"I can't say that!!": How to Have Difficult Conversations
I had the privilege of hosting an Authentic Leadership Conversation™ today with a wonderful group of women on the topic of "How to Have Difficult Conversations" (part of a series that I am offering in Qatar starting in May 2017).
The amazing thing about this topic is it brings up questions and fears that we all experience. Today was truly an opportunity to reflect on what connects us and how we can prepare ourselves for the inevitability of difficult, uncomfortable, or intimidating conversations.
There are so many resources out there on the "techniques" of having difficult conversations. One of my favourites is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.
But the real work of difficult (fierce, courageous) conversations comes through our personal groundwork and the practice of getting to know ourselves, our patterns, and how we want to show up in alignment with our core values. We see results when we focus on the consistent effort of paying attention (awareness), developing strategies (i.e., breathing, observing, or other in-the-moment practices), and taking action (journalling, role-playing, trying new strategies in low-stakes situations, etc.).
If you're looking for a way to get started, set a goal for the next month to focus your energy on the following:
Practice 1: Observe with a beginner's mindset:
Observe how you feel (emotionally, physically) when you are in a difficult conversation or when you think about one that you have been avoiding. For example, do you feel anxious, angry, fearful, etc.? Does your mouth get dry, do your hands get sweaty, or do you notice your voice getting louder or higher pitched? Without judgement, observe these responses with curiosity and openness, as if you were an impartial third party.
Practice 2: Journal about your observations
Notice and reflect on any intimidating conversations after the fact and write about what was happening for you in the moment. The sooner you can do this after the conversation, the better. This works even for low-stakes conversations where you walk away thinking "I should have said...". What do you wish you said? What would have been important about that for you? Is it too late, or can you find a way to return to the issue with the person in the coming days in order to find a better resolution that fits with your values?
I would love to hear about your experiences with these practices or others you find helpful.
What works for you? Post below to begin the conversation!
Contact me to learn more about the Authentic Leadership Conversations™ Series!