In a fast-paced world that often celebrates speed and efficiency, it's easy to overlook the importance of slowing down and engaging in courageous conversations. These challenging dialogues, though intimidating, hold the potential to bring about significant growth and transformation, both personally and professionally.
I've been running a number of Mastering Challenging Conversations Workshops, most recently for 130 people at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising Conference. And every time when we explore the value of embracing courage and why having those difficult conversations is essential in fostering understanding, connection, and progress. And there are some simple actions we can take to make those conversations far less daunting and far more effective. 1. Prep beforehand: Taking the time to really think about what it is you need to get across in a succinct and objective way is essential. Think about what response you may trigger in the other person and consider the words you use - could they become defensive, feel attacked, worry what people think, worry they have upset you etc. Take the time to keep your conversation focussed on the issue, the need to resolve it and how to move forward together. 2. Fostering Understanding: Challenging conversations often arise from differing viewpoints, misunderstandings, or unresolved conflicts. By engaging in these discussions with an open mind and compassionate intent, we create opportunities for understanding and empathy. Courageous conversations enable us to bridge gaps, break down barriers, and find common ground, fostering deeper connections with others. And remember 99% of the time everyone has a positive intention, it is very rare that someone is intentionally trying to upset, antagonise or be difficult. Get under the surface of what is going on for them and for you. 3. Personal Growth: Growth often emerges from discomfort. Having challenging conversations allows us to confront our biases, expand our awareness, and gain insights into our own behaviours and beliefs. It challenges us to question assumptions and seek personal development. By embracing the discomfort and stepping into courageous conversations, we embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. And the more you have these conversations successfully, the more naturally it will come to you.
4. Catalysing Change: Courageous conversations have the power to bring about positive change in various aspects of our lives. By addressing issues that need attention, we contribute to personal and professional growth, team dynamics, and can bring about cultural change. Through open and honest dialogue, we can challenge the status quo, advocate for justice, and effect meaningful change. In a world where quick fixes and surface-level interactions dominate, the importance of being courageous and embracing challenging and authentic conversations cannot be overstated. These dialogues hold the potential to foster understanding, drive personal growth, and catalyse positive change. We all need to cultivate the courage within us to engage in these transformative conversations, for it is through them that we can truly connect, learn, and create a better environment together. In summary:
Take the time to prepare
Approach the conversation with compassion
Be open, be authentic, be honest and be considerate
Look ahead not back - keep solutions focussed
Use open questions to dig beneath the surface of what is really going on
If you want to find out more watch my video here