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Key Takeaways

  • Nicole Posner discusses three leadership archetypes: People Pleasers, Warriors, and Freshers. Everyone has aspects of these archetypes that manifest in different situations. Understanding one’s dominant archetype can improve communication and leadership skills.
  • Untested assumptions and competing expectations can cause conflicts within teams. Nicole recommends clarity and understanding by having team members reiterate their understanding of instructions or feedback.
  • The MAP Strategy: Posner recommends using the MAP (Manage your Mindset, Achieve, Plan & Prepare) strategy for managing difficult conversations. She also suggests using music to shift one’s mindset into a positive space.
  • The “CURIOUS” approach involves seven steps: Clarify, Understand, Reframe, Investigate, Observe, Unearth, and Support. This tool helps leaders effectively handle difficult conversations and conflicts.
  • Ms. Posner emphasizes the role of strong relationships in managing conflicts or difficult conversations. Strong relationships can help assure the team of the leader’s good intentions.
  • The ‘HEART’ approach includes five key traits: Humility, Empathy, Authenticity, Respect, and Transparency. These traits contribute significantly to successful difficult conversations and leadership communication.
  • Difficult conversations are opportunities for positive change and growth. Nicole urges the listeners to confront their fears and see difficult conversations not as challenges but as pathways to better understanding and resolution.

Executive Summary:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Nicole Posner, author and renowned communication and conflict expert.

In part A, she shared her journey in communication and conflict management which began at a toxic PR agency and drove her to become a mediator. Nicole also discussed her book “And Breathe… Prevent, Manage, and Master Difficult Leadership Conversations in Business and Beyond” which provides a framework for managing difficult conversations. 

Additionally, she identified four main obstacles in engaging in difficult conversations: fear, lack of skills, limiting beliefs, and lack of time. In this episode, she explores conflict management with more intricacy. 

So, without any further delay, let’s jump right in.

Unmasking Leadership Styles: The Influence of People Pleasers, Warriors, and Freshers on Communication Dynamics

Aram and Nicole discuss the three archetypes that influence leadership and communication: people pleasers, warriors, and freshers.

Posner highlights that everyone carries aspects of these archetypes within them, and these characteristics manifest differently depending on the situation. She relates her personal experience of being predominantly a people pleaser, which sometimes leads to difficulties in setting boundaries, especially in a leadership role.

People pleasers, as per Ms. Posner’s description, struggle with saying no and are often overly friendly to avoid upsetting anyone, which may lead to blurred professional boundaries. They may even have a hard time managing strong personalities, which can cause conflict within a team. 

Nicole gives an example of a mediation she handled where a manager, being a people pleaser, struggled to manage an employee with a confrontational communication style, leading to significant issues.

She also introduces the fresher archetype, which is typically a newly promoted manager without prior experience or training in people management. This lack of experience may lead to challenges and uncertainty in their new roles.

Acknowledging Nicole’s statements, Aram suggests that self-reflection on one’s dominant archetype is a useful practice for self-awareness and better communication. The awareness can help individuals understand their tendencies and improve their communication and leadership skills accordingly.

Assumptions and Expectations: Unveiling the Hidden Triggers of Team Conflicts and Miscommunication

Next, Nolan asks Nicole about the role of untested assumptions and competing expectations in causing conflicts within teams. The latter asserts that assumptions can be dangerous, leading to miscommunication and unexpected issues within teams.

She cites an example where, during a meeting, a discussion point gets overtaken by another topic before it’s conclusively addressed. Later, when a follow-up is required with a client, team members assume that someone else is supposed to handle it, leading to the client being overlooked.

Misunderstandings can arise even when everyone appears to have understood the instructions or feedback. To avoid such situations, she recommends not just asking if they’ve understood but asking what they’ve understood – this allows for clarity and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

Aram agrees with Nicole and adds from his military experience that it’s crucial to have team members reiterate their understanding, confirming her point on the importance of clarification to avoid untested assumptions and miscommunication.

Navigating Difficult Conversations: The MAP Strategy and Power of Music in Easing Emotional Tensions

Moving on, Aram discusses with Nicole how individuals can better manage difficult conversations, emotionally and physically. Posner recommends using her acronym, MAP, which stands for: Manage Your Mindset, know what you want to Achieve, and Plan and Prepare.

