Are you always fully confident when you have to announce some news or share a new idea in a meeting?
How do you prepare for a difficult meeting?
For professional or personal reasons, we often or sometimes have to break some news to others, positive and negative.
Have you felt the butterfly in your tummy when you have to deal with people who don’t make feel at ease immediately?
I am going to pick on a very personal encounter. I have to prepare for a meeting with the father of my child who has not lived with me since our son was 1.
The relationship is usually stable during the term with some hiccups with holiday arrangements.
However, my whole approach to the meeting is based around 2 core principles
-A child needs both Mum and Dad and that even if we are not together anymore, we ought to find a way of dealing with each other amicably for the sake of the child.
-Do not talk of ill of the other parents to the child as the child will suffer, avoid bringing your emotional baggage to the child. If you do not get on, it is better to keep it to yourself. I actually learnt that one from my daughter’s father who used to turn round calmy when I yelled and screamed at the door and simply said “I will talk to you when you are prepared to talk to me instead of yelling
Anyhow, going back to the father of my son ( who is not the same person as the father of my daughter- it does get complicated!) I have to break some news which might unsettle him and I want the best outcome for Leon, myself and his dad too
1/ Set a positive intention to the meeting: what do you want ultimately to happen? Think win- win instead of just getting your own way, are you doing it for the child’s sake or are you doing it out of convenience or for your own personal satisfaction?
2/ Choose a time and a place which would be suited to both and would invite to constructive discussion instead of just by the front door with a “ By the way”. I am alert in the mornings and my ex is similar to me so I have chosen the morning. It will be also after he has dropped leon off to school so it will minimize to and fro for me. The place is a cafe, a public place and I actually said I would buy a drink. People are less likely to scream or yell at you if they get angry than in their or yours house.
3/ Prepare the meeting : research the arguments online, produce some documents for him to see, make sure he has the right to argue, any last minute photocopying
4/ Come with a smile on your face and use small talk to catch up first. Preferably mention how wonderful your son/daughter is.
5/ Start with the chit chat and the feel good factor: how are you and how is everything at the moment? It is better to ask about the other one as he will be more relaxed afterwards.
6/ I have 3 different things I want to raise tomorrow, I have ordered them from the positive to the difficult to the negative . Even with the negative, I am going to start with
“Have you noticed anything, what is your opinion or feeling about it” so that it does not come accusatory and I can hear his perspective.
7/ Keep calm even it is hard. An argument only carries on if both parties argue. If you do not then it will be diffused.
I am getting prepared. You can yourself apply these guidelines to other parts of your work and personal life.
Wish me luck. I will give you a debrief on how I got on in my next blog. Please comment below. Thank you.