It’s wise to think through a sticky, difficult to discuss issue, before raising it for open dialogue.

Developed by the late Harvard Professor Chris Argyris, here’s an exercise that can help you think through hard to discuss topics, and perhaps find the clarity and courage to surface them for dialogue:

  1. Identify the specific situation that is not working well.
  2. Take an 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle.
  3. On the right hand side, write out, word for word, what’s typically said in a conversation about this topic.
  4. On the left hand side, for each part of the usual exchange, write out what you’re thinking, but not saying.

Now, take a deep breath, and with a jolt of courage, respectfully share any part of the information in the left-hand column you feel would help to resolve the issue constructively.