1. Talk less. Let that uncomfortable silence linger until someone else works to fill it. I teach my students and colleagues to let the pause go on until they are about to scream. Don’t fret: someone will speak up – it just doesn’t have to be you.
2. Listen more. Hey, you need something to do while you are talking less, right? Eerily, I have that very old Steven Covey quote lurking in the recesses of my auditory memory (yep: I’m getting Covey himself narrating the audiobook…), “…seek first to understand, then to be understood…” Sage. Stop thinking about your reply. Let the conversation sink in. Try taking notes. It gives you something to do with your hands.
3. Remember your last classic fail. I’m not talking about the one where it was mostly “someone else’s” fault. That dog won’t hunt in this discussion. I’m talking about the one where it was you – all you. Maybe you are the only one who knows it. Keep that fresh in your mind.
4. Remember the last time your pride got in your way. I know this may be related to number 3. It usually is for me. One of the Proverbs goes like this: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
5. Remember the worth of each person. Sure, you are the cat’s meow when it comes to most things, but remember that every individual is valuable: even the ones that drive you crazy. It is your opposing viewpoints that – if you stay humble – together make something better than either one alone.0