Keep These Ideas in Mind to Create a Better Experience for Everyone

I’ve gained a reputation as a good resource when it’s time to have a tough talk. (I’m not sure if that’s a compliment …)

Of course it’s always easier when you’re not the one who has to do it. But I have noticed some commonalities about the talks that go sideways:

  1. The need to be rightwhich too often becomes the most important thing to one or more of the parties — and in extreme cases, a compulsion to make the other person or people wrong
  2. The need to complain, because people feel wronged and insist on cataloging all of the injustices, while others experience this as whining and tune them out
  3. The need for an apology, with people on every side believing the other one owes them this
  4. The need to feel superior, which often is about occupying the moral high ground
  5. The need to make the other person speak first, because we’ve heard that, in negotiations, whoever talks first loses
  6. The need to have the last wordbecause that can equate with “winning”

We’ve all done one or more of these things. And when we do, this usually results in walking away from the conversation feeling dissatisfied.

That happens, in part, because the person on the receiving end reacts to what we’re saying and doing and, stubbornly, refuses to give us what we “need.”

My Uncle Jug used to have a sign in his garage: “When you’re up to your a** in alligators, it’s hard to remember the original objective was to drain the swamp.”

Here are two ideas to keep the gators away from your hindquarters in a difficult situation.

When we approach difficult conversations unprepared, we lose sight of the most important idea: that we can work together to make a situation better!

If you could use it, here’s a system to prepare for and have a tough talk.

In the meantime, find ways to drain your mental swamp of those six negative mindsets that screw up any contentious conversation. Maybe it’s one of my favorites: the brown thought cloud.

Come into this situation being the person you wish the other party would be. Remember: moods are contagious. When you choose to be your best self, you automatically help others to do the same!