If we were really smart about conversation, the order of priority in our thoughts would be:
- What can I learn from what is being said?
- What question should I ask when it is my turn to speak?
- What comment should I make next?
Unfortunately we spend most of our time in the least important priority.
Sometimes debate has great value, purpose, and meaning. And sometimes not.
We all end up in conversations in which we are arguing over something that cannot be decided, cannot move forward. Yet due to momentum we continue to argue when nothing can come from the conversation other than raised blood pressure and frustration.
Here’s an alternative line to try:
If we aren’t making a decision now, how much further can we take this?
Sometimes it isn’t apparent what you need. And there are so many possibilities.
- A push
- Brutal honesty
Sometimes it helps to be clear and simply say, “What I need from you is . . . “
What happens when someone meets you with anger or criticism you don’t feel you deserve?
Anger begets anger. Big emotions from others can throw your own emotions for a loop. And responding to uncontrolled emotion with strong emotions of your own is rarely a winning formula. Unfortunately, there is often little or no value to fighting this kind of fire with fire.
So what can you do? Try this.
I’m sorry you feel that way.
This simple phrase can be remarkably disarming. It doesn’t accept wrong doing on your part. (If you should take responsibility, that’s another story.) It expresses recognition of the other person’s emotional state. And it gives them a chance to calm down without turning the conversation into a fight.
As I’ve recommended in the past, follow the phrase up with a healthy dose of silence and the other person’s emotional fire might just flame out.
Every book I’ve ever read about how to achieve success says that you should set goals. I agree. Goals are good. But there is one area of life that even the best goal setters I’ve met seem to fail to set goals for themselves.
If every business, business person, and business project should have goals to reach optimum success, so too should every business conversation.
Ask yourself, “What is the outcome I am trying to achieve?”
Are you seeking to build a relationship? To change someone’s mind? To gather information? To take a risk? To protect yourself?
Too often we dive into conversations and through emotion or meandering or carelessness we fail to achieve what we might wish for after the fact.
Let me know what you think. But make sure you have a goal in mind when you respond.