So what do you do? Having a plan helps to build confidence going into a crucial conversation. Try this format:
1. Get clear on what you truly want, then focus on that goal. If we just know we're upset but don't really know what we want, we flounder. It might be an objective to get money back that you loaned to a friend. Or it might be to turn down a request from a coworker without damaging the relationship.
2. Get right to the point. Lengthy prefaces and explanations about the backstory just make the other person nervous and delays the inevitable. It's best to be clear and get right to the point.
3. Start with yourself. It's tempting to blame others for our position in stressful situations or failed communications. Starting with yourself is much easier to hear and a softer start-up to a difficult conversation.
4. Try a DEAR MAN. Thinking through the following acronym can really help improve clear, concise communication:
Describe the situation. Stick to the facts. No judgements or interpretations. Ex: "My lease is up and I'm scheduled
to move in two weeks."
Express your feelings and opinions. Ex: "I'm panicked because I don't have help and I don't think I can do it
Assert your wishes. Ask for what you want or say no clearly. Be specific. Ex: "Would you be willing to help me
move a week from Saturday at noon? I imagine it'll take about four hours."
Reinforce the positive in the situation. Ex: "I would really appreciate it, and also, I'll buy lunch."
(stay) Mindful and keep your focus on your goal. Don't be distracted to another topic. Ex: "So, can you help me
Appear confident with tone of voice, body language, and maintaining eye contact. Don't look at the floor or speak
Negotiate. Be willing to give in order to get. Ex: "What if we barter? I'll help you clean your gutters."
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson
Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Effectiveness module