Conversations that are vital to have

Dec 6 / Jen Tyson
What is a vital conversation?
 It’s an important conversation that has an impact, whether you choose to have it or not. These have also been referred to as ‘courageous’ or ‘difficult’ conversations. There is an element of courage when you choose to have them, but I prefer the term vital, because often if we choose the path of perceived safety and not have particular conversations, it can really get in our way of good, healthy, working relationships.
They are conversations that most of us have avoided at some time or other because they may be uncomfortable, awkward or downright terrifying depending on your level of experience in this space. Some examples that would classify as a ‘vital’ conversation would be:

  • Asking for a promotion or a pay rise
  • Asking for someone to refine or change a behaviour that is bothering you or getting in the way of a healthy relationship
  • Asking for someone to stop treating you a certain way
  • Requesting more time to finish a project when you are struggling
  • Requesting a more reasonable way of someone communicating with you
  • Any conversation you know you need to have but avoid having it

When choosing not to have these conversations we give up the possibility of addressing issues that undermine our relationships, limit our productivity and chip away at self-confidence and sometimes constrain opportunity.  

If someone is frustrating us, we will only get more frustrated. If someone is treating us a certain way, we will only enable them to keep doing it. If we never ask for more money, or promotion or to be valued, we may stay stuck where we are for the foreseeable future. Get the picture? 
Dr William Schutz, behaviour specialist and founder of the Human Element Solutions, once said “If people in business told the truth, 80-90 percent of their problems would disappear”.  
I like to focus on telling the truth with compassionate honesty, this style of speaking the truth is much more focussed on positive outcomes and building relationships rather than destroying them.
Some people have said to me ‘I always tell the truth, I just say it how it is’. The problem with this approach to honesty is that it can hurt people or leave people more wounded than when you started. Compassionate honesty comes from a different place, it’s about being honest but landing your truth in a way that leaves both parties intact.  

We may avoid having these conversations because we may be afraid of:

  • Offending/upsetting someone
  • Rocking the boat
  • Rejection
  • Opposing opinions/disagreements
  • The conversation leading to conflict

Some tips from me:
  • Becoming more confident and competent at vital conversations, like all communication skills it is all about practicing.  
  • Be prepared to practice a lot and be brave enough to have a conversation that matters more than once.  
  • Accept not all of them will go well all of the time. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.

They are not always comfortable to start, or comfortable during, sometimes they can get a bit robust, heated, passionate and even emotional, but the outcomes can still be positive and healthy in the end if I’m being guided by these principles, and both parties are committed to staying in the conversation to work things through.
It is really important that you prepare good opening questions or conversation starters. Framing up a conversation is vital, it's all in how you say things, not necessarily what you say. You can actually script yourself. 

My previous blog here has all the tips around conversation starters and setting yourself up for greater success.

If you would like to do a free course on this including some frameworks and other tools click here

Here is to having more conversations that matter!

Jen Tyson
www.switchedonlearning.net
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