These techniques will cover both verbal and non-verbal strategies to help you calm down and get through the difficult talk. Once you master this, you can teach others as well, and thereby reduce office friction.
Okay, here are the Top 7 Tips to communicating calmly with clients and co-workers:
1 – Look at the person you are talking to. Make eye contact without staring. That means look at them when they are trying to make a point or explain something important, and also look at their eyes when you are explaining something important. You should be making eye contact about 75% of the time, more or less. Relax your facial muscles to avoid showing tenseness, and if appropriate, smile a little bit (about 5%) as you listen, to show your friendliness and openness to the person and the topic.
2 – Use open body language. Square your body and hips to the person. Relax your shoulders and lean in slightly without over-doing it and invading personal space. Avoid crossing your arms, legs or ankles (no matter how comfortable it may seem) because it really is a 'reassurance gesture' that just lets others know you are either nervous, closed or uncomfortable. it also encourages the other person(s) to adopt the same body language. Regarding your hands, do not point, use gestures with fists or interlocked fingers or other close-handed gestures. Use open-palmed ones instead to show non-aggression, and keep your hands within sight - not under the table on your lap. We humans need to see your empty hands in order to truly trust you - it's an evolutionary thing!
3 – Breathe. Breathe before, during and after your difficult or heated discussion. If necessary take a few seconds or a minute before responding to collect your thoughts. Count to ten if you need to. Breathing calmly into your nose for a few seconds, then out the mouth for a handful more, will always help calm you down. Try ti now, as an exercise. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this a few times and you will feel more relaxed and focused.
4 – Control your pace. It is not a race right? Say a few words or a phrase, then take a quick pause, then continue with a few more words or the next phrase. Think how most politicians and ministers speak; calm, cool and in control. It is strong but not aggressive, and that is what we are after. We want the heart rates to clam down, and this technique will help control the blood flow.
5 – Use positive language. Instead of saying the first thing that jumps in your head, which is usually an emotional reaction and not a logical retort, ask yourself internally if there is a softer, less aggressive way to say what you want to say. Start by taking out emotionally charged words and phrases, and refrain from using judgmental language. We do not need to blame or accuse others. Instead of pointing the proverbial finger, just speak about your own feelings and expectations first. Ask questions to clarify or give the person a chance to explain themselves. Staying positive helps keeps things from getting personal and out of control. It is very difficult to have a healthy conversation or persuade someone to do what you want when they feel under attack. They will resist everything you say, regardless of any logic presented.
6 – Do not shout. Ever. If you feel the need to talk louder than the other person, that means you are not listening. Be quiet and listen first before you make your points. Use medium volume in your speaking. If someone shouts at you do not engage in conversation until they are calmed down. Shouting is simply not necessary to convey your points. Do not get caught up in a shouting match. Lower your voice, speak calmly and clearly, and encourage the other person to join you in a professional tone.
7 – Do not argue. It is fine to state what you want, need or feel, but it is not okay to argue and treat a conversation like a competition. Competitions are for sports and games with rules. If you think that you must ‘win’ the argument that means you are forcing the other person to ‘lose’. How does it feel when you lose at something? Not so good right? Do not make another person feel that way, especially a person you (want to) work with every day, or a client or vendor who can provide good business opportunities. Do you really want them to feel like a ‘loser’? How will that help your business? So remember, you can discuss and disagree, but you cannot argue.
Put these effective communication skills to good use every day and also encourage others to adapt them. There is no reason why people cannot be expressive without being upset and unprofessional. Now is a great time to invest in your success!