Monthly Archives: November 2017

How to Hold Mindful Conversations – Part 1

Mindfulness is an important buzzword these days. Basically, Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

We each hold dozens of conversations, mostly mindless conversations, every day. These are wasted opportunities to build relationships or coordinate activities or to plan for the future or recap the past. It is possible to focus a conversation so that it has a meaningful result by using some simple techniques. It is possible to plan your conversations. And after a smidgeon of practice, you can apply these techniques with little or no effort.

All the techniques seem to follow a specific pattern of topics, in a particular order:
get the facts, get the feelings, get the values (determine importance), generate options, and decide on actions. Here are some of the patterns:

O.R.I.D

ORID stands for Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decision. These are the most basic steps in a focused, mindful conversation. The ORID process applies almost everywhere. You can repeat the ORID as a building block at each step of the other processes. The evening after I was introduced to the ORID process, I was able to use it in 17 conversations with my wife without her noticing.

The first step calls for objective observation. “Just the facts, ma’am.” No opinions. No speculation. Just what we know to be true. “What happened?” “What has been your interactions with our board [or agent or support or representative?” “What was said?” “How did you come to that conclusion?” “How did the events unfold?”

The second step calls for reflection. You want them to express their emotions and mental associations. The first step asked for external data. This step probes the internal responses. “How did you feel about that?” “What was your reaction?” “What surprised you the most?”  Many people, eager to get to the point, skip this step. No. No. Nothing happens until the emotions are expressed. Dig them out.

The third step is interpretive. This is where we analyze what is going on. We select our decision criteria. We consider choices and implications. “What is important here?” “What is the central problem here.” “What is the root cause of our experience?” “Which criteria are more important than others?” “What are the options?” “How have others handled this problem?” “What decisions will we have to make?” Note that we now have a commonly held set of criteria before we make decisions, but only after expressing our emotions and feelings.

We make decisions in the final step. This is where we look at the options and make choices based on our decision criteria and values. This is where we make commitments to one another to take actions.

The McKinsey Pyramid

Barbara Minto developed the Pyramid to explain a logical analysis and presentation process. I discussed this process on a prior blog. Check it out.

The Six Hats

The Six Hats is a technique designed to reach group decisions on a proposed course of action. It involves six steps, also called hats. The first is explaining the process, then find the facts, then state what is good about the proposed, then discuss the risks. Now we get to venting emotions. The group discusses possibilities and actions in the sixth step. Of course, there is a recap of the process. I discussed this process in detail in a prior post.

There are more processes using this framework. In the next post, I will talk about using ORID in strategic planning, starting conversations, making tacical decisions, and possibly, like a lawyer.

Talk with you then.