What Simon Sinek calls the ‘Golden Circle’ isn’t just for those in leadership positions. He talks about starting with your ‘why’, and allowing the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ to come after the fact – and often in that order. The beauty of this approach, aside from its effectiveness in mindset, mission, and positioning, is that it can be applied to all sorts of scenarios, including how we communicate.
When we’re presented with conflict with others, communicating clearly and effectively can often be the first thing to be tossed aside, whether purposefully or by effect. If you find yourself struggling to communicate or say what you are wanting to, without getting caught up in the fixing, blaming, accusing, and micro-managing, starting from what your ‘why’ is will help to keep you and the other involved connected as humans, instead of adversaries.
Skip over the ‘what’ and forget the ‘how’ for now
These two factors are important – at some stage. The ‘what’ can be useful in identifying the issue, and the ‘how’ is paramount to helping the other person understand our needs. But if we lead with those, it can risk edging into blame or ‘problem’ territory without clarity around ‘why’ this matters to you.
So when it comes to approaching a difficult conversation, whether it’s with your partner, best friend, family member, boss or colleague, consider leading with ‘why’ you’re having the conversation.
“I really value being able to share honestly with each other and approaching things together as a team.”
“I want to find the best way forward to the solution here.”
“I’m trying to work this thing out and I’m struggling, so I’m asking for your help because I value your perspective.”
“I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to go from here, but I want to find the best way because this is important to me.”
While these are general examples, what they do is serve as a really effective way of injecting truthful vulnerability into the dynamic in a way that can soften tension. By sharing why the situation matters to you, and why what you’re struggling with might be impacting how you’ve approached things thus far, you remove the proverbial horns from the lock and give breathing space to both parties involved. Inviting vulnerability in helps to give the other person context as to where you’re coming from: a really important part of conflict resolution that often goes unaddressed, especially when assumptions are made regarding the intentions of the other person. You’re bypassing the assumption process and being straight up about your intentions, why it matters to you, why you want to see this through, and it leaves less room for the other person to make up stories instead.
Start with your ‘why’ when you’re faced with challenging conversations, to allow communication to flow a little easier and connections to deepen.