Back in 2005, I wrote a series of articles on those difficult conversations we all have - with coworkers, friends, and family members - and what keeps us from getting started and from holding them respectfully and safely.
One of the most common reasons I hear in my workshops for putting these difficult conversations off is that we just don't know how to begin. What are the words, we ask ourselves, that will start things off on the right foot?
Here are a few conversation openers I've picked up over the years - and used many times. They let our partner know we want to talk about a topic that might be hard, but they also give notice that our intentions are positive, our purpose mutual, and that we want to hear their side too.
- I'd like to talk about something that I think will help us work together better. Do you have a minute?
- I think we may have different ideas about _____________. When you have some time, I'd like to hear your thoughts and offer mine.
- I'd like to hear your thoughts on ____________. Do you have time now or can we schedule some time later?
- I need your help with what just happened. Can we talk?
- I'd like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your thoughts on this.
These openers create an environment of respect and mutual purpose. You can say almost anything as long as you maintain these two critical conditions.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The art of conversation is like any art - with continued practice you acquire skill and ease. Here are 3 additional tips to get you started.
- A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.
- Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments during the conversation.
- Practice the conversation before holding the real one, either mentally or with a friend. Try out different scenarios and visualize yourself handling each with ease. Envision the outcome you're hoping for.
Good luck, and if you'd like to read more on this topic, visit the Free Articles page at JudyRinger.com.