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Taking The Heat Out Of Heated Discussions




SCENARIO - Your project is going well, no unusual issues have come up. But on a Friday afternoon your client calls uncharacteristically agitated and wants to meet Monday morning about several issues he and the owner are unhappy about. He hangs up. Now you are dreading the Monday morning meeting.

How can you prepare for it without knowing what the problem is? The best approach is to prepare your thought. You prepare by committing to being calm, to listening, to being open to criticism and to putting your own opinions aside so you can work together towards a mutually agreeable resolution.


IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A HEATED DISCUSSION, EMPLOY THESE 4 CRUCIAL ACTIONS

  1. Keep calm, don’t rise to their level of emotion. Slow the conversation; carefully choose your words.

  2. Relieve the pressure by letting them talk until they seem to have vented their views.

  3. Proceed with a collaborative mindset. Put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective.

  4. Strive for a common ground, win-win solution.


WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Invalidate their point of view.

  • Become defensive or place blame.

  • Allow distractions (answering/checking phone, permitting interruptions).

  • Take anything personally.

  • Get caught up in the emotion and over-commit in your resolution.


WHAT TO SAY

  • “Please tell me how things happened from your perspective.”

  • Reflect back to them, “So if I understand correctly, your concern is …”

  • “I can see how that would be frustrating/concerning/misleading/etc.”

  • “If we could still finish on time, would that set things right with your team?”

  • “This may seem like a set-back, but let’s see how we can overcome it and still meet our objectives.”

  • “If it’s OK with you, I’d like to explore what we could do differently going forward to avoid a similar situation.”


THE TAKE-AWAY - Listen with the intent to understand. Convey the desire to work together to resolve the situation, but don’t over-commit.


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