Mastering the Tricky Conversation in the Office

Must Simon Cowell invite Gordon Ramsay to be a judge of "The X Factor"? What are the chances of Dalton Harris making it big in the recording industry? Do you want "The X Factor" and "Britain's Got Talent" to be aired beyond 2022? These are the questions that you're tempted to ask your colleagues, but you won't initiate the conversation during working hours. Tea break is the ideal time, which is probably long enough for one more topic. Can Harris make a transatlantic pop history? Time would tell if Harris, who hails from Kingston, Jamaica, can follow Leona Lewis, One Direction, and James Arthur. All of these (pop music) questions should break the ice in the office whether you're a newbie or someone who has been working in the company for many years. Any topic can turn into a tricky conversation unless you're familiar with the office culture and know the people you're working with. But how?

You should be savvy enough to know that topics covering salary, employee rights, and company etiquette must not be discussed during working hours. You're also aware that you didn't go to the office to find your best mate, but count yourself as a lucky person if you find the love of your life. (You won't listen to Harris's winning rendition of "The Power of Love" one more time.) And you're too old to complain on trivial matters. (You're not a Briton if you're not accustomed to the gray weather.) All of these things are easier said than done, but there are times that you're tempted to ask. You're human, but it's not a valid reason. There's no need to fret about it, as you can follow these tips.

How to Say What You Mean

Plan what you're going to say. You don't want to rock the boat, so the location should play a part in how the conversation would turn out. You might be thinking of putting your own spin into the cake culture, but there's no need to go that far. If it's an upcoming project, then find a place where it's not too formal (to intimidate your workmates) or not too casual (where you might be overheard).The nearest Caffè Nero may be your top pick, but better ask your colleagues if it's fine with them. There may be noise, which won't make it a perfect venue. And there might be an issue with the payment. (Dutch treat?) The meeting room seems to be the sensible choice especially if there are pending tasks. You should estimate the length of the meeting, as well as prepare an outline on who would be responsible for each task.

Keep in mind of the key words (or phrases) that you want to get across in the conversation. It's all about practising, which should give you a good start. You would get over your nervousness, which can jeopardise the success of the conversation. The message must be loud and clear, so you rehearse what you want to say (in front of the bathroom mirror). Practice with your mate (or member of the family), who should give you a second opinion. There's no need to be afraid of it, as you want feedback ahead of the actual meeting. And your choice of words can be a tricky one too. This is teamwork, so don't resort to words that can undermine another colleague. And never use strong words. (A good leader must be able to bring out the best out of his teammates, not attempting to be better than them.)

Put yourself in other people's shoes. Empathy may not be a part of a millennial's vocabulary, and you don't have to be defensive (if you happen to be one). The office can be the best place to learn about it. You must be able to figure out, as early as your first year in the office, that a boss who doesn't give any feedback is struggling with his workload. And a whinging employee doesn't know his own skills. You desire a better outcome, so get to know your teammates. Try to understand their point of view. There's no such thing as right or wrong in this situation. You're a competent employee or not.

One Last Word

You would encounter charismatic individuals and fast talkers. And there might be one who looks at the negative side of things. You must not be blindsided by these people. How you deal with them should help you become a better professional, but there are a few things to remember. Ask them about their responsibility (or responsibilities), and make sure that it’s written in stone (so to speak). Don’t forget to breathe deeply. (And you would need to do it during those difficult moments.) If the pressure is getting to you, then talk slowly. It should help you send your message across your team clearly. And they would do the same thing.

Nothing would hold you back if you follow all of the above.

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