Leaders Are Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations

Leaders Are Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations

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It's Monday morning and you're prepping for a meeting. As you pull together the relevant documents there's a dominant feeling slowing you down. A feeling of dread. An awareness that you're going to have to tell someone something they don't want to hear.
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You can already feel the death stares. Uncomfortable conversations are something most of us face in the workplace. Whether its delivering some disappointing sales figures, asking for a pay-rise, or explaining to someone there is no longer a role for them. Dread or fear can creep in and build an anxiety which is quite unpleasant. I had this recently and beyond the dread, I felt a hyper-consciousness of the way I was being evaluated on the project. I had to deliver some bad news and my delivery of it was going to determine how much the team would respect me as a result.

Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. My mind was a whirlwind of scenarios, how should I handle certain questions, trying to plan for all reactions in the hope that I could reduce the level of discomfort I felt. But then a different thought occurred to me. What if I could find a way to be at peace with the discomfort, rather than trying everything to avoid it? I thought about many of the people I looked up to and they seemed to have this ability. A complete coolness when challenged, as if it didn’t phase them.

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So, I tried it. I went to the meeting calmly ready for the challenge. Which came. It came in fact with more heat and tension than I predicted… but it was OK. It was absolutely fine. It didn’t affect me emotionally at all. I could sit back unmoved and ready to process and act on the discussions with a totally clear head. Dare I say it… I almost enjoyed it. Successful writer, ‘human guinea-pig’ and podcast host Tim Ferris, said: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” 

So, next time you’re preparing for a conversation or meeting which is giving you any level of anxiety, try this simple change in perspective and it may help you as much as its helped me!

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