When was the last time you stopped for a moment to analyse and grade your own communication skills? How do you rate yourself?
No matter how skilled you are at building relationships with others, this is an area of communication that most struggle to master. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, being able to have courageous conversations is a necessity as a leader. Without them, it’s impossible to champion change and improve performance in our organisations. While many managers dread these occasions, these types of talks don’t have to be purely negative events. In fact, they shouldn’t be.
I’d like to give you 3 ways to support you leaning into those uncomfortable conversations you’ll need to have as a leader.
Stop fearing the conversations.
One of the questions I ask my clients is “what might happen if you don’t have this conversation?” In most cases, when they think it through, the consequences of not doing anything are far worse than the conversation itself. What my question does is to stop them focusing on their fears and how they feel or visualising the worst-case scenario of how the other person might react. Almost never is having the conversation as bad as we imagined it to be, is it?
And just a tip here – don’t put the conversation off! Typically this will fuel your fears and give you time to imagine even worse case scenarios. Work out what you need to talk about, how you can encourage the other person to contribute to the conversation and how you can guide them to the best outcome. Then, go and have the conversation.
Be open to learning
Communication is a two-way street, even during hard conversations. Focus on being open to another viewpoint during the conversation. Don’t just deliver the news. Listen and ask questions to learn and better respond to others. Don’t be afraid to question your own assumptions. Ask questions to make certain that you have all the facts.
Being open to learning more about the views and feelings of others will improve the trust and respect between you, even when you need to discuss something that’s negative or unpleasant.
Take responsibility for the conversation
You can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but you need to hold yourself responsible for the quality of your conversation. Remember, you are the leader and with that role comes a level of power your team members don’t have. That means there’s an imbalance when you have your conversation. Your words carry the weight so think carefully about what you say and how you say it. You are not just managing a chat; you’re managing a relationship. Try to close the gap by being your authentic self, genuine and honest. Share yourself so they understand both your conviction and compassion for them and the situation.
Confront your fears and stop being afraid to give feedback. Strong relationships are built on mutual trust and respect. You and your team will only grow in an environment where everyone is encouraged to take risks and ask questions as they seek growth.
If you have any questions or you are looking for additional support to lean into these conversations, I am here to help you. Please get in touch.