“How do I say this?” or, “Do I really have to say this?” are two challenging questions we face when we need to talk straight and demonstrate concern as Anita described in her last post on the five touchstones of Authentic Leadership.
It is not easy for most of us to express ourselves authentically when it involves sharing tough messages with people close to us. Yet as Susan Scott describes in her book, Fierce Conversations, it is these specific interactions, the ones that require the most courage, that establish your credibility and authenticity. Luckily with practice and dedication we can get more comfortable initiating these “courageous conversations.”
Elise Chambers from the Conflict Resolution Center of Minnesota shared a seven- step protocol for courageous conversations at a conference I attended recently. It can help you speak candidly, listen respectfully and search for solutions, even in the most contentious situations.
- Prepare yourself – do your homework and clarify your intentions before you start.
- Create the needed space and time for the emotions and the importance the conversation requires – this clarifies expectations, creates transparency and facilitates two-way dialogue.
- Acknowledge the Four Agreements* – stay engaged, speak your truth, experience discomfort, and expect and accept non-closure.
- Focus on shared interests and a positive future outcome – the conversation is not about assigning blame.
- Work to discover possibilities in the shared interests – assume that there is a mystery to be embraced and a positive resolution ahead.
- Plan the action to take next – courageous conversations focus on outcomes and actions rather than identifying what not to do.
- Review and recap – take the time to clarify outcomes, acknowledge how difficult the conversation was, and highlight positive steps.
Leaders may not relish friction, but courageously and respectfully having the conversations that are needed demonstrates your ability to stay true to your values and get results – as an authentic leader.
* Additional information can be found in the previous blog Sparks before collaboration