Reactions in difficult conversations and conflict resolution can lead to a whole list of other challenges … such as:
- Rising emotions, blaming and finger pointing, judgement and resistance
- Inaccurate assumptions that take the conversation down another path
- Old issues or unrelated issues being pushed into the conversation
- People shutting down or disengaging from the conversation
- Damaged trust
- Shaken confidence
- Inability or great difficulty getting the conversation back on track.
Here are a few tips to navigate around these challenges and choose a RESPONSE instead of a REACTION. A response simply put is a thought out response that is not driven by an emotional reaction to something that was said or done in a conversation. A few seconds of silence before reacting emotionally can provide time to gather thoughts for a response.
- Prepare for the conversation. Work through your emotions, get enough sleep before the dialogue, practice what you would like to say, be aware of assumptions you have made, and choose the right time and place for the dialogue.
- Count to five (and take a breath or two) in your head to allow the pause or silence before responding.
- If you feel like you might blame, defend or justify yourself, instead, ask an open ended question such as who, what, where, what, when and why. Ask for more information about what the person meant using a open question such as “I’m not sure I understand your perspective, tell me more.” or ” I am curious what you meant by xxxx.” or “Help me understand…” Often people toss out a statement, and more information is needed… questions will help.
- Use “I Messages” such as “I find myself feeling triggered by what you just said about XXX. I’d like to understand more about how you see this issue.”
- Remember that how you respond (or react) is teaching those in the conversation with you how to communicate with you. If you would like respect, patience, curiosity, care and compassion etc., modelling this will go a long way in changing the dynamics of the dialogue.
- Reframe the dialogue. Instead of holding a viewpoint or mindset of “the person is out to make me look bad” what if you reframed to “I can share my perspectives respectfully and professionally.” Your mindset shapes how you show up, what you say, how you respond (or react), and how you listen and hear information shared with you.