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The 6-Step Process That All Leaders Should Use to Reach Alignment During Pivotal Conversations

Follow this "map" for conversations that count


Before having any high-stakes or potentially emotionally charged conversation it only makes sense to prepare. You can positively affect the outcome of any conversation by reviewing the purpose and goals of the conversation, gathering your facts and information, and considering the emotions the other person is likely to express. Yet, given the nature of emotionally charged discussions and workplace dynamics, tense exchanges may erupt when you least expect them. This is why it is critical to develop a reserve of emotional resilience and sound practices to help you navigate turbulent times. If you are a leader and you allow your emotions to run the show, it means that you may be more easily emotionally high jacked, and risk breaking the bonds of trust with employees. As a result, your relationships may falter.

Take full advantage of the high-impact meetings on your schedule with intentional planning. Below is a six-step process or “map” you can follow prior to engaging with others, or when conducting a pivotal, high-stakes meeting or interaction. This process includes three essential “tiers” or needs that must be addressed during the conversation to ensure alignment and a positive outcome. The three tiers are: purpose, discovery and accountability. When you cover off these three areas, you will be able to provide thoughtful, timely feedback for employees, and in turn, employees will demonstrate more accountability and responsibility for their actions. Ultimately, when the six-step process is practiced regularly, you will be more confident to resolve any issue with ease — even the unforeseen ones.


1. Introduce the reason for the discussion.

Example: “Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me today. I greatly appreciate it. The reason that I wanted to talk with you is … I feel certain that the two of us can put our heads together and come up with some mutually agreeable solutions.”

2. Identify the problem, issue or opportunity.

Examples may include: “I think an important place to start is to identify the problem from each of our perspectives before we try to solve it.”

“What do you think the problem is?”

“Thanks for sharing that with me. I can see how frustrating this would be for you.”

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