Being true to yourself in a difficult conversation is both important and hard to do. You will get the best results and move forwards towards the best solutions if you can do this in a way that demonstrates empathy and compassion for the other person.
Here are our top tips to enable you to both speak and listen mindfully.
- Know your purpose and what you hope to accomplish – be realistic.
- Be clear about what you want to discuss but leave space for the other person too.
- Be open to listening and try not to make up your mind in advance.
- Have an inquiring stance – listen, watch, observe without judgement and without taking anything personally.
- Understand the other person’s perspective but base your thinking on as much evidence as possible and not assumptions.
- Be direct, honest and constructive. Take responsibility for your views, words and actions and don’t dither about getting any bad news out in the open.
- Give the other person space to react and express their views, even if they do this in way that perceive as negative.
- Listen respectfully to the other person without interrupting – repeat and paraphrase what they have said to acknowledge their contributions and make sure you have understood correctly.
- Empathise with the other person’s viewpoint (this does not mean you have to agree with it) and focus and what you are hearing.
- Separate out emotions from the people but acknowledge and respect any emotional energy that emerges.
- Give the conversation your full attention – stay neutral, supportive, compassionate and solutions-focused.
- Be aware of any cultural differences or variations in communication styles – do your best to adapt, be open, flexible and encouraging.
- Manage your emotional state. Remember to breathe, slow down, and stay focussed on the facts.
- Propose constructive options and aim for mutual interest and WIN /WIN rather fixing on a single solution that might work just for you.
- Identify solutions that have positive and appealing benefits for the other person – go back to inquiry if things get sticky.