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. So far we have reflected on what we have observed and experiences that demonstrate the gap. In the last blog we started the process by naming the gap using our N.E.W© framework (Name it, Examples, and Why). Now that we have named it, let’s see how we might incorporate examples.

This should be easy because we already created our list. So just add them to our N.E.W statement right? Well, not so fast. We might want review our list first because there are several risks here.

  • Your list can be long and come across like shots from a machine gun nest on the front line of World War II. That won’t help us unless we want to suck the motivational life blood out of someone.
  • Our examples could be heavy. I don’t know about you, but when I start thinking about things that bother me, I tend to load up my examples with judgments, assumptions, or condescension. For example, you showed up 23 minutes late yesterday when I clearly communicated that we start at 8am.
  • Our list might represent more than one topic or issue. We don’t want to confuse things. For example, you are late to work, your belligerent with customers, and no one likes to work with you.

So start by going back to your list and picking one, two or three examples that best support the gap; you shouldn’t need more than that. A single example works when it is a single event that you need to address quickly. For example someone just started with the company and they are late the first time. You want to make sure you set the expectation before it becomes a pattern. It would sound like this
“N”-Since you are new to the company, I wanted to talk with you about our attendance standard.
“E”-This morning you were late to work and didn’t let anyone know.

You may also use one example, when the gap is so significant that it needs to be addressed right away.
“N”-I wanted to talk with you about how we treat each other in the workplace.
“E”-Yesterday in our meeting you blew up at John in front of the rest of the team.

 When the gap requires more than one example, you want to be able to share the pattern you have seen or experienced. In our late for work example, we don’t need to list off every late day; that can be heavy handed. At the same time avoid generalities like “you are always late.” Try something that shows the pattern, without the load. Keep in mind that you will still need the data if you need to support the example.
“E”-In the last three weeks I noticed you have been late 5 times by more than 30 minutes.

It can also be helpful to incorporate the “when” and “where” in your examples for two reasons. First people may not remember what you are talking about. Also, incorporating more specifics puts you both in that moment or moments where the situation occurred and as a result it makes it more real and more powerful.
“E”-Last week after lunch, you were walking down the hallway in accounting…
“E”-At our all-day team meeting last week, after the lunch break and during the sales portion of the agenda…

 Before you finalize your Examples in your N.E.W statement , do a check on the examples you provided.

  • Are they specific, observable and reportable?
  • Are they non-judgmental; are there any inflammatory words?
  • Do the examples support the gap you named for your N.E.W statement?

Remember to assume positive intent, remove assumption, and avoid absolutes. We will be adding the WHY in our N.E.W framework in the next blog.

Tip #7:    Select one, two or three examples that support the gap you have named in your N.E.W statement. Make your examples specific, observable, reportable, and non judgmental.