5 ways to handle Difficult conversations
It is that time of the year again when relationships are extremely important in your life. Christmas brings out joy to a lot of people, however it also brings a lot of sadness to those who may not have the best connections with their family. It may also remind us of those who are no longer connected to us; whether that be a death or separation. I know that my family only gathers together on Christmas day, and yes, the conversation always leads to arguments. You may experience the same thing on Christmas day as well. So I have put together a few tips that may assist you in getting through that Christmas Lunch differently this year. I suppose it is all about us doing things differently to get different results. These strategies can be used in the workplace as well.
- Be Prepared
So, what is happening that is the problem. What type of behavior is part of the problem? How does that impact you and others at work or in the family? What do you notice that always triggers the behavior; for example, is it something or a topic that you might bring up? Is there something that you can change to prevent this issue from re-occurring? I know that a lot of the issues are un-resolved ones and they are consistently brought up. Therefore, if you know what is going to be raised then be prepared to have that conversation that will resolve them. You know, the motto “Be Prepared”, always works. Writing down your thoughts around this issue is a good thing beforehand. It allows you to get it out.
- Know your Objective
What do you want to achieve? Do you want to build a stronger relationship that will be based on respect? Or do you just want to be right? How important is this issue? If I am wanting others to respect me, then I need to be able to communicate with respect to them as well. Can you put yourself into their shoes, and look at the situation from their perspective? I remember that I used to argue a lot with my mother, then one day I noticed that she was talking to her favorite bear. Yes she collects bears. I took the time out and asked her ‘why she talks to her bear? She looked up at me and said “that her bear is the only one who listens to her.” This allowed me to understand how lonely she was and just needed someone to listen to. You know the principle of highly effective people “First you need to understand, before being Understood”. From that day onwards, I decided to visit her as a daughter just to listen to her. This allowed me to re-connect with you and my objective was something that I had total control over, Just Listening to her.
- Handle your emotions
This about being able to understand and manage you own emotions and the triggers that set them off. When I had my first job, my manager used to always say to me “leave your emotions at the door”, and as I advanced through my martial arts career my instructor used to say the same. I think this is something that is very difficult to do without being involved with personal development. I have found this video about how to handle tears at work which I thought was interesting.
Understanding emotions is our responsibility. The late Robert Plutchik, professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, created a peice on the Wheel of Emotions – An example is, if you are experiencing annoyance,the path leads to anger and than to rage. Another example is that you have to experience acceptance before moving into trust.
4 . Holding the Space
This is a coaching term which means being able to handle silence. You know you may feel uncomfortable and ask a question, then responding yourself as the other person hasn’t answered quick enough. This skill is also important in asking for something at work. Such as a pay raise. They say that an amazing musician is not the notes that they play, it is the pausing in between the notes. A great speaker when posing a question to a group of people, allows them the time to reflect on the question by holding the space. So sometimes you may need to pose a powerful question and then just say nothing. Even if the person doesn’t respond straight away, they will still think about it and then perhaps gain the ‘ah ah’ thought later. This is when you plant the seed and they gain their own insights. This is called a paradigm shift – which in turns leads to long lasting change.
- Develop your Communication and Conflict Skills
Being able to communicate is extremely effective. Remember that communication skills that you have learnt at work, can be used in the same context as at home. Continuous learning is so important along with implementation of new knowledge. Educate yourself – there is a lot of information available on the Internet along with on-line training that allows you to learn at your pace and a time that is good for you. Coaching is a great way of having someone to support you and guide you around creating healthy habits and boundaries within your relationships. Set yourself a goal to improve your communication which will benefit you at work as well as at home. I would also recommend that you consider conflict management courses to gain the knowledge than gain coaching to help you implement those skills. You know the only way to success is through lots of failure first.
Can I be of any help to you?
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