Tips to Make Difficult Conversations More Productive.

We all have been involved in difficult conversations; it is part of life. Although they can be challenging, in terms of our speaking skills, we can work on various techniques to guide us toward a better outcome.

Non-verbal: 
Body language
Avoid sitting at an angle to the person you are addressing. Sit facing them (so your chest faces theirs) to show openness. Lean in slightly. Do not lean back.
Avoid crossing your arms.
Keep your hands loosely folded and, if possible, in sight. Avoid pointing or wagging a finger.
Keep your head straight. Avoid tilting your head back (as though looking down your nose) or tilting to one side; it may come across as doubt/skepticism.

Facial expression
Keep a calm expression. Be careful not to scowl. 

Eye contact
Aim for gentle eye contact. Avoid glaring at them, and do not look only at your notes.

Breathing
Focus on breathing naturally. It will calm both of you.

Verbal:
Tone
Be aware of how you sound and aim for a positive tone. (Get feedback from a trusted colleague if in doubt.)

Pace
Difficult or awkward conversations usually include complex information. Speak slower to allow the listener to absorb the information.

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