It’s time to have THAT conversation. In fact, it is probably long overdue. It could be a conversation that you are looking forward to, a job interview perhaps. And it also might be one that you are dreading, like a tough feedback discussion. Whether you are excited, conflicted, fearful, or anxious about it, successfully having an important conversation calls for preparation.
Why? Because for any communication that you (or others) care about, preparing helps you to reflect on your intentions and goals, consider factors that may affect the conversation, and make it more likely that things will turn out the way you want them to. When I prepare for an important conversation, I use a 4P framework that you may find helpful too.
Plan – take time to put steps in place that will support the conversation. Ask yourself:
- What outcome do I want?
- What is the purpose of the conversation?
Planning also means selecting the best time and location for the conversation. Is this best discussed over coffee or lunch, in your office or theirs, in a meeting room? Research is also a part of planning. What do you need to know? How can you find that out, and from whom?
Perspective – Thinking through and understanding your viewpoints, concerns, and needs, as well as those of the other person, will also help you to prepare for an important conversation. Do a little digging if it’s someone that you do not know well. Seek out others who know them better. Go online and learn about them. To get clear on the perspectives impacting the conversation, ask yourself:
- Why is this important to me? To them?
- What is their goal?
- How might I see this if I was in their shoes?
Positivity – Whether this is a happy discussion or a difficult conversation, approaching the interaction with positive intent and energy will help to put you and keep you in a productive and open mindset. When we are positive, our peripheral vision expands, and we’re more able to see possibilities and solutions we might have otherwise missed. When we are positive, we approach others as if they have good intentions and reasons for their perspectives, and this openness often engenders openness and willingness to collaborate from the person we’re in conversation (or conflict) with. Ask yourself:
- What do I want for this person?
- How can I have this conversation while preserving, and perhaps strengthening (and definitely not destroying), our relationship?
- What could be our best possible outcome, and how can I help move us forward in that way?
Practice – Sometimes saying the words out loud and testing different ways to open the conversation (often the hardest part!) can put you at ease and give you more confidence going into the actual conversation. Practice with a trusted friend or colleague or by yourself in front of a mirror. Practice with your coach, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Jot down a few notes that will help you stay focused and on track.
Working the 4Ps of preparation will ensure that you enter any important conversation with more clarity, understanding, and confidence.
How do you prepare for important conversation?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
To learn more about ways to have more productive and impactful conversations at work, contact Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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