What To Do When Conversations Stop Being Productive

We want to converse plainly, honestly, and respectfully. We want the others to say what’s on their mind. We want them to give us the same courtesy and let us say what’s on our mind. Then we want to work toward win-win solutions based on our new understanding of each other’s perspective.

But sometimes, they don’t listen. Sometimes, they pause only to formulate their next point or, worse, to find a way to repeat their last point with emphasis. Or rudeness, belligerence, or worse. Normally, these conversations cease to be productive. And we’re left to deal not only with their behaviors but our own reactions.

Here’s a way to reset the conversation and get back to plain, honest, and respectful. When they don’t seem to be listening, try saying something like, “Your response tells me you didn’t hear me. Please allow me give you the gift that I would like you to then give to me. Here is what I heard you say…” Proceed to tell them, in your words, what you heard were their points. Ask them if you got it right. Restate it until you get it right. Then ask for them to do the same.

Feeling and tone are important when using this approach. Best you can, catch and flip your low-buzz feelings. Replace, for instance, your anger (“&^%$#@!!?”) with curiosity (“I wonder how they will respond now?”) or your insult (“How dare they?!”) with care (“I care for you.”) Then speak with a neutral or even caring tone.

Part of the power of this approach comes from demonstrating instead of lecturing. And part of the power is, by you stating their points, giving them nothing to fight you for.


In your corner,


PS: You have the option omit the part about them not hearing you and go straight to “Here’s what I heard you say…” But feel free to respectfully use the full statement (“Your response tells me…”) when softer methods aren’t working.

Today’s photo credit: 5auge cc

Leave a Reply