Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
While not all conversations can be planned ahead (for example, sometimes we bump into someone in a hallway and the conversation starts, or we’re just engaged in casual conversations), there are many conversations that benefit from a plan. When you prepare yourself before initiating a conversation, you are much more likely to deliver an effective message that doesn’t get misunderstood, and to deliver it to the right person.
Techniques for the Workplace
Have a purpose.
Typical purposes for a conversation are to inform or direct, to persuade, or to ask a question.
Have an outcome.
Ask yourself a few questions to help you decide how to approach the conversation:
- What reaction are you looking for from the listener?
- What do you need the listener to remember?
- What do you need the listener to do after your conversation?
Make sure the receiver is ready.
Some people resent it when we pounce on them unannounced. Others are much more receptive when you simply ask permission. If you are unsure if someone is ready to talk, try these helpful icebreakers:
- Is this a good time to talk?
- Can we talk about something I’ve been thinking about?
- Would now be a good time to talk, or should I come back later?
- Can I have 15 minutes of your time? (Just make sure you stick to only 15 minutes!)
Apply positive intent.
Positive intent means that you have good reasons for saying and doing what you do, and so do other people. If we assume that other people have negative intentions behind their actions, we can create a negative environment where that is the eventual outcome. This can make it very hard to work cooperatively. You will have to practice positive intention yourself and use your communication for good intentions, while assuming that others have that same positive intention.
This ultimately means that we avoid making negative assumptions and statements, that we avoid gossip, and that we focus on the future rather than the past.