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11 Keys to Mastering Difficult Conversations

Maintain Eye Contact

You can predictably determine someone’s emotions from their gaze. Eye contact is the crucial first step for resonance, or a person’s ability to read someone else’s emotions.

Make and maintain eye contact when you’re giving someone feedback.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

11 Keys to Mastering Difficult Conversations

11 Keys to Mastering Difficult Conversations

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/feeling-it/201707/11-keys-mastering-difficult-conversations

psychologytoday.com

11

Key Ideas

More Positive Than Negative Feedback

High-performing organizations deliver roughly five times as many positive statements (supportive, appreciative, encouraging) as negative ones (critical, disapproving, contradictory). That’s because our brains focus on negative feedback more than positive feedback.

Correct your employees, even criticize or confront them, but do so in a positive context. 

Focus On The Positive Parts

We tend to focus on giving employees critical feedback. But, by focusing on their weaknesses, we only create competence. By focusing on their strengths, we create excellence.

Give equal measures of positive and negative feedback. We usually gloss over the strengths, but focus in great detail on the critical feedback. Add examples and details to your positive feedback.

Emphasize Collaboration

Be objective when you speak about a negative event. Rather than placing blame or evaluating the problematic situation, describe it and its consequences, and suggest acceptable alternatives.

Be Aware Of Your Facial Expression

Someone’s smile activates the smile muscles in your own face, while their frown activates your frown muscles. We can discern whether someone is smiling even if we can’t see them.

Your smile is something to think about even if you are delivering feedback over the phone. Smile appropriately to project warmth and goodwill.

Maintain Eye Contact

You can predictably determine someone’s emotions from their gaze. Eye contact is the crucial first step for resonance, or a person’s ability to read someone else’s emotions.

Make and maintain eye contact when you’re giving someone feedback.

Control Your Voice

We are acutely aware of the voices of people we consider important, and the way we feel about another person shifts the way we speak. The tone of our voice, more than the words themselves, can give away how we feel.

Take An Easy Posture

The way you sit — slumped or sitting tall, arms open or crossed — transmits a message. Having your chest open, arms uncrossed, making sure to keep nodding, smiling, and vocalizing (saying things like “mm-hmm” and “yes”) will make people feel more connected to you.

Breathe

Stress or anger makes us breathe quickly and shallowly, and when tired or exasperated, we are more likely to sigh. Similarly, we may feel annoyance coming from someone who sighs a lot.

Before your conversation, take some deep, calming breaths, breathing out longer than you breathe in. Exhaling decreases your heart rate and blood pressure. Doing this for a couple of minutes before a meeting will make you and your interlocutor more at ease.

9. Pay Attention

Our minds often wander and we're not present in the moment, with the people in front of us. 

When you are not fully present, you are less likely to hear, understand and respond skillfully.

Be Authentic

According to research, when dealing with people who are not authentic, we often walk away feeling uncomfortable or manipulated and our blood pressure rises.

Show Compassion

Rather than seeing the feedback situation as “work” or a hassle, see it as an opportunity to connect with someone who has their own needs and pain. By remembering the common human experience, you’re more likely to bring kindness and compassion into the conversation.

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Be fast in answering

Whenever a colleague asks for your support or provides you with a solution to an issue, make sure you acknowledge his or her action with a simple ‘got it’ or ‘received’. The lack of reaction from your side might lead to your co-worker thinking that their help or need does not matter. 

Showing consideration toward coworkers by acknowledging their communications promptly is a form of civility, which is important to workplace culture. And, as management researchers have documented, experiencing incivility can lead workers to be less productive and loyal to the company.

Effective listening

When listening to a colleague, try to focus entirely on his or her story rather than reflecting on your own position or experiences. Asking questions and actually taking into consideration their answers is a sure way to understand their story and prove helpful when providing advice.
Active listening enables employers themselves to lead more effectively, as it avoids frustration on the staff’s side. 

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Eye signals

  • Eye gaze: Directly eye contact indicates interest and paying attention. Prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.
  • Blinking:  People often blink more rapidly when t...

Lip signals

  • Pursed lips: an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.
  • Lip biting: signals people are worried, anxious, or stressed.
  • Covering the mouth: used when people want to hide an emotional reaction.
  • Turned up or down: When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic. A slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness/ disapproval.

Gestures

  • A clenched fist indicates anger in some situations or solidarity in others.
  • A thumbs up and thumbs down: gestures of approval and disapproval.
  • The "okay" gesture: "okay" or "all right." In some parts of Europe, the same signal is used to imply you are nothing. In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture.
  • The V sign: peace or victory in some countries. In the UK and Australia, the symbol takes on an offensive meaning when the back of the hand is facing outward.

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When having a difficult conversation, be direct and get to the point quickly. 

Difficult conversations become even more difficult when the delivery is complicated.

Most of t...

Be Direct

During a difficult conversation, be quick and direct. This is not the time for feedback techniques, as they will mask the point of the conversation and lessen its impact making it more difficult.

Often, the person knows that a critique is coming, so rather than dancing around the subject, just get to it. It’s better for both parts.

Be Specific

Be honest and thorough with your feedback, give examples and fully clarify why you're having the conversation.

The more clarity you can provide, the better the critique will be received.

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