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Learn from Difficult Conversations

We don’t have to look far to find a conflict or see people communicating poorly. With so much at stake in this time, we need more courage and tools to speak out on things that do not match our values and the values of our organizations.

For the last five years, I’ve been studying and holding spaces that provide communication tools to have difficult conversations around a vast variety of content and situations. I’m still learning a lot and there are so many nuances to take into consideration for each conversation.

A recent example for me was a difficult conversation with a close friend of mine. There had been several things that he had said on different occasions that were really hurtful to me. I was having judgments based on those comments or lack thereof, which signified to me that he didn’t value our relationship in the same way. My stress response of avoidance came up with every reason in the book for why I shouldn’t have that conversation. This pattern held me back for a bit, but I was able to recognize that pattern and have the conversation. I used the conflict model we practice in our courses to set the intention, appreciation, concern, and process. I was able to share my experience, own my part in it, and hear his.

We discussed the conversation once it was complete, and we both left feeling a closer bond. I understood him better and where he was coming from, and I realized how many of our interactions had been affected by this undiscussed issue between us. I can’t say that every difficult conversation I have had has had the outcome I had imagined. At the same time, I can’t remember one time that I haven’t learned something or received more clarity about myself and my relationship to the other in the process. For years I can look back on all the conversations I avoided with partners, co-workers, family members, bosses, and friends. I wish I had these tools in those situations, but I’m very grateful I do now, and that I can show up differently.

I go back to the quote by James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can change until its faced.”

Come learn some new skills and frameworks to help engage in courageous conversations in our 5-Week Small Group Coaching sessions for The Art of Productive Conflict. It starts on October 20th, so sign up today for the limited slots! You can also check with your company to see if they have a professional development budget to support you.

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