How to Handle Difficult Discussions
By Sandy Schroeder
As life spins ahead, difficult conversations and discussions sometimes come up at home or at work. Knowing how to keep your balance to get the best results is easier with a few simple steps.
Here are some simple tips from Psychology Today and Kim Cameron, author of Positive Leadership.
Lead with a smile – When someone smiles at you, the automatic reaction is to smile back. Start the conversation with a smile, even when you are on the phone. The warmth shows up in the tone of your voice. The more often you include a smile, the better reception you are likely to get.
Read the eyes – Making a connection and reading the other person’s thoughts begins with the eyes. Start with good eye contact and maintain it to assure the other person that you are receptive.
Use the right tone – If you really listen, you can hear the emotions of the other person in their voice. Make sure your tone is positive in return. If you are angry, you might postpone a talk until you have mellowed out. No matter what you say, the other person may hear your anger in the tone of your voice.
Be open and receptive – The way you sit, with your arms uncrossed in a relaxed posture, tells the other person you are open to their ideas. Nodding and smiling reinforces that image, while crossed arms, frowning or head shaking can easily contradict your words.
Accent positives– No matter what the situation is, include twice as many positive statements as negatives. That input is needed because negative statements have so much impact. People are more apt to accept a negative remark if you have cushioned it in several positive ones that they liked. If you doubt this, just think of critiques you have received. Inevitably you remember the negative remarks.
Emphasize talent and abilities – You may be able to change people’s actions with direct suggestions, but you may inspire them to create even greater things if you emphasize their abilities. Then they may be motivated to go further, moving ahead with new ideas. Cushion your criticism in comments about their abilities to keep them motivated.
Be real – Whatever else you do in a difficult conversation, make sure you say and do exactly what you mean. If individuals feel conversations are not straightforward attempts to connect, they may quickly disconnect. Be honest and direct and look for the same in the other person. That attitude may create a refreshing talk with a much authentic exchange of ideas.
Whatever the discussion, stay positive and enjoy the results.
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