#3 How to handle a difficult conversation

This week, I am exploring what is a difficult conversation and how perceptions and assumptions are sometimes in the way for us to remain neutral, objective and fearless.

You are not the only one. 29% of UK employees reported at least one case of isolated dispute or incident of conflict last year and 28% reported ongoing difficulties.

There are many different types of difficult conversations.

What makes those conversations difficult is fear so we end up focusing on our fear at the expense of dealing the conversation.

Leaving the conflict unresolved is not the solution.

It’s about seeing the situation with a different pair of glasses.

A difficult conversation can become a conversation. You just ‘abandon’ the word ‘difficult’. Yes, drop it :). In this way, you will be in control of your public health enemy number 1, your cortisone.

What would it take for you to see things differently? What simple actions can you start taking today?

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Welcome to this episode of Leading The Coaching Change Podcast. I am Nadine Powrie, Executive and Leadership Coach. So today I’d like to talk about what is a difficult conversation and how perceptions and assumptions are sometimes in the way for us to remain neutral, objective and fearless. So if you’ve picked up this episode, I want to reassure you that you are not the only one to find some conversation difficult.

Perhaps you don’t know this about me, but I’m a member of CIPD. And CIPD stands for Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. And in 2017, I studied one of their HR qualifications. And one of my dissertations was about ‘difficult conversations’. I’ve done a lot of research around difficult conversation, particularly around conflict. And for one of the dissertation that I was doing, I found some very interesting research from CIPD where they say that nearly four out of 10 UK employees so that’s roughly about 30% report some form of interpersonal conflict at work. In the last year, 29% of UK employees reported at least one case of isolated dispute of incident of conflict and 20% reported ongoing difficulties.

The most serious incident of conflict focused on on those issues. 44% of issues focused on differences of personality or styles of working. 33% on individual competence or performance, 23% on level of support or resources, 23% on agreeing deliverables or setting targets, 10% on contract of employment or terms and conditions, 8% on absence management and 4% on promotion.

Now you might have had other issues, focusing on dealing with personal problems, investigating complaints, dealing with grievances, or reassuring and comforting someone, for example, if they are to be made redundant, or if you’re having to tell your team that organizational change is coming now. Nobody likes to have those conversation and when I asked the leaders that I coach what make those conversations difficult, they’re all saying that it has something to do with fear.

Fear of conflict of upsetting people of feeling uncomfortable of feeling that colleague, that might be the fear of confrontation, conflict, uspetting people, feeling uncomfortable, experiencing pain, hurt, disappointment and so on and so forth…

So have you felt one of those fear yourself? Sometimes you can feel totally paralyzed about it. And what becomes the focus is the fear and not that conversation anymore. Now, fear can be exhausting and can leave you really miserable, angry and unhappy and you are left with no time no energy and I’m sure that there’s been time when you will have thought about leaving the conflict unresolved because you hope that it will disappear with time or it will resolve itself but actually you know that it doesn’t and I know that it doesn’t, from what my clients are telling me, it never does.

Does that speak to you? As a an Executive and Leadership Coach, I can offer a way to get the situation with a different pair of glasses. And I often say to my clients, I’m going to ask you to wear a different pair of glasses. How are you seeing the situation? It’s about your perception. So it’s about your ability to see, to hear and to become aware of something through your senses. But it’s also about the way in which you are regarding, understanding and interpreting that something. And finally, it may be about your intuition and insight, because we all have intuition and at times, you might want to follow your guts. Now, would you agree with me if I said that things are not always what they seem. For example, you can have a conversation with someone and they can tell you what you want to hear without any hint of truth.

The point is that anyone can give off any perception they want. The world we see is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. So coming back to my original point about difficult conversation and how you see the situation, it’s really about controlling your reactions and the language you use. What if you choose different words? So a difficult conversation, for example, could become a conversation. So instead of saying today, I’m going to have a very difficult conversation you could say today I am having a conversation.

with joining your Alex

By choosing to remove the word ‘difficult’ from that conversation, it becomes neutral, actually more neutral.

In the way that you are not sending any negative messages to your brain so what I’m saying is that you train your brain to be positive and to go positive instead of a negative reaction. Now remember that your brain is not designed to create happiness as much as we wish it were some your brain evolved to promote survival. It saves the happy chemicals (I did mention those three chemicals last week in one of my podcast the Dopamine, the Serotonin and the Oxytocin) for opportunities to meet a survival need, but you can end up with a lot of unhappy chemicals in your quest to stimulate the happy ones, especially at the end of a stressful work day.

there are a number of reasons why your brain goes negative when you think about a difficult conversation distress on

On called Cortisone is your public health enemy number 1 so I’m just going to repeat that again you know Cortizone is your public health enemy numbe 1. Elevating your cortizone level interferes with your learning and memory, lower your immune function, your bone density, increase your weight gain, your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your heart disease unreleased go on so I’m not trying to frighten you but I want you to be aware of the consequences of not taking actions of seeing the difficult conversations differently.

What would it take for you to see things differently for you to talk about a conversation in a neutral way and for you to remove the word difficult and all the negativity associated to it?

I’d love to hear from you. What simple actions can you take today to start seeing things differently? Remember, I’m here to help you. I’m delivering my Masterclass on Thursday the 28th of March in London at Wallecespace to respond to the demand of my clients precisely on having a difficult conversation and how to manage those difficult conversations.

So if you would like to come and join us go and visit my website www.nadinepowrie.com class and just click to book your place.

I hope you’re having a fabulous week and I’ll see you next week.

 


I’d love to hear from you. Visit my website http://www.nadinepowrie.com

My Masterclass on ‘Coaching for Managing Difficult Conversations’ is on Thursday 28th March in London at Wallacespace. Click HERE to book a place. There are only 3 places left.

Are you finding it hard to handle difficult conversations with colleagues that you line manage? 

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