Over the many years of my career, I have both been on the receiving end and in the midst of some very heated and intense discussions. It is during these types of discussions that heart rates, tempers and voices sometimes rise to an uncomfortable level for all parties involved. In these later years of my career, it is often that I find myself bearing witness to and refereeing these discussions. As the referee, it is my job to enforce the rules of having a F.R.A.N.K. discussion.
The phrase, “being frank,” simply means to be honest. However, in my own experience, having a frank discussion not only means being honest; it also means having a value-added discussion that will be a benefit to us all despite the discomfort it can bring. To promote the value and reduce the discomfort, there are five guiding principles to truly having a F.R.A.N.K. discussion: Freedom, Respectfulness, Acknowledgement, Neutral Territory and Knowledge.
Freedom – During these discussions, it is important that all parties involved feel that they are free from reprimand for expressing their opinions. Freedom of expressing opinions allows varying points of view to be shared and facilitates progress.
Respectfulness – Unless all parties involved are respectful to one another, the discussion will not be beneficial. If disrespectful comments and attitudes are allowed into the conversation, then everyone will feel the need to protect themselves and hence will come from a place of defending their honor instead of defending their point of view.
Acknowledgement – Voices are sometimes raised during these discussions due to people feeling like they are not being heard. It is important that all parties involved receive acknowledgement that they are indeed being heard and what they are saying is adding value to the discussion.
Neutral Territory – A neutral place of agreement must be found between all parties involved to truly see where the variances lie. As a rudimentary example, we all have our own reasons as to why apples differ from oranges, but we can all agree that both apples and oranges are fruit.
Knowledge – The varying points of view, ideas and opinions of those in the discussion must have a basis of knowledge and facts, otherwise the discussion will not yield a value-added benefit.
F.R.A.N.K. discussions can fuel progress by pushing us to a level of needed discomfort. These discussions force us into receiving and providing honest feedback. If we all forever remained in our comfort zones, then we would never experience the needed discomfort of growth.
Take Action: The next time you find yourself either on the giving or receiving end of a heated discussion, promote being F.R.A.N.K. You’ll find that your conversations are more productive and provide greater value to all parties involved.
Leadership on the GO….It’s O.N.