See and Describe with Situation Words

For quiet strength communication, first see what you see, and hear what you hear. Let these gather words in your head. Choose the words so as to manage your thinking. Soon, then, you can choose how you will see and how you will hear.

Decide what is the difference between what you saw and heard versus what you are sure the other person meant or intended. Differentiate carefully what happened from what you are telling yourself about what happened. A good listener can help you hear the difference.

In describing the situation, even if only in one's head, it's best to choose words other than those which might feel threatening to the other person. Most people in relationships know the buzzwords, the push-your-buttons words. Avoid them and the tones of voice that go with them.

For proper situation description, "What if" is useless either toward the past or the future because the answer is unknown. Repeated replaying or pre-playing the conversation is useless unless role-playing with a good listener can add new information.

Now you're ready to fill in some situation descriptions in the first column of your Observation Worksheet. Use theseĀ Situation Phrases to get you started. Write them, then repeat them over to yourself, then try them out on a good listener.

Some of the ideas for this article come from these works:

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2013.

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak