Ever had one of those memorable meetings where everyone pulls together and tackles a contentious issue. You’re amazed at what you were all able to achieve together and the outcome seems like a testament to collaborative engagement and decision making.
What a relief as tensions were high at times, but you all got to the end and to a new better place.
But, then there is a disagreement.
It could be about what some specific was concerning what was agreed to. Or perhaps the difference is over whether the minutes of the meeting are the official record. Or, one of the people who was there says others are reporting inaccurately about the meeting.
Then the conflict you had going into the meeting heats up again. What happened?
When we go through a significantly challenging bout of conflict, whether as a group or in a challenging conversation with just two people, the tendency can be to want to rush the end. There can truly be relief that what seemed like a disaster was averted.
That’s great and, without explicit clarity about what was accomplished and who is doing what going forward, you run the risk of further communication breakdowns. The same is true for the end of any awkward or challenging conversation.
So, make sure you tie up your crucial conversations well and gain, rather than lose, the benefit of your hard work.
What to consider?
Use this checklist near the end of your conversation to help both of you solidify and sustain the benefits of your conversation:
- Record commitments, new understanding, points of agreement as needed. The more specific you can get, the better. See if have you captured details such as: What you have agreed to; Who is doing what; When they will do it
- Clarify who else needs to know about your new agreements. This may necessitate a clarifying conversation and agreements around confidentiality, if there aren’t any previously existing understandings.
- Record any topics that might still need to be talked about later or in an ongoing, regular way.
- If needed, set a date for the first follow up conversation if needed.
- End well so that you will be able to begin well again. You can do this by expressing appreciation or speaking about something you learned or valued about the other person or the conversation.