3 Ways to Talk to Anyone About Anything

I was never a good student.  My favorite subjects in school were lunch and P.E.  Did I hear right that P.E. is actually being removed from some schools? 

What is most bothersome about this is not that children will miss out on being pummeled in the face by an errant dodgeball or that slacker kids like myself can no longer get an easy A.  It is sad that children will not grow up with the memories of those unforgettable middle school P.E. teachers.  I will never forget mine:  Coach Stansell. 

There were many traits that made Coach Stansell stand apart.  One was that he wore those uncomfortably inappropriate coaching shorts that were popular among he and his contemporaries.  Who at Russell Athletic thought those were a good idea?  They were “TMI” in the form of an article of clothing.  

What I remember about him the most was his awkwardly loud voice.  This guy had zero concept of an inside voice.  He literally yelled everything.  No matter the setting, he yelled.  Is this common among P.E. teachers?  Is it a pre-requisite that one not be able to whisper at all to qualify for this profession?  Any time I ever tried to speak to him normally all I got was screamed at.  Coach Stansell had a communication problem. 

Some people are just difficult to communicate with.  No matter how much we try, nothing seems to work.  For our purposes I do not want to focus on the difficult people, I want to ensure that you do not become one of them!  Nothing will cap your leadership and ability to connect with people faster than being viewed this way.  I want you to be known as someone positive to talk to.

Here are 3 steps that will build you a reputation as someone positive to talk to, allowing you to talk to anyone about anything.

Don’t try to “win” every argument.

Some battles are not worth fighting.  Some people have to win whatever conversation they are in. What is important is not "winning," but what you, and the other people involved, plan to do next.  Needing to win every argument is a behavior that never wins.

When you think about every conversation as something that you have to “win”, you devalue those around you.  If your interactions are a contest to be won, you reduce people to a game.  People do not like being played.  If you always have to win, you make others feel like a loser.  Guess what?  People do not like feeling like a loser either.  

Here are some better ways to make your voice matter.

Be constructive instead of combative.  

Where winning arguments is about behavior, this is more about personality.  In life you will have moments when you have to deal with issues with people or work thru problems.  When these moments arise, do they often turn hostile?  Ever burned bridges in these moments?  Are you always arguing your side?  If the answers to those are “yes”, then you may have a combative personality.  This isolates you as a person who is difficult to talk to and you will find yourself on the outside of many conversational circles.  Difficult conversations can still be constructive conversations.  

Combative people beat others up.  Constructive people build others up.

I do not want people on my team or in my life who are combative.  This is one of the first "leadership tells” I look for in a person.  It is the front-line of self-leadership.  If someone cannot lead themselves to abstain from coming across too strong and not know when to let something go, I do not need them on my team and I cannot trust them to lead others.  Combative leaders builds a combative teams.

Aggressively avoid gossip.

Dave Ramsey has a strict “No Gossip Policy” on his staff.  I have personally heard him say, “If you gossip then I will warn you the first time and I will fire you the second time!”  Did I mention it was a strict policy?  Read more of Dave's thoughts on this.  

Here is what Dave understands:  Gossip is a cancer.  You should guards against it on your team.  You should refuse to entertain it personally.  Before you tell a story about anybody else, or listen to such a story, ask yourself four questions:  1)  Is it true?  2)  Is it kind?  3) Is it necessary?  and 4) Would I want somebody telling a similar story about me?

There are a lot of people who are simply difficult to talk to.  The good news is that you do not have to be one.  Make these three practices a part of your life and you will win with people.  Oh, and if anyone every tries to tell you that those inappropriate P.E. teacher shorts are cool, well you have my permission to win that argument!