Tired of grasping for the right words in certain situations? We problem-solve the stickiest conversations for you, with specific examples of questions and statements that buy you time to think before committing – and keep you in control.
1) When you’re at a loss for words or caught by surprise…
Goal: stall for time so that you can think of an appropriate response.
“Could you tell me more about that?”
“Could you please run that past me again?”
“How do you think I (or the business) should feel about that?”
“So it sounds like what you’re saying is…”
“I hadn’t thought about it from this angle. Let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.”
2) When you’re under attack…
Goal: clarify the other person’s position and where things went wrong.
“Could you tell me more about why you think this idea won’t work?”
“Help me understand what I said to make you feel that way.”
“What would convince you that’s not true?”
“It sounds like your take is that…”
3) When a business relationship is on the rocks…
Goal: elicit ideas about how you can work together successfully.
“What can we do together to solve this problem?”
“Where do we go from here?”
“What can you and I do to get past this?”
4) When a customer complains…
Goal: show your concern and commitment to addressing their complaint.
“Where exactly did we go wrong?”
“What should we have done?”
“How can we make it right for you now?”
“Would it help if we…”
5) When a discussion with a VIP wanders…
Goal: refocus the conversation or bring it to its natural end.
“How can I help you take care of this?”
“What else do we need to take care of today?”
“Are we getting your questions answered?”
“What else can I tell you about?”
6) When you want to encourage high-potential employees…
Goal: show that you value and respect their insights.
“Give me your take on this situation.”
“How does this situation look from where you’re sitting?”
“What do you think we’re missing on this one?”
“How do you think we should tackle this one?
All these titles have specific, actionable techniques with concrete suggestions for specific wording, phrases and talking points.
They do an excellent job of addressing the most common fears: “What will I say if HE says….?” “THEN what will I say?” And so on.
If you struggle with how to counter different responses in a tough conversation, start with the Workscript book. It’s set up like a flow chart so you feel prepared no matter where the conversation ends up going.
If you feel like a doormat for your bosses, employees, customers (and friends and family!), start with Crucial Confrontations.
For scripts, phrases, and talking points:
2) Just about any of the Perfect Phrases or Power Phrases books
Also good, by the Workscript guys:
For general techniques: