Sooner or later, most of us will want or need support from others to pursue a goal or bring about change. Perhaps it’s asking for a pay rise. Or talking to your partner about a career move that will significantly impact your free time, finances or location. Whatever your goal, here are some tips to help you succeed in high-stakes conversations.
- Prepare. Just like you would for an important meeting or presentation, prepare for the conversation.
- Be clear about your intentions. Think about your aims for the conversation and the impact you want to have. Write these down.
- Stand in the shoes of the other. The better you can understand their point of view and perspective, the more you’ll be able to create the opportunity to influence. Ask yourself “what’s in it for them”? How might they benefit from helping or supporting you? What do you want them to think, feel, and do after speaking to you? Write it down.
- Take care of yourself. If nerves are a factor (which is normal, by the way), take the time to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. Get enough rest and nutrition, and slow down your breathing. And by all means pick a “good” day – but don’t let it be an excuse to delay the chat indefinitely.
- Break it up if you need to. A conversation doesn’t need to have its beginning, middle and end in one sitting. Better to pause and regroup, rather than go too far or off the rails. It’s very reasonable to say: “let’s pause this for now, give us both a chance to think a bit more and revisit tomorrow or next week”.
- Pick a suitable setting. Sitting in the park might be better than making a phone call while you’re on the bus. Going out for coffee might be better than sitting across a desk.
- Listen actively. Make sure the other person is and feels heard, even if, or particularly if, you aren’t in agreement with them. Show that you are listening – build on their ideas, repeat back what they say (check your understanding), let them finish their sentences, keep eye contact, and be warm if appropriate.
If you are feeling stuck or just want support to prepare for a career conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help.
[This post is an adaptation of our original blog published 4 July 2017.]