Do you avoid certain conversations at work? These types of conversations stir up so much fear, embarrassment, confusion, anxiety, anger and pain, that many people choose to avoid them. However, avoiding issues, or just stroking people’s ego, can also make a problem or relationship worse.
However according to a recent Harvard Business Report article about “Taking the stress out of stressful conversations”, One of the first rules of engagement is... to pick your battles." Here are 4 easy steps on how to prepare for stressful conversations, before they occur and get the results you want.
STEP 1 - BECOME AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON
Don't go into denial. A good start is to become aware of your own weaknesses to people and situations. Building awareness is not about psychoanalysis or practicing ZEN. Much of it simply involves making our tacit, intuitive knowledge about ourselves more explicit, by applying the Socratic Method of asking ourself critical questions regarding our own thoughts and fears:
STEP 2 - ASK THE CRITICAL QUESTIONS
When you find yourself in a difficult conversation, freeze-frame your thoughts in ‘mid-flow’ and ask yourself the key question : What are you really afraid of ?
Then, once you have formulated what you are anxious about, ask yourself,
STEP 3 - PLAY IT OUT
Explicit self-awareness will often help save you from engaging in a conversation in a way that panders to your feelings rather than one that serves your needs.
An excellent way to anticipate specific problems that you may encounter in a stressful conversation is a role-play exercise with a friend or a coach. I highly recommend that you prepare your "script" in advance and that the whole thing is video-taped. If you do this, you have a very good likelihood to succeed in your persuasion.
Also, work on your body language with your coach. Remember, you can say what you want to say, just don’t ‘blurt it out’; Think strategically. Be a realist.
STEP 4 - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
By video-taping the role-play-conversation, you will be amazed how many things will be revealed to you when you review the mp4. Aristotle, the philosopher and mentor of Alexander the Great used to say, “Excellence is a habit.”
Rehearsal and repetition lowers your stress level and increases your confidence to handle the situation and get the results you want. Persuasion is a skill, that can be learned.