Are You Avoiding Crucial Conversations?

Rahul 13 years old kid. He is growing up in the Mumbai. As a part of his upbringing, he always has to ask his dad if he has to go anywhere out with school friends. However, he is always afraid of his father and hesitated to talk to him if he needs anything. Even after planning and rehearsing a conversation 100 times within his mind he was not able to accumulate courage to share it with his dad.

Matt 34 years old Software Engineer, working in Houston, Texas. He is employed with the same company for last five years and now due for a promotion. He can not change his job because of his wife and kids. He is not sure how to start a conversation with his manager and tell him why he should get promotion this year. After planning and rehearsing a conversation for last three months within his mind, he was not able to accumulate courage to initiate a conversation with his manager.

All of us have walked in the shoes of either Rahul or Matt sometimes in our life. It means even after planning as well as rehearsing a conversation multiple times within our mind, we have either avoided it for an interim or decided not to talk about it at all. Sometimes we ended up carrying a conversation baggage in our mind around the clock and added unwanted stress in our life. So crucial question is how one should handle an important conversation?

Now you might ask how one should decide what a crucial/key conversation is?
A conversation when…

  • The stakes are high
  • Opinions may vary
  • Emotions can run strong


Then why we do not act?

  • Opinions may vary in unpredictable ways making us feel uncomfortable
  • The stakes are too high for either or both parties
  • It might damage the relationship
  • Strong feelings are present that make it impossible to be present in the conversation
  • Previous experience says it will not turn out well

Before getting into a key conversation – Map conversation using 3P’s

Pause

  • Stop dancing with mind
  • It is important to focus on right thing at critical point by preventing unnecessary mind chattering
  • Do not resist emotions
  • When brain realizes feelings, do not react by drawing unnecessary story

Plan

  • Plan your conversation from your side
  • Highlight purpose and why you want to talk
  • Be ready with logistic before a conversation to sketch relevant points.
  • It will be noteworthy to mention what will be the outcome if things will go as per your side (Basically underline positive impacts)

Practice

  • In the end practice: As per sports analogy; sports person should treat every practice session likes a final game so that eventually every game is not more than a training session.
    Practice develops a muscle memory to handle an actual pressure.

How should one approach a key conversation?

  • Approach each conversation with an open mind and without any fear of failure
  • Everything is created twice – first in mind and then in reality. Thus our mood and mindset are vital components going into any conversation
  • Do not sketch a negative picture in your mind. Before getting into any conversation watch positive, supportive and motivational videos or listen to a soft/quiet song. It facilitates to control emotions and calm down mind
  • Positive thoughts reduce tension within your body and allows you to focus on your content, language, and words
  • Try to connect with a person by looking into his/her eyes and listen carefully when he/she talks
  • Carry a small object in your hand or use any symbol to remind yourself to be in the moment without letting your mind wander in the space. It helps to focus on future opportunities
  • In case agenda didn’t play out the way we are hoping; think about your efforts and how you have handled a situation

What happens when we successfully face a crucial conversation?

  • Relationships improve – Improves trust and communication between both parties
  • Enhance your confidence and tone your muscle memory for the next key conversation
  • Future possibilities open for both – Might create win-win situation for both sides
  • Reduces unnecessary stress

In the end, remember three things

  • Do not carry baggage of your past experiences in critical conversations
  • Our language, culture, age, mood and listening habit play a vital role in any conversation
  • The more you will become open and flexible the better we will handle a key conversation

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