Strategies for a Challenging Conversation

People are always asking us for help when it comes to communication strategies.  Especially, when conversations become challenging.  Things people have asked:  “How can I get my point across to them without hurting their feelings”,  “How can I say it so they will hear me?”,  “What can I do so that it doesn’t get out of control?”,  “This person is SO hard to talk to, I can’t face having this conversation, help!!!”.

Every day we are faced with conversation and communication; however, we are not always communicating in every conversation we have.  How often do you feel that your friends, family or colleagues REALLY hear what you are saying and REALLY understand where you are coming from?  We are learning that more and more people are feeling not so often.

Below we have outlined some strategies to use for conversations.  We will be breaking them down into more detail over the next few weeks; however, here are some tools that you can use today.


Shifting from “ME” to “WE”

  1. ACTIVE LISTENING: Be in the moment, focus on what the other is saying, turning off the voices inside your head.
  2. FOCUS: STOP what you’re doing (texting, emailing, phone calls, cooking, watching TV) so you can focus on the person and what is being said to ensure you really see, hear and understand them
  3. TIME OUT:  If you don’t have time to have the conversation and really listen, set a time that is mutually agreeable to schedule the conversation when you can focus, listen and be present
  4. BE CURIOUS:  Ask open questions (what, when, how, who), what do you want to know more about?  Remain open to the perspectives of others.  Still not getting it?  “Tell me more..” is a great way to get perspective and understanding.
  5. PARAPHRASE:  This helps gain clarity, check assumptions, and ensure you are hearing what is being said.  “So what I am hearing is ……. “
  6. 3 LEVELS OF LISTENING:  Level 1 “I”, Level 2 “you”, Level 3 open and curious.  Listening at level 3 removes the judgement of I and YOU and focuses on the open WE.
  7. COLLABORATION:  recognize that many heads are better than one. How can it be resolved together?
  8. EMOTIONS: Become aware of your emotions, what pushes your buttons and set intention around being calm and grounded.   Emotions trigger emotions and can lead to unsuccessful conversations.  When you are able to put your emotions at bay and use open questions, the conversation becomes about the content, not judgement, and can be much easier to be curious about and resolve.

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