Have you ever had this type of conversation, The Ambush Conversation? Someone phones you, or asks you to meet in person, and when you connect they go through a long ‘song and dance’, talking about all kinds of issues and then at the end of the conversation they throw in the zinger.
Saving the worst for last
A classic example of The Ambush Conversation was by a person who set up a conference call with us to discuss “changes to some aspects of our contract”. Knowing this bit of information obviously gave us a heads up, but 25 minutes into the call we had gone through a list of minor issues, making small concessions and tweaks to the contract, and then as we were about to hang up (it was a 30 minute call) the person got to the substantive issue of the contract. She wanted to reduce the price of the service contract. Surprise!
Dancing in the dark
We had been painstakingly going through the other changes without all the essential information and felt this last minute bit of key information had put us at a disadvantage throughout those first 25 minutes. We did not have the full perspective. We did resolve things, but our 30 minute call became a 50 minute call. And, once we got off the phone we were left with an impression that the other party had not acted very professionally. We realize that bad news is often harder to deliver, but forthright communication is essential to building and maintaining high-trust. Whenever that person called us in the future we were always waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.
Create a level playing field
To build and maintain high-trust relationships with customers, colleagues, people who report to you and those you report to, it’s important to get the key facts up front. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of “Make to Stick”, offer some very practical communication advice, “Don’t bury the lead.”
Ask yourself: what are the key points I want to impart to make this truly a dialogue, with both parties on a level playing field?
“Conversation can often be easier if you do the hard stuff first.” ―Gayle Hallgren-Rezac
-Written by Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, business networking speakers and authors of Work The Pond! Shepa Learning Company
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