While you can’t plan all conversations in advance, there are many conversations that benefit from a plan. When you prepare yourself before you start a conversation, you are much more likely to deliver an effective message. You’re also more likely to be understood and deliver the right message to the right person.
However, sometimes you run into people in the hallway and a conversation starts. Or, sometimes you’ll be having a casual conversation that leads to a work conversation. In these cases, you have to think on your feet. If you keep these four steps in mind, you can get on track even if you have to talk at the spur of the moment.
1 – Have a purpose
Do you want to inform or direct, persuade, or to ask a question? Perhaps, you want to uncover the other person’s purpose, too.
2 – Have an outcome
Determine your desired outcome as you decide how to approach the conversation.
- What reaction are you expecting from the other person?
- What is important for the other person to remember after the conversation?
- What do you want the other person to do after you talk?
3 – Make sure the receiver is ready
Some people won’t appreciate you approaching them without warning. Others will permit it if you ask permission first. If you can’t tell if a person is ready for a discussion, try these icebreakers:
- Is this a convenient time for us to chat?
- I’ve been thinking about something. Can we talk about it?
- May I have 10 minutes of your time? (Make sure you stick to just 10 minutes!)
4 – Apply positive intent
Positive intent means you have good reasons for saying and doing what you do, and so do other people. If you assume that other people have negative intentions behind their actions, you can create a negative environment. Eventually, the outcome will be negative. This can make it difficult to work cooperatively. You must practice positive intent and use communication for good intentions.