Ten powerful ways to get your message across in hard-to-have conversations

Treat them as the jury – In any crucial conversation you invariably are seeking something from somebody, either to take some action or stop doing something.

Less is better – When there is a need to be critical of either someone or their actions, make the comments as brief as possible in order to increase your chances of being heard and understood.

Respect and connection – Regardless of your personal feelings about someone, take all opportunities of demonstrating a polite and courteous manner toward them.

Mix in some positives with the negatives – A total critical focus only achieves two closed ears so always acknowledge the inevitable positive about someone.

What to avoid when expressing strong feelings – holus-bolus venting of anger and exaggeration, fixed and extreme positions.

What to strive for when expressing strong feelings – Balance directness with careful choices of what to say, timing and some control.

Avoid assuming the worst of intent – While the actions of others may have negative impacts, their intensions may well be good or neutral.

State your reasonableness – Express your strength of feeling and your desire for a honest conversation to sort out a fair way of dealing with the problem.

Perspective – In most conflicts it’s usually necessary to keep the balance between the small picture and big picture, importance of task versus people, and the past versus the future.

Back-tracking – If the dialogue does not go well, pause and try something different.