We’ve all probably had a conversation or two that came up suddenly, and the circumstance left us feeling slightly unprepared. In those cases, the conversation often doesn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, and we’re left with regret about not being better prepared. Don’t let that happen to you! Prepare yourself in advance by following these great guidelines!
Think and Prepare Ahead of Time: If you see a crucial communication session coming your way, spend some time getting ready. If it comes out of nowhere, think for a moment before you speak. What’s your mindset, is it positive or negative? Are you open or closed? Are you trying to win yourself, or are you willing to help EVERYONE to win? Be sure you think through what is going to be discussed and the outcome that you are hoping for. Think about how best to position yourself to help the conversation turn out the way you want it to by exploring positive options and respecting the people you’re having a dialog with. Realize that many times conflict can be avoided or can be positive. Confrontations do not need to be negative or destructive if you’re just trying to get to a better solution.
Listen and Understand: Often we’re so busy preparing our rebuttal that we don’t actually listen. Pay very close attention to your partner, and their language, their body language and their tone of voice. Notice what they say and which questions they ask, and notice what they’re advocating. Be present and attentive and when they’re done speaking, don’t rush to rebut, simply confirm that you heard what they were saying by paraphrasing and repeating the crux of what you just heard. Ask your partner to confirm that you understood the main points they were making. If you didn’t encourage them to set you straight, indicate that you want very much to understand what they’re saying and help them to get what they need.
Be Confident: Say what needs to be said, but say it from a place of humility. You can say anything if you are saying it in an effort to make things better, and when you’re trying to help everyone to get what they want and need, you can be confident, because you’re being constructive and positive. Be clear and concise, and get directly to the point, without any attempt to injure or damage someone’s emotional safety. Summarize your main points as you begin to finish your statements and then handle questions by clarifying with humility.
Reframe Negativity into Positivity: When you’re engaged in a dialog, you’ll often find someone else struggling to be emotionally positive. When confronted with a negative statement, don’t fall into the trap of respond in kind. Take the high road, and reframe the negative statement in a way that it becomes positive, and encourage the person you’re speaking with to realize that you ‘re in this together, you’re on the same team, or you both want your customer to win. That will defuse a great deal of rancor and emotional tension.
Give Credit To Others: When the conversation concludes in a position outcome, give praise and encouragement to everyone involved and avoid any tendency to take credit yourself. Thank everyone involved for contributing to such a positive outcome and let them know that you’re looking forward to the next opportunity to come together and work as a team to find positive solutions to challenges and problems. Express your gratitude for everyone remaining that committed to the bigger picture and let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to check their egos and roll up their sleeves to get to this positive place.
Leadership is about character and showing it consistently as you work with and lead others. The chance to influence conversations with your colleagues and customers in important conversations is a chance too important to miss. It’s a golden opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills as a new manager or as an emerging leader. By preparing in advance, or by quickly preparing in the seconds before you speak, you can turn the tide in your favor and help everyone to benefit from such conversations.
Michael is a business advisor and executive development coach in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Michael works with CEOs, Presidents, and their leadership teams to build healthy business cultures, and develop emerging leaders into tremendous leaders and executives. Michael is launching a group coaching program this autumn for emerging leaders, designed to help eight young lions to become seasoned managers and leaders over the coming 12 months. If you’re interested in more information (and you SHOULD be interested…) about this award-winning program, send Michael an email inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Michael will give you a free copy of his e-book on business best practices.