The following information courtesy Dick Berry of Youth Alternatives.
The Harvard Negotiation Project is a 15 year research study conducted by the Harvard Law School. The goal of the project was to help individuals, businesses, and even countries figure out how to successfully negotiate their differences.
It was discovered that all difficult conversations are structurally similar. Each difficult conversation has three different levels: 1. Facts level, 2. Feelings level , and 3. Identity level. Knowing about and understanding these 3 levels promotes resolution rather than stalemate. Parents can use the three levels during difficult conversations with their children.
1. FACTS CONVERSATION: "What Happened Conversation" - most comfortable here
A. Conversations usually start here. We often spend a lot of time gathering the facts and arguing about them.
B. Example: "You got home an hour past curfew!" "No I didn't!"
C. Direction: if you cant agree, stop arguing about who's right.
D. Resolution: As a parent it isn't required that you child agrees with your perception of the facts. You may go with your understanding and say that this is the way it is because you are the parent. However, You can't pull the "parent card" often as it would create great frustration in your child.
SO TO REACH RESOLUTION without pulling the parent card you may have to go o level two...your feelings.
2. FEELINGS CONVERSATION: We are not logical creatures, we are emotional creatures
A. Feelings often leak into or explode into our conversations.
B. Example: Yelling loudly that your teen will be grounded for three years because she didn't
come home on time.
1. Acknowledge and express your feelings directly.
2. Owning your emotions and how they influence you to act opens up the conversation
3. Invite/listen to your child's expression of his feelings and how they influence him.
I am really scared when you aren't home on time.
I feel like a little kid when I have to be home so early.
D. Resolution: Allow your emotions and their influence to direct you to resolution.
I can keep you posted so you know I am ok.
3. IDENTITY CONVERSATION
A. This is the conversation we have with ourselves about what the situation means to us. This part of the conversation is the most difficult as we feel the most vulnerable. Most likely part of he conversation that could go badly in a hurry. If an Important identity issue is slandered things are going to get real hot real quickly.
B. Example: If your child says he wants to live with his other parent instead of you, you may experience an identity quake of: I have failed as a parent.
C. Direction: Acknowledge the importance of the statement. Take a moment and examine your thoughts and conclusions. Be accurate!!
D. Resolution: I have been an excellent Mom to you. I understand that you need to live with Dad to understand him more. This is about Dad, not me. You don't have to feel like a bad Mom when you aren't.