Dealing with difficult dialogue
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Dealing with difficult dialogue



What are the golden rules for managing difficult conversations which take you by surprise so they don't become critical? Here's a 4-step approach.

What are the golden rules for managing difficult conversations which take you by surprise so they don't become critical? Here's a 4-step approach.



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  • Comments from participants‘Logic goes out of the window when put on the spot’‘Difficult to manage professionalism when emotionally challenged’Stakes are high; you haven’t prepared (feedback suggested it was better when you had); emotions are triggeredAll down to the ‘amygdala’ – reacts ahead of our rational brain
  • Keeps us safe – can also overwhelm us
  • What’s going on in our brainsOften hear people saying ‘I didn’t even think’ or ‘I couldn’t think straight ‘ (losing your head)Cognitive stuff closes down (amygdala hijack) Emotions react before we have time to think (this is why we can become ‘unreasonable’ when we’re under stressStress can build up , so first encounter with stressful situation …..
  • Purpose of antidote – to begin to take control – what else can you do?
  • Summarise helpful behavioursUse acronym : try it out with each other in groupsRemember the mountain

Dealing with difficult dialogue Dealing with difficult dialogue Presentation Transcript

  • Dealing with Dangerous Dialogue When conversations could turn critical Julia Steward
  • Aim Identify strategies to minimise the impact of ‘dangerous dialogue’ – conversations that take you unaware and stay with you long afterwards 4-step approach: • Recognising when things become dangerous • Taking control – of yourself • Seeing it through: helpful behaviours • Limiting the legacy
  • ‘Dangerous dialogue’ Dangerous Dialogue adj: able or likely to cause harm or injury n: conversation between two or more people conversation, talk discussion, interchange, likely to cause problems or to have adverse consequences menacing, threatening, hazardous, perilous v: take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.
  • Recognising Not in control fearful paranoid cross angry
  • 7-levels of consciousness model Personal values Self-less service Making a positive difference in the world Know and Understand Self-esteem Finding meaning in existence Letting go of fears Love & Belonging Feeling protected and loved Safety Feeling a sense of self-worth Physiological Satisfying our physical and survival needs 5
  • Fear … What’s it for?
  • Danger! Blood flow focuses on what’s essential for survival Message from brain to adrenal glands Increased sugar, higher heart rate, raised blood pressure away from here to the amygdala activating sympathetic nervous system increased cortisol remains until … body’s reaction is turned off by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes & conserves energy
  • What triggers your emotional reaction? • Individually spend a few minutes listing situations/events that have caused stress • With a colleague, consider an appropriate ‘antidote’
  • Injunctions ought should 10
  • Step 2: Take control
  • Step 3: guiding the dialogue Listen Empathise Establish what they want Accept responsibility - carefully; apologise if appropriate Follow-up - if necessary and report back
  • ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Step 4: Limiting the Legacy • Process the event • Identify the learning • Let go Identify and record helpful and unhelpful practices. What will help you to use one rather than the other?
  • Four steps Recognising Taking control Seeing it through Limiting the legacy