You start the conversation.  You know it will be a difficult one.  Suddenly you see the other person squint their eyes, purse their lips and pull away from the table.  What should you do?

At times like this I am continually amazed at the usual response people give.  Usually I see the speaker forge ahead and move to trying to “sell” their idea or thought to the other person.  This is essentially like someone continuing to speak while a solid wall is being put up in front of them.

This is the time to stop talking and acknowledge the emotion in the room.  You can’t ignore what you are seeing and feeling from the other person.

You might say something like, “I sense this is frustrating you and that is not my intention.”   Then let the other person vent so you can find out what is frustrating about it and how to get back to clarity of discussion.

There are also times where you are not in the right spot emotionally to talk.  At those times, I recommend you do NOT talk.  Buy yourself breathing time otherwise your brain will be hijacked and you will say things you regret.  A great way to buy time is to say, “I know we need to talk about this and I realize that right now I won’t be able to listen to you properly.  How does your schedule look for us to talk about this tomorrow?”

Emotions will direct the brain in interpreting what happens in a discussion so make sure yours are working for you and not against you!