The witch tried to kill the princess with a poisonous apple…. BUT….
the princess lived happily ever after
The evil stepmother and her daughters treated the girl like a slave…BUT….
the girl lived happily ever after
The horrible hideous troll tried to kill and eat the goats… BUT…
the goats lived happily ever after
Regardless of the horrific events that take place within a story or a conversation, we somehow seem to forget the atrocity of it all as long as the ending is a happy one. We see this sequence of events emerge in a daily basis – heck, we were raised listening to story after story, watching movie after movie exhibiting this exact pattern yet we often fail to acknowledge how powerful an impact the ending we choose actually has. Here is a step-by-step guide that will take you from a novice to a pro on how to go out on a high note.
Novice: The Feedback Sandwich
You have probably all heard about the feedback sandwich: when you have something less favourable to talk to someone about you strategically place it between two ‘nice’ pieces of bread.
Hi Jessica, you did a great job on that report. Make sure you pay attention to your spelling as there were a few errors in your final submission. Your use of diagrams was awesome – so visually appealing and user friendly.
Regardless on if you agree with this approach or not, this is your introduction approach to choosing to end a conversation with a positive. In order for the sandwich to work you must be authentic and never ever use the words ‘but’ or ‘however’ as these invalidate the previous statement.
Intermediate: Know When it to Call it
There is an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza realizes he has a tendency to take his jokes too far, so when he makes a joke that is a hit, he throws his hands in the air, says “I’m out” and leaves the room. He instantly gains major popularity among his colleagues and relishes in his newfound likability.
One of the greatest skills we can put into practice is to know when to call it. Do not fill space with empty words, do not hammer your point in once it has been made, and do not discuss numerous issues – choose your battles wisely.
Advanced: The Gentleman’s Handshake
Regardless of what takes place within the conversation, at the end of the discussion shake their hand.
When it comes to difficult conversations, maintaining an air of respect and politeness enables you to choose to leave just about any conversation with a friendly handshake. Often it is the case that we walk away from tough conversations angry with or hurt by our opponent because we felt disrespected by them, not because we disagreed with them. One way we can ensure that our professional interactions foster respect is by understanding the power of putting the relationship first and ending the conversation with a tribute to the relationship – look them in the eye, shake their hand and thank them for their time.
Pro: The Comeback Kid
No matter how poorly you ended a conversation – when you cannot help but play that Taylor Swift song on repeat “We are never ever ever getting back together”, you realize that the conversation is not over until you say it is over. This is for the truly skilled professional who is able to check their bruised ego, hurt feelings and frustration at the door and understand that they have the power to change the ending. We have all walked away from an interaction realizing that our emotions got the better of us. We have the ability to re-engage and change the ending. You have the ability to make a comeback: apologize if you were in the wrong, clarify if you felt you were not heard or were misunderstood, and create a space of respect, listening and curiosity. If there is a problem, create space for problem-solving dialogue to take place.
If Britney Spears can make a comeback, you can too.
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