She emphasizes that mindset is critical to successful conversations and that if one anticipates a conversation will be difficult, it probably will be. That’s why she advises focusing on positive thinking before a conversation. 

Additionally, knowing one’s goals for the conversation is key, whether seeking an apology, understanding, or change. Last but not least comes planning and preparing, which can prevent conversations from going off track and escalating into conflicts.

Nicole further mentions how people might shy away from preparing for difficult conversations when they’re uncomfortable. To manage the mindset, she suggests several techniques like going for a walk, listening to a podcast or music, or doing anything that helps shift the mindset into a positive space.

A unique tip she shares is to have six tracks of music ready to access – three that can calm one down when feeling anxious or angry and three that can uplift when feeling nervous and needing to boost confidence. She mentions some of her own music choices as examples. Aram agrees with the strategies suggested and finds it surprising that people often neglect these steps for crucial discussions.

The ‘CURIOUS’ Approach and the Power of Relationship Building in Difficult Conversations

After that, Nicole discusses the importance of curiosity as a tool in difficult conversations and leadership communication. She uses the acronym “CURIOUS” to describe the ways to approach curiosity: Clarify, Understand, Reframe, Investigate, Observe, Unearth, and Support.

#1 Clarify: Nicole emphasizes the importance of clarifying points, responsibilities, and timelines to avoid miscommunication or confusion.

#2 Understand: Additionally, she advises leaders to first seek to understand the source of a problem before rushing to fix it.

#3 Reframe: Nicole also suggests helping team members shift their perspectives or ways of thinking about a problem or situation.

#4 Investigate: She advises leaders not to take things at face value but to investigate thoroughly before making judgments.

#5 Observe: Nicole highlights the importance of observing nonverbal cues like body language in addition to what is being verbally communicated.

#6 Unearth: She encourages leaders to dig deeper to find the root causes of behaviors or attitudes.

#7 Support: Once all the information is collected, she advises leaders to consider how they can support their team members better.

Aram then asks her about the role of relationships and their nurturing to mitigate the toll that difficult conversations can take. Nicole affirms the importance of relationship building, stating that it is often overlooked by leaders. She says that strong relationships can help when managing conflicts or difficult conversations because people would know that the leader’s intentions are good. 

Mutual connections and shared interests can spark such relationships. If there’s a strong relationship, when difficult conversations need to happen, the person on the receiving end is more likely to understand the leader is coming from a place of integrity and good intentions.

Exemplifying Leadership Communication: The ‘HEART’ Approach and Its Role in Successful Difficult Conversations

Subsequently, Nicole introduces another acronym, “HEART,” which stands for Humility, Empathy, Authenticity, Respect, and Transparency. She believes these are the key traits leaders need to display in their conversations:

#1 Humility: Leaders need to take responsibility and ownership when things go wrong.

#2 Empathy: This is a key trait for leadership. Being able to understand and share the feelings of others can create a deeper connection and trust.

#3 Authenticity: Nicole highlights that authenticity in communication is essential as people can usually detect dishonesty. Leaders should be genuine, showing up as they truly are.

#4 Respect: She stresses that no conversation should ever take place without mutual respect.

#5 Transparency: Leaders should be honest and open about what’s going on, especially in difficult situations. Lack of transparency can lead to mistrust.

According to Nicole, these traits contribute significantly to the success of difficult conversations and the effectiveness of leadership communication.

Navigating Personal Conflicts: Posner’s Experience in Managing Communication Challenges within a Blended Family

Mrs. Posner also shares her experience with conflict management in personal settings, particularly in the context of her blended family. She emphasizes the importance of open communication, acknowledging diverse perspectives, and dealing with conflicts as they arise rather than brushing them aside or avoiding them.

Posner admits that being a mediator can be challenging in a personal setting, especially with her family members. And that’s why she advises listeners to be curious, empathize, and build relationships to navigate difficult conversations effectively. 

Additionally, she insists on facing difficult conversations, despite their discomfort because leaving these issues unaddressed can lead to even greater difficulties in the future. And when asked whether she finds it easier to be a mediator or a party involved in the conflict, Nicole responds that it is decidedly easier for her to be the mediator.

