95% of leaders find difficult conversations stressful.
Many leaders admit their apprehension about having a difficult discussion is enough to put it off for days, even sometimes for months—regardless of the huge costs of doing so.
But there is a way to ease the stress…
How’s It Going to Be When You Get a Hot-Topic Quickly Resolved?
- Expect your productivity to rise. (You’ll take action instead of wasting time feeling anxious.)
- Your relationships will improve. (Trust increases when candour increases.)
- Your self-respect will climb. (You don’t feel good about yourself when you live with an unresolved issue.)
- Your stress will decrease. (The “how to” described below will ease your stress.)
Are You Making a Rod For Your Own Back?
Think about one of your current hot-topics—one that you’re struggling to get to.
Is your overriding intention for that conversation to:
- Have them listen to you?
- Prove to them that they’re wrong?
- Protect your interests?
- Win a power struggle?
- Get them to agree to your proposal?
(Gosh—I‘ve just realised that I’m guilty of three of those with a conversation I need to have with a tradesperson.)
It feels a bit harsh to label these intentions as self-serving—but that’s actually what they are, aren’t they?
The Key to Easing Your Stress
The key to easing your stress is to decontaminate your intention
Think about the other person and the hot-topic:
- What does the situation look like from their shoes?
- What thoughts and feelings might be racing through their head?
- What sorts of wants and needs do they have?
- What fears and concerns might they have?
Consider a Different Intention for Your Conversation…
An unblemished, win/win oriented intention could be to:
- Understand their thoughts and feelings about the hot-topic.
- Deepen your knowledge about what they want and how they feel.
- Find out what they think are the consequences of not resolving the situation.
- See what they think about your opinion.
- Discover what options could be viable for both of you.
Just to be sure we’re clear: I’m not suggesting that you roll over and make your own needs secondary. You’re simply establishing a productive intention to understand their position—rather than standing in your own shoes from beginning to end.
When your intention is to understand their perception, and share your own, it’s no longer a conversation that you need to avoid. Right?
Your Call To Action
Given the framework above, you’ll find it easier to get those awkward conversations off your plate. And then watch your stress reduce and trust and productivity increase!
Therefore–think again about the hot-topics you’ve been deferring, and:
- Determine which ones you’ve been avoiding because of your “self-serving” intent.
- Make a subtle but critical shift in your thinking so that your intent is first to fully understand their position, and then bounce some ideas around.
- Schedule a time to have the conversation!
Get it scheduled, have the conversation—and notice how you immediately de-stress!
If you’re not yet ready to deal with your difficult conversation/s and you’d value my support, email me to arrange a time for a confidential discussion. There are a few options I can offer you.
“My personal effectiveness, and therefore my team’s productivity, increased a great deal. I am now able to see issues clearly and take action that is necessary and rational while being mindful of the people who I work with.”
– Professor Karen Lines, Executive Director, Health Service
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.