What to Say When a Conversation Heats Up

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Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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When a conversation turns negative, it’s helpful to have a repertoire of replies at your fingertips. Consider these options:

o Reframe. Cast the issue in a different light. If someone says, “I don’t want to fight about this,” a useful reframe is, “This is a debate, certainly not a fight.”

o Rephrase. Rather than letting offensive words pass, suggest replacements. If someone accuses you of coming on too strongly in a meeting, you might reply, “I was passionate.” If you’re described as stubborn, you could say, “I’m very determined when something is important to a successful effort.”

o Revisit. If you’ve had positive interactions with the person in the past, remind them of their ability to find common ground: “We have a good track record of working together. No reason to change that now.”

o Restate. Give people a chance to reconsider and alter what was said: “Surely there’s another way to say that.”

Adapted from “7 Things to Say When a Conversation Turns Negative,” by Kathleen Kelley Reardon

To check out that HBR article and join the discussion, please click here.

Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.

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