In the past I have tried painting the walls and the trim of my house. I would buy test paint, test it, select a color, buy the paint, the brushes, the rollers, the masking tape, the masking paper – move a few things out of the way and start painting! It worked beautifully for the first few minutes as I was rejoicing at the new color going up on my walls. Then invariably paint would spray on the floor in a place where I hadn’t covered adequately. Down the ladder I would go to get a rag and water – mop it up… now there was a stain on the carpet. Then I would discover I had gotten the paint on the trim, the line between the ceiling and the wall was sloppy, my arms hurt, my back was killing me…. and I would have an end result that I was very unhappy with.
During the last two re-models of our house I have been blessed to work with a team of painters that are state of the art. And every time it has annoyed me to no end how long they take getting going. I mean they move everything completely out of the house, put up masking tape, masking paper, plastic sheets, more paper, more plastic….. and finally after what seems like days of this, they finally get the paint out of the truck where it has been hiding. And before I know it they are done. And the result is flawlessly beautiful. Amazing. When you compare to the slop-job I was able to produce.
And so I have realized that their amazing prep-job, the painstaking attention to detail before they even start, is what allows them the results that I was unable to get with my more hap-hazard methods!
It is really like that when we decide to have a conversation with our boss/co-worker or someone in our family too. If we do not accurately assess the scope of the situation, we are likely to arrive at a half-mended, sloppy result. If we just jump into the conversation without really having thought about the scope of the issue, we are likely to have unfinished business, misunderstandings – virtual sloppy lines and messy floors!
So the prep-work to having a meaningful and productive meeting/conversation can make all the difference. Sometimes without this prep work we end up talking about a situation from a much too superficial and one-sided perspective. We miss what might be at the core of the issue. And so we might have the “same conversation” over and over again without ever really getting it resolved.
Here are a couple of prep-work questions you might ask yourself in advance of your next important conversation. Questions like:
1. What is it that I really do not want to talk about/bring up? 2. What is really at the core of this issue? 3. What is my ideal outcome? 4. What is the other person(s)’ ideal outcome? 5. How can we establish a win-win conversation? 6. What is our mutual benefit of finding a solution?
On the other side of such a conversation, might be the feeling of clarification and resolve you were hoping for. Just adequately defining what the problem is – could make all the difference.