You realize you have to have a challenging conversation with someone. A wave of fear, or anxiety, or maybe even anger comes on to you.
You ask yourself, is it worth it, what if it makes things worse, will this give me more headache, maybe it will resolve on its own?
What you tell yourself will determine whether you will hold a conversation or not.
What could happen when you don’t hold it? Well, often, your emotions fester until one day they simply explode. Not a happy picture.
What could happen when you do hold it? It can go two ways:
- Things go wrong, really wrong. The situation gets even worse than before.
2. You realize it wasn’t so bad; perhaps it even went better than expected.
What determines which way it goes?
From my experience as a leader and coach, I would say, preparation, or lack of it. When observing other leaders, those who hold successful difficult conversations take time to reflect. They self-reflect, stay true to themselves, can self-manage in the heat of the moment, focus on facts, are willing to be vulnerable, and want the best for both sides.
I also noticed that these individuals have specific core values that guide their behaviour. They seem to emanate this healthy confidence yet are humble enough to give others the benefit of the doubt and hear them out.
On my life journey, I have learned that people interpret your words based on their personal story they tell themselves, what they know and think about you, how they interpret your intentions, and whether they simply like you or not. The same words will have a different impact on different people.
What does this tell me?
I cannot worry about others’ reactions. I hold the conversation because it is the right thing to do, and I want to stay true to myself, even if it is uncomfortable. Aligned with my core values and purpose, I dare to hold the conversation for a higher purpose. And I do it respectfully.
How aligned are you with your core values and purpose? Do they give you the courage to have the hard talk?