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Step 1: The setting
 ·  You can talk about the issue
 •  Step 1: The setting
 ·  Step 2: The rules
 ·  Step 3: The discussion

Often we assume that the person we need to speak to is ready and willing to listen to us just because we have finally plucked up the courage to come and talk to them. However, as we launch into the subject, we may realize that the person is too distracted or irritated to lend an ear. Therefore, the first step in building the container is to say the following:

"John, I would like to talk to you about something that happened at the staff meeting on Monday. When would you have 10 minutes to discuss this?"

Resist the temptation to describe what happened in anything more than a sentence even if the person asks you. The reason is that your container is not yet built. Also make sure to set a neutral location for the conversation:

"Perhaps I could treat you to a cup of coffee at the Starbucks across the road."

 
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