Managing interactions. Where to start?

Published by Cristina Pana on

In the previous blog post  I wrote about miscommunication and what it may be shaped liked. Managing interactions is a day to day job and sometimes it can be balanced. And other times, it just doesn’t work as we expected. You can blame it on bad coffee, on the other person, but it won’t help making the matter better.

In our programs, one of our core role is to be facilitators. To be supportive and bring out the best thinking in others, so collective intelligence can be maximised.  We must act in ways that will make the process / work easier for teams to understand and do. So they can get closer in accomplishing their objective. 

We often enable and guide people through difficult conversations or conflicts. It happens sometimes. A bad review, a heavy retrospective, a long planning that made us even more confused. Or an imbalance between business – product – people needs. It is demanding work, as we need to stay focused on the issue and the people, while managing interactions and ourselves in the same time. 

Managing interactions where to start
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

How can we make our interactions desirable or effective? 

You can start with reading about it.

With this in mind, I recommended you two books to start with. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen. It is a practical book on how to approach tough conversations and turn them into successful ones.

The Power of Pause: How to Be More Effective in a Demanding, 24/7 World by Nance Guilmartin. In the book, the author describes her formula or technique that can you can use to tackle these communication derails:  Pause (Presence of Mind) + Curiosity + Humility = Professional Effectiveness and Personal Fulfillment

Before joining a meeting, I always prepare.

If I am driving the meeting, I make an agenda and share it with the attendees. I know who will participate and how touchy the subject may be. Therefore I imagine the meeting, how Iwithout bounding myself to my scenarios. If I am a participant I check how I think / feel about the topic. And how can I contribute. And if I am having a bad day, how not to be in the way or disrupt my colleagues.

Conflicts? No problem, as long as they are effective.

If you don’t understand or agree with something make it explicit. Without being overly polite. Or the reverse, becoming hostile. You can rephrase to clarify your ideas or to show your understanding of what was discussed so far. It is your responsibility as well to be understood and to understand. 

When things go wild, acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. And respectfully remind about the outcome or objective of meeting so you can bring people on the same ground again.  Also, take a break. It is always a good way to ease a tense moment.

Photo by Andreea Mares
Be aware on how you receive the information.

Everyone has expectations, feelings and inner thoughts that are louder. I had the chance to interact with a trainer specialized in non-verbal communication. I learned about the four ways we can react to a message : judgement towards others, judgement towards myself, empathy towards myself, empathy towards others.

Going through this awareness stages may improve the quality of your answer. Also, you take back control over the response rather than reacting quickly. 

Let the silence be silent.

Give people time to process how they are feeling and what they wish to say. Don’t cut people off who may be trying to find their words. This is something I stumble upon, the awkwardness of the silence. Think of it this way. The silence gives time to think, to recollect. It can show that a break is needed to re-energize. 

To summarize the blog post in few bullets:
  • Read books or other resources 
  • Rephrase and clarify assumptions
  • Be explicit without hiding under the coat of politeness
  • Practice nonviolent communication
  • Prepare yourself and the content before a conversation
  • Try not to fill the silences and invite people to share their thoughts 
  • Take breaks when needed

Managing interactions in an effective way takes practice. I hope this helped and if you are looking for facilitation techniques, we wrote about one here. And stay tuned, as we plan to follow-up with more content.

Header Photo by Antenna on Unsplash.


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