Contribution is an idea from the Difficult Conversations book. It looks at how each person has contributed to the situation by what they did. It helps frame the situation as a sequence of things that resulted in something going wrong and does not look to find who is at fault or is to blame. It starts from the point of view that both, or more, people have contributed to the situation and is a good way of changing a conversation that is looking to blame someone into one that is more productive.

It is also a good way to develop the learning conversation as it focuses on;

  • What could we have done differently to have prevented the situation?
  • What could you or I have done differently?
  • At what stage could the situation have been avoided?
  • What will we do differently next time to avoid it happening again?

To be most useful it is best if the people in the conversation accept that they have contributed to the situation in some way.