When it comes to crucial conversations, motives matter.
Ron McMillan tells us that the outcome of the success of our crucial conversations has less to do with our level of skill and more to do with the intention or the motive with which we enter into crucial conversations.
What exactly do we mean by motive? Think about a motive as a choice. As you plan conversations, you have a choice regarding the intent which with you enter the conversation. Before you work with someone else, you need to work on yourself.
We have two categories for how we describe our motives: Unhealthy Motives and Motives of Dialogue.
Let’s look at the differences.
An unhealthy motive, or an unproductive motive, keeps us more set on wanting to be right, which makes the other person wrong. It focuses on getting our way, which means we don’t do things other people’s way.
Sometimes an unhealthy motive aims to avoid a conflict or punish the other person.
Now, why do we refer to these as “unproductive”? Imagine you’re at the end of your work day and you come home for dinner. Your dinner partner says, “So how was your day? What’d you do today?”
You reply, “Well, I was right three times, I blamed three people, and I avoided two conflicts!”
How much did you really produce during that day?
Nothing! That’s why we categorize these as unproductive motives.
On the other side, we can choose to have a motive of dialogue — a more productive goal. When we have healthy motives, we look at the situation and try to learn why the other person sees it differently.
What do they know that we may not know? What experience have they had that we aren’t aware of?
In conversations with healthy motives, we focus on producing results and strengthening relationships.
Here’s the basic difference between these two sets of motives: Unhealthy motives are self-centered while motives of dialogue consider both parties. With healthy, productive motives, these crucial conversations are all about “us”.