I was a motivational keynote speaker for a group of teachers where we entered into a lively discussion about specific difficult conversations.
In the motivational speech we agreed that words can often mask a hidden agenda, and that the best defense is to rely on your gut feelings about the person delivering the news. Observe actions, body language and behaviors to divulge hidden, unstated meaning. Most people have a pattern.
At the same time, we agreed that sometimes what is interpreted is not actually what was intended. There are times that perfectly innocent words can trigger conflict.
In most potentially heated communication, it helps to restate what was said and acknowledge unspoken desires. Done correctly, this simple technique can transform communication to a learning and growing experience.
In conflict, a low-key remark showing empathy can save the day. Here are 5 Difficult Discussions and what to Say...
1) I don't get enough overtime and I need the money...
Response: I can understand it's challenging when you rely on overtime to pay bills. There is only so much overtime to go around and we have to be fair in how it's distributed. You can't rely on overtime to help you get by. What else can you do to improve your financial situation?
2) I worked so hard to meet that deadline and nobody even noticed.
Response: It sounds like you feel that your efforts go unrecognized. What would make you feel most proud of your accomplishments?
3) I hate the new scheduling software. Why do we always have to change everything? We should leave well enough alone!
Response: The new software can be challenging to get used to. I assure you that it is worth the effort in the end and this is a change we had no choice but to make. What can we do to help you integrate the new software?
4) I made the same error as Veronica but she didn't get in trouble...
Response: It sounds like you feel you're being treated unfairly, tell me more....
5) People in my department talk too much about stuff unrelated to work, and I can't get any work done.
Response: It can be difficult to concentrate when people are talking too loudly. what do you suggest we do about it?
The other motivational keynote speaker for the teachers event was discussing body image and dress code. There was plenty of conflict in this topic! As the guest speaker reminded us, the way we dress is a very personal thing, often wrapped up body image, personality and a reflection of our values. The motivational speech suggested that when people feel unnecessarily restricted it can set off tremendous conflict.