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Manage the process

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Steering the conversation > Manage the process

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Rather than try to control the conversation as it happens, agree the process which the conversation will follow.

Tell them what you and they will discuss and do, both individually and together. Talk about the outcome and how it will be achieved.

Tell them the timescales in which things will occur, both as a sequence of events and also overall timescales.

A neat trick that is sometimes effective is to put your watch on the table in front of you. It says "I'm taking this time commitment to seriously." And by association, it says I'm taking you seriously too.

You can check that they agree with the process. They then will not be able to object to it later.

If they go off the beaten track at any time, you can simply remind them of the process and bring them back onto the highway that leads to your desired destination.

Example

Right. If we both say where we want to go, then we can discuss this to agree on the best destination. After that, I can find a way of getting us there. Is that ok?

Let's take a few minutes to agree first how we go about this. If you know what is required, then we can get it written up and reviewed by Sandy this morning. Then we can show it to Will tomorrow.

Shall I pay or do you want to discuss it?

Discussion

Talking about what you want to achieve and something of the process puts you in charge. If you own the process, it means you are laying the road for the conversation ahead. You can then happily put them in what appears to be the 'driving seat'.

Checking that they are ready to proceed legitimizes your process and hands you the baton. It is also an easy closed question which gets them saying yes and hence into a positive frame of mind.

See also

Agreeing the process

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