This week’s episode is about tough conversations; why we avoid them and how to more effectively have them.

It may feel natural to avoid difficult conversations at first, especially if you dread discord; they are uncomfortable and they are uncertain, but avoiding a difficult conversation can lead to negative outcomes.

We can learn to have these tough conversations by taking the following steps:

Step 1: Reframe difficult conversations
Difficult conversations can actually strengthen personal bonds if you handle them well.

If you are a leader who routinely has the courage to have difficult conversations it could be a route to building trust with your team.

If you have a culture whereby employees who avoid tough conversations and fail to confront their situation head on, it very often leads them to taking their negative attitudes elsewhere, which is not good for anyone (gossip and passive aggressive behaviour).

Step 2: Prepare but don’t rehearse
It’s important to prepare ahead of the conversation.  For example, if you are looking for a pay rise, do your homework on your worth. How are you contributing to the bottom line.  However, going as far as writing a script and rehearsing it could limit your capacity to hear the other persons point of view.

Step 3: Be direct but curious
Lean into the conversation with an open attitude and a genuine desire to learn.
Respect the other person’s point of view, and expect them to respect yours.

Step 4: Reflect on your values
Ask yourself, are you jeopardising by not having this conversation? We all know what it feels like not to act in accordance to our values – perhaps not having this conversation will feel worse than having it!?

Step 5 Recognise your Emotions
Anticipate the emotions that may come up (both for you and the other person). For example, if you are speaking to someone regarding a performance related issue and you expect they will feel a little defensive of even angry, consider where you have the conversation. Would it be best to stroll out of for a coffee and have the conversation in a more relaxed and neutral environment?

5. Don’t push it into the future any longer
Avoiding a tough conversation or pushing it further into the future is draining and unproductive. Restore your energy, take action, lean into the discomfort, befriend the uncertainty.

Don’t ignore the tough situations you are aware of today, what conversation do you need to have?

And I’ll leave you with some wisdom form the wonderful Brené Brown. Brené says that in the face of a difficult conversation, when we see someone in pain, it’s our instinct to try to make things better. We want to fix, we want to give advice. She says empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the braver choice to be with someone in their darkness – not to “race to turn on the light so we feel better.” Brené says a response can rarely make something better. Connection is what heals.

The inspiration for today’s episode came after I stumbled upon The Conversation Gap Whitepaper by Bravely

Bravely surveyed more than 500 full-time employees across the country—managers, individual contributors, people at startups, people at large enterprises, and everyone in between. They found that seven in 10 people were avoiding tough conversations in the workplace—just like what was reported in 2009.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic as it relate to your own circumstances then please do contact me here

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