6-point strategy for Reconciliation Conversation
Use this process when you want to be reconciled with another person after a breakdown in the relationship between you.
1. Be clear about the outcome you want. (What will have happened for you to walk away afterwards thinking "that went really well and I think we have taken the first steps to a better relationship"). Keep this outcome in mind and steer towards it whatever is said.
2. Match your voice tone and body language to your words all the time. (A good way to do this is to imagine that you are performing to impress someone who is really important to you)
3. Anticipate what the other person will be concerned about or blame you for and begin by apologizing or conceding these things. This step takes the wind out of the other person's sails and enables the dialogue to move quickly into the positive. A good way to approach this is to agree to the effect on the other person but deny the intention.
4. Explicitly future-focus the conversation. Say "I know things have gone wrong in the past, and we can't go back in time and fix them. We can only change the present and the future and that is what I want to do"
5. Use fogging if you feel criticized. Eg 'It may have seemed as if I did that at times but that was not my intention and I would like to make sure that in the future...'
6. Show that you are listening intently to what the other person wants and agree to what you can agree with. Whenever there is something that you can agree to, say so explicitly. This step is the magic bullet.
Note: If there is something that you absolutely have to say about the past, wait until you are asked, or there is a suitable moment in the conversation to say so, and future focus the point: For example "I want to feel that I am not being laughed at as sometimes that has been an issue for me. If I feel that in future, how do you think we can discuss it without either of us getting upset?"