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All working professionals have at least once had an instance in their professional journey when they may have had to deal with a particularly difficult meeting at work. Such a meeting could be regarding a tough project, a critical client situation, appraisals, a team conflict, a disagreement with a colleague, or even a performance-related meeting with their manager. How can you prepare and keep yourself mentally strong to be able to best navigate such a complex situation?
To ensure that you are mentally well-prepared, calm and in control before an important meeting, it is extremely vital to make sure that you are well-rested. Have a good night’s sleep before the day of the meeting. Starting the day early can be helpful.
Meditating for thirty minutes can help you clear your mind; it can help you sort out your thoughts and balance your thinking. Channeling mindfulness before any critical meeting can help you approach the day with fresh energy and composure.
You wouldn’t go to any meeting unprepared, but a meeting that is extra consequential requires more than the usual preparedness. Structure your thoughts and ideas logically and in an orderly fashion; make notes if necessary. Think through all the scenarios that can play out during the meeting and mentally prepare your course of action for each of them.
Spending some time thinking about the point of views of the other participants in the meeting may help. Objectively analyse their positions and ready yourself mentally to go into the meeting from an inquisitive standpoint and not a defensive one. Make sure to list everything you want to say in points and ensure to ask more questions rather than making close-ended statements.
While it is important to go to an important meeting with a goal in mind, be prepared to actively listen to dissimilar point of views and critically analyse them. You should also be prepared to understand the other person’s point of view, their experience and reference point and be willing to compromise, if required to reach a mutually acceptable solution. The objective of most conversations is to ensure understanding. Approach the conversation with a flexible outlook to enable a positive and efficient exchange.
Many times, the problem in our communication is that we listen to reply, not to understand. Be patient and ask relevant and meaningful questions to communicate empathy and understanding of the other participants’ standpoint. Try and not craft your rebuttal in your head while the other person is sharing their thoughts. Active listening can help you bridge differences by understanding a dissimilar viewpoint deeply and help facilitate reaching a common ground faster.
You may approach a critical meeting with a final goal in mind, but chances are a positive outcome would require brainstorming to arrive at a joint solution acceptable and beneficial to all. You could believe that you have a perfect solution for the problem but thinking through it with others will help you find a solution that is acceptable for all. Approach the discussion openly, explore scenarios and solutions and come to a joint conclusion that works well for everyone.
Give your biases and preconceived notions about the other people involved in the meeting a rest. Approach the meeting from a position of collaboration and respect for everyone involved. Cast aside all prejudices and walk into the meeting with an open and objective mindset. Be expressive and accommodate differences of opinions. Even if you don’t reach an amicable solution, stay respectful under all circumstances.
Chances are, in a difficult meeting, emotions might run high at some point. So, it is critical to check in with yourself occasionally, and if you feel you are reacting sharply, take a minute to focus on yourself and breathe deeply. Then refocus and approach the meeting objectively and dispassionately. It is important to manage your emotions and stay calm and focused. Make sure that you are respectful and professional and avoid personal attacks at all costs.