Let’s admit it is challenging to stay calm and engaged during tough conversations. Difficult conversations can feel intense and make our minds perceive them as a threat. A lot of times we later regret what we say, get stuck trying to prove our point, ultimately losing the goal and outcome of the conversation. We have all been there. Maybe you might have crossed a boundary with your friend or partner, maybe you have damaged trust in a relationship with your client or vendor. At times like this you might wish you could hit that reset button and have a do-over. With so much at stake, how do you keep a heated conversation constructive?
Here are a few ways on how to keep the flood of emotions at bay during difficult conversations so you can show up as your best self.
Bring empathy to the conversation. Empathy is not about agreement or giving in, rather a way to gain a more objective viewpoint of the other person’s side. This also creates a safe space for mindful listening. By listening, you also gain access to other important facts, assumptions, and constraints at play – all critical information for bridging the gap between you and the other person.
Listening and asking questions gives you the chance to gather more information while also providing room for you to pause, breathe, and collect yourself so you can respond diplomatically.
Another way to healthily navigate through conflict is to be mindful about your speech. When we bring a dedicated attention to how we speak to the other person, we find not only synchronization, but also genuine respect and consideration for the person and ourselves.
Mindfulness—the practice of non-judgmental awareness—can help us communicate in more meaningful and healthy ways with our loved ones. It can positively affect how we speak and listen to one another. Employing a mindful practice can help reduce reactivity, increase compassion, and flexibility, especially during conflict.
When we realise that we have made a mistake it is best to own it, rather than getting defensive, be direct. Say things like: “I owe you an apology for the lapse in communication. I’m only realizing now, based on what you are sharing, the level of confusion this created for you and your team.”
All the above steps have been derived from the leadership awareness model (slide 8). This model is an integration of self, people and future. According to this model, when we are able to identify our external and internal triggers, we can better understand why we behave the way we do. When we ask ourselves “why did that make me angry or upset?” we are able to assess and identify our values and priorities such as kindness, honesty. When we are aware of our inner world and are connected to ourselves, we are able to show up as our best selves and navigate through the conflict healthily.
Becoming emotional during a difficult conversation is a normal stress response. But a crucial part of emotional intelligence is emotion regulation, or the skill of being able to adjust how you internally modulate and externally express your emotions in a way that’s rooted in integrity and makes you feel proud. While we cannot change what’s already happened, we do always have the choice to reach out, connect with others, and demonstrate a more constructive and committed. For my free eBook head over to www.mamtasaha.com. To learn more about the Emotionally Stronger Masterclass go to the link in my Instagram: saha_mamta. Stay peaceful, happy and safe. Good luck x