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Sunday, August 1, 2010

The art of crucial conversations

Do you wish that you were one of those people who can always remain calm and composed when discussing difficult and sensitive issues? Not losing it, keeping your voice calm and in control and trying to not let the emotion of the situation get the better of you as you attempt to let someone know that they have done wrong by you whether it be personally or professionally.

Individuals who have mastered this art tend to score highly on emotional intelligence measures – they are able to gauge what demeanor will get the other person to listen and really take on board what it is they have to say. They are able to use their interpersonal skills to really tug on the heart strings of the other person whilst remaining calm and in control. They have been able to separate out the emotions that cause them to lose control and are able to speak calmly whilst still getting their point across using clear language and meaningful concepts.

Like all life skills, we can all learn to have these conversations in a way that will not leave us any more vulnerable and hurt. The first step is to take the time to you to prepare for intense talks. Time to allow you to build your argument; time to have identified what you want the outcome to be from the discussion and time to let the intense emotions dissipate. Once you have your emotions under control, and have identified the facts of the discussion you will be in a much stronger position to express your opinions clearly and honestly, and be able to put your enemy (for want of a better word J) in a position in which they have to provide you with honest answers – which is why you need to know what you want from the discussion. Most importantly, your concerns, issues, hurts need to come from the heart – what their behaviours has caused you to feel, the impact it has had whether they were aware of it or not, how they have hurt or disappointed or let you down and what you want them to do about it. The funny thing is that in most interactions we don’t want much more from the enemy than an acknowledgment or apology, we just want to be heard.

Many of us avoid these crucial conversations and carry around for weeks, months if not years the hurt, disrespect and anger which is doing nothing except hurting ourselves. In many of these cases it is time to let those know the effect their behaviours have had on us, which will in many cases free us to move on.