Episode 47: How to have a courageous conversation

Just before lockdown, Rachel recorded this episode that specifically deals with helping individuals and teams manage those difficult conversations that arise during change, conflict and crisis. And it’s fair to say that as we continue, or return to work in our changed world, these conversations have become crucially important

Rachel talks with Beccie D’Cunha, founder of Courage Lab about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations – because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Beccie helps leaders and teams to have these conversations. Where there is conflict around performance, difficulty with change or challenges with strengths or differences, she mediates and gives people the tools they need to bring about healthy dialogue that leads to resolution.

So why do we avoid ‘difficult’ conversations? Often it’s because we’re worried about ruining the relationship. 

As the conversation instigator we may be prone to adopting the ‘fawn’ strategy, where we undermine the importance of our feelings around the topic. If you’ve ever found yourself using phrases like “Well, it’s not much of anything really…” before your chat, then you are fawning – many of us are guilty of this.

As the listener, you may feel anxious about what you are about to hear. Have you done something wrong? What if you don’t have the solution? What if they are angry?

The great news is, you’ve probably already got a lot of the skills it takes to be a good listener. Beccie explains how to use the three A’s (Acknowledge, Accept and Ask) consciously to really improve your active listening when you’re faced with a ‘time to talk’ moment.

Accept the feeling that’s being expressed.

Acknowledge the feeling, don’t try to change it. 

Ask; get curious – tell me more about what you’re feeling and what you need.

It can be easy to assume the wrong intent in people’s reactions, and we explore how to have an empathetic response, how to listen with curiosity and understand how to manage those conversations where reactions take over.

In allowing these conversations the time and space to be explored with curiosity, we quite often realise we have the answers already within us.

Beccie’s top three tips to having courageous conversations are:

  1. Do your prep. Work out what you want to get out of the conversation? What are the pros and cons of having the talk?
  2. Take the risk to be honest and vulnerable with your feelings.
  3. After we’ve shared, be prepared to hear the response, and listen out for how the listener is feeling as well.

Do you have any responsibility for people in your current role? Our Busy Leaders Guide to Getting a Resilient Team video series is available now! Learn how to support your team without burning out yourself by making  a simple mindset shift plus loads of other useful resources and tips. You can access the series here.


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Podcast links

Rachel Morris

LinkedIn @Dr-Rachel-lMorris https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-rachel-morris/

Twitter @DrRachelMorris



Find out more about her online and face to face courses for doctors and other professionals on surviving and thriving at work at https://www.shapestoolkit.com   

Beccie D’Cunha

LinkedIn @BeccieDCunha https://www.linkedin.com/in/becciedcunha/

Twitter @becciedcunha 


Beccie has launched her brand and website since this podcast was recorded. You can find out more about her work here www.couragelab.co

Other Podcasts

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

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Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

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Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

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Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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