Tag Archives: leader reflection

Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 3: Deconstruct Your Conversations

In our last 2 posts we explored the concept of empathy, why it is important for leaders, and how to invite empathy into your interactions. In part 3 of our empathy series, we will describe how to practice empathy on the back end of interactions by deconstructing your conversations.

Even if you are intentional about building empathy into your interactions, it may not truly blossom in the moment. Critical conversations need to be deconstructed. Once you step aside and ask yourself deconstructive questions, you may uncover more feelings and perspectives from the other person that need to be acknowledged. Deconstructing goes beyond ‘reflecting on’ or ‘evaluating’ a conversation: it provides you with rich data and direction on how to proceed in your follow-up conversation. For example, you can say, “I heard where you are coming from… I appreciate… I see an opportunity to…”

If you deconstruct your conversations, then you will deepen your relationships.

Use the following deconstructive questions to ask yourself, “Did I practice empathy? Did others understand me?”

Did I set the stage for the person to reflect?
Did we schedule a follow-up conversation?
Did I seek to understand the other person’s perspective?
Did I understand what the other person was feeling?
Did the other person understand my perspective and feelings?
What opportunities became apparent?

Write your answers to each of the deconstructive questions. Have new perspectives or insights emerged? Share a summary of your answers with the other person then inquire about their thoughts:

“How do you feel about the previous conversation?”
“Do you have a different view than before?”
“What is your conclusion?”

If you deconstruct your conversations, then you will deepen your relationships.

 Questions to Deepen Thinking

What would listening deeply to others get you?
How is sharing your perspective with others working for you?
What could happen if you don’t deconstruct your conversations?

Credits

Kegan, R., & Lahey, L.  (2001). How the way we talk can change the way we work: Seven languages for transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kofman, F. (2010). Advocacy and Inquiry: Combining the basic steps of the dance of communication. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from Axialent.com.

Related Posts

Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 1
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 2: Climbing the Ladder of Inference

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6 Steps to Build Engagement & Development into your Meetings: STRUCTURED GROUP REFLECTION

Many meetings are geared towards getting quick answers. At best, these meeting create singular solutions. With structured group reflection there is an opportunity to use meetings for more than just solving problems, sharing information, and reporting progress.

If you lead meetings using structured group reflection, then you will deepen thinking, encourage learning, and uncover new perspectives.

In the following infographic you can see that Structured Group Reflection consists of: sharing an idea, case, or problem; clarifying details; appreciating actions; reflecting; and insightful discussion. In addition to the primary benefits of using this process, you will acquire skills to use in other situations. Benefits include:

  • clarifying & appreciation –  cultivates empathy
  • reflective questions – encourages deeper thinking, new perspectives
  • alternative thinking –  fosters innovation
  • co-creating solutions – promotes engagement

 

GroupStructuredReflectionInfographic

Dedicate time to try this process and use it for some or part of your regular meetings. Although the steps may seem unconventional and awkward, they are easy to learn. Add structured group reflection to your meetings and declare an end to boring single-solution meetings!

Questions to Deepen Thinking

How are your staff meetings currently working? What do you walk away with?
Can you change your meeting structure to something different?
If you successfully use structured reflection in your meetings, what might that get you?

Credits

The SoL Global Coaching Community, (2012). Structured Case Review Process. Retrieved from Systems Perspectives LLC.com: https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.solonline.org/resource/resmgr/SoL_Global_Coaching_Community/Structured_Case_Review_Proce.pdf
Koffman, F. (n.d.). Advocacy and inquiry: Combining the basic steps of the dance of communication. Retrieved from Conscious Business Blog: http://www.axialent.com/uploads/paper/archivo/Advocacy_and_Inquiry_by_Fred_Kofman.pdf

Related Posts

The DOs & DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More
Mutual Inquiry: 8 Steps to Deepen & Shift Thinking
Thinking Partners: A Concept and a Compact

Mutual Inquiry: 8 Steps to Deepen & Shift Thinking

Posing questions to deepen thinking is a valuable leadership practice. It is one of the most powerful ways to help others shift their thinking and see new perspectives. It is an art and skill that can be mastered with practice.

