People often avoid the discomfort associated with the conversation by changing the subject. Identify how to keep focused on important issues and don't allow yourself to be distracted.
- So what I mean when I say maintaining focus is that when we are advocating for change in our companies, we need to make sure that we're focusing on the things that are most important. And in order to determine what's most important, we need to first take the time to prepare. We need to ask ourselves what's important to discuss right now, and what are the things that we should ignore, and then that can lead you to the creation of an effective agenda. And when you're creating that agenda, you send it to the other side and make sure that we're on the same page. Then what we're doing is once we start to get off topic, we redirect the conversation by asking a great open-ended question that is on topic. Now it's important to do this in a way that doesn't seem dismissive, because even though it might not be important for what you're hoping to accomplish in the conversation, it might be important for them to address. So we need to make it clear that we've heard them, and the simple way to do this is by taking the time to summarize what they say, and then ask an open-ended question that's more on topic. So here's an example of what this would look like in practice. Let's say what you want to do is diversify the talent pool by addressing biases in your hiring practice. So what you want to do is first, prepare. Talk about what's important, and at the same time, clearly identify to yourself what's not important to address. Then set the agenda and then have the conversation. And during the conversation, what might happen is the person might take the conversation in a negative direction. They might say something like, "I don't want to lower the standards for the company. I don't want to create a quota system that puts us at risk, legally speaking." And so instead of going down that rabbit hole, what you want to do is take the time to summarize and then ask an open-ended question that is back on target. And so what this could look like is this. So it sounds like you want to make sure that with our applications, we are still attracting the highest quality candidate to put our company in the best position for success while at the same time addressing legal liability questions. Is that right? Yeah, that's a fair synopsis. Well, fantastic, so what types of things can we put in place that would diversify our talent pool without running into those risks that you described? And so that's a great example of how you can refocus the conversation and focus on things that are positive and productive while still letting the other person feel heard.