Facing Difficult Conversations: Transforming Fear into Opportunities for Growth and Positive Change

Next, Nicole highlights the importance of having difficult conversations. She underscores that fear is a common response to such situations, but acknowledging this fear can be a powerful tool. Once an individual learns how to confront these fears, they can create opportunities for positive change and growth.   

Additionally, Ms. Posner challenges the common perception of conflict as a negative occurrence, suggesting instead that conflict can be a positive opportunity for change and improvement. She acknowledges that navigating difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, but she stresses the value of these experiences as catalysts for change and progress.

Lastly, Posner advises listeners to change their mindset towards difficult conversations, encouraging them to see them not as insurmountable challenges but as pathways to better understanding and resolution.

Nicole, Aram, and Nolan delve into a wide range of topics. We invite you to share your thoughts on this highly informative podcast by emailing us at team@negotiatex.com.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Nicole Posner, a communication and conflict expert. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Nicole.

Aram Donigian : In your book, you talk about three different archetypes that influence leadership, communication; people pleasers, warriors, and freshers. Could you say a little bit about what each of these are and how they show up in our conversations? And going back to this idea of awareness and self-reflection, why self-reflection on our prevalent archetype may be a useful practice?

The People Pleaser's Archetype And It’s Struggle: Balancing Boundaries And Expectations (01:41)

Nicole Posner : Absolutely. So first of all, I'd just like to sort of add to that, that I think there's a little bit of each archetype in all of us, and it depends on the situation that we find ourselves in. So, you know, I am a fully fledged people pleaser, you know, hand up. But I can also be a warrior and not so much fresher. But anyway, I am a people pleaser and there are many situations where that does not serve me well. You know, I don't like saying no. Sometimes I don't have boundaries. Sometimes I don't, you know, I accept work when I know I really shouldn't, because I don't want to upset somebody. And if you are in a leadership role, the consequences of that are, you know, far more impactful than they for me because they impact a team, for example.

So a people pleaser, let's say, would have difficulty saying, you know, to a team member, no, you can't take tomorrow afternoon off. And if they're always used to hearing yes from their boss, that's going to come as, you know, quite a shock, which you mean, I can't take tomorrow off [laugh] and not having boundaries for example. A people pleaser doesn't know, you know, doesn't like boundaries in French. They want everyone to like them.

So, you know, they're friendly, too friendly. They might go out for drink after work, for example, but they've crossed a line so people think that they're mates and, you know, not the relationships change the expectation of it, right? So when suddenly you need to put your foot down and, you know, be a boss, they're like, whoa, what's changed in our relationship? Well, nothing's changed. I'm just being a boss. You know, so that's, a people pleaser. You know, I've done loads of mediations over the years where, which have been because a manager has been a people pleaser and they haven't been able to be honest.

So they end up, you know, getting themselves into a lot of hot water and they can't manage strong personalities. But, you know, an example of this was a mediation I did a few years ago where there was a manager who had to manage one employee, who had a very difficult communication style. She, you know, she was quite abrupt and quite blunt in how she said things, which caused conflict with another colleague, in fact, her own manager.

So, the boss, if you like, who was the people pleaser, had to step in and manage her in the interim. And, you know, she was never honest. She never said, you know, you need to be careful how you say that, or this is how you've been experienced. Anyway, in the mediation, it came up. She was very blunt in the mediation, and the manager who I was managing her initially said, well, you see, that's why, Sally hates managing you because of the way you are.

And suddenly this whole thing erupted because Sally had never been honest with, I can't remember her name now, and you know, that suddenly opened a can of worms because she couldn't actually sit there and say, you know, couldn't be direct and honest. So that's, you know, a few issues that come up with people pleasers. You know, and also they're sort of afraid to speak up and, and say, you know, say what they think in meetings.

So people never actually take them seriously or never give them an opportunity because they never show their true colors. So that's a people pleaser. Then we have the freshers. The freshers are the new managers who are often promoted into a new role without the training, and that, you know, in itself creates problems. Or even a, as I said before, a business owner who's never managed people before. You know, they're inexperienced, they're unsure of themselves. They've been very good at the job they were in before, but people management is a new role. So, you know, they don't know.

