We have been working on redefining conflict as a gap between what we expect and what we experience. ©” and we said that if we want to manage the gap we need to 1) see the gap, 2) name the gap, 3) explore the gap and 4) close the gap. In our previous blogs we have been working on seeing the gap and in the last blog, we started the process of trying to name the gap.

Now that we have reviewed our list of failures, penalties, and infractions, let’s load our guns and go to war. Wait, wait, sorry that was the old way. In our last blog we talked about being direct but with RESPECT. We said it is important to use the lens of most respectful interpretation and assuming positive intent. Most importantly being prepared to understand “the rest of the story”. So now that we are ready to put a name on it, do so with these things in mind.

A simple framework for naming the gap is the acronym N.E.W.  It is my reminder that in the end we want to create a NEW result and the letters stand for N-Name it, E- provide Examples, W – Why it is important. Let’s break down how this can help us name the gap.

My first shot at naming what I see can come out as judgmental.  Try to name the gap you see without the load. For example I might start with “stop being a lazy slug and show up for work on time.”  Okay, so I never said that to anyone, but in the spirit of self-disclosure I may have wanted to. Naming it without the load might sound something like

“Let’s talk about the expectations for work hours”

“I want to have a conversation about timeliness to work in the mornings”

The other problem I run into is that what I am naming might not be the root issue. For example, I might be thinking it is timeliness, but what is really bothering me is that I don’t think they have a sense of urgency, they don’t respect others, or they lack commitment to their job. Showing up for work on time might not address the broader issue.

Be cautious though, these words (urgency, commitment, and respect)  have a load in and of themselves. They are value judgements and you don’t know if this person lacks urgency, whether they intend to be disrespectful, or that they aren’t committed. The key is to name it from your perspective but without accusing. Here is an example:

I wanted to talk with you about a message you might be communicating unintentionally.  When you are late for work or for meetings, it can send a message that you don’t respect others time. 

These are just examples about how to name the gap in a more constructive way.

Tip #6:    Try to name the gap in one or two sentence in a direct by respectful way.

Don’t go running off to have this conversation yet, there is more.  This is just the “N” in our N.E.W framework.