Don’t be defensive or retreat to your corner after a challenging meeting at work. These tips can help you walk away from a crucial conversation feeling empowered. We all feel a bit uninspired at our work environment every now and then. Voicing your opinion, and not being taken seriously in a meeting can make you feel despondent, temperamental and unappreciated. So, if going to work gives you anxiety, or makes you feel like you’re walking into a hell hole, there are ways that you can turn this situation around. Helene Vermaak, director at The Human Edge, suggests these tips to help you communicate better at work: Reverse Your Thinking. Usually we decide to speak up by considering the risks of doing so. Those best at holding crucial conversations don’t consider the risks of speaking up, but rather consider the risks of not speaking up. They realise if they don’t share their views, they will have to live with the poor decisions that will be made because of holding back their informed opinions. Listen carefully before responding. When you recognise a crucial conversation, stop talking. Think through what is being said and how it’s being said and don’t give in to the fight or flight reflex. Ask Yourself One Question. The problem with crucial conversations is strong emotions. The brain shuts down and we react instead of thinking through how to respond. Ask yourself a question: What do I really want? What problem am I trying to solve? Use this question to focus and diffuse your strong emotions. Make It Safe. Have you ever noticed how some conversations can go very well? And others, perhaps even about trivial disagreements, can degenerate into combat or retreat? The antidote to defensiveness in crucial conversations is to make it safe. People can listen to tough feedback as long as they feel safe with the person providing it. Create safety by helping others understand that you care about their interests as much as you care about your own. Empathise. Before starting a conversation, influential leaders think about how the problems they want to raise are affecting, or will affect, the other person. Consider the consequences of the situation for the other person and reassure them. Invite Dialogue. After you create a safe environment, confidently share your views and then invite differing opinions. Those who are best at crucial conversations aren’t just out to make their point; they want to learn. If you are open to hearing others’ points of view, they will be more open to yours.
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