NM : I know another role that you talk about is the untested assumptions and competing expectations and how this has a conflict within teams. I was hoping you could also share an example about that and how that may have contributed to unnecessary conflict and what might have been able to go differently to handle that, situation better

From Assumptions To Miscommunication: Lessons In Clarification (06:19)

NP : With assumptions, managing assumptions. Yeah, there is an expression, which again, I'll try to say it delicately. Assumptions are the mother of all bleep, bleep and assumptions are very dangerous. You know, we have in a meeting, for example, an untested assumption will be a couple of, in a conversation, you'll be talking about one point on an agenda, and suddenly, something else comes into the conversation and you've never finished discussing the previous point, and suddenly the conversation moves on and you were talking about speaking to a client, following up with a client about something. Anyway, a week or two goes by and your colleagues says to you, did you speak to the client about that? And they're like, no, I thought you were. And they were like, no, you said you were. But the point was, and there was no, you know, there was an assumption because nobody actually confirmed that, in fact, who would take responsibility for it.

So that's an obvious one. Then there is, you know, that's sort of, I thought you were doing it. That's the one we just said. But so let's say you're doing a feedback or performance conversation, and you finish the meeting and you say, is everyone understood? And they'll go, yeah, yeah, yeah, you are fine. And then you go away and they clearly haven't understood. So what I always say to leaders or bosses is, well, instead of asking them if they've understood, you actually asked them what they've understood so that that clarifies that, missed assumption, you know, that they have all understood to kind of replay back or reframe back exactly what they've understood. So it's about clarifying at the end of the day.

AD : I like that. So, and Nolan and I would say from our military time, right? It wasn't just, do you understand the direction, right? Actually having them brief back to you what you've understood exactly. What they've understood.

NP : Exactly.

AD : Yeah. Really powerful. Part two of your book is about, you call it the cure. And you say, it starts with us and you've alluded to this, some of this already, but when you say it starts with us, you're talking about our mindset, our responses, our preparation. So what can we do both emotionally and physically to set ourselves up better to manage these difficult conversations?

NP : Hey, well, I have a little acronym. I like acronyms and I talk about..

AD : You're in good, you're in good company, Nicole.

NM : So does Aram and I.

AD : [laughs]

Setting Goals For Effective Communication: Knowing What You Want To Achieve (09:00)

NP : Oh great, Acronym. Team acronym, yeah. [laugh]. I thought, I think there are great ways to remember things. So I talk about using a map, which you know, gives you direction, but also a map is an acronym for manage your mindsets, know what you want to achieve, and plan and prepare. So when you think about a difficult conversation, the most important thing I think is actually how you, what you think about it, your mind, how you launch into it, how you approach it.

But if your mindset is this is going to be a difficult conversation, the chances are it probably will be. And there's a great quote by Henry Ford, “If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.” And this is, you know, your mindset is, if I think I can't do it, I probably won't be able to do it. So managing how you think about the conversation beforehand is very critical.

Then know what you want to achieve. You've always got to have a goal. You've got to know, what do you want from this? Do you want an apology? Do you want understanding? Do you want change? Do you want, I don't know, whatever we want from the conversation, but you've got to know what it is you are aiming for. And then plan, prepare, and that sounds really obvious, but, you'd be surprised how many people don't, they just launch in and that's when conversations go off track and they escalate and conflict happens. So yeah, knowing, but preparing well is important.

AD : And I find it interesting given how you defined difficult conversations is talking about things that matter, things that are important to us, right? That there's this tendency not to manage our mindset or not be clear on what we're trying to achieve. Or even like, even more surprising to not prepare, to not plan for how you're going to have this discussion.

NP : Absolutely. Yeah. But again, it's, when we are in that fear place or that place of discomfort, we don't want to have to think about those things. We just want to, you know, either we retreat or we go for it. You know, it's one or the other. And sometimes we don't have that pause to think, you know, I need to do, how best am I going to achieve what I want? You know, a difficult conversation is like anything in life that is difficult. You know, going into a board meeting or any conversation, any situation, you'd never walk in there unprepared or a new client meeting, right? You wouldn't go in there unprepared. You would know what you were going in there to say. And it's the same concept, you know, it's, we call it a difficult conversation, but it is something you need to think about, prepare yourself for and prepare for.

