"You can’t create a solution-focused conversation from a problem-focused mindset."
~ Bill Crawford

“You can’t create a solution-focused conversation from a problem-focused mindset.”
~ Bill Crawford

Why Most Difficult Conversations Fail

As a speaker, trainer, and psychologist, I’m consistently asked how to engage others so that they truly hear and understand what we are wanting them to know. This request seems to stem from past experiences where they have tried to have a difficult conversation with someone only to have it go “off the rails,” so to speak.

One of the main reasons I find for this lack of success has to do with how they are thinking and/or feeling as they enter the conversation. Most are concerned about something, and this worry or concern can have them attempting to convince the other person to change in some way. While this is understandable (it’s certainly possible that a change is needed), this focus on the problem often comes across as a lack of confidence in the other person’s judgement, or their ability to make good decisions. This has them either resisting or resenting what is being said (or both), which often results in their becoming defensive.

In my seminars and coaching sessions, I help people understand why this happens by teaching them about the brain…specifically, how the middle brain or limbic system has a tendency to overreact to anything it perceives as negative. It then blocks access to the rational part of who we are, and engages the lower brain, or the brainstem. This triggers certain chemicals (adrenaline and cortisol), and certain behaviors, such as, our becoming more insistent while they become more resistant.

The solution, therefore, is to go into the conversation focusing first on the aspect over which we have the most influence… i.e., who we are, or the qualities or characteristics that we are bringing to the interaction. We then need to ensure that we are reaching for the solution-focused part of them… the part of them that is making good decisions in some aspect of their life, because this is what we are going to partner with later in the model.

If you would like to learn more about this model that uses neuroscience to help individuals and teams access their best, as well as, bring out the best in others, I suggest that you contact me, because until we are able to enter conversations (and life) in a solution-focused mindset, we will forever be at the mercy of the problem-focused part of the brain.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill