What To Say When a Conversation Turns Negative

That’s the subject of my Harvard Business Review blog to be published today (11 a.m. EST)  here. When studying for my doctorate, my research focused on how children deal with disruptions in conversation. We learn early, if we’re fortunate, how to get conversations back on track. If we don’t, everything we do involving other people is more difficult.

How we look, what we wear, where we come from, and how “smart” we are influence the course of our lives. We worry that we and our children might not measure up in terms of these perceptions and assessments of our value. But, we and school systems rarely pay attention to how we talk in social situations. We may study public speaking. Yet, few of us engage in that everyday. We talk to others though. And often those discussions derail. In this blog, you’ll learn of seven ways to turn such conversations around and put them on a more constructive course.

Sometimes conversations can be turned around simply by replacing a word. If someone says, “You certainly are stubborn” chances are it wasn’t meant as a compliment. You might reply, “I am persistent when it matters.” Simply changing one word can change a conversation and even a relationship for the better.

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2 Responses to What To Say When a Conversation Turns Negative

  1. Taiwo Daniel says:

    This is fantastic. Effective conversation is undoubtedly the building block of enduring relationships. Thanks.

  2. Paul Anthony says:

    Really liked your article: 7 Things to Say When a Conversation Turns Negative

    Practice makes perfect! Well, maybe not ‘perfect’ but certainly ‘better’, and we can all do better in our conversational modalities; I certainly can. I have two very big feet that I need to make sure keeps far away from my mouth!

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