Applying the ATOMS Technique
Discover the power of tentatively exploring issues in a conversation so the other person remains open to listening. An example is provided of how to effectively apply the ATOMS technique to ensure you don’t avoid having the conversations that matter.
You then prepare for your conversation. The next stage of the ATOMS process is to be Tentative and Open-Minded, whilst you're checking out your assumptions. The last part is to Say what you want and educate other people how to treat you. It might sound simple, but say you've done that.
You've come away from a conversation, you've thought about it, you've identified the reaction it's had in you emotionally, physically, and what's been said to you. You're going to be tentative and open minded, and ask them lots of questions using your listening skills to check it all out. But at the end, you're going to set some boundaries effectively. Say no, and this is how I need you to treat me, and let's talk about how we can improve our relationship.
So the first one, we're identifying our assumptions. Let's say for instance, you've had a conversation with someone and we ask them for some help and they immediately, agreed to help you. But there was a note of sarcasm in there, and they felt that you were asking too much and you felt they treated you in a disrespectful manner.
You would go back to them and say, “Hey, can I have the conversation?” You make a contract with them. “Is now a good time to talk?” Lovely. You say, “Okay, after our conversation, I came away thinking that you were not taking this situation seriously, you were also sarcastic, although I may be wrong, but I'm just wanting to check that out.” Whatever your little list is.
Then you say, “I'd like to explore that with you.” And while you're examining it and giving them an opportunity to explain the effect they had on you — was it their intention or is that just how it came across? — be tentative, "T" and open-minded "OM".
At the end, after you've explored each of those things and clarified them, you need to say "S" what you want, and educate them how to treat you. Firstly, you say to them, “I appreciate what you're saying, and it's unfortunately you came across in that manner. I’m really pleased you didn't mean to say that, because if you did, it's not really good for our relationship, it'd be very unsupportive.”
Say how you feel when they do a certain thing. So you could say to them, “I appreciate you didn't mean to be rude in any way. And you said there wasn't a note of sarcasm. You know, I would find it really helpful if in future when you're sharing information with me, you would do X.”
Okay? Because you tell them that when they do it this way, this is the effect it has on you. You're educating them how to treat you, but you're also giving them some tools so that they can improve communication.