Navigating Difficult Conversations
Some people have absolutely no trouble starting up or carrying on a conversation. For other people engaging on conversations, especially difficult ones is on par with getting their teeth pulled – with no aesthetic. Whichever camp you fall into there are a few things you can do to make any conversation a little easier.
The worst thing you can do when entering into a conversation with a specific agenda, especially a difficult one, is to think you can just wing it. Even if you feel pretty passionate about what you have to say, you still need to prepare.
Think carefully about your desired outcome and what you want to say to achieve it. Make notes. If there are any supporting documents to back up what you need to say, articles, emails, charts etc. have them ready.
Focus on the other person
Even introverted people can be engaged in a conversation if you get them talking about something they’re passionate about. Use questions or a sincere compliment to find out about the other person, then encourage them to talk about themselves.
Don’t think about what you’re going to say next
Whether we realize it or not, most of us spend a lot of time during conversations working out what we want to say next. If you’re busy thinking about your answers or things you can add to the discussion, you’re not completely involved in what’s being said and when you speak it may not be as relevant as you would have wished. Instead of racing ahead to the next intersection, stay fully with the conversation, then when you do speak there will be less chance of confusion or misunderstanding.
Even if you’re nervous and flustered, make a show of looking confident. Look the other person in the eyes. Keep your back straight and your shoulders square. Smile. If you look confident and at ease the other person will feel more at ease and the conversation will flow easier.