The ZALT Bubble
Free yourself from the script!!!
Have you ever had an out-of-work experience that illuminated something you see at work so clearly you wanted to shout it to the world? Well here goes.
A few weeks ago we were on the plane returning from a family holiday from Fiji (Bula!!). I was sitting next to my 11 year old son. I convinced him to watch the movie He Named Me Malala. The documentary of the Afghani girl who was shot by the Taliban for being passionately vocal about female education… she went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a 17yo.
Planning the Script
I was so thrilled he was watching this. In my mind, I, mother of the year, started to plot the deep and meaningful conversation we would have when the movie finished. We’d talk about injustice, women’s rights, totalitarian regimes, activism and making the world a better place. Seriously, I didn’t even take in the last ¼ of the movie as I was scripting my educative pitch. I was forming a PowerPoint in my head with facts and figures from the UN and Room to Read.
Anyway, the movie finished and I was ready to launch into my script. I had so much to say. But. Before I could, my son looked at me with concern and thought and said “Mum, why wouldn’t you want to educate a girl? I just don’t understand??? It’s stupid!”. At that moment I had a choice. A big choice…
Free yourself and Engage!
Do I launch into my script? The one I had been so carefully plotting in my head. Or do I engage in the conversation he was ready and wanting to have? Should I make sure I adamantly got my points across or should I choose to start the conversation from his vantage point? You guessed it, I picked up from his question, let him lead the discussion and it was a powerful conversation.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could let ourselves engage in the conversations presented? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could prepare others to engage in more meaningful conversations? To put their script aside, discuss the issue rather than present their case. It is so much more effective for all involved!!!
Follow the engagement!
When we coach people in conflict this is one of the first things we focus on. We call it “disarming the script”. The science behind it is simple: conversations where you demonstrate sincere interest in the other will be more effective. What better way to do this than letting them determine from where the conversation will start. This is in part what Stone, Patton and Heen call “creating a learning conversation” in their ground breaking Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. You need to know the topic and it’s always good to be prepared. But, you will get substantively better outcomes in your conversations if you have the conversation starting where the other would like to start. Choose to engage by letting your go of your script.
Is there a conversation you are about to have where your script is ready to go? Do you need some support to free yourself from the script? Do you understand how to engage?
Just in case you did not see it last time…. We think that this is just so, so, so, so very good… Be truly inspired and watch this AWESOME (and that is an understatement) advert for the Paralympics.