There’s no question about it. The most successful people may not always have the most talent, the highest test scores or an Ivy League degree, but they do have a way with words. They speak differently – to others, to themselves, even in how they communicate through their appearance. And one of the best skills they master is the art of navigating a difficult conversation. While most people fret and sweat over saying something uncomfortable, they seem to effortlessly broach topics that get others stuck. But how? Here are six things successful people do differently when they have something hard to say:
- Plan it out.
Think about the outcome you want from the conversation. Then stay focused so you don’t get distracted by emotions. Write your key points. Decide how you want to say them. How do you want to end the conversation?
- Have compassion.
Speak with respect and kindness. See it from the other side, not just your own. What is it that they want? What are they feeling? Acknowledge those things. Hard conversations don’t have to be ugly. Telling the truth can be done with compassion.
- Get it over with.
The worse thing about having something difficult to say is the temptation to delay saying it! Don’t delay. Stop avoiding the obvious. The longer you wait, the more stress. Conversation gives release and relief.
- Talk more than you type.
Don’t hide behind a keyboard. Have a face to face (or phone conversation if in-person isn’t realistic) conversation. Nothing can replace the back-and-forth interaction, tone, body language and other nuances that texts and emails simply cannot convey.
- Know that listening is a form of speaking.
When you allow others to feel heard, you speak volumes to them about their value in your eyes. Yes, you have points to make and you should not skirt around them. But listen, too.
- Question your fear.
Most people get stuck and delay tough conversations because of fear. Fear pops up and they just stop. Paralysis. Fear is not a stop sign. Question it. What are you afraid will happen if you have this conversation? How will you handle that? How might you have the conversation and minimize an unwanted outcome? In other words, be resilient. Face the fear. And make a plan to deal with it. But refuse to allow it to silence you.
My challenge to you this week:
Stop procrastinating. Speak up. Get it out.
Journal about it:
What are you afraid to say and to whom? What are you concerned will happen if you say it? How will you handle it IF that happens? What are the key points you need to convey? How would you like the conversation to end?
Resources: Successful Women Speak Differently – book