We’ve all been part of discussions at work that didn’t go the way we planned. Maybe we reacted emotionally when someone gave us feedback, spoke in anger instead of waiting until we cooled off or offended someone unintentionally.

Although most of us tend to wing it when it comes to workplace discussions, putting in some forethought can go a long way, given the mix of personalities involved in every business. So how do you ensure you have more positive and productive discussions with your colleagues and customers? Here are some strategies to put to work for you.

Remember you’re a public figure.

When you own a business, no matter how small, you’re the public face of the company. What you say has disproportionate weight with employees, contractors and customers. Before you communicate with team members or external stakeholders—whether in person, by email or on video, remind yourself that they are paying close attention to what you do and say in public.

Think about what you say to these key stakeholders and how you say things. If you would feel uncomfortable if your conversations were recorded and shared with people in your community or the public at large, then it’s time to consider “editing” what you say in the future. It’s possible to remain genuine and honest with the people in your orbit without letting it all hang out—and every leader needs to find a way to strike the right balance.

Listen first, speak later.

Smart leaders listen more than they talk. That’s true whether it is under positive circumstances—such as when an employee wants to share an idea for a new product—or negative ones, such as fielding a call from an angry customer.

Challenge yourself to listen as attentively as you can in every conversation at work, instead of immediately leaping in with a comment or solution, and ask questions, so you have a full understanding of what someone is trying to say. Take notes if it will help you remember the details of the discussion later. If you’re listening to something you’d rather not hear, ask yourself how you could learn from it. By making sure those around you feel “heard,” you’ll set a productive tone—and act as a positive role model for how others in your organization can converse with each other.

Watch out for the third rail of office discussions.

In a political environment like the one we have today, many of us find it hard to avoid talking about the headlines at work—despite the classic advice to steer clear of political discussions. Unfortunately, the political conversations many people are having in the office are causing problems. A Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association this past spring found that 26% of U.S. workers said they felt tense or stressed out because of political discussions at work, up from 17% in September 2016. And for 40% of American workers, discussions of politics led to at least one negative outcome, such as increased workplace hostility.

If you do opt to discuss politics at work and the discussion starts to get heated, make sure to keep your tone professional. At the Emily Post Institute, etiquette expert Anna Post advises saying, “Well, we obviously don’t agree on this one and we may not change each other’s minds. Let’s move on to something else.” Then she suggests changing the subject.

Coach, don’t criticize.

In the book Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, authors Doug Stone and Sheila Heen encourage readers who are being evaluated at work to listen closely for valuable advice that is part of the feedback, instead of viewing the evaluation as an attack.

If, as a business owner, you want your team members to see your feedback this way, then make it a point to offer any advice you deliver with the mindset of a coach, not a critic. Assume the best—that they truly want to reach their potential at work—and offer concrete suggestions on how they can develop their skills and talents, rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong. Also, ask them where they need help, so you can mentor them, and give them time to ask you questions.

Sharpen your negotiating skills.

To run a successful company, it’s important to know how to build consensus and bring people with different points of view to an agreement. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you get better at it. Many business schools offer executive education classes on negotiation and there are a number of well-regarded books on the subject, among them Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny, Influence by Robert Cialdini and Getting to Yes by Robert Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton.

Negotiation is a skill that takes time to develop, so if you’re out of your depth on negotiating a contract or other sensitive document, there’s no harm in turning to an attorney or another expert for advice. What you learn from a pro will often pay for itself many times over.