Whether the conversation you’re about to have is relaxed, unexpected or difficult, it’s important to begin in the right way. If you can, leading a conversation with the end goal in mind is important, and particularly helpful if it’s a tricky conversation. So, how do you do that?
Begin with the right questions!
One good question to start with is by asking them something along the lines of ‘what would you like to have happen?’ This question gives you the ability to see the end goal in sight right from the very beginning, giving the conversation a platform to reach its conclusion.
Beginning with this question is also important when one person in a conversation isn’t as confident or is uncomfortable, as it allows them to get their point of view across.
Be In The Right Frame of Mind
Being in the right state emotionally is an indicator of whether the conversation should go ahead or not. If you’re not feeling on top of things emotionally or have the right environment cues then it may be best to delay the conversation, especially if it has the potential to be a difficult talk.
It’s also good to be aware of the other person in the conversation as well, and to be aware of how they’re feeling. If you feel that they’re not in a great place on an emotional level, it may be worth postponing the conversation or perhaps moving it to a safer environment. For example, it might be a discussion that shouldn’t take place in the middle of a busy office, so why not move it to a private room where you both might feel more comfortable and have the confidence to speak more openly.
How to ask and how to listen?
When it comes to a conversation, it’s important to make sure you’re speaking clearly while also making eye contact with the recipient.
It’s also important to allow the other person time to respond, giving them ample time to take the question in, consider their answers and respond in kind. You should also not just jump straight into a response the moment they’ve finished answering, as they may want to provide you with a more detailed answer and just jumping in will cut them off and make them feel uncomfortable.
As the listener, you will also want to ensure that you can get as much of a response as possible before continuing your part of the conversation. It will help you to make better and more informed decisions on how you can continue to converse.
Open vs Closed Questions
You’ll also want to think about how you phrase your first question. If you want a direct answer, going with a closed question would be best, as this will limit the potential answers from the other person. However, closed questions can heighten stress in the conversation as it limits the response.
Open questions have the potential for a more free-flowing and relaxed conversation, usually better for both parties. Instead of a closed question like: ‘Did you finish the project?’ an open question like: ‘How is the project going?’ will give you more insight into what is happening. It will allow the recipient to let you know its status and share ideas or thoughts they might have on the process. This wouldn’t happen with the closed question.
How to have better conversations
To discover more questions that can start a conversation in the right way, make sure to sign up for our Better Conversations course.
On the course, you’ll discover how to stop conflict in communication before it starts, learn the 3-part secret to tough conversations, discover the key to being a great listener and so much more.