Have you ever had a courageous conversation? What was the outcome? Did you shrink in size or stood up for yourself? Whatever the outcome, it was what you chose to do at the time. However, let’s step into a new space and look at this differently. Irrespective of the action you chose, what could you have done differently? If you stood up for yourself, was it done in the right way, or if you backed off, how did you feel after? I am sure there would be feelings you may have had either way and if so as a courageous leader, now’s the time to learn and build your leadership skills for any courageous conversations go forward.
“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need, To talk about how you’re feeling, To have the hard conversations” – Brené Brown
There are REASONS you SHOULD do this
Marcia Buxton indicated in Linkedin “7 Powerful Reasons for Courageous Conversations.” Having a courageous conversation takes preparation, confidence and skill. Such conversations are a powerful tool in developing an inclusive culture, embracing diversity and inclusion which are integral for business success. A ‘Courageous Conversation’ empowers individuals to take positive steps forward in effectively tackling a difficult issue in their workplace, including increasing awareness around cultural sensitivities. These are often conversations avoided or dreaded for fear of it all going badly. Here are 7 benefits which give you the reason, not to avoid those conversations. Embrace them and create change for an inclusive engaged workforce:
- A ‘Courageous Conversation’ empowers people to take positive steps forward in effectively tackling a difficult issue in their workplace
- A ‘Courageous Conversation’ will increase awareness and understanding around diversity and cultural sensitivities in the workplace. There will be actually acknowledgement of the ‘elephant in the room’
- Courageous conversations allows for new discovery in communications, whereby individuals, teams and departments no longer hiding behind ‘jargon’ communicating openly and often
- Having the uncomfortable conversation allows for recognition, increased confidence and saying what needs to be said in a ‘safe’ environment and context
- A ‘Courageous Conversation’ will equip individuals with HR and people management responsibilities with skills and confidence to introduce issues such as unconscious bias, conflict resolution and agile working within a multi-cultural setting
- Having Courageous Conversations allows for the development of coaching skills for all, including as effective tools when providing feedback
- With Courageous Conversations you can come away with an understanding and awareness on needs for greater engagement and motivation of your team. Such conversations are particularly powerful when undertaking Personal Development Reviews
MYTH: Raising an Issue will not make it worse
A My Business article by CEO Sally Kirkright, “5 Steps to have courageous conversations with employees,” shows that from time to time we all encounter situations where a person’s behaviour is inappropriate and we feel a need to say something. However, these conversations aren’t easy or enjoyable. So how do you successfully conduct courageous conversations in the workplace? As a business owner, it may be that your job requires you to have these conversations with people on a regular basis. Performance issues often require courageous conversations. Or maybe it’s something more personal or you may have to tell someone that they didn’t get the promotion and give some hard feedback as to why.
A common myth is that raising the issue might make things worse, however a carefully constructed conversation might save things from getting worse. Recent data from AccessEAP, a corporate psychology organisation which supports and develops positive organisational behaviour, shows that conflict with managers and colleagues is among the top 10 pressing issues that Australians face in the workplace.
Close to 15 per cent of the employees, seeking support, are presented with this issue. Conflict is an unavoidable consequence of working life, but in many instances it doesn’t have to escalate to that level. It is a myth that raising an issue could turn a working relationship sour; however, a carefully constructed conversation might be the saviour. Our imaginations are very powerful, and this can be quite problematic when coupled with the anxiety which is often generated by the prospect of having a potentially difficult conversation. We tend to imagine that the worst will happen. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, we need to reframe these conversations as courageous conversations and focus on the opportunities these could present. Here are some tips on having courageous conversations constructively for a more desirable outcome:
- Be confident with your concerns
- Focus on the behaviour
- Be clear and specific
- Respond calmly
Overall, confidently restate your concerns but remember if you start getting upset, call time out. You have to manage your own emotions first before you can respond well to others. You may need some time to think about what each other has said before you come to a resolution or compromise.
Courageous conversations build better leaders
In my blog, “How to Have Courageous Conversations,” I highlighted that difficult people come in every variety and no workplace is without them. How difficult you find that person to deal with depends on your self-esteem, your self-confidence and your professional courage. Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behaviour affects more than one person. Dealing with difficult people is much tougher when they are attacking you personally or undermining your professional contribution.
Unaddressed, your situation won’t get any better and it usually gets worse. Unaddressed conflict at work simmers just below the surface, often erupts unexpectedly and affects work productivity. Initially, unprofessional behaviour will come as a shock. Once you are fully aware of what is happening, deciding to live with the situation long term is not an option. Importantly, if you are embroiled in a constant conflict, you may not only be blamed for being “unable to handle the situation, you may be labelled as a “difficult” person, yourself.
A difficult person is a person you can’t stand, who don’t do what you want them to do, or do what you don’t want them to do. By taking 5 minutes now, you may increase your awareness in understanding difficult personalities and behavioural patterns and develop effective coping strategies. Refer to the article Dealing With Difficult and Upset People, then answer the questions below:
- Get to Know the Types: When have you been successful in managing difficult personalities and behaviours and what did you do that others found to be effective? What were the outcomes?
- Recognise the Part You Play: Describe one or more situations in which you were not effective in managing difficult personalities and behaviours, what prevented you from managing difficult personalities and behaviours and knowing what I now know, what would I do differently in a similar situation?
Understand that everyone reacts differently to these types of behaviour. The key to changing our reactions to the behaviour of others is to become aware of our own behaviour and accepting that we need to change our response. Now that you know that you have both control and choice as to how you react, you can react in one of the following four ways. For each of these, record the advantages and disadvantages below:
- Stay and do nothing
- Vote with your feet
- Change your attitude
- Change your behaviour
Handle this now by Improving YOUR Leadership Skills
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Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.