Embracing an Open Mindset: An Intro to OASIS Conversations

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Social intelligence and effective communication are a big part of having successful relationships. Sometimes we all need a reminder that people have different perspectives than our own. It is easy for us to adopt an “us versus them” mentality when our assumptions and biases are directing our thought processes. This can lead to mistrust, unproductive teams, negative environments and misunderstandings.

The more we are able to adapt an open mindset and practice the OASIS Moves, the more understanding among people there will be. And we need those conversations, insight and agreements more than ever in our complex, volatile environment. ~ Ann Van Eron

The above statement could not be more true within our current societal climate. As a certified Master Coach with a doctorate in Organization Psychology from Columbia University, Ann Van Eron has developed this method based on the science behind how our brains work and react to certain interactions. The practical and memorable method of OASIS Conversations is effective and easily practiced. Personally or professionally, this is a helpful tool anyone can use to promote open-mindedness and have more meaningful conversations.

What is an OASIS conversation? It’s a process of how to communicate effectively without bias and without jumping to conclusions. Van Eron takes you through the process step by step, highlighting common mistakes, what leads to ineffective conversations, and how her method if used can lead to more productive and meaningful conversations. She has worked with many companies across the world and this method has delivered incredible results.

Below is a short summary of her method:

O is for Observation

Slow down and observe what is actually happening, not what you assume is happening. If you notice your observations, you can catch your assumptions and judgements.

A is for Awareness

Be mindful of your assumptions and manage your emotions and personal views. Remain open to interaction by suspending judgements.

S is for Shift

Now that you are aware of your judgements and emotions, step back from reacting and shift to being open and curious. Though it may sometimes be a challenge, this step is critical to exploring other possibilities that will result in successful interactions.

I is for Importance

Examine what is important to all those involved. This can lead to better understanding and agreement among all parties. Further enhance the conversation by mirroring one another, empathizing, and asking empowering questions. Notice next the type of interaction you are having (telling, selling, and gelling).

S is for Solution

Those involved have expressed what is important and you are ready to explore options and agree on actions. Coming to solutions will be easier, as you both will be open-minded and trust will have been established.

Example scenario: You are a team member and there is a vacation freeze due to a busy, 10-day event coming up. You would like to take a vacation day to attend a family reunion but know that you are needed for the event. There is a new team member who only started two months ago. Glancing over the work schedule for the upcoming event, you see that the newest member is on vacation during the freeze. Since she is new, you start wondering how she accrued that time off so quickly. Why is she allowed vacation and not me? I’ve been here for 5 years and I have a family reunion coming up. You get frustrated at your supervisor and decide to adopt an “I have to be here but I don’t have to be happy about it” attitude. Frustrated, you and your other team members start to treat the new team member differently as well.

O - You observe (without interpretation) there is a change in the vacation schedule.

The new team member has vacation during the upcoming event.

A - After noting your observations,become aware of your background, assumptions, and emotions that influence your thinking.

I’m frustrated because I have never taken vacation during this event, I’m assuming my supervisor has overlooked me, and I’m upset because my family reunion is important to me.

S - You must shift and be open to other possibilities. Notice your reaction and adopt a more open mindset.

I’m upset but maybe there is another explanation.

I - Now that you are open, you are in a better position to speak to the supervisor without being upset or accusatory. As you speak to your supervisor, listening actively to him, the focus now is on what is important to you both. Remember, you seek understanding here.

It’s important to me that I understand how my supervisor came to this decision.

S - The solution in this case is simply understanding. You have spoken to your supervisor and you now know the entire story.

The team member previously scheduled and paid for the vacation before accepting the position. I wasn’t overlooked. My supervisor understands that I was upset and that caused my change in attitude.

In conclusion: you’ve learned this team member had previously scheduled her vacation before she accepted the position. You now realize you weren’t looked over, and if you would have spoken to your supervisor earlier, you wouldn’t have negatively changed your demeanor and attitude towards your work. You would have understood that the new team member already paid for her vacation and could not make a change due to her new job.

Some benefits you may experience when using this method:

  • Increased collaboration and innovation
  • Creation of a trusting and respectful environment
  • Increased mindfulness and positive energy
  • Addressing conflicts and finding common ground
  • Increased emotional intelligence

This process can be used anywhere and with anyone: form stronger relationships, create positive environments, and develop open communication. These actions can then lead to increased collaboration, trust, social intelligence, and better general understanding.

To learn more about OASIS Conversations, we invite you to explore this resource.

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