If you pose reflective questions and encourage the other person to pause and think before responding, then you will both begin to shift your thinking and uncover new perspectives.

Questions to deepen thinking are not meant to be “asked” and “answered.” They are designed to be “posed” and “responded to.” The dynamic of posing a question that is 1) not leading, diagnostic, or challenging and 2) not required to be answered; leads to deeper thinking, automatically.

Questions to deepen thinking are not meant to be “asked” and “answered.” They are designed to be “posed" and “responded to." The dynamic of posing a question that is 1) not leading, diagnostic, or challenging and 2) not required to be answered; leads to deeper thinking, automatically.
Pose Rather than Ask

“Asking”a question implies that you are requesting information or an answer. “Posing” a question, on the other hand, introduces a thought for consideration.  Derived from the Latin for pause, posing a question sets the tone for introspection and allows the other person to reflect.

Respond Instead of Answer

Think of a response as “thinking out loud.”  A response doesn’t require an answer or a solution. It is simply uttering something in reply as a means to continue the thought process and the conversational exchange.

Questions to Deepen Thinking

  • Have you ever intentionally asked a question that you did not want an answer to?
  • Have you ever resisted the urge to answer a question to allow time for reflecting?
  • When instructed to hold an answer for a period of time, how many times does your response change in your head?

Credits

Block, P. (2008). Community: The structure of belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-KoehlerPublishers, Inc.
Koffman, F. (n.d.). Advocacy and inquiry: Combining the basic steps of the dance of communication. Retrieved from Conscious Business Blog: http://www.axialent.com/uploads/paper/archivo/Advocacy_and_Inquiry_by_Fred_Kofman.pdf

 

Related Posts

Thinking Partners: A Concept and a Compact
The DOs and DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More

Thinking Partners: A Concept and a Compact

Leaders should not underestimate the importance of Thinking Partners as they embark on new ways of learning and leading. As they continuously re-examine traditional leadership practices and test new mental models, leaders become vulnerable. Thinking Partners provides the structured reflection and safe means to evaluate leadership practices.

Thinking Partners is not simply a person or a role, but rather a concept that includes the roles of both partners and the structure of the conversation. It can be defined as a structured, thinking-sharing-listening-reflecting session in which:

  • one person thinks out loud
  • the other person listens and asks questions to deepen thinking

Thinking Partners is a Concept & a Compact

Thinking Partners is a Concept & a Compact in which two people engage in mutual inquiry while practicing empathy
Select a Thinking Partner

Look in your circle of influence for someone you are comfortable with. You and your thinking partner should:

  1. share mutual trust
  2. genuinely care for each other as individuals
  3. be able to support each other’s commitment statement
Agree on Structure

Thinking partner sessions are best done in person, but can be done in a video format like FaceTime or Skype. As a last resort you may speak by telephone. You and your thinking partner should agree to:

  1. practice empathy
  2. engage in mutual inquiry

What will you “think “about during the sessions? Possible topics are:

  • reaction to things you are trying
  • reflection on actions you have taken
  • new ideas you are considering
  • concerns you have
  • things you are avoiding

As you think out loud, your partner will listen with intent and then pose questions to deepen your thinking and offer you new perspectives.

Questions to Deepen your Thinking

  • Do you routinely include structured reflection in your work?
  • Do you ask others for help in “thinking things through”?
  • Do you look to others for new perspectives or to shift your thinking?

Related Posts

Mutual Inquiry: 8 Steps to Deepen & Shift Thinking
Transformational vs. Transactional: 2 Things a Leader Needs
Setting Meaningful Goals: 3 Components of a Commitment
The DOs and DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More

Credits

Goleman, D. (2013, December). The Focused Leader:How effective executives direct their own – and their organization’s – attention. Harvard Business Review.
Knowles, M. (1984). The Adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.