And there are lots of ways to do it, you know, managing your mindset. A lot of people ask me, how do I do that? What does that, you know, how do you manage your mindset? How do you get into that zone? And I often talk about, you know, anything, anything that will shift how you are thinking into a positive space. So go for a walk around the block, you know, listen to a great podcast. You know, listen to some great music. I know one client who actually used to get on his Harley Davidson and sort of ride down the open road, you know, with the wind in his hair. Just to clear your head and get your mind shifting.

But a trick that I always suggest, which I think is really helpful, is to have six tracks of music that you have to hand that you save on your phone or wherever you want. Three that can help calm you down so that when you are feeling, you know, quite anxious or angry, they'll bring you down and you can always access.

And the same is, you know, if you are feeling a bit nervous and you need to build up your confidence. So three tracks that really like, yes, I feel good about life, [laugh ]. And you can always access them just before that conversation or that meeting. That's a really good trick actually, just to have, you know, easy to get to tap into.

AD : Can we ask what's on your tracks?

NP : Yeah.

AD : What your tracks are.

NP : So calming ones are Fleetwood Mac. There's a song called, and I don't know why I ever chose these tracks, actually, [laugh]. So, one of mine is called Sarah Fleetwood Mac. The other one is, it's actually an Italian song, and I can't remember the name of it, but it was actually a song that was actually played by, there were four Italian singers, but it's the song called, I think it's called Somewhere, I think that's what it's called.

And then there was, I can't remember the last one. So there, there's what, there's three for that, and then there's for my uplifting ones, it's ‘This Is Me’ then, which was from the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman. The other one is, I can't actually remember that one there, there's one more, which was, I'll come back to you on them, but I can't, I've got them on my list, but…

NM : [laughs] No, that's great. I love that. Love that. You also have this beautiful quote that says, ‘honesty, courage and authenticity are a pipeline for a connection rather than a barrier to communication’. And you use that to introduce what you consider to be the key ingredients for successful leadership communication. Your full first tool is curiosity. So I was hoping you could share this great acronym and framework around getting curious and why it's so critical.

Enhancing Communication: The Role Of Active Listening And Relationship Building (14:46)

NP : Curiosity is one of my favorite tools, in a number of situations. And it can be used in so many different ways. So for example, if you want investment into an idea and you want commit, you know, people to sign up to, you know, a new way of thinking, if you ask them to give their opinion or input into something, rather than tell them this is what's happening, they feel more committed to the process. So being curious has many helpful uses, but the way I actually use curiosity is, and the acronym is, first of all, the C equals Clarify, the U is Understand, the R is Reframe, the I is Investigate, the O is Observe, and U Unearth and S is Support. So they each have a different, a different use.

So, clarify, as we talked about before, as you know, assumptions, we all know how difficult they can make a situation. So never assume anything, but always clarify points and make sure that, you know, responsibilities, actions, and timelines are clear. Understanding, now, a mistake that say freshers make is they'll go into fixes something quickly without actually understanding all the facts. So they'll deal with an outcome of the situation.

You know, they'll deal with a mistake, they'll deal with errors or unmet targets, but they won't actually deal with, you know, the source of the problem. So understand it, don't go to fix and solve, go to understanding. Reframe, so if a, you know, team member says, you know, I can't do this, so you could change that to, well, I can't do this yet. You know, help them reframe how they think about that. The I is investigate, so don't take things at face value. You know, if two people come to you with a complaint, you know, make sure you really, you know, you investigate it properly so that you know, you don't jump to make a judgment call. You actually, you know, make sure that you completely get where they're at. There's this, again, you know, if you're fresher, you just want to impress your boss and you want a quick fix. So make sure you investigate properly. The O is Observe. You know, what am I observing here? Look at body language. Look at how people are behaving in a certain situation. You know, don't just listen to what comes out their mouth.

