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Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations

https://hbr.org/2001/07/taking-the-stress-out-of-stressful-conversations

hbr.org

Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations
We all get caught in conversations fraught with emotion. Usually, these interactions end badly—but they don’t have to, thanks to a handful of techniques you can apply unilaterally.

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Stressful Conversations

Stressful Conversations

Human beings love to gossip, chatter and jest, but some conversations can be stressful, confusing, and even embarrassing. To avoid conflicts and the avoidable pain it can bring, we tend to dodge a stressful conversation.

The emotional entanglement and the feelings that get stirred up throws most of us out of balance, and we are unable to work harder to improve our handling of the problem, making it worse.

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The Three Basic Stress-Inducing Conversations

  • While giving bad news to others, like giving feedback or firing someone, one can find it difficult to strike the right note.
  • When a small sentence or even a word can be taken as a negative provocation and trigger an adverse reaction. Suddenly the conversation becomes intensely charged emotionally.
  • A conversation where one resorts to profanity, manipulation, shouting to thwart the other person.

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Preparing For A Stressful Conversation

  1. Be fully aware of one’s own vulnerabilities and shortcomings.
  2. Anticipate any specific problem that may occur, and try to rehearse it if possible.
  3. Understand that words are key that can make or break your conversation, and try to fine-tune and neutralize your phrasing.

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Managing A Stressful Conversation

  1. Respect the other person, and acknowledge the problem, along with the responsibility, making the conversation impersonal and non-provoking.
  2. Restate your intentions using a non-threatening, neutral language, aligning your core objective with your words without attacking the listener.
  3. If a person is using a manipulative, aggressive tactic, one can neutralize it by naming it, openly identifying what the other person is trying to do.

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