Think about it—a fair amount of the stress you take on board is because you’re putting off confronting those “difficult” conversations, isn’t it?
Your last bulletin discussed an essential key to making difficult conversations a lot easier and less stressful—by pointing your finger inwards—never out towards them, only in towards you (click here to view it). (By the way, thanks for your fabulous feedback regarding that bulletin).
Now we’ll look at a second essential key to easing the stress of these troublesome discussions that’s causing you to avoid having them.
Not only will resolving the situation have a positive impact on productivity and increase the trust in your relationship, when you get the issue off your chest once and for all:
- You’ll notice that you’ll de-stress, and
- Your self-respect is actually likely to zoom up too .
Let’s quickly look at this second essential key that’ll put a stop to your procrastination…
Are You Making a Rod for Your Own Back?
Think about one of the difficult discussions that you have on your plate, one that you’re having trouble getting to, and ask yourself this question:
What is your overriding intention for that conversation?
Is it your objective to:
- Have them listen to you?
- Prove to them that they’re wrong?
- Protect your interests?
- Win some sort of power struggle?
- Get them to agree to your proposal?
(Gosh—I‘ve just realised that I’m guilty of four with a conversation that I need to have with a trades-person. And that would be why I’ve been deferring the conversation for a week!)
It feels a bit harsh to call these intentions self-serving—and when we think about it, that’s actually what they are, aren’t they?
Attacking and Defending Conversations Never Solve the Problem!
Importantly, your apprehension about having one of these self-serving discussions is enough to have you put off confronting the issue, day after day, and sometimes month after month.
A number of leaders have told me that they’ve procrastinated about giving a team member feedback for this very reason. And when it came to performance review time, they were left without wiggle-room. Consequently, in their review meeting they created a team member who was:
a) Astonished to receive such negative feedback, and
b) Angry that they hadn’t been given a heads up about their poor performance earlier!
(How motivated is that team member going to be when discretionary effort would be good?)
It’s Not Hard to Turn a Situation Around and Get the Conversation Started!
The secret to getting the conversation started is to decontaminate your intention…
What does this look like?
Think about the other person. What internal experience could they be having—what are their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs? Don’t assume you already know all you need to know about the situation from their viewpoint!
Consider one or more of these sorts of intentions for your conversation…
- Understand their perceptions of the current situation.
- Deepen your knowledge about what they want and how they feel.
- Unearth their thinking on the consequences of not resolving the situation.
- See what they think about your opinions.
- Investigate 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 stand in your own shoes from beginning to end.
Now here’s the central point: 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 Leadership Call to Action
How will it be when these awkward conversations are off your plate? Your stress will reduce and trust and productivity will increase!
Therefore—think again about the difficult conversations you’ve been deferring, and:
- Determine which ones you’re 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.
- Schedule a time to have the conversation! Have the conversation—and notice how you immediately de-stress!
Not having these sorts of conversations usually ends up having a fairly significant negative impact—an impact that often creeps through to have a harmful effect on your company’s bottom-line.
If you’re not yet ready to deal with your most difficult conversation pretty quickly, I want to give you the support you need to have the conversation right away…
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.