Employing Differences

Employing Differences, Episode 44: Why am I talking?

March 16, 2021 Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis
Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 44: Why am I talking?
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Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 44: Why am I talking?
Mar 16, 2021
Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis

"When I can be clear about why I'm talking, it helps me get to the point. But also when I can make it clear to other people why I'm talking, they can know how to engage with that."

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript

"When I can be clear about why I'm talking, it helps me get to the point. But also when I can make it clear to other people why I'm talking, they can know how to engage with that."

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Karen:

Welcome to Employing Differences, a conversation about exploring the collaborative space between individuals.

Paul:

I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

And I'm Karen Gimnig.

Paul:

Each episode, we start with a question and we see where it takes us. This week's question is, "Why am I talking?"

Karen:

Why am I talking? And I think I also frame this as, "Why do I want to be talking?" which is the kind of question that I like to look at when agenda setting for meetings is a particular place that I think it applies other places. But an easy place to look at this is, you know, when somebody says, "I want time on the agenda for this," and it's usually a content piece. "I want time on the agenda to talk about this project," or "I want time on the agenda to talk about the break room," or whatever the thing is, right. And if I'm facilitating that meeting, I have learned to pause at that point and say, "What is your objective? What are you hoping will be the outcome of this time that you would like at this meeting." Because I find if I'm facilitating, I have a much better chance of getting them what they want, if I know what that thing is. And in fact, the whole meeting turns out to be more useful. And so the the frame I give is that most often, people want one of three things. They either want to say something, which is what they're likely thinking they're going to do, actually. Or they want to be heard about something, which is different than saying it. We forget that, but it's very different actually. And then the third thing, which is what they actually most often want, is to change behavior. And so if we can really key into which of those and I want to be clear, they're all fine objectives. There's nothing wrong with any one of them. But if you think you want one thing, and you actually want another, that's where it turns out not to be a good use of meeting time, and not very satisfying for anyone.

Paul:

When we aren't clear which of those we're in, it can cause all sorts of challenges. And this is a question that I like to try to ask myself, when I'm talking in a meeting. When I am participating, you know, in, in sort of any of these kinds of things. It's like, wait a minute, what is my purpose, and actually speaking here. There's a funny story actually, about my spouse and I. We process information in very different ways. I often work things out by talking them through. And she kind of thinks about stuff, and then when she's got a fairly fully formed idea will share it. So what this has led to on a number of occasions, is me kind of working stuff out and talking things through, and her wondering what my point is. Because why am I talking? I'm talking because I'm trying to figure things out, or I'm trying to share something. Her default is very different than my default. But she assumes that I operate the same way she does. We no longer do this. We at some point actually got to an understanding of this, so that she can now say, without prejudice, "I'm unclear. Do you need me to listen? Or do you just need to talk?" And because it means I haven't been upfront about, "Hey, I actually need you to hear this thing because I need to be heard, or I actually want us to do something different than what we're doing and I'm sharing revant information. I may have not made that clear, or she may have thought that that's what we're doing, and in fact, I'm just kind of talking and working through stuff. So when I'm able to be clear about that, what it allows her to do is to understand what listening mode she needs to be in and how to engage with what it is that I'm saying. So I think and this happens in meetings in groups as well. When I can be clear about why I'm talking, it helps me get to the point. But also when I can make it clear to other people why I'm talking, they can know how to engage with that.

Karen:

Yeah, and I think that's particularly valuable when you're the facilitator of a thing when you're facilitating a meeting. Because very often, if people just want to say anything, they pretty much know what they want to say that that doesn't need a lot of facilitation. You give them their five minutes and go on. But if what they want is to be heard, or to change behavior, most of us benefit from some coaching and some thinking about, "If that's the outcome that I want, how do I want to say it?" Or even do I want to say it, like, if I want to change behavior, I need others to get their values engaged, and they're thinking. It may not even be that I say, "I want this behavior change." It may be, hey, "I have this problem. I'm seeing this problem, can we work it together?" and what comes out of the group is going to be more useful. So I think if you get clear about what you want, it really changes the facilitator's role, and what type of meeting structure you're going to use and how much time is needed and sometimes, whether the meeting that you're asking for time in is even the right place to address it. I've certainly had people say, you know, I want to have a time on the meeting to talk about this new policy that we need, when really what they need is to work out the conflict with the person whose behavior they didn't like, as you know, at a community wide policy is not going to solve their problem.

Paul:

As we've talked about in previous episodes.

