What Conversation Are You Avoiding?

2 minute read

As we have mentioned in various earlier posts, there is a positive correlation between the quality of our conversations and our leadership capacity, richness of life, and even the viability of our professional careers.

This has been explored thoroughly in a host of books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser; Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg; Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny; and Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton.

In our discussion today, we’re not diving into how to improve the quality of your conversations, but rather simply asking:

What conversation are you avoiding, AND
what emotion are you steering away from—or even afraid of—that motivates you to avoid it?

It could be sorrow in anticipation of telling a subordinate they’re really not a good fit for their current role in the organization.

It might be anger and frustration related to a known slight by a colleague who needs to be held accountable.

Perhaps it’s guilt related to coming clean with a significant other about something that was or wasn’t done.

Or maybe there isn’t a conversation being actively postponed right now, but the question calls to mind a similar situation from the past.

During coaching sessions, it’s not uncommon for clients say to us, “Yeah, I really need to talk to them about that…” and then they don’t.

Sometimes there are excuses. Clients want to wait until they are finished with an all-consuming project, get back from vacation, or even until the “time is right.” But from personal experience and observation, we can tell you with certainty that the awkwardness of a conversation is directly proportionate to the amount of time it has been postponed!

So, why put off until tomorrow, what you can do today?  (There’s a meme, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can cancel?” but I digress…)

In a previous blog, we discussed, step by step, how to prime the pump for awkward conversations. However, if you’re really struggling with the steadfastness necessary to make yourself go through with it, we recommend talking to someone you trust about the conversation you’ve been putting off. Unless they tell you not to have it, make a commitment to do it by a certain date and ask your confidante for accountability.

For all their discomfort, difficult conversations do have the power to clear the air, strengthen relationships, and build stronger teams. And if that’s not enough to help you make the leap, just know you’ll feel so much better when it’s done.

For this week: Commit to a trusted confidante when exactly you’re gonna “have that talk.”