Whether you are in a leadership role or not, from time to time we all have to gear up and have those courageous conversations – the ones that we tend to avoid. And therein lies the trouble. The more we avoid these, the bigger the issue gets or the more it festers. As one senior leader put it, “if something isn’t feeling right, nine times out of ten, it isn’t!” And this means some conversation needs to take place –whatever the scenario and whoever your situation is with.
We all have different “brakes’ that we put on. This stops us from tackling what needs to be tackled. Some examples of thinking that get in the way include – “I will destroy the existing harmony” (what harmony? The current “walk on egg-shells” variety? ) or “if I ignore it, it will just go away” (with denial, the issue rarely just disappears) or genuinely not having the skills or confidence to deal with it ( These can be learnt).
Consider that your ‘self-limiting’ brakes are very likely worse than what the possible outcome could be. When people including managers and leaders do take action, invariably the result is far better than what they had conjured up in their heads! Our minds have a tendency to blow up the worst case scenario. If the same energy is applied to some considered thought and planning in ‘tackling’ the particular situation, you can actually end up with some degree of relief and resolution if you deal with the situation, rather than “sweeping it under the rug” !
So what are your brakes? What do you say to yourself to avoid tackling what you need to? Having such conversations becomes even more critical where there are matters of fairness, justice and integrity. Imagine having taken the right action here. As a manager or leader, you will feel better for having done so. Through being authentic in expressing your intent, feelings and expectations, people will also know where they stand with you. Furthermore, you will be respected by your staff as being fair and not afraid to do the right thing.
If handled with care and due consideration, courageous conversations can pave the way for a better relationship between two parties. Most rational people get the intent of where someone is coming from. If you are coming from a clean, ‘uncontaminated’ place (not “out to get the other person”, make them wrong or humiliate them) at the very least, it can open up a positive dialogue and understanding for a way forward. It can bring the two parties even closer than before be it at work or home.
Jasbindar Singh is an experienced business psychologist and leadership coach who is passionate about creating workplace excellence. She speaks on this topic along with employee engagement, leadership and “being in our groove”. She is also the award winning author of “Get your Groove Back.”