Difficult Communication Settings – Effective Communication Skills for Tough Situations
Whether you are a kid or an adult, there is an abundance of difficult communication settings that you will face in your day-to-day routine. From a trivial argument to a difficult interview, most of us may not plan what to say or do especially when faced with such a uncomfortable scenario. We tend to forget that one of the strongest weapons we have to deal with these scenarios is our ability to speak. Just by stringing selected words together and structuring them in a specific manner, you can persuade or even move an audience!
Ironically, from our experience, the older our students get, the more difficult they find to steel themselves for a difficult communication setting. Perhaps, as we grow older and gain more experience, we start to watch our words or overthink about the outcomes of our actions. To us, this bravery to speak and deal with difficult communication settings stem from the confidence in the plan you have in mind. The difficulty with most of these situations arise because these situations come without warning. With no time to plan, we start to panic, hide ourselves, and avoid resolving the situation.
It is not impossible to calm your mind and focus on building a plan from a scaffold. Let us share three simple scenarios and the scaffold that you or your child can use!
Scenario #1: That Difficult … Argument
The base difficult communication scenario is the trivial or difficult argument that you may have. For this, we are not referring to your meeting discussion or proposal setting where you have your materials ready. Instead, this may arise out of a simple misunderstanding, even with a stranger, that escalates considerably. While we would caution that this technique may not apply based on the communication context, here’s a quick three-step approach that may help in such a scenario.
First, try to de-escalate or de-emphasise the conflict. While this is an obvious point, remember to listen more and react less. Instead of having a ready response to every retort, pause and gather information first. Active listening body language such as nodding or sustained eye contact, may even lower your partner’s guard. Second, try to focus on the reasons instead of the person. This means understanding both the logical and emotional position of your argument partner to understand where they are coming from. Third, if all else fails and the conflict escalates, remember to disengage and retreat where necessary. Part of an effective communications strategy is the ability to know when the spoken word is insufficient. In such a scenario, you may agree to disagree or simply arrange another slot to continue the argument, giving you time to consolidate and prepare.
Scenario #2: That Difficult … Long Presentation
This is a common scenario for our students (both kids and adults!). What if I have to give a very long presentation? Even if you have no control over the duration of the presentation, it is still within your power to manage the experience of the presentation. Just because you are allocated a full hour for a presentation does not immediately mean that you must prepare an hour’s worth of talking to your audience.
We have shared about pattern break activities before that help to break the attention of your audience and give them something refreshing at crucial points. This may include an interactive session, a check-in session, or even an actual time break to change the monotony of the presentation. Adopt more story/experience-based sharing instead of fixating on the content, without more. This is useful, especially for your child, if they find themselves at a loss over how to fill the time.
Scenario #3: That Difficult … High-Stakes Situation
The final situation we will cover is the usual high-stakes situation such as an interview, a first presentation, or a generally stressful situation. While each of these scenarios can take up an entire article or course on their own, some general techniques can be distilled. You can apply these general techniques as a starting point for most of these scenarios.
The obvious starting point is to stay calm, especially if you find yourself in the high-stakes situation by surprise. Focus on relevant breathing techniques or pivot your mind to focus on your content (such as your first sentence) before diving in. Adopt content-building thought processes which will help your mind to focus on building content before framing them. For example, asking yourself open-ended questions may help you to craft the content relevant to the scenario. Finally, your structure is your vessel, once you are sufficiently calmed down, incorporate transition phrases or maintain a clear overall structure, such as finishing with an emphatic conclusion.
Calm Down … and [Make] It Easy!
We know that it is easier said than done. Difficult communication scenarios are uncomfortable, and we are more likely to avoid them completely instead of facing them head-on. However, it is these same situations that can help you and your child to grow as confident and competent communicators. Have an open sharing with your child about your respective difficult communication settings and find out how you deal with them. You may already be applying the techniques above without knowing it – now, it’s all about perfecting them!
By the way…
If you’re keen to take your persuasive speaking & pitching skills (either business/corporate presentation or kids in-class presentation) to the next level so that you may public speak and present with flair and charisma, feel free to check out our offerings below!
For more about our Public Speaking Course for Adults :
For more about our Public Speaking Course for Kids / Children:
WATCH: How To Impress with Elevator Pitch & Speech Crafting Tips | #SpeakUP 003