Are you at the point where you know you need to have another tough talk but don't want to? My client Jessica had that challenge this week. She was dreading it!
In our coaching session, Jessica learned to shift the way she thought about the upcoming talk so she could shake the dread and slip into confidence. Do you want to know how Jessica did that?
Let me walk you through the steps I walked Jessica through to help her regain her confidence to deal with the situation.
Which of these types of tough conversations bothers you most?
Jessica and I talked about 3 kinds of tough conversations. She realized this one was the first but that she'd experience all of them at different times. I bet you have too!
Your thoughts make a tough conversation challenging
The similarity between these types of tough conversations is our perspective. We THINK they will be tough. Therefore, our perspective or view on what will happen makes us believe the discussion will be tough.
Jessica had certainly done this. She could feel the anxiety in her body, feeling she'd be met with aggression when she addressed the issue, and Jessica was worried she'd fall apart.
Which of these is your go-to reaction?
Imagine a tough conversation situation that you know needs dealing with. Which of these is your typical reaction?
Option # 1: You hope it will resolve itself, and you put that conversation off, and off, and off until it's a huge issue.
Option # 2: You are anxious about dealing with the conversation, so you armour up, put your feelings aside and head into the conversation, perhaps someone aggressively.
Your version may not be exactly as above, but you get the point. Jessica knew she was heading in the direction of the second. She thought if she could stuff down her emotions and deal with them matter-of-factly that she might get through it without falling apart. However, she was also very worried that it may not work either.
You think your way into doubt, fear and hesitation.
Jessica was losing sleep over this upcoming conversation. You may find that too. The issue at hand goes round and round in your head for a long time. However, if you are like most, you rarely slow down to consciously and intentionally think about it. This is because we don't consciously and deliberately decide how to address the issue at hand ahead of time. Instead, when we've had enough, we react.
In the meantime....
While all of that is happening inside us, it's causing us to think we can't handle the tough conversation, and those thoughts create a lack of confidence to deal with them. I know that is NOT what you want! It certainly wasn't what Jessica wanted.
Jessica and you, too, want the confidence to handle your job, team, and people.
Let's change your thoughts and build that confidence!
You can change your thoughts about that upcoming conversation
Your doubt, fear and hesitation are thoughts. You can change those thoughts. When you change your thoughts, you see things from a different perspective, and it can help make you more confident in the situations.
It's time for a different strategy for tough conversations
When we start by taking time to think strategically about the issue, we can get control of our thinking mind, plan for how we will manage our emotions and strategize a way to address the situation.
▶ Step # 1 - Schedule in thinking time
Rather than having thoughts about that conversation, you know you need to have, show up when you are trying to fall asleep, or some other equally inappropriate time, plan for thinking time. Then, schedule it into your calendar as a meeting with yourself.
▶ Step # 2 - Identify your triggers
When you've already identified this conversation as tough it's because something is triggered in you. It could be any of the following or something else entirely.
▶ Step # 3 - Plan for the talk
Ultimately that's often the one thing missing from an effective, difficult conversation, planning. You need to think strategically and plan for the conversation.
How Jessica did this
Jessica used our coaching time to begin the planning process, and I helped her identify her big trigger. Jessica is a deeply caring person. She has so much compassion, and when someone hurts, she hurts with them. Jessica knew the news she had to give to this employee would hurt them.
Jessica felt deeply that she had to help this employee through the conversation. They were losing part of their job. Jessica knew the resistance she would get would be justifiable. She also couldn't change the decision made by upper management to let go of this employee. She was the messenger.
Being reminded of her strength of compassion helped her prepare and plan how to start the conversation, what to do when she felt herself tearing up and how to respond with compassion to the employee's anger. It would still be an emotional conversation, a hard talk and a challenge for both of them. The difference was that Jessica felt she didn't have to shut her emotions off. She just needed to be prepared to manage them.
👉 This preparation and awareness allowed Jessica to feel way more confident and in control heading into that talk.
When you plan for your next tough conversation with conscious intention, you'll see how skilled you are. You will regain control of your emotions. You will think about how you CAN handle it. You'll feel more confident and capable because you are!
If you'd like some help to plan for your next tough talk and a worksheet to guide you through the process, check this course inside of The Training Library: Preparing for a tough talk so you can handle it with integrity.
The key take-a-way
Tough talks are tough because you THINK they are tough. Think about them differently. Pause and plan for them. Prepare for your next tough talk. Perhaps it will shift from a tough talk to a critical conversation when you do. Or maybe you'll see it as a serious talk that's important to have. It may turn into a profound or thorough discussion.
Words matter. So do your thoughts. Choose wisely and with intention!
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.