The following is a guest post by Dr. Amy Rebecca Gay of the Mediation Group. The center has been partnering with Dr. Gay for a number of years. She provides her insights and expertise on discussing difficult issues to fellows in our Emerging Leaders Program, and most recently to executives in The Kraft Group in our Custom In House Leadership Development Programs. We are pleased to share her blog with you and offer a Master Class on Difficult Conversations with Dr. Gay on January 3rd.
A difficult conversation moment can happen anytime throughout the course of your work day. Picture yourself at a meeting where the decision makers have decided on the “best” course of action and feedback is not an option. But, hello, there are number of issues that should be raised, vetted and discussed and they are moving ahead with the agenda. What do you do? I’m sure in this scenario there are a million thoughts going through your head, including “You’re creating more problems than you are solving” and “How do I say what needs to be said without looking bad?”
All too often we withhold our thoughts and feelings because we’re politically savvy enough to know that if we speak without a filter we’ll damage our relationships. So, we hedge. We sugar coat. Or we try to be diplomatic, but our disdain is written all over our faces and infused into our tone. We leave the meeting thinking that didn’t go so well, but we’re stuck for what else we might do.
Here’s the rub, though. Buried within these thoughts and feelings is crucial information and perspectives that need to be shared. For you. For your team. For the organization. Many strategically important conversations are difficult and ignite in us strong, almost visceral reactions. You’re probably right that it’s not beneficial to just dump it on the table in its raw form. And yet the ideas embedded within are an important part of the discussion. So, what do you do?
You need to shift what you’re thinking and feeling into a productive frame that facilitates discussion, problem solving and negotiation. One place we often go is right/wrong. How often do you find yourself thinking something like, “You’re so wrong” or “That’s the stupidest idea I ever heard”? That might be right, but it’s only one perspective. What does the other person see? What benefit do they see in the idea? You don’t need to agree, but you do need to get curious.
Blame is another toxic place our minds tend to go. We want someone to be at fault. And we feel better if that person is punished or somehow held accountable. Blame looks back to figure out who did what wrong. If we change our purpose and we look back to understand, we are better equipped to pivot toward the future to figure out what to do differently. Because it’s doing things differently going forward that’s going to propel change in an organization.
The cost of avoiding difficult conversations in any organization is too high to ignore – resentfulness, disengagement, missed opportunities and more. For practical, hands-on tools to make these shifts and begin raising the difficult, strategic conversations in your organization, attend our training on January 3. Information below.
Conduct Difficult Conversations with Ease and Confidence | January 3, 2018 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm @ Seaport Hotel Boston
To succeed in any organization, you need to share what’s on your mind – with confidence and skill so others can hear. You also need to receive what others say, especially when it’s hard to hear. The most successful teams and leaders are able to raise difficult issues, test ideas and hear multiple points of view. Learn to increase your ability and willingness to have candid conversations on important issues affecting your organization. Facilitated by Amy Rebecca Gay, PhD, The Mediation Group.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617.287.3890 for additional information.