When our son was 4 years old, one of the children's songs we played for him had lyrics that my husband and I loved, “When you want something, you have to ask for it.” It is amazing how many adults don't live their lives using that simple idea.
The million dollar question has to do with what gets in our way. Since we're hardwired for survival and most of us prefer to avoid pain, many of us simply don't ask. If we don't say anything, at least we maintain the status quo. Right? Yes, if that is the most important thing for you. However, if you want to change something, it helps to develop your capacity to initiate important conversations. This approach can help you.
To that end, when you have done your preparatory work and you have decided to have the conversation, using the AEIOU format is quite helpful. In the preparatory phase, AEIOU (Y) is used as a way to help you get ready. In this phase, it is used as a way to start the conversation.
Before going into any of the content of the conversation, AEIOU creates an environment in which you are more likely to have a productive and satisfying conversation. It provides the 'how' to get you and the other person primed for a great conversation.
AEIOU makes the how a bit easier. If you go through the AEIOU process, you can do it rather quickly. Here is an example:
“I'd like to talk to you about something that's on my mind. Is this a good time?” - Agreement
“My hope is that at the end of this conversation, we will both understand each other better.” - End in mind
“This is really important to me in that we can't make a decision to move forward until we understand each other. And I'm eager to move forward.” - Importance
“I'm a bit concerned that I'll get off track if you have strong feelings about what I say. I really want to get it all out since I think it's important for each of us to hear the other.” - Obstacles
“So, if you are willing, please hear me out all the way and then respond. Then I'll do the same for you.” - Us—what I want from you and what I'll do for you
“I think this will be a big step in our relationship, so I'm really eager to have this conversation, even though I'm nervous.” - Yes to us working out issues in our relationship. (The Y was added while I was working in France since they use Y as a vowel. Use it or not, as you like.)
When using AEIOU, you'll notice that I didn't get into the content of the conversation at all. It is the initiation of the conversation that sets the stage for a great conversation.
If you change the order, no worries. Use it so that it works for you.
Next week, we'll go into the many skills that are required to keep your conversation on a positive trajectory and get where you want to go.
When you use AEIOU, let us know how it goes for you. It works in personal relationships and in professional ones, with children and adults. Enjoy the process.