In a difficult conversation, our default reactions can lead to unproductive outcomes.
You’ll perform better in those tough moments if you’re conscious of how you want to react.
- Know your defaults. Make a list of daily interpersonal situations, like meetings, conversations, negotiations, and conflicts. Then identify your default behaviors — interrupting, becoming aggressive, micromanaging, or jumping to conclusions.
- Plan your overrides. Before these challenging moments arise, envision how you’d ideally like to respond. For instance, if you want to overcome your tendency to interrupt, rehearse being a more active, engaged listener.
- Design your days. Self-control varies across a day and a workweek. Why schedule high-conflict conversations before lunch or at the end of the day? If your morning becomes unexpectedly difficult, reshuffle your afternoon to avoid letting a snide comment or criticism slip.