How do you prepare before challenging phone calls?

A couple of weeks ago I had a phone call I was dreading. For as much as I don’t mind navigating thru a conflict, the days before a tough call can easily play tricks in my head.

I started thinking of ways it could go sideways. I started worrying about what I might say that would only make things worse.

Of course most of the time those calls never go as we imagine. The whole, “what’s the worst that could happen?” prepare us incorrectly because it’s easy to obsess about the worst way those calls can go.

So I try to prepare differently. I ask myself three questions that might help you.

1. Do I believe this person and I have the same ultimate goal?

In other words, am I shaping the conversation in my head as a “partner” discussion around strategies rather than destinations?

When I think about things like that, I’m reminded that we actually want the same thing – to succeed. I realize that a disagreement may be about methods or strategies but should never miss the fact that we’re on the same team.

2. Have I dealt with my own insecurities?

A second dynamic in these conversations is that more is going on than just the call or the debate. My own worst enemy in this discussion is me. My insecurities.

So it’s my job to deal with them before our call gets started.

3. Can I be a better listener than speaker?

In the minutes right before the call, I kept repeating, “listen well.” It’s the way I prepare to pay better attention than I might on a casual call.

You likely know that when you take a listening posture, you are also more open to hearing the nuance that may be there.

These three questions regularly help me and I hope they help prepare you when you have those tough phone calls.