Business Discussions and Conversations
Following on from our last blog, we take a further look
at a different angle on communication, specifically conversations and
discussions, both internal and external.
Sometimes discussions simply don’t go well, and sometimes
we simply get conversations wrong. It’s very easy to unwittingly paint either
ourselves or the other party into a corner, from which it can be hard to move
forward without retracting what’s been said, or indeed simply apologising. And
apologising can certainly be very difficult, getting it wrong often just
exacerbates the situation. Here are a few tips.
Use ‘I’ Sentences
Apologising means taking on full responsibility for
something. Say it like it is, for example “I’m sorry that I hurt your
feelings”. According to empirical
research, a person is most likely to forgive and forget if you admit full
Don’t justify your actions
It’s a natural reflex to try and justify your own actions,
but not a good one, because a justification is in effect a denial of the
apology. Most effective is simply an
explanation and an admission of guilt combined.
Avoid “but” sentences
An apology in which the work “but” crops up is almost never
understood as an apology but as an excuse.
Avoid at all costs.
Don’t ask for forgiveness
Asking for forgiveness is rarely effective. According to research, spare yourself the
bother, as nobody likes to grant absolution. Just move on.
Even the most honest apology is worthless if you repeat the
same mistake several times. Making an
apology is above all a commitment to making a change and an offer to make
In summary, psychologists generally agree that conflicts
need to be dealt with, but the question is how?
The American psychologist Marshall B Rosenberg developed the idea of
“nonviolent communication” based on the premise that it’s not what you say, but
how you say it. There appears to be some truth in that, as long we don’t allow
ourselves to indulge in aggressive language, which can only lead to
counter-aggression or submissive subjugation.
But why is all this so difficult to do? Often, we ourselves are the problem. Take the so-called “attribution error”. If we
arrive too late, there was a lot of traffic.
If others arrive late, they set off too late. We are by nature prone to
pass judgement, and it’s always easier to blame someone else than to think
about why something happened. Avoiding this is the key – acknowledge
needs and take them seriously, and express clear objectives,for example “Please
tell me what you need, so we can talk about it”.
7 August 2019