In a difficult conversation, listen more than you talk. Why? Talking loudest won’t be what helps you ‘win’ in a HardTalk scenario. When Jared walked into a meeting to discuss a new marketing approach for a product, the conversation didn’t play out well. Five minutes into the dialogue, the product manager, Françoise, started interrupting him with questions he was planning to address later in the pitch. As the conversation ran off the rails, Jared struggled to keep a calm demeanor, while Françoise multitasked; Jared watched in frustration as she sent at least five text messages during their altercation. Jared left the meeting feeling belittled and demoralized. Françoise left feeling frazzled and irritated — she didn’t have time to sit through a poorly thought out presentation. There was too much other work to get done!
All of us have experienced communication meltdowns similar to Jared’s. Maybe you were Jared or Françoise in the scenario. By the time you walked away from the conversation, you could have cut the tension with a knife. And your agenda didn’t play out the way you were hoping. You ended up carrying the conversation with you. It weighed heavily on your mind, adding more stress to your workload. For people like Jared and Françoise, it can take a lot more time and effort to recover from a breakdown in communication than to avoid one in the first place.
So how can we get better at avoiding these breakdowns? The answer lies in being more present and in really listening. In this Harvard Business Review article Emma Sepala and Jennifer Stevenson share insight on how to handle those difficult conversations. You can read it in full here: https://hbr.org/2017/02/in-a-difficult-conversation-listen-more-than-you-talk