Here s our model of the skills we ll cover throughout this book. We ll build this model piece by piece as the chapters unfold. We ve started with the principle Work on Me First. We ve learned that before we utter a word, we have to start by asking what crucial confrontation to hold and if we should hold it.
We start every crucial confrontation with two questions ”WHAT and IF:
WHAT. The first time a problem comes up, talk about the original problem or the C ontent. If the problem continues, talk about the P attern. As the impact spills over to how you relate to one another, talk about your R elationship. To help pick the right level, explore what came after the behavior (the consequences) as well as what came before it (the intent). As the list of potential problems expands, cut to the heart of the matter by asking what you really do want and don t want ”for yourself, the other person, and the relationship.
IF. To determine if you re wrongly going to silence, ask four questions: Am I acting it out? Is my conscience nagging me? Am I choosing the certainty of silence over the risk of speaking up? Am I telling myself that I m helpless? To determine if you re wrongly speaking up, ask if the social system will support your effort. If you are committed to speak up while others continue to say nothing, differentiate yourself.
Once you ve decided to confront a problem, you have to make sure that you yourself are in the right frame of mind. You have to work on yourself first. This isn t always easy; especially when the other person has let you down. You may just charge in with an accusation. This takes us to the next chapter. Before you ever open your mouth, how do you tell a more complete and full story? One that s more conducive to a healthy discussion than the all-too-common question: What s wrong with those bozos?