Here’s how to make difficult conversations easy
Someone is screaming in your face at the top of their lungs. Or ranting angrily and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Or maybe they’re sobbing so hard you can barely understand what they’re saying.
We’ve all been there. These situations don’t happen a lot (thank god) but we all feel helpless when they do. And because they’re rare we don’t ever seem to get better at handling them.
Problem is, these moments are often critical because they’re usually with people we care about.
What’s the best way to handle these difficult conversations? What works?
Here are Al’s tips for turning difficult conversations into easy ones:
* Keep calm. Don’t turn it into Godzilla vs. Rodan. (Samurai secrets of staying calm are here.)
* Treat’em like a child. You can’t talk them out of emotional outbursts and getting angry over it does nothing good.
* Say “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.” Slow it down. Don’t come off like you’re fighting back.
* Ask “What would you like me to do?” You gotta make’em start thinking in order turn off the rage machine.
* Don’t make statements. Ask questions. Explaining is veiled dominance. Questions get them thinking.
* Start sentences with “I’d like…” not “You are…” If you start with “I” it’s hard to be seen as attacking.
* Let them have the last word. Don’t let your ego blow it at the last minute.
So what does Al say is the single most important thing to do when dealing with people?
When they speak, ask yourself why they’re saying what they’re saying. Think about what’s going on in their head, not yours. This leads away from judging and toward understanding and compassion.
Yes, it’s probably a little late — you already went through the war at home over Christmas…
But, it’s still worth learning for next year — or maybe the next phone call.
And, if that doesn’t work, you can always upgrade to the complete guide to hostage negotiation…