Oh Boy…it’s that time of the year again—Uncomfortable Conversation Time.
Many of you will soon be conducting end-of-year performance reviews and may need to deliver some not-so-great news.
Maybe you must tell a team member their year-end bonus is not even close to what they’re expecting.
Or perhaps you’ve finally mustered up the courage to ask your boss for a raise.
Difficult Conversations at Work Don’t Have to be Uncomfortable.
Here’s an excerpt from my newest book, Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work, on getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. Hope this this short piece is helpful to you.
I’d be lying if I told you I was extremely comfortable with discomfort. However, over the years, I’ve certainly become more comfortable with situations that used to make me uneasy.
For example, I used to cringe at the thought of having to push back when I felt I wasn’t being treated fairly.
I’d ask myself, “Do you really want to make waves here? Or, I’d say to myself, “This is going to be very uncomfortable. I’m not sure I want to do this.”
I know now that if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will and no longer hesitate to express how I feel about a particular situation, even if doing so might make the other person feel a bit uneasy.
I used to hesitate to speak up when someone else presented one of my ideas as their own. I no longer do this.
Experience has taught me the importance of addressing worrisome situations head-on and what happens when you pretend nothing is wrong.
Admittingly, it’s taken me twenty years to get here!
My goal is to accelerate your learning so that it doesn’t take you as long as it’s taken me to get comfortable with discomfort.
Lots of people think that by not taking action, they’ll be able to avoid discomfort.
However, not taking action is a decision that can result in things remaining the same or worsening.
So, the way I see it, you’ve got nothing to lose by attempting to resolve whatever discomfort you may be feeling.
There are those people who overthink everything and find themselves stuck in quicksand. When asked about their inertia, they’ll tell you they need more time to do research, which if you think about it, is the last thing they need to do.
Look, we’d all like to have a crystal ball that allows us to see into the future so that we could be 100 percent sure that our next move is the right move. As far as I know, no such item is available—at least not yet.
We have to deal with the here and now and work with what we’ve got.
The best way to deal with discomfort is to take on a small task to help get the ball rolling.
Taking on a simple action item, such as setting up a meeting date, can propel a conversation forward—nothing like a deadline to get you moving!
Once you’re in motion, you’ll see more clearly what your next steps should be. You won’t feel so overwhelmed and might even feel some sense of relief knowing that you’re addressing a situation that’s been weighing you down.
Your Assignment this Week
An exercise worth doing is to think about a time at work when you were very comfortable in your role. You might have been in a job that you could do with your eyes closed. You knew exactly what would occur the next day, as nothing ever changed.
Jot down how you felt when you were in this situation.
Now, think about a time when you were in a job that wasn’t all that predictable. One day you’d be working on a particular project, and then next day, you might be flying to one of the satellite offices to put out a fire that was raging.
Write down what it felt like when your job was less predictable.
My guess is that you experienced considerably more growth and career satisfaction when you were in the job where every day was unpredictable. There was no script to follow. You had to make things up as you went along.
As a result, you experienced personal growth that wouldn’t have occurred had you remained in a role where everything always went according to plan.
You may not even have realized it at the time, but you became comfortable with discomfort. Think about this the next time you find yourself avoiding a situation because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Then push forward.
Maybe it’s time we talked…
Got a difficult conversation coming up that you’d like some coaching on? You’re in luck, as I’m offering the first 10 people who purchase a copy of Can We Talk and post a brief review on Amazon (two or three sentences will do), a FREE 30-minute coaching call. Hit reply, and send me a link to your review, and we’ll get your call scheduled.