Then, U is unearth. You know, what's driving this behavior, what's driving this attitude? What's actually, you know, underneath? Unearth it, dig it up. Because again, often we just look at what we're presented with. So we need to dig down. And then the S is Support. When you have all this information, how can I support you further?

AD : You know, Nicole, difficult conversations clearly extract a toll on relationship. How do you advise leaders to more effectively nurture and build relationships with others before conflict arises? And you talk a little bit about communicate, or sorry about listening as well, and I'm just wondering if listening is part of that kind of list of things that you advise, but what's your advice when it comes to kind of being aware of the relationship component and the toll it can take?

NP : Yeah, I mean, relationship building is so important and, I think it's something that a lot of leaders miss, if I'm honest with you. And this can be, okay, I'll rewind that. When you build relationships, it can, when you need to then manage conflict or a difficult conversation, people know that you are coming from a place of integrity and good intention rather than, you know, just as a, you know, I'm a boss and I'm coming into, you know, tell you off. So there are ways to build connection in relationships, getting to know people, finding out what their interest, hobbies are, because that mutual connection, mutual interest, triggers sparks of connection with people.

And that's where, you know, building those relationships helps to support times when tricky times that you have to have those difficult conversations. And it's like a situation, you know, if you have, you take a piece of advice, you ask, you have a situation where two people give you the same piece of advice. One is from someone you know well, and one is from someone you don't particularly like or respect. You're going to listen to the advice from the person that you actually know well, because they know that you're coming from a place of well-meaning and good intent.

NM : And I think that, you know, kind of elaborating on this is like, so much of this is around the process by which we as leaders manage conversations, be they with internal teammates or external clients. So I mean, what do you see as the key traits leaders display in these conversations?

Humility, Empathy, Authenticity, Respect, And Transparency To Help Build Genuine Connections (19:54)

I have another acronym which I talk about communicating with HEART. So, humility, empathy, authenticity, respect and transparency. And I think that each trait brings something important to a communication, you know, humility, taking responsibility, taking ownership when things go wrong. Empathy, empathy is one of my really important, key traits as well. I think in leadership, you know, that connection of, I get it, I understand where you're at with this, you know, how can I support you? Authenticity, you know, people see through smoke mirrors, they can see when your communication is off and you know, they know when something isn't quite right and off kilter. So, you know, show up, work towards and all, who you really are. There's nothing wrong with, you know, showing who you really are. It actually creates a connection.

Respect, no conversation should ever take place without mutual respect and transparency. You know, people want to know, people want the, you know, to see it, to know information. Particularly like during the pandemic, people wanted to know what was going on. You know, they wanted you to be honest and to share, you know, if the business was in trouble, let's hear it and hear the truth about it and deal with that afterwards. But you know, when people don't get transparency, then creates mistrust and that's when they start, you know, wondering what else you're not being truthful about.

AD : At the heart of your acronym just now. And the one you said was most important. And that was my little play on words, by the way, [laugh], I didn't get the laughter, I didn't get the laughter response I thought, is empathy. Do you ever hear from somebody, I don't feel like I'm a very empathetic person. Can we build our empathy? Or is empathy something I either have or don't have when it comes to, you know, human connection, particularly in difficult conversations?

Perspective And Empathy: Bridging The Gap In Multicultural Conversations (21:51)

NP : I mean I think some people naturally have empathy, EQ, I think some people have it. Can you teach it? Can you learn it? I think if, you know, if you are quite an intuitive, an open person, you know, you can, but some people definitely have it as a natural, I say gift, but a natural attribute is probably a better way of using it. Intuition as well, I think.

AD : You work all over the globe. Do you have any advice around when there's language differences or cultural differences that exist in trying to manage these different conversations? And maybe it's because we are from different countries or regions, maybe it's just for different companies or even different business units within the same company. How do we practice these concepts in those instances?

