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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

During the conversation

During the conversation

Your approach

Focus on the conversation fully and actively listen to what the other person is saying. It can be challenging if you’re thinking about what you’ll say next, or you’re focused on getting through everything you’ve prepared to say. 

Once the other person has finished speaking, summarise and repeat back what you’ve heard without your own judgement. This checks you’ve understood what they’ve said and shows empathy.

Although you’ll have an idea of what you want to get from the conversation, it’s important you’re willing to consider what the other person has to say. You might find out that the actual problem is different to what you were expecting.

This could mean your view changes, or you’ll need time to rethink the best way to go forward.

Be fair, and make sure the conversation doesn’t become personal. Keep the person and the problem separate.

Making notes on the main points you’ve talked about, and the actions you’ve decided together, helps you sum up your conversation at the end.

Notes might also come in handy when you’re sharing the actions and any time frames with the other person afterwards, and if you need to keep a formal record of the conversation.

Responding to high emotions and keeping things calm

Even if you’re well prepared for the conversation, sometimes things get emotional and the discussion heats up.

If that happens, try to stay calm and remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s actions. This means that you might be doing your best to keep things calm, but you can’t control how people feel or react.

When dealing with people’s reactions, keep calm and remember to breathe and pause before you respond to them. If your emotions are running high, you might need to take a short break or reschedule the meeting to make sure you’re in the best frame of mind.

Remember that, if the other person becomes aggressive, you can choose to end the conversation.

CharityComms' article "Tips on having and managing difficult conversations" talks about how you can help the conversation to flow, encourage someone to open up, diffuse anger and calm stress.

Read the article from CharityComms


Structure of the conversation

Start by reminding each other why you’re having the conversation. Then, find out their perspective. Here are some conversation opener examples:

  • I’d like to talk about ______with you. But first, I’d like to get your point of view.
  • I think we have different views on _____. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

Be careful your message doesn’t get muddled by trying to ‘soften the impact’ of it.

It could help to remind the other person of the bigger picture. Remember our Scout values, and how everyone’s doing their best for young people.

Explain your view of the situation and what you think is happening as a result. Be honest and direct – you need to be sure the other person understands what you’re saying.

Ask questions and sum up what the other person says so you can understand their perspective. Share your views and talk about ways you can solve the problem. Chat about example situations to see if your solutions could work.

Summarise the discussion and recap any agreed actions, including when and who needs to complete them. 

Be consistent and avoid back-tracking or changing your mind about things that have already been discussed and agreed.  

Thank the person for their time, and make sure they have details of where they can get further support, if they wish. You might suggest they speak to a volunteer peer, a friend, a family member or another volunteer line manager. You can also sign post them to the Scouts Wellbeing and Mental Health webpage. 

Active listening

Active listening is an important and helpful skill for challenging conversations.

This article from CharityComms gives a few tips to get you started. 

Read the article about active listening >
12 steps to structure your conversation

On the article "How to manage a difficult conversation with a volunteer", Stepping Up proposes 12 steps to structure your conversation.

Read the article from Stepping Up >

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