Who's Arguing! - Tip #29
Conversations are the conduit we use to connect with other people, and these conversations are just as important during an initial introduction as they are with a dear friend whom we've known since childhood.
Knowing the importance of a business contact, we plan and prepare topics for conversations before critical meetings or functions. We do this so we have a relaxed, yet professional demeanor when we're talking to colleagues and clients. The benefits of this preparation help to establish us as someone that others want "on their team". Because we know these conversations are important, we make the effort to use a pleasant tone of voice.
Typically, conversations we have with family members, friends and neighbors don't require the high level of preparation and planning that our business conversations may demand. But to be a good conversationalist, we do need to pay attention to our tone of voice and not be argumentative when we talk to people we know well.
At Public Functions - Don't Argue
We know that being a good guest requires us to have a positive attitude when we attend a business or social function. This positive attitude also extends to our interactions with our spouse or significant other who is with us at the function. We may be having 'a misunderstanding' with that person, but we need to leave those discussions at home.
Having an argument at a social function disrupts the event for everyone else attending, and is extraordinarily inconsiderate to the host and hostess. Other people in attendance don't want to become a part of the argument, nor do they want to be a witness to it. So not only is it important to not verbally argue, it's important to not behave in a manner that makes it clear to others that 'you'll be continuing a disagreement once you leave'.
Even a brief rude or derogatory comment made to an individual will make others within earshot feel very uncomfortable. So each of us needs to develop a 'public persona' which means that unpleasant personal matters are never brought out in a public venue.
At Home - Don't be argumentative
Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially when we're talking to a family member or close friend and the topic is an emotional one. Because of our human nature we tend to develop behavioral habits with the people we are closest to. Most of these ‘habits’ are good ones, but occasionally we may develop some that aren't very pleasant. When we have a stressful day it's easy to come home and 'let off steam' at those we care about, and before we know it, this behavior can become a pattern or habit without realizing it.
A few years ago I discovered I had developed a bad habit of arriving home every day for a full week in a grouchy, argumentative mood because of an unusually stressful situation. So not only did I have the added stress at work, but I had also generated an unpleasant environment at home, and I was the one creating it!
On my way home Friday evening, a light bulb went on in my brain and I realized what I had been doing all week long, so I decided then and there to change it. From that experience I developed a plan that has served me well even to this day. I selected a street corner where I turned from a busy street onto a street in my neighborhood. At this point I consciously focused on the fact that I was heading home. This logical, simplistic realization forced me to consciously take control of how I was feeling and to pro-actively change my mood. It worked. I arrived home in a pleasant state of mind and enjoyed the rest of the evening, rather than wasting the time being frustrated and upset, as I'd done the previous evenings.
Because of this new habit, I now arrive home in a good mood (or if it's been a particularly bad day, I'm at least 'in neutral'.) This ‘trained response’ has now become automatic and every time I make that turn, I mentally say to myself, "Kim, how nice that you're headed home now." I can physically feel the difference and I'm in a better frame of mind when I arrive home and see my family.
I've even used this technique when I'm driving to someone else's home or to a meeting that I know may be stressful. The momentary focus to make sure I'm in a positive frame of mind sets up a situation in which I can be more relaxed and confident. By doing this, my breathing isn't shallow and my throat isn't tense; so when I talk, my tone of voice isn't irritating to others.
In Business Meetings - Keep disagreements in the meeting
In a business environment we have frequent conversations with colleagues, and some of those discussions may become heated when conflicting ideas and agendas are 'on the table'. There are times when it's important to the success of a project or a company that critical information or viewpoints are discussed.
These discussions are normal and appropriate within the context of a "closed business meeting". Just keep in mind though, it's important to maintain our composure when we're discussing our points of view. Having factual information to back it up is important, as well as maintaining professionalism in our tone of voice.
We also need to remember that once we leave the meeting, our discussion should not continue in front of other employees. The saying, "There's a time and place for everything" certainly imparts wisdom in these situations.
Life is filled with small conflicts and unexpected or unpleasant surprises. The classy person realizes this, and does his or her best to not address them in a public forum. If there is a need for a conversation about the conflict, it's done in private.
I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next week. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum where you can ask your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.
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