I know that using the word “rehearse” to describe the word “spontaneous” create a bit of an oxymoron.
However, I find it helpful to have a pocketful full of little phrases to use when I am in a discussion that may involve disagreement or tension.
For a couple of reasons, I need at least to give the appearance of trying to understand another person’s point of view, even when I am certain I am correct. First, I may learn that I am in fact not correct. Second, other people are more willing to hear my point of view if I let them share their own.
Also, some times I need to move the discussion along until I can think of the best thing to say.
Responding when I am emotionally charged up can be risky as well. I worked with a guy who had a short temper. He developed the habit of pausing before he would speak. If he was uncertain as to what he might in a moment of anger, he would say, “May I get back to you?”
He knew that an answer full of adrenaline could be costly in terms of relationships and money.
I worked with another person who dealt with an angry person by saying, “I guess if I were standing where you are standing I would feel the same way.’
I knew of a college professor who had an answer for every question. Often his answer to some questions was “more about that later.”
Another simple way of buying time and showing interest while gathering your thoughts is to repeat what a person has just told you: “So if I understand you correctly, you would like to see the report with more details and formatted with bullet points.”
If you find yourself involved in a contentious discussion with someone and the outcome does not matter, I simply say, “You are absolutely correct.” Why waste time arguing a point that has no value anyway?
Sometimes I find that I need to give more information to someone who has rejected a proposal. However, people who just said no to a proposal may be resistant to having someone try to give them additional information on that same proposal. These people may feel that they are under pressure to look at things that hold not interest for them. One good way to deal with objections is to say, “I feel I owe it to you to let you know that your company will save 10% and increase production 5% by using my products.”
You are extraordinary. Be prepared to be spontaneous.