Leadership Tips: Have a Scary Conversation


In the vein of Halloween’s ghosts, gremlins, and other frightening characters, think of something that is equally scary: a conversation you are avoiding. 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, maybe 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 that 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.

This week’s tip is to stop stalling and have the scary conversation now. Why? Because you own the fear, and the cost of not having the conversation is much greater than the risk of it going badly. No one will be physically hurt in the process. And your mental health and wellbeing are at stake here. This needed conversation is weighing you down – whether you admit it to yourself or not.

With the holiday today, there are choices people make: Should I embrace nervous energy and go for it? 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.

If we have any lessons from Halloween, being a little spooked can be a good thing – it can even be fun.

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