I recently received an email from a business associate of mine regarding an issue we are trying to work through. The two of us have a different viewpoint of the situation and I felt his email response was a bit judgmental and condescending. My first reaction was to let him have it. I wanted to let him know how I didn’t appreciate his note and if that was the way he was going to play…. then so be it. Two can play that game. I was filled with righteous indignation and in some weird way, the note was fun to write. Then it hit me (fortunately before I pushed the send button )…What was the outcome I desired? Do I want to piss him off and create a war? Or do I want to come to some peaceful, mutually beneficial resolution?
After thinking it through, the answer became crystal clear. I wanted resolution. I wanted peace and if possible, I wanted a continued friendship. Then I applied Stephen Covey’s fifth habit, “seek first to understand, and then to be understood”, to the mix. The finished product was a completely different email that was received well by the other party and I felt great about sending it. And….it is helping to produce the right outcome. We haven’t come to a complete resolution yet, but we are well on our way.
I only hope that the next time I find myself in a disagreement with someone else, I remember to ask “What is my desired outcome ?” before I say something or send something that I might regret later on.
How about you? Do you ask this question? If you do, then you know it’s value. If not, try it and see. I think it will help get you the outcome you desire (pun intended).