Contact Module 6 Part 1 - Finding common ground and getting into the 'Yes' frame of mind


Hi everybody. This video is Part one of step 6 in CONTACT. The 2nd ‘C’ in CONTACT stands for Common Ground — find it.  FYI. Communicating comes from the Latin word, communis, which literally means “to make common.” 

Effective communication is all about finding the common ground to prevent or solve conflict, build positive emotions in people and create progress.

In 2008, the Ontario Government Ministry of Education published a document with a ‘call to action’ for finding common ground and believes it’s key to character development.

When you’re trying to fix a problem or fix a relationship of any type that goes off track, what’s the number one thing that blocks resolution, solutions and progress? Poor communications is the answer I get 99% of the time, whether it’s a personal interaction, situation and relationship or a work one.

The inability to find common ground in sensitive conversations, is a big part of the communications block.  Every communications course I’ve taken, or book I’ve read, has a common ground discovery process to follow. 

Do you have any relationship in your life that could go to another level of joy or effectiveness?  Any kind. Work or play? Finding common ground is key to success.

In this step of the CONTACT system, I’ll show you how to find common ground in a sensitive, important or corrective conversation, and I’ll show you how to get your communication partner to say yes a few times, to get you and them into an affirmative ‘yes’ frame of mind, so the relationship can grow and thrive.

Do you think it’s a good idea to get people saying yes when we want to move a difficult situation in the right direction? For 30 years I’ve had a focus on learning how to communicate better and then teaching it. I once learned that getting people to say yes at least 3 times in a difficult conversation helps get to resolution. It works.

When we get the person we’re interacting with in a yes frame of mind, it’s easier to influence the interaction the way we want — win-win.

Do you think it’s a good idea to focus on win-win or win-lose when we’re looking to establish common ground in a difficult interaction, where we want resolution and positive progress? Win - win desires work best.

One of Stephen Coveys’ “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is to “Think win-win…” and create win-win situations. Do it by becoming a great communicator and guiding those sensitive, crucial or corrective conversations to common ground and win-win outcomes.

Here’s the 1st two steps to help you find that common ground and get some yes’s.

1. Break the ice with lighter conversation. Build some light connectivity.

2. Get agreement on the process of how people communicate. Teach them the HIP quickly. Get a yes.

In finding common ground, we want to get into a ‘yes’ state of mind. It sets a stage for a peaceful resolution process. The quicker you can do it, the quicker the resolution.  

How do we get into that yes frame of mind when things are falling apart, become stagnant, or gone off track? You’ll have to invoke discipline inside yourself to communicate effectively and follow this CONTACT process.  

Now some details. Step 1 finding Common ground. Before getting to the meat of the difficult situation, it’s often good to break the ice a little. Find the light common ground. When conversing with someone you don’t agree with, first build some small connectivity.

Instead of focusing on where you disagree, build on a variety of subjects that can strengthen the relationship, such as food, sport or hobbies you both enjoy.  You might discuss weather, ask simple and general family questions. Establishing simple common ground provides a pathway of communication, and leads to trust.

To practice light common ground discovery, at social or business gatherings, try talking about food, drink, going for a walk, playing golf or going for a run.

You could keep a list of current events handy in your mind and have topics in mind as openers — preferably nothing to do with politics or religion unless you’re really sure there’s commonalities with the person or in the group.

You might notice something about the other person; it could be the color he/she’s wearing or his/her name tag. Just take the leap and begin a conversation. Say something like “That’s such a beautiful color. It reminds me of my favorite holiday place.

Try the word detective and parroting methods, I shared in modules 4 and 5 to get people to open, be engaged and talking. Then listen for commonalities. When you have a habit of common ground discovery, you’ll naturally get good at breaking the ice in tough situations.

When we find ourselves conversing with others in a relaxed frame of mind, we get good at building that connectivity and trust.

When building light common ground, here’s some things to keep in mind. Some people are introverted and some are extroverted. Act accordingly. Be sensitive and gentle and don’t pigeon hole people into categories too much.

Introverts can be good conversationalists and extroverts can be challenged by a simple conversation. Which one are you? Introverted or extroverted?

If you are naturally out there and boisterous yourself, you may need to practice toning it down and listening. I advise to get present in the moment, forget about yourself and seek 1st to understand.

People may not be interested in hearing your advice, the details of your life or your pet peeves. They might not think your children are so adorable. If you’re talking too much, they might like to get a word in edgewise.

If you are more reserved, an introvert type, you might have to put extra effort into opening a conversation. Shyness often arises from fear of making a mistake, feeling exposed or lack of conversation skills or lack of confidence.

We can get so wrapped up in our own emotions that we’re unable to open up, listen and validate others. It takes determination and practice to come out of your shell, but there are ways to do it.

The more conversations you begin, the more confident you will feel.  If you are extroverted, the more times you discipline yourself to ask and listen, the better you’ll get at engaging others.  Whether you are introverted or extroverted you’ll have to find your discipline and courage to engage people, break the ice and then to listen.

You, and all of us, have discipline, courage and determination inside of us. You’ve used them before in some situation. Get in touch with those relationship building emotions. Remember a time you activated your courage, discipline and perseverance. Then invoke them so you get good at building light connectivity.

Then when it’s time to negotiate those sensitive, difficult or corrective issues, taking common ground to the next level, and getting both people in a ‘Yes’ frame of mind, you’ll have practiced and some confidence  inside you, to break the ice and establish some light connectivity first.  

After you’ve achieved some light connectivity, you can begin to approach the sensitive or important conversation. Step two in finding common ground, is bringing awareness to all parties about the Human Interaction Process facts. Then getting agreement on those facts.

Think about it. In the interaction process alone, we have common ground. In any interaction with another person we both sense, think, feel, intend and act, over and over again. We actually do it all day long. It’s common. The cycle is a human condition. It’s the Human Interaction Process. The HIP.

Every person does it whether we choose to become aware of it, or not. Getting agreement on the HIP facts is uncovering important common ground. It sets a framework for navigating the difficult interaction, so it can flow.

And it’s the first key ‘yes’ from the other person in the interaction. He or she agrees and we both say yes to the fact that we sense, think, feel, intend, and act.

Then we agree that we’re going to explore each other’s HIP as a navigation tool for this conversation to resolve our concern or issue.  We agree we’re going to honor each other’s unique process without negative judgment and with acceptance, of each other’s truth. Now we’re moving forward on some common ground and with a yes. 


Let’s recap today’s 1st 2 steps in finding common ground. 1.  Break the ice with some lighter conversation. Build some light connectivity.

2. Get agreement on the process of how people communicate. Teach them the HIP quickly. We’re sensing, thinking, feeling, intending and acting. Get a yes. Then we agree to use this HIP as the compass, the navigation tool for the conversation.

In the next video I’ll go over the last 7 steps of finding common ground in detail so you can begin the last step in CONTACT of Taking the relationship to the next level of finding the solution and win-win outcome for that  important conversation.

Thanks for watching. Go out and make it an awesome day. Like this video if you like it. See you in the next one. By for now.

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