold it in and don’t do anything

  • They approach the conversation emotionally and cause havoc

  • Many are afraid to have the tough conversion with themselves

  • People don’t work on their skill of having crucial conversations

"The heaviest thing in the world to carry around isn’t iron or gold, it’s an unmade decision." - Alex H.

Evading a crucial conversation is a decision that you are avoiding because of how challenging these conversations can be.

Like anything you can overcome this and make having crucial conversations normal.

It’s all part of living life Against The Grain.

Understand the Difference Between Working IN and ON the Conversation

Working IN the Conversation is when you’re in the thick of it.

You’re present, actively listening, asking questions.

Working ON the Conversation is where you step back, either during or after, and observe from a broader perspective.

This allows for a "You & Me vs. Problem" approach.

Working On The Conversation

Art by Liz and Mollie

Recognize the Importance of Working ON the Conversation

Sometimes emotions can cloud judgment.

Stepping back allows you to assess how you showed up during the conversation, understand your feelings, and get feedback on areas of improvement.

These are the steps we use to Work ON the Conversation:

  • Step #1: Remove the Emotions

  • Step #2: Communicate from the Heart

  • Step #3: Give & Record Feedback

  • Step #4: Accountability for the Future

Step #1: Remove The Emotions:

Feelings can sometimes blur what's really happening.

By putting them to the side for a moment, we can see things more clearly.

This also allows people to have healthy conflict resolution.

Step #2 Communicate From The Heart:

Talk honestly and avoid blame.

It helps avoid confusion and brings you closer.

Avoid using “You did this…” Instead use “I FEEL X when you do this…”

By doing this you’re avoiding blame.

We are all responsible for our own emotions.

Step #3 Give & Record Feedback:

Listen and jot down important points.

This allows you to have a game plan on how each person can improve the next time.

Step #4 Accountability for the Future:

Remember past conversations when discussing similar topics.

This allows both people to recall the feedback which helps to guide and improve the new conversation.

Working ON the conversation allows for better understanding, improved communication, and stronger relationships. It's a skill that can be developed and refined over time.

I used to struggle with crucial conversations, I used to hold everything in, this made me an emotional mess, and I would then create more chaos in my life.

If I can learn this skill, you can too.

It's about becoming the captain of your own ship, controlling your relationships, happiness, and more.

Action Time:

Next time you find yourself in a heated conversation, take a moment to step back and reflect.

Practice communicating from the heart, focusing on your feelings rather than placing blame.

After a significant conversation, jot down key takeaways and areas for improvement.

If you found this newsletter valuable, feel free to share it using this link:

Let’s keep finding ways to live a meaningful life.

Till next time,

Mohammed Malik

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Mohammed Malik

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