In our post last week, Am I in the Right Place?, we posed some questions to help you consider whether or not you’re in the right workplace–one that fits your needs.

Since then, some of you have said that you’re ready to have a conversation with your manager to discuss your needs, and that you’re feeling anxious about this potentially difficult conversation.

As we thought about this, we were struck by how many people (us included!) can struggle with difficult conversations.

Whether you’re an employee, manager, soccer coach, partner, parent, or child, it can be stressful to have conversations where you’re being vulnerable. As a result, you may avoid having them.

Today, we’re providing you an example, using some steps from our Leader in You® framework, of how you might show up for a difficult conversation, in any area of your life.

Before the conversation

  • PAUSE: Start with the end in mind. PAUSE and consider your goal for your particular conversation. In addition, consider how you can remember to pause if you feel yourself getting reactive, during the conversation. PAUSING can aid you in showing up at your best.
  • REFLECT on SELF: Make some notes to answer these questions:
    • What are you afraid of as you head into this conversation?
    • What do you do when you’re afraid?
    • What would you do if you felt safe?
  • REFLECT on OTHERS: Make some notes to answer these questions:
    • What might they be afraid of in this conversation?
    • What do they do when they’re afraid?
    • What do they do when they feel safe?
    • What could you do to increase their sense of safety?

During the conversation

  • INFLUENCE THEM & OWN IT: Take ownership and influence them about why you care about the topic of conversation. Be transparent about its importance to you, the team, the relationship, the company, the family, etc. Others are more likely to be engaged in the conversation with you if they have a sense of its importance.
  • ALLOW THEM TO INFLUENCE YOU: Once you’ve leaned in to influence them with your thoughts, suggestions, and/or feelings. Then sit back and allow them to influence you with their best.
  • POSSIBILITY MINDSET: As you’re influencing and being influenced by, continue to ask yourselves, “What’s possible?” Look for the possibilities to come to an agreement, together.
  • ENABLE ACTION: It’s important to end the conversation with an agreement about what was decided and whether or not any action is necessary. If there are actions, clarify who will do what by when.

After the conversation

  • REVIEW & REFINE: If this conversation has any action items, it’s important to setup a time to meet again. In that meeting, you can review progress made, any new information, and any updates for moving forward.

We know that this planning may seem like work, and it is! Putting in the effort to prepare for difficult conversations will serve you well in your relationships.

When you can show up with compassion
for yourself and for the other person,
you’ll find that you have more meaningful discussions
and create deeper relationships.

We love Rick Hanson’s way of thinking about it. He calls it Compassionate Assertiveness. In his book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidencehe says this,

“It’s natural to have needs and wants in our relationships. If we don’t speak up for them, they’re less likely to be met. But if we push for them without taking the other person into account, they’re also less likely to be met, especially over time. Compassionate assertiveness is where heart and strength come together, the twin pillars of healthy relationships.”

As you identify an important conversation on the horizon, consider some ways that you can prepare to show up at your best as well as supporting the other person to show up at their best.

Keep us posted on how it goes!

If you’d like support
with a difficult conversation,
contact us today.