This is Part 2 of a two-part series, covering some great insights from:
Part 1 focused on operational conflict resolution. Part 2 focuses on interpersonal commitments.
Elements of a properly formed request for commitment:
- Expression — what is being requested
- Requester — who is requesting it
- Receiver — from whom — has to be specific.
- Standards — measurable standards for assessment of fulfillment. Clear what? And by when?
- Need — or desire that the requester is trying to satisfy with the request (the why?)
- Agreement — explicitly asking for commitment to fulfill the request.
In order to accomplish W (the satisfaction of a need), I ask you to do X (a specific action) by Y (a specific time). Can you commit to that?
- Do I understand what the other is asking of me?
- Do I have the skills and resources to do it?
- Am I convinced that those on whom I depend will deliver for me?
- Am I willing to be held accountable for anticipating potential breakdowns?
Valid responses to a commitment request:
- Yes, I promise
- No, I do not commit (although I can try…)
- I need clarification
- I commit to respond by (a definite data)
- I accept conditionally. I can commit to do what you ask if R (a mutually observable condition) happens. Would that work for you?
- Let me make a counter offer. I can’t commit to doing X by Y, but I could do S by T. Would that work for you?
A productive complaint:
- Check your intention (virtuous, rather than blame)
- Establish appropriate context (time, place, confidentiality, emotional tone, etc.)
- Verify the previous commitment. The risk of prosecuting someone mistakenly is higher than the risk of having them squirm out of a commitment one time.
- Verify the failure to honor the commitment. You’re only trying to define whether the commitment was broken, not whether the breakdown was justified.
- Inquire into what happened — hear the other’s story of what happened from his point of view
- Evaluate the damage and express the complaint — operational, relational, and personal.
- Request reparations and negotiate a recommitment — be honest about what will truly close the issue for you
- Learn and prepare for the future — identify the part of the process that is weak and under which conditions and plan strategies / design mechanisms to strengthen it.
A productive apology:
- Establish the appropriate purpose (individual context) for the apology. You goal is to repair the breakdown in coordination, trust and impeccability, and the hurt feelings.
- Establish the appropriate context (prepare the conversation). Choose an appropriate time and place.
- Acknowledge the previous commitment. Own your promise.
- Acknowledge your failure to honor the commitment. Take responsibility for the non-fulfillment. Offer an explanation.
- Inquire about the damages and apologize. Don’t argue. Acknowledge the other’s perspective.
- Offer reparations and negotiate a recommitment. Ask the other what he needs to feel appropriately indemnified and allow him to declare the issue resolved
- Learn and prepare for the future.