This is the second of the blog posts based on the top ten most read Straight Talk Tips that go to my clients each month. The tips are free and you can sign up for them here

Challenges and choices Re-title : How to plan better conversations

Every conversation that we hold presents challenges and choices.

The biggest challenge is often whether to speak up at all. Many of us choose to be silent around sensitive or difficult topics in conversations, rather than face the possibility of conflict, embarrassment, feeling stupid or even damaging the relationship by saying what is on our minds.

When you don’t speak up, problems seldom come to the surface on their own, and so they tend to simmer, unresolved, for weeks or even years. The silence might be interspersed with explosions of frustration or anger but these usually do not result in any rational conversation around the real issue, and so it continues.

When you decide not to speak up you are choosing to accept the role of victim, and so you open yourself up to a relationship that includes disrespect and abuse. When you do decide to speak up, you can change your life. It may not be easy, but the rewards is that when you face reality, deal with the real problems and their emotional baggage, you can move on with your life.

Within a conversation there are other choices to make. You can choose to plan what you say before you speak, and have conversations that are rational and constructive: or you can let your emotions take over and accept the consequences. When emotions take over, you may come across as more blaming and accusing than you mean to be, and the consequences may be more than you bargained for.

You can choose the interactive style with which you will approach a conversation. You can ask questions and listen, so that you consider the views of others. Or you can go with the certainty that you always know what is right and what is wrong and that you have got all the facts you need. On your own you might make faster decisions, but with others on board you could make better decisions.

You can choose to disclose your own feelings and acknowledge the feelings of others in a conversation. If you do, you will talk about real issues and develop more authentic relationships. If you don’t, you’re choosing a life of superciliousness.

When you try to find solutions to problems, you can choose to gain the commitment of others to joint plans and schemes, or you can use power to get your own way. With power you can enforce compliance, but it may not bring with it much enthusiasm, energy or creativity.

It’s all about choices. Be sure you make good ones.

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