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