Conversations lay seeds that can flourish into thriving personal and/or business relationships, ones that succumb to the weeds of misunderstanding and judgment.

I have come up with a few tips and tricks that can improve the flow and outcome of any conversation.

A well-timed question can be the difference between a wrong assumption and a mutual understanding. Too often, we place blame rather than placing inquiry. A simple question can help you avoid the afterthought of, “If only I asked a question, there could have been peace.”

Be clear on your intentions for the conversation. For example, are you engaging to persuade the person to see things your way? Or are you conversing to understand them? Spoiler alert, it’s hard to dislike someone you understand, even if you may disagree with them.

Explore your own biases. Are you steadfast in an opinion or belief so much that any opposition to it feels like a threat? Are you acting out on that threat in your own words? Are you “clapping back” when you don’t have to?

Be aware of the role that biology is playing in your response. A survival feature of pack animals, otherwise known as mirror neurons, are a type of brain cell that fires when you perform an action and watch someone else perform that same action. Use self-awareness to reflect the opposite behavior. For example, if your colleague is erratic and abrasive in a conversation, aim for composed and grounded.

For my storytellers, here is a warning: Stories can be great in a conversation, but they don’t be a conversational narcissist—make sure you do equal talking and listening by asking for their stories as well.

Finally, be aware of any power dynamics. Yes, I’m looking at you coaches, therapists, supervisors, managers, and directors. Conversations will undoubtedly go southward if one or both parties play into the constraints that labels can create. Look out for an imbalance of power dynamics and whether you play a role in it. It can be evidenced by a few overpowering voices or the silence of others.

Basically, the lesson you can take from this is to be aware of the power you have over a conversation. Remember to remain calm. Remember who you are and the impact you can make in someone’s life from the words you speak. You are in control.

Until next time!

Be Powerful. Be Present.
Beatrice Faulkner, CEG M.S.
Life by Design Coach