do I
listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
speaking to me

– Hafiz

For weeks I’ve been boring everyone I know with the things i’m learning from Fierce Conversations. I participated in a training course for Fierce Conversations last week, and having used it in a few environments since then, i’m even more convinced by it.

The first thing I love about it is that it isn’t a methodology for controlling other people’s participation in a conversation – it changes my presence in a conversation. The second thing is that the conversational environment is curated, not manipulated – it’s transparent from beginning to end. The focus is overwhelmingly about getting myself lined up for a conversation: sorting out my own motivations and agendas, checking my integrity, and then using a process for conversations that invites people into a conversational space where clarity, transparency and dignity are dominant values.

As my friend Pete Rollins says about theology, it’s not rocket science; it’s infinitely easier and more difficult than that.

The fierce conversations model gives instantly useful processes for four conversational spaces – management / coaching, team, delegation, and confrontation. It uses the same [trademarked!] seven principles in each environment:
– master the courage to interrogate reality
– come out from behind yourself and make it real
– be here, prepared to be nowhere else
– tackle your toughest challenge today
– obey your instincts
– take responsibility for your emotional wake
– let silence do the heavy lifting

What I’ve found, after just a few weeks of following the processes, is that it’s made difficult conversations much less terrifying, and coaching / management conversations much more constructive. When I do the preparation before a conversation, and when i’m genuinely curious and transparent within the conversation – when I become an unanxious presence in an anxious space – something very different happens. I’m giving the people I’m in conversation with a chance to be the best they can be in that conversation. There’s no fighting, no tricking, and no winners or losers. It’s an invitation to become better at what we do.

No one has to change and everyone has to have the conversation.
when the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation has ended.

– David Whyte

I felt quite teary the whole time I read the book. i think it’s because it’s given me a way to to treat myself and the people i work with respectfully, compassionately and transformatively, particularly when in situations of deep conflict and disappointment – which is unbelievably liberating. And it’s challenged me to think of every conversation as potentially culture-changing. Because it is.

I’ve just started reading Fierce Leadership, also by Susan Scott. I was brought undone on the tram this morning by the chapter on cultures of blame and victimhood – but more on that another day…