School of Business Affairs - October -2017 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2017 19 Words Matter: Guiding Crucial Conversations Here are some tips for having effective conversations under difficult or stressful conditions. By Stan H. Wisler LEADING FORWARD the ideas or opinions are controversial or unpopular is dialogue— it is the intersection of talking, listening, and acting. Here are some tips for having effective conversations under difficult or stressful conditions, whether in the workplace or in daily life. Deal with It Don’t avoid an uncomfortable situation. Deal with it promptly. “Promptly” doesn’t necessarily mean imme- diately—you may need to delay the conversation until you have time to cool off, gather the facts, gather your thoughts, or find the “right time.” Find the balance between confronting someone too soon and waiting until the situation has magnified. Find the sweet spot, the right time. Timing is everything. Control Your Emotions Reaction to the fear of being taken advantage of or being viewed as weak is often to stand up and fight. Although you may be tempted to raise your voice and be confrontational, that will not bring the results you want. Take a deep breath and resist the natural inclina- tion to “fight back.” You can’t control others’ behavior, but you can control your own. Model the appropriate behavior. Create Safe Space Make the other person feel safe about sharing his or her perspectives. If you are in a group situation, ensure that everyone participates and nobody feels threatened. You may need to encourage some people to share. Making the space safe doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone; it means ensuring that everyone’s ideas are presented and respected. Allowing people to share their thoughts and ideas is time-consuming, but the invest- ment will pay dividends through better decisions and outcomes. W ords are powerful—they can hurt more deeply than any physical pain, and the hurt can linger for years. Engag- ing in difficult conversations demands thought and skill to reach resolution without damaging relationships. Effective conversations are the flow of relevant and helpful information between two or more people. Sharing views, opinions, feelings, and ideas even when BLEND IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM