Perhaps the most difficult part of having a deep conversation with someone you work with on a daily basis is getting the process started. Most people open these conversations with little preparation because they can no longer contain their emotions. When this happens, sometimes things are said that the speaker may regret afterward. It is wise to think before you speak, especially about issues that may have an emotional charge, so a little internal processing beforehand may be your most valuable tool.
The techniques below are specifically designed to help facilitate the necessary thinking required before you talk with your teammates about something that is bothering you. You don’t need to use them all; try the ones that are easiest for you and see how they work.
Sleep on it, forget about it for awhile, watch some TV, cook, go fishing—but don’t use any of these as an avoidance technique. This will allow your feelings to settle a little and you’ll have a different perspective.
Make sure that the issue is real and you’re not just complaining. It’s easy to blame someone else for your hurt feelings, so check yourself out before you point a finger.
Before you share it, think about who you’re talking to and how they receive your input. If your co-worker is visual, perhaps they would respond more favorably to something in writing to get the conversation started.
If appropriate, talk with someone else to get a read on your feelings before you talk to the person you’re having the issue with, but don’t allow yourself to be overly influenced by someone else’s opinion.
Write down what you want to say. A pro and con list may be the simplest way of deciding what needs to be discussed or even if it’s appropriate to have the conversation at all.
Don’t generalize and be prepared with examples. Putting your issues into categories may help you with this.
If you think a conversation is going to be painful, remember that you usually feel better after it’s over.
Make an appointment with the person to talk. This can give you the opportunity to get away from your normal routine and have some quiet time to discuss things in an appropriate fashion. Also, be prepared for him or her to say that right now is the best time to talk.
Remember, be kind. It’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Venting your anger will only make the gap wider and the issue more clouded. If you are physically or emotionally unbalanced, your ability to behave appropriately will be diminished.
Imagine or visualize the conversation going the way you want it to go before you have it and allow yourself to feel good about how you’ll handle the issue.
Processing your feelings before you lay them on your teammate will help you deliver them in the most appropriate manner, and will help your issue resolution discussion go much easier. Once you experience having a positive conversation about a difficult subject, the next ones will not seem as daunting.
For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and author. He may be contacted through his Web site at Barton Goldsmith.com or at (818) 879-9996.