Planning for Difficult Questions and Statements - final

Planning for Difficult Questions and Statements - final -...

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1 FOR DIFFICULT QUESTIONS AND STATEMENTS (Developed by Fulton Communications) “You killed Sheila!” “You’re lying to us!” “Do you drink the water?” Responding to challenging statements or questions can be difficult, especially when you are not expecting them. Two tools that will help you to plan and prepare for this are the (1) 6- Step Structured Response Guideline and (2) Generic Categories of Questions and Statements. These tools work hand-in-hand for any issue (safety, health, environmental, fairness, economics, political, cultural or social) and with both internal and external stakeholders in any setting. These tools are not effective without hands on training in non-verbal skills. The 6-Step structure shown below is a guideline for answering difficult questions. It is a flexible tool that can be useful when you are in the midst of a difficult and/or challenging dialogue. Remember that it is a guideline and not a model; every situation will need to be evaluated to determine which parts of the guideline are most appropriate for use. Step 1: Anger/Ventilation Step 2: What’s the question? Step 3: Empathy Step 4: Conclusion Step 5: Facts Step 6: Future Action The first two steps in the guideline match up with the first two Generic Categories. In applying the 6-Step Structured Response Guideline, you are not always dealing with Steps 1 and 2. Stakeholders are not always venting (angry) and you usually know what the question is. Most of the time, Steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 of this guideline are all that are necessary; however, evaluate the situation to determine whether it is appropriate to skip Steps 1 and 2. Step 1: Anger/Ventilation Also Generic Category 1. The person is very angry or agitated. Let the person vent (up to a point) to let out his or her frustration with the situation. The time you allow for this depends on the situation and the number of people involved. Step 2: What’s the question? Also Generic Category 2. You’re not sure what the person is asking or stating because he or she is still venting, jumping from subject to subject, or not clear. Listen carefully to what the person is saying and paraphrase the question or use one of his or her key words to learn more.
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2 Sometimes it is appropriate indicate to your stakeholders that you have some sense of what they are saying and/or some sense of their situation. Empathy is comprehending their ideas, situations, and feelings from their perspective – walking in their shoes. Empathy is not sympathy and empathy is not agreement. Empathy is not “I know how you feel” because you don’t know how they feel; only they know how they feel. Empathy is your ability to figure out the following: What must their situation be like for them? To do this, you must think about them, not yourself. Do not bring in your personal feelings or beliefs. Empathy cannot be artificial; it must be genuine. You cannot pretend to be empathic to their situation because stakeholders can tell if you are
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Planning for Difficult Questions and Statements - final -...

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