Conversations You Don’t Want to Have

Difficult conversations

This is seriously impacting your life.

One of the greatest joys in my work is helping leaders like you smash through one of the biggest growth killers they are letting consume their life.

It’s like a black hole consuming your energy without anyone ever really knowing it’s happening and no one really wanting to tell you that they see the danger and drain.

So what is it and how is it draining your energy?

The conversation you’re avoiding

I see it on their faces when I walk into the room. The sad look of misery as the tyrant, the abuser, the negligent, the ill-willed and sometimes the unaware work against them and their team.

Employees pining for a better place to work while leaders avoid the issue causing disengagement and despair.

After a bit of coaching, I tend to find that there is ALMOST ALWAYS some conversation that isn’t being had by the leader. Some of the symptoms of this are:

  1. A lone ranger running amok amongst the team and making everyone’s life more difficult
  2. An issue or outright behaviour that they’re aware of but feel uncomfortable addressing
  3. A person not pulling their load while the high-performers wonder what the h3ll they are trying so hard for
  4. A rift between the team and one or two people who play by a different set of rules, with no real consequence

So what can you do?

You know what must be done

While the battle is difficult, the decision is not

You know what those symptoms/people mentioned above require. It isn’t some new engagement program, employee recognition, team reset or some rogue consultant (watch those dodgy characters) coming in to tell you how to build a better team.

What you need is to ride the rails of fear and tackle the thing you know sits there feeding on your energy: that difficult conversation. That simple calling out of the most insidious and destructive of behaviour that is the direct root cause of those symptoms mentioned above.

To do this:

  • Clinically assess how difficult it really will be — We tend to build things up in our head. The longer things drag out, the more we expect they will be painful. An objective, evidence-based review of where things are at and what really needs to be said rather than the emotion of it all can make a huge difference.
  • Look at the net impact — If you’re unconvinced of the need to tackle the issue, look at the net impact. Perhaps the relationship gets a bit rough for a while (maybe not), but what about the net impact of NOT having the conversation? The high achievers that disengage, the migraines you carry, the business impacts, etc etc. Once you look at the net result, making a decision to do it becomes easier.
  • Anticipate and counter — Nearly every difficult conversation will result in some uncomfortable or adverse reaction from the recipient of the feedback. Sometimes it’ll be shock (in which case you just need to be supportive) and other times it’ll be outrage (in which case you need to be ready with countermeasures). In any instance, you need to plan your conversation beforehand and step into their shoes to anticipate their reaction. This’ll hugely shift your comfort in the conversation.
  • Lock in actions — No matter how the conversation goes, you need them to commit to some level of change. Those need to be clear, measurable actions with deadlines to deliver on. Change comes with accountability and can’t happen without it.


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