Having a “Plan B”

I hope you’re having a good week. In fact, in the spirit of engagement and positivity, take a minute and think about what went well this week and why. What were the circumstances? What roles did people play? What can you do to have this happen again?

Last week I had the pleasure of getting certified as a Collaborative Problem Solver, Tier One. It was 3 days of intense training so this little “sound bite” might not do it justice but I wanted to share it with you.

There are three ingredients to having a Plan B conversation: empathy (hearing/listening to the individuals concerns), sharing your concerns and collaborating on a solution. The reason you have a Plan B conversation is that someone isn’t meeting expectations. I had the opportunity to practice this kind of conversation and wanted to share it with you. 

The most important element of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) is to separate the behavior from the problem or trigger to determine or diagnose lagging skills. The behavior in my situation was raising their voice and yelling. The problem that triggered the behavior was, “when decisions are made that they don’t agree with”. So we started our conversation with me stating, “I’ve noticed that when you don’t agree with decisions that are made you have a reaction. Can you tell me a little more about that?” I then spent most of the time listening to their story. I asked clarifying questions, made educated guesses, provided reflective listening and reassurance when they got emotional. This took some time and I was able to hear their concerns. I then shared my concerns, “when you raise your voice and yell it breaks trust with the other person”. We then reached a goal we were going to work on and started brainstorming options for getting to that goal. All this took a little less than an hour. We both stayed calm and thoughtful and were able to make progress.

If you’re interested in CPS with your work teams, the Oregon State Hospital offers training. Please contact me and I can connect you with the person you need to talk too.

In the meantime, identify the problem, not the behavior to start the conversation. Empathize, share your concerns and collaborate on a solution.


*note – I am still a novice in CPS and welcome feedback to continue learning.

**special note – my trusted editor was not able to review this post so please forgive any goofs.


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