Alec Grimsley's Blog

Difficult conversation: Develop a FAB response!


Developing a FAB response in difficult conversations

Imagine the scene… you’re trying your best to handle a difficult conversation or your handling what you regard as a difficult person. Just when you think you’re handling things quite well, you innocently say something that triggers an unexpected reaction from the other person, maybe they get angry and accuse you of incompetence, alternatively they throw you some guilt with a line like “I’ve made all the sacrifices in this relationship you just take, take, take!” These are the moments that it’s so easy to lose our emotional balance in the conversation and its easy to automatically fall into either a fight or flight mode. If its fight we launch back with even more venomous dialogue making the conversation increasingly hostile and unsafe for both parties. Yet equally we may hit the flight panic button and become increasingly passive and capitulate to the other person’s tactics, demands or behaviour.

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Difficult conversations with family members

They are without doubt some of the most difficult conversations we will ever face. Raising a really sensitive issue with a family member has massive stakes attached. Unlike other friendships familiy ties are in the most part there for life and incredibly interconnected with other family members. Fall out with your brother and you now create awkward and political challenges for your parents, sisters, uncles and aunts etc around all sorts of future family gatherings, not to mention whose side they should take.

A couple of months ago The Independent asked if they could write an article about how I could help one of their Journalists with a difficult conversation they needed to have with a family member.

I’d be delighted to hear your comments on what you thought about the article which you can find here:

Can a conflict coach from the world of industry teach us how to manage the difficult conversations in our family lives?

Does your mindset pass the transparency test in a difficult conversation?

Will your mindset pass the transparency test in a difficult conversation?

Our true mental programming comes to the fore when challenged by a difficult conversation. When you squeeze an orange, what comes out?… orange juice. When you are pressured in a challenging conversation or feel that need to achieve a very specific outcome, what mindset leaks out of you? While many people talk a good game around being collaborative and win/win approaches (which reflect an aspect of what I call third- generation thinking), their behaviour (and mine at times) under stress suggests that they’re often much more aligned to first or second generation thinking.

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