Four words to put fear into the heart…
“We need to talk”
For most, the automatic reaction will be:
“What’s wrong?” or worse “What have I done?”
Without immediate clarification, or further details, the recipient is left in limbo, powerless, off balance. Whether the initiator is aware or not, the recipient will be unsettled.
Done intentionally, it can be disarming, a powerful tactic to gain an advantage, to take the upper hand. If unintentional, it can create unnecessary tension, misunderstanding or conflict.
The tendency is to assume the worst, something terrible has happened, there’s bad news. and that the conversation is going to be difficult, uncomfortable. The tension of the build-up almost guarantees a sticky start.
Be aware of how you engage in advance of a conversation. Be clear on the topic of the discussion, or better still, just talk about it. Avoid leaving room for ambiguity or uncertainty. Remove the fear.
If you’re the recipient, seek clarification as soon as possible. If it’s not forthcoming, the best tactic is to put the discussion out of your mind. Little good can come from the stress that it may cause.