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. 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.
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!