The Disconnect Principle: Eliminate difficult conversations with clarity and empathy

The way we traditionally think about feedback, accountability, and performance management prevents us from being the kind of human beings we want to be.

  • We carefully prepare scripts that fail us in the heat of the moment.
  • We find ourselves slipping into our boss persona so we can pressure, discipline, or coerce others, even when that dark mantle fits poorly.
  • We guard our facial expressions and body language to hide our anxiety, doubt, and compassion.
  • We often feel miserable and rarely accomplish what we hoped, despite our best efforts.
  • We hate feeling mean or insensitive. We’d rather be kind and empathic.
  • We know some responsibilities come with the job, whether we like them or not.
  • And even when we believe we’ve said all the right things, having our say may be the sole outcome of a difficult conversation.

Instead of mastering difficult conversations, eliminate them with the Disconnect Principle!

The Disconnect Principle provides the missing link that will change the way you think about feedback, accountability, and performance management forever. This is the approach that will allow you to be the empathic and effective manager, employee, or peer that you would like to be. This is your opportunity to:

  • Replace fear and avoidance with timely, confident action.
  • Eliminate painful conversations in favor of mutually agreeable problem solving.
  • Put an end to continued or worsening problems and enjoy performance enhancing commitment in its place.
  • Build trust and collaboration instead of having conversations that damage relationships, sometimes irreparably.

My epiphany occurred when I debriefed a client following a tough conversation with an employee. He walked into that meeting feeling tall and confident after I taught him all the best practices for giving feedback, helped him narrow his focus to a specific observed behavior and its impact, talked about how to frame the conversation and what words to avoid, and discussed ways to resolve the problem. He walked out in pain. When he told me what happened, the Disconnect Principle was born — I suddenly recognized what was missing from all the advice we have all learned so well.

The Disconnect Principle itself is remarkably simple.

My clients immediately see the power in this approach and “We have a disconnect” becomes an integral part of their daily language. They can quickly appreciate how the Disconnect Principle:

  • Shifts the conversation away from judgment
  • Avoids triggering defensiveness
  • Makes is possible to be objective about what did or didn’t happen
  • Leads to mutually respectful problem-solving

As usual, simple does not mean easy.

Once I began teaching the Disconnect Principle to my clients, I discovered that embracing it fully is not easy. There are six habits and thought patterns ingrained in our management teaching that minimize our ability to gain the full benefits of the Disconnect Principle. While Chapter 1 introduces the Disconnect Principle, Chapters 2 – 7 address those traps. Without those chapters, you will see some improvement. With them, you will:

  • Change your thinking forever
  • Change the culture of your organization
  • See performance and commitment increase substantially
  • Feel more self-confident, fair, and empathic
  • Increase clarity of expectations and collaboration toward success

Do yourself a favor, read this clear, pragmatic, atomic book today.

Get the book: The Disconnect Principle
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About the Author Ann Latham

I’ve been dubbed the Queen of Clarity by colleagues worldwide such as Stever Robbins, co-designer of Harvard Business School's "Foundations" program, who said, “She’s better than anyone I know at finding those places where lack of clarity is getting in the way of progress, and she designs and teaches actionable ways through the ambiguity.”

While I fell into this vein of work quite naturally, I didn’t recognize my strength until I prepared to start my own consulting business by asking colleagues and bosses, “What is it I do exceptionally well that is most uncommon?” Their wonderful and thoughtful responses established my value proposition, and the name of my consulting firm: Uncommon Clarity®. I left my corporate job with a smile on my face and the only framed certificate I ever cherished: Most Likely To Dispute Recognized Authorities

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