Karen:

Right. So I think that like getting clear about objective that, "Why am I talking or why do I want to be talking?" really shift both for me, and for a listener and a one-on-one, as you're saying, and it's a really good cue for a facilitator to be thinking about, so that you facilitate in the way that aligns with what the person is wanting to see happen. Keeping, of course, with also the needs of the group, but, really, everybody is more likely to be satisfied.

Paul:

Yeah. And one of the things that it touches on is something that we've talked about a lot before, is the idea that, when we can identify this thing that is outside of us this outcome that we're actually trying to get that actually becomes something that's now in the relational space, in the space between, that we can all organize around, that we can all interact around, rather than it necessarily being a thing that is fully inside you. So even if it's a case of "I need to say something because I need to be heard," my need to be heard can be a thing that the group can organize around. If we're in a relational space where people's need to be heard is something that is understood and respected and valued, then being able to flag, "Hey, I have a thing that I am not feeling heard about" by being able to flag that, that cues up to the group that my need to be heard is something we can organize around and we can engage with. But if I haven't made that clear, it isn't a thing that we can work with. So recognizing what the objective is, and putting it out into the space actually can make it easier to get that thing, regardless of what it is. If it's a behavior change, if it's a need to be heard, if it's a need to say a thing if people know how to interact with you, and with each other around it.

Karen:

Yeah, and I think this leads to a corollary that you and I were talking about before we started recording today of how often we think that because we have said a thing that others have heard it or others will change their behavior. And so I think that's the flip side of this is recognizing that, even in retrospect, looking back, we can sort of look at it and go "I said it, so therefore I was heard." Maybe not. Maybe that's not actually what happened. And if what we wanted was to definitely have it be heard, or more often that people committed and aligned with and engaged with and would have that thing influence behaviors or that kind of thing, probably we needed to slow down and engage in a richer way than just saying the thing.

Paul:

And a lot of that is about sort of radiating intent. "My intent in saying this is..." If we can actually make that clear to the group it can, it can be a lot easier for that to actually happen. It's funny. Questions can actually be around that too. I find myself often in a situation where someone is asking me for a piece of information, and it looks like it's a really simple request. But I get the feeling that there's something deeper behind it. They're going to use this information for something and I don't know what that is. So what I've found myself doing now is I will answer the question. I'll give them the information, and then I will follow that up with, "So what's behind your question? Why are you asking that? What are you going to do with this information?" Because I want to help them but I want to make sure that I'm actually being helpful about it. And I think there's like, if someone is not being forthcoming, if they're not radiating that intent, inquiring about it can actually be useful. And I think that applies not only to questions, right? The degree to which I can respectfully ask, "Why are you talking?" means I have a much better chance of actually helping you get what you want. If you haven't made it clear, I can actually try to help with that. So again, going back to my spouse saying, "Do you need to talk? Or do you need me to listen?" That's actually a way of getting me to clarify the intent. The fact that we've gotten to a point where I do not feel judged at all when I hear that right, because I could react very badly to it, like, "What do you mean?" It's like, "Oh, no, you're right, thank you." Right, seeing that as a gift. So when I'm not clear about why someone else is talking, I can actually help them by finding that out. Not in a blaming way. "Why are yo talking? Why are you stil talking?" Not in a judgment l way, but it's like, "Help me help you. I want to know, s what is it you're hoping? Why are you telling me this? hat are you hoping will happen? If I can do that in a respect ul way, in a way that works wi hin the relationship, then I think that's it's a way that we can actually move forward round it. Because I have to ssume there is a reason why you' e doing it. I just don't kn w what that reason is. So if I an get curious about it, rath r than being judgmental about it then I think that helps us move forward.

Karen:

So I think we sort of started with the premise that we often are not very conscious about why we actually are talking. What is the thing we really want? And if I can within myself get clear about what t is that I really want what I hope the outcome of my talking will be that's going to help e speak in a way that maximize the likelihood that I'll get that thing. And that if we can h lp each other, whether from a acilitators role in plannin a meeting can sort of help th t clarity come or just interpe sonally if I'm working with on other person, and I'm not sur why they're asking for what th y're asking or why they're talking that if I can ask tha in a non-judgmental, curious way, that that can help them ge conscious about it. And then be ause I know what their need is I have a much better chance f meeting it.

Paul:

Exactly. So I think that's going to do it for us for today. Until next time, I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

And I'm Karen Gimnig, nd this has been Employing ifferences.