This time of year can bring potentially difficult conversations. After all, this is usually when we tackle high-stakes discussions like: end of year reviews, budgeting, and giving feedback. Have you ever avoided having tough conversations?
What gets in your way? Is it the potential relationship impact, fear it won’t make a difference or that you’ll learn something or get some feedback you’d rather not hear?
Can you relate to this leader’s story?
Here are 3 ways to build your skill and will to conduct tough conversations:
- What triggers you? Build self-awareness by understanding and identifying situations and behaviors that cause you to react. Why does this happen? What are the deeper values and experiences that can get in the way for you? By better understanding your own emotions, values and triggers, you can work on preparing yourself to respond with intention when your emotions get triggered.
- Learn to evaluate emotions in others by reading cues in body language and facial expressions.
Take this free facial expression recognition quiz from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and test your skills at noticing emotions in others.
(Note that learning to recognize emotions is not an invitation to label someone’s feelings, but rather an opportunity to ask about what might be going on for them. A best practice is to ask, don’t assume.)
- Learn how to de-fuse defensive behaviors. Download this handy set of tips to add to your toolbox.
Above all, don’t put off tough conversations, even though they may never be completely easy for you. The reason they are tough is that they are often really important! Delaying the discussion means the issue goes unresolved, may get worse, or taint the relationships through lingering feelings and thoughts. Instead, consider putting your energy into building on strategies to strengthen ability to conduct tough conversations with competence and confidence.