<![CDATA[The following exercises will help you develop skills for keeping a relationship healthy when misunderstandings happen or to prevent misunderstandings by keeping role differences clear.
- Practice the skill of mutual empathy. Identify a relationship, either inside or outside of work, where you have recently experienced some tension that was not discussed.
- Write down what you experienced (describe the behaviors you noticed) and what you felt (for example, surprise or discomfort).
- Ask the other person for a time to get together to talk something over. Tell her you are concerned that a misunderstanding might have happened. Tell her what you experienced and felt, and ask her what she experienced and felt.
- Listen deeply to each other and ask questions for understanding. Do not interrupt each other. Really listen.
- Practice naming and negotiating. If a misunderstanding was developing in step 1 above, then name the friendship rules that may have been operating for you, and ask the other person how they compare to hers. Try to agree on new ones that will work better to meet the needs you both have.
- Practice role hats. The next time you are going to a meeting with a woman who has a role different from yours (with either a level or a functional difference), ask a colleague to help you clarify the roles before the meeting. Write down the role hat you think you will wear and the one the other woman will wear in the upcoming meeting. Debrief with your colleague after the meeting. What did you notice about your expectations for the interaction? Continue this practice before the next few meetings to sharpen your skills.
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