I have often heard this term Act, Analyze, Adjust associated with sales training; however I see such a strong connection and applicability for this in courageous dialogue and conflict management as well.
When faced with a difficult conversation, we must first determine the best course of action, then analyze how that action worked, and make adjustments as needed.
This process does require self reflection and, of course, being present, or in the moment, enough to pick up on how you and the other person are being impacted so that you can analyze and adjust in the discussion.
One of the best examples of this was a conversation I facilitated between a supervisor and a team member. The friction between the two was quite intense and longstanding. They had made other attempts to address and resolve the issues but had not been successful. At one point, as we progressed through their conversation, the employee became very offended and defensive at something the supervisor had said. Interestingly enough, it was the most supportive and attentive comment the supervisor had made in the whole conversation. The supervisor was so taken back by the employee's comments that he simply sat there. However, that silence seemed to be just what the employee needed to reflect on her reaction. She was not really listening to what her supervisor had said, but had made an assumption and reacted. The supervisor and I allowed the silence to continue for a short while. It didn't take long for the employee to realize her error. When she did she paused, reworded her comments calmly and the two discussed how the breakdown in their communication started and how they could move beyond these challenges in the future. They assessed their actions, adjusted, acted and repeated this process with great success.