You’re going to come across some conversational bullies in the course of your life.
Now generally people try to shut them down with insults and aggression and some others prefer to walk away from these interactions to avoid that kind of negativity, but there is a third potentially more effective way to deal with these toxic people.
You can, for instance, try to take control of the conversation instead of shutting it down. This allows you to stand up for yourself without coming across like a jerk.
Let’s begin by quickly covering the best practices for any group interaction. Then we’ll come to what to do when things go sour.
One general rule of thumb is that you want to make sure you don’t leap into a conversation only to be cut off, otherwise people will subconsciously believe that your opinions aren’t worthy of being heard and you can actually get pushed around more.
So when you begin talking it’s usually best to continue to the end of your sentence.
You don’t have to dominate the conversation or refuse to be interrupted during long monologues, but you do need to speak with enough momentum to at least finish each sentence before yielding the floor to someone trying to interrupt you.
This is going to lead to people being far more likely to listen when you share your opinion. By at least finishing your sentences you encourage others to respect you more.
Now the next principle that is extremely valuable in any group setting is to treat each member of a group as an individual.
Obviously a concrete way to do this is by referring to each person by their name.
This can feel awkward at first if you’re not used to it but, it actually has a very positive effect on the person who is hearing their favorite word in the English language.
Even if you don’t know people’s names you can show that you value each individual by taking time to look at each person while you speak, especially if someone is quiet or shy, taking those three seconds to make eye contact with them while you speak goes a long way towards making them feel included.
In fact, if you’re finding that you lose the group’s attention when telling a story or a joke this is one of the quickest fixes: Give each individual a few seconds of your focus attention to keep them hooked.
Now lastly we like people who are like us and who like us back. So when you’re in a group it always helps to emphasize similarities with other members and to give genuine compliments.
Sometimes conversations turn hostile despite your best efforts.
I want to show you how to disarm people who become aggressive in a way that is both subtle and charismatic, way before you actually have to get direct with him.
The first thing to realize here is, that perhaps the most powerful tools that you have to influence the tone of a conversation are your nonverbal signals.
Now, these can be grouped roughly into more signals and fewer signals.
When you show these more signals you’ll get more of whatever you’re responding to, show fewer signals and you will get less.
First, we have that calm stare in the eye with neither malice nor a smile this is gonna make anyone who is being rude feel uncomfortable.
Second, not paying attention to that person will also make them change their tact.
Third, the prolonged silence, this is one of the most powerful nonverbal tools at your disposal.
When people are unkind, you may feel an impulse to quickly speak or to smile so as to defuse the situation or cut that uncomfortable tension.
People do not like tension in conversations so don’t get rid of it while they’re being mean wait till they are kind.
You can do the same thing in group conversations, if someone’s being insulting passive-aggressive rude, pay attention to other members of the group, turn so that your body faces those people, smile be warm engaging even loud with them.
It shouldn’t take very long before that rude person says something more kind at which point you can shift attention their way.
Now, one final indirect option is to do a “those types” call out.
Now, this is where you speak about a type of behavior that you don’t like perhaps a type of behavior that someone in that group is currently doing but, you allow that individual to save face by not calling them out directly.
Instead, it’s about those types of people, do this with a smile to remind the person that you’re still on the same team, they don’t have to be the type of person you’re describing and you’re not yet saying they are.
The “those types strategy” is a sneaky way to influence the tone of any sort of conversation.
Imagine being at a networking event and complimenting one group on their enthusiasm talking about those other types who are a little bit dull and boring.
You can bet that that group`s energy will rise to meet that stellar reputation you’ve given them and not be like those other people.
You need to learn to detach your ego from personal attacks.
The Best Practices:
- Continue speaking until the end of your sentence.
- Treat each member of a group as an individual.
- Emphasize similarities with other members.
- Learn to detach your ego from personal attacks.