The Power of the Flower

I have had some conversations this week that were difficult for both the sender and the receiver. These conversations were on my mind this morning when I came across a diagram of a flower.

The flower was drawn on a sheet of white paper and had a circle center with 4 petals radiating from it. The petals depicted 4 phases of a complete conversation. The circle center was labeled as clear intent and each petal had a label. The 4 petal labels were facts, thoughts, feelings and wants. Facts are just that, the facts of a situation, thoughts reflect what you think about what happened, feelings are what you felt when it occurred or how you feel about a situation occurring, and wants is your expectations for the future. A conversation using the flower could, very simply, go like this:

Fact: You were late for the team meeting today

Thought: It is disrespectful to the team and to me

Feeling: I am very disappointed

Want: I expect you to be on time or to call me if you will be late.

There were two other words on the flower page. At the top of the page was the word HEAD and at the bottom was the word HEART. The flower is positioned in the middle. Most of us have no problems with the situations depicted above. It is the ones where promises were broken and expectations were violated and another other person flat out let you down. These are the ones where your heart is engaged (or enraged) and to be effective, you know you need to separate the facts from the emotion. The four petals of the flower can help to provide the necessary focal point to prepare.

Maybe if I had used the flower and had more crucial conversations over the past year, the performance conversations I had this past week could have been less difficult. Hard to say, but I do believe that things happen for a reason and it was not a coincidence that I found the flower again on Thanksgiving morning.

I am sure I am not the only supervisor in the medical center wondering what they can do differently over the coming year. I will use my experiences and "the power of the flower" to help our medical center supervisors learn and grow too.

Note: I recommend reading "Crucial Confrontations" by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzer, McGraw-Hill, 2005 to learn more about planning for and engaging in productive, respectful and effective conversations.