Reactive: Remember the last time you came away from a conversation feeling drained, mugged even? Someone came up to you and either asked you what the latest gossip was, or what you were up to and then walked away before you could emit one syllable out of your mouth. We used to call these bad manners. Then there are those that are naysayers, you try and find something beautiful in the day, and they just squash it. There are many reasons for this, perhaps because they are just a difficult person or because they are seeking power over others, or maybe they were born in a bad mood, in any of these cases, you leave the conversation with your defenses dropped, you just feel, blah..Sometimes the affects of all this negative talk touch you to your core, right down to your relationships, or to your workday.
Proactive: My solution, politely excuse yourself, that’s it, really simple. Dale Carnegie wrote his bestselling book, “How to Win Friends and Influence people,” back in 1936, it has been a staple for speakers, writers and managers for decades. The reason is, in his own words, “you can’t gather honey if you kick over the bee hive.” What he is saying is that nothing good can come of bad conversation. I’ve tried this experiment often, when I find a conversation digressing, I try one of two things, either to steer it in a positive direction or excuse myself. The momentum you create by demonstrating good manners and taking the moral high ground can take strength. But then something unseen happens, but its felt, you feel empowered. And that is what being a little more tactical is all about.