Meet Author Kristen Carter
Kristen Carter is a certified coach and author of ISPEAQ: How to Stand Up for Yourself and Have Difficult Conversations. She has been in private practice since 2009, working with businesses, schools and individual clients. Her dream is a world where everyone is equally empowered, confident, kind and respected, and she helps people feel those things in themselves.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am a certified coach and a writer. In my coaching, I draw on several types of training — positive psychology, family coaching, the Enneagram — to help people understand themselves better, break self-defeating patterns, have better relationships and achieve the kind of success that matters most to them. One of my favorite things to do is work with teenagers. I believe a lot of our limiting beliefs about our worthiness and place in the world start in adolescence and love the opportunity to counter those negative thoughts by teaching kids about their strengths instead.
Can you briefly describe your book, ISPEAQ, and why you decided to write it?
ISPEAQ describes a six-step process I developed early in my coaching practice that walks people through preparing for and having difficult conversations. Like many people, I had never learned how to stand up for myself calmly and confidently and found it difficult to advocate for myself in certain situations. Then I started noticing how many of my clients struggled with the same thing, and decided to research and develop something we could all use. Since then I have taught ISPEAQ to people ranging from top-level executives to my own children (and it was eventually my son who encouraged me to turn it into a book).
What is the ISPEAQ method and how can people use it in their daily lives?
Each of the letters of ISPEAQ stand for a part of the process, which I’ll describe in a moment. It’s pretty easy to learn and once you’ve used it a few times, it becomes quite natural to speak this way whenever a tricky situation arises.
“I” is for Intentions
First, what’s your intention for your relationship with this person? Think of the big picture. If they are someone important in your life, how would you like your relationship to improve, and how could speaking up help with that?
Second, what’s your intention for this particular conversation? Think of the little picture here, something specific like wanting them to be on time, or to stop talking about your weight or making suggestive comments at work.
“S” is for Suitable Setting
You’ll want to choose the right time and place, ideally when you won’t be rushed and where you will be comfortable and free of distractions.
“P” is for Positivity and Praise
Getting yourself into a positive mindset will help calm your nervous system and this in turn will help the other person feel calmer. There are several ways to do this, including deep breathing, reminding yourself of your positive intentions, calming music, going for a quick walk. I actually imagine my soul being in charge (instead of my irritable or emotional human personality), which immediately calms me down.
Then, start the conversation by telling the other person how much you value them and saying something you genuinely admire or respect about them. This will help them relax and be open to what comes next.
“E” is for Explicit Example
Next, you’ll want to refer to a very specific instance of the thing that’s upset you. The more explicit you can be the better; if you generalize or are vague, they will almost always look for an example to prove you wrong and you’ll have a battle on your hands. For instance, you might say, “When you were 40 minutes late for dinner last night,” rather than, “You are never on time!”
“A” is for how you were Adversely Affected
Then, say how the behavior affected you. Did you feel frustrated? Embarrassed? Worried? Did it cause you to miss a flight? Again, try to stay calm as you speak.
“Q” is for reQuirements and Questions
Lastly, tell them what you require in the future, and then give them the chance to respond or ask questions. If they learn this process too, you can take turns until you feel finished.
What are some difficult conversations you help people with?
I have helped people plan for conversations about relationships, racial tensions, politics, roommate troubles, problems at work, issues with teenaged and adult children, a ho-hum love life, obnoxious family members -- it runs the gamut. The ISPEAQ process really works in any situation.
Why do people find it challenging to have difficult conversations?
There are several reasons people either avoid difficult conversations or make them worse by getting overly emotional:
· We don’t know how to speak up for ourselves confidently and calmly. We didn’t have good role models for this at home and we weren’t taught at school.
· We don’t want to make matters worse by upsetting someone important to us.
· We think that we are stuck with things the way they are.
· We believe, for whatever reason, that we don’t have the right to ask for things to be better.
Can you share one tip or strategy that can help people start a difficult conversation?
If I had to boil it down to once tip I’d say: start positively. This can include having a positive intention for your relationship and the conversation, thinking of the person as your potential ally in fixing what’s bothering you, calling them by name, telling them what you admire/respect/appreciate about them, having relaxed body language and holding a belief that the two of you can reach an outcome that’s satisfying for both of you.
What is the number one benefit you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
I hope that they will feel empowered to stand up for themselves, know how to do it and advocate for themselves as often as they need to. I believe we all deserve this.
About the book
In this simple yet powerful book, certified coach and communications expert Kristen Carter provides a clear step-by-step process that will help you prepare for and have any kind of difficult conversation.
Have you ever wished you could say what you were really thinking, without jeopardizing an important relationship?
Is there a bully at work, school or in your personal life that you'd love to stand up to, but you aren't sure what to say?
Do you get uncomfortable, emotional or nervous at the idea of talking to a certain person?
With ISPEAQ, you will learn how to calm yourself, choose your words and convey exactly what troubles you, how it makes you feel and what you need. You’ll do all this in a way that give you the best possible chance of having success making the changes you want at work or in your personal life. You will feel prepared and empowered to speak up for yourself like never before.
If you need a starting point, there are also sample scripts related to having difficult conversations with anyone from your politically-opinionated relative to a ho-hum lover to your critical boss.
Clients have called the ISPEAQ method "life-changing," "simple but powerful" and "the best tool our team has ever learned."
Your voice and your feelings matter. Here's how to get them out of your head and share them with the world, calmly and confidently.