NP : Well, I think again, it comes back to awareness, you know, different how, and also the experience of how is this being received by let's take cultural differences as an example. You know, so much is lost in translation. You know, the way something is said in one culture is completely misinterpreted in another. So, you know, that's quite a good example. And certainly when I work in businesses who have global, you know, offices in different countries, you know, I always say to them, just because you know what you are saying doesn't mean that that other person understands it in the same way. So having a bit of perspective and putting yourself in someone else's shoes, certainly in a cultural situation, is really critical. And then, you know, working in, you know, different departments, again, we did allude to it before about, you know, having the foresight to think that, you know, we don't know exactly what's going on for the other person. Don't make an assumption. Let's start those conversations. If we don't know what's going on, let's check in. Because I think there is too much reliance on assuming we know what the other person is thinking or doing.

NM : You're a parent and a spouse, do these concepts apply at home? Maybe it's a disagreement with the partner or spouse around work life conflicts, or maybe it's just with the grandchild. How have you been able to practice all of this in your personal life?

The Role Of Mediation In Resolving Conflicts: Experience Of Blended Families (24:21)

NP : As I said to you before, you know, I'm a work in progress, so, you know, and human, but, you know, just a couple of things really. You know, when you are a blended family, you know, there are so many different scenarios that you have to think, for example, when, you know, the new family all came together. Perspective and experience, you know, what we thought was, you know, going to be the right way forward. Actually, we have to accept that what someone else's or the kid's perspective was very different. You know, our intentions for what we wanted wasn't, you know, what they wanted at the time. So being aware of that, you know, blended families, I understand, is a big source of conflict. There's always been a joke in my house, you know, with my three boys growing up, you know, whenever there was a difficulty with them, I've got twin boys, the older boys are twins, you know, it was always, you know, call the mediator, bring her in, let's ask her her opinion.

You know, so, again, it's about having the conversation and not being scared to have a conversation. You know, let's not brush things aside. Let's bring everything, be open and honest and bring things out onto the table and talk because, unless we have those honest conversations, you know, nothing, things don't get sorted. You know, they just, as we said before, they just build up and get worse.

So, yeah, you know, I think that I've learned the power of the pause as well, to sleep on things, don't jump in. And you know, my four greatest tools that we of course have touched on are curiosity, empathy, listening and relationships. And just remember that, you know, stepping up now and having that difficult conversation now might be uncomfortable, but it's going to be far more uncomfortable if you leave it, far more torturous to deal with afterwards.

So, don't make avoidance a choice of action, you know, step in and have that conversation. And once it's all done and dusted, you can breathe.

AD : You mentioned being mediator. Do you prefer being the mediator between two parties to conflict, or is it easier to be one of the parties to part one of the parties involved in the conflict?

NP : Definitely easier to be the mediator. Definitely

AD : [laugh]

NP : For sure.

AD : As we get ready to wrap up, Nicole, I'd just like to take us back to the title of your book ‘And Breathe…’, maybe ask you to share with our listeners any final thoughts or even a challenge for putting these things into practice in their most difficult conversations.

Embracing Courage: Overcoming Fear In Difficult Conversations (27:04)

NP : Well, I think just, I go back to the point I just made, don't be afraid to have those conversations. You know, from the years I've been doing this, the fear behind it, you know, if you can recognize that fear, that is your biggest asset actually. Because as I said, if you don't have the conversation, nothing's going to change. A lot of people see conflict as a negative. I see conflict as a positive. It’s an opportunity for change, not challenge.

And if you change your mindset to it, this is an opportunity for good things to come from this rather than it being, you know, a real awful experience. Yeah, and it might be uncomfortable to go through it, but it's an opportunity for change and I think that's how difficult conversation should be viewed.

AD : Thank you for that. I like, I can appreciate that perspective, right? That it's an opportunity. If I had to take away so many good notes here, I would say you're kind of the map piece, managing that mindset as well as being clear on what I'm trying to achieve and, you know, having a plan and and preparing well allows us maybe to lean into conflict as you're indicating. Embrace it because it doesn't feel like it's going to disappear, it's going to be present. What we do with it really matters, so…

NP : Exactly.

AD : Thank you.

NP : Thank you very much. Yeah, thank you. Thank you for having me.

AD : Thanks for your insights. Thanks for joining us today.

NP : Great chat. Thank you both.

NM : Yep. Thanks Nicole. This is a podcast that's all about elevating your influence, purposeful negotiations. Nicole definitely helped us do that today. So thank you again, Nicole. If you haven't already, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.

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