I came across this quote the other day “I’ve always believed that a lot of troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other.” Ronald Reagan.
It summed up a theme I’d had with several clients – that of courageous conversations. We don’t suddenly walk in to the office one day and find we have the internal strength and skill to have courageous conversations. We find that over time our desire to show up, be authentic, inspirational and increase trust in those we work with gently leads us to having more and more courageous conversations. Firstly they’re not scripted, yes we can prepare and decide what the main focus and purpose is, and then we have to show up and let go. And yes showing up and letting go is very scary, but like all risks if it’s very small then the reward is too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a leader tell me that they’re ready for this type of courageous conversation, no they won’t direct it, and then see them in action controlling the conversation for dear life. If you’re going to script a conversation give the other performer the lines so they can play their part as you expect. This at best is what I call conversation chess; you’ve worked out in advance the probable moves you expect your opponent to make, you’ve worked out a successful strategy and now the conversation is you hoping that they stick to the ideal game plan but if not you’ve thought of some alternative moves that will still give you your desired outcome – deep down, well outside your awareness, this is usually to win and remain safe.
Secondly courageous conversations are very rarely born from talking to everyone else to gather so called help and evidence in readiness for the conversation. You can work out if really you’re secretly bitching because of how you’d feel if the person you’re talking about overheard you. Would they sense that you were researching in order to have a meaningful conversation with respect or you were researching to make yourself feel good, right, justified?
Here’s a little aside – when someone comes to you for these type of research preparation conversations do you participate freely or do you pay attention to the motive and choose how to be involved? Let’s face it when we participate in these bitching disguised as research conversations then our credibility it just as affected.
Our ability to communicate as a leader is a corner stone of our success, having more courageous conversations really sets us apart as a leader of leaders. So when was the last one you had, and which relationship matters so much to you that you’d be willing to show up, let go and have a game changing conversation?