Behind the problems that regularly plague families, teams and organizations are individuals who either can’t or won’t deal with failed promises. The reason is that they’re afraid to talk face to face about difficult but important issues – and as their fear of confrontation prevents them from resolving these issues, simple problems grow into chronic problems.
If you learn how to hold people accountable in a way that solves problems without causing new ones, you can look forward to significant and lasting change.
To help hit the right target, use the acronym “CPR.” The first time a problem comes up, talk about the “Content”, what just happened: “You drank too much at the luncheon, became inebriated, started talking too loud, made fun of our clients, and embarrassed the company.” The content of a problem typically deals with a single event.
The next time the problem occurs, talk “Pattern”, what has been happening over time. “This is the second time this has occurred. You agreed it wouldn’t happen again, and I’m concerned that I can’t count on you to keep a promise.” Pattern issues acknowledge that problems have histories and that histories make a difference.
As the problem continues, talk about “Relationship”, what’s happening to us. Relationship concerns are far bigger than either the content or the pattern. The issue is not that others have disappointed you repeatedly; it’s that the string of disappointments has caused you to lose trust in them. You doubt their competency, you don’t respect or trust their promises, and it’s affecting how you treat one another. “This is starting to put a strain on how we work together. I feel like I have to nag you to keep you in line, and I don’t like doing that. I guess my fear is that I can’t trust you to keep the agreements you make,”
If your real concern is around the “relationship” and you discuss only the pattern of behavior, you’re likely to be dissatisfied with teh outcome, and you’ll have the sme conversation again later.