Courageous Conversations are easy right? We have them everyday, with friends, family, co-workers even strangers that we might meet. So what’s the big fuss about, why would anyone need courage for that? Why do I need courage to have a conversation? I have facilitated countless groups, workshops, spoken before audiences, why would I need courage to have a conversation? The answer is because not all conversations are alike and not all are nice or pleasant,however, many are necessary. Confrontation can be scary for a myriad of reasons but at the end of the day most people, me included, want to be loved and accepted and being confrontational isn’t always the easiest way to achieve that.
Even with all of my coaching and counselling experience, when faced with difficult conversations I can go into them with intrepid emotions. These conversations that prove challenging for me are almost always the most rewarding. Advocating for another person or a treasured cause, no sweat, I have the courage of a mother grizzly bear, but advocating for myself, wow that takes courage.
Generally, conversations that take courage are the ones that I most don’t want to have. The ones that involve me giving feedback that more than likely won’t be received well or at all. Or the ones that confront a situation that I would give anything to have magically disappear, resolve or dissolve. But guess what? I have learned (the hard way) that elephant in the room, you know, the one everyone pretends not to notice, well it just keeps getting larger and in the end big elephants create big you know what.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news and please don’t shoot the messenger, but everyday I now find myself becoming more and more vocal on my own behalf. And the positive newsflash is that like any new habit after 21 times it does get easier. And another newsflash it makes life easier! Dealing with a situation head on nips it in the bud quickly before it has a chance to grow out of hand with possible catastrophic results. I have also found that by doing this I preserve precious energy.
So yes it takes courage to speak my truth but it also takes courage to open the door to the inevitable feedback I will more than likely receive in return. Or sometimes to be prepared for the complete denial or dismissal. Sometimes people choose to leave my life rather than working thru the hard stuff.
Not unlike other topics there are endless books and workshops on this topic, however, following are a few of my favorite tips to share through my own trial and error:
- Courageous conversations need to be in person or on the phone. Email and text are too easily misunderstood.
- Give myself permission to get grounded before having the conversation to avoid reacting vs expressing myself in a clear, concise manner.
- Check in with myself to be sure that I don’t have my own agenda of how the other person will react and what the outcome will be.
- Actively listen and be present with the other person and gain a greater understanding, which I didn’t have before.
- It’s not about right or wrong, or blaming. Hearing another person’s perspective does not make my own perspective any less true.
- Receive feedback (constructive criticism) and still be loved and accepted for who I am.
- Look at feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow. Being open to feedback is a skill unto itself; it’s full of triggers and takes some practice to be open to.
In the end the most important and courageous conversation to have is the one that you have with yourself. The one in which you are true to yourself. The one in which you don’t shy away from what your heart holds to be true or most wants to say. In the end it’s about voicing those words no matter what the outcome because you’ve said it for you. That in and of itself makes it all worthwhile.
No matter what the outcome, it is an empowering and freeing experience.
What about embracing this practice for yourself or perhaps you have some wisdom around courageous conversations of your own to share.
I love to hear, go ahead and share your insights below.
Oh and don’t be fooled, just when you think you have mastered courageous conversations or any topic, the universe will test you. Since I starting writing this blog, I have been dealing with a very uncomfortable situation of which I am moving through to have a courageous conversation. Stay tuned….