Think of a conversation that you need to have that scares you. Perhaps it is a conversation with your boss about something she is doing that is not helpful. Or a conversation with a peer about what you are noticing that is not working for him. Or taking it home, perhaps it is a conversation with your spouse or family member to discuss something that you do not feel the other is willing to talk about.
Ok, do you have a conversation in mind?
Does the thought of this conversation make you want to evaporate? Or run out the door? Or go on vacation? If so, that's a good sign. These are the conversations I am talking about.
I do understand the fear. There are legitimate reasons to be scared about having these conversations. Some people do not react well when confronted, regardless of how eloquent and thoughtful you are. Sometimes, certain discussions are not career-enhancing, depending on your colleagues and boss. These are realities.
What is equally a reality is that the cost of not having the conversation is much greater than the risk of it going badly. No one will die in this process. And your mental health and wellbeing are at stake here. These needed conversations weigh you down. You know this. Science tells you this. We all know this, yet we justify our way into carrying unneeded weight around.
So, here are three tips to overcome the scary nature of some exchanges:
- Embrace the nervous energy. One of my prior bosses once told me that the butterflies you feel before a tough conversation are an indication of how much you care about the person. I like to think of it that way; put a positive spin on it. Ultimately, if you don't care about a relationship or a person, you wouldn't bother having the conversation. So come to terms with the way you feel and expect some nervousness. See it as a good sign instead of wanting to flee.
- Prepare accordingly. Whether it is a feedback or confrontation conversation, preparation is key for having the conversation align with your intention. Here at fierce we teach the preparation piece for various conversations, and oftentimes, people tell us that it is our magic. The goal is to make your conversations authentic and drive the results you want. So, prepare by scanning some of the tips from this blog. Set aside some unadulterated time to focus and think through the conversation. Take some notes.
- Practice with someone. Many conversations do not go the way we want them to, because we are not clear and direct. Once you have done some preparation, find a friend or partner to practice with. Ask the person how they felt with your delivery. Ask for feedback. It is not necessary to do a role play situation, but rather, use the practice time as an opportunity to make sure you are not laying blame or using inflammatory language that could trigger just about anyone.
These tips definitely can help you stay focused. Ultimately, though, you are the one that has to make the choice to have the conversation.
And for your own sake, I really hope you do. You have more to gain than you can imagine.
Do you have any tips for our audience about dealing with fear around conversations?