How I’m Beating Overwhelm (one step at a time)

It's 2014

As the New Year is upon us, I’m prepared to bet that most of us will be making some half-hearted resolutions about losing weight, doing more exercise, leaving the office on time and all that good stuff….. but how many of us will be sticking to our good intentions come February?

Over the last couple of years in particular I’ve been on a mission to get more focus and clarity in my life and work and to help my clients do the same – because, without exception, it is the one challenge we all seem to struggle with.  Too much to do; not enough time.

I wish I could say I’ve got it all completely nailed.  I haven’t.  But I’ve made some incremental changes (that, for me, is DEFINITELY the way to do it) and I’ve made some good headway.  And in 12 months’ time I hope to be able to report back with even more progress.  In fact, forget that.  I WILL report back with more progress (because one of the things that works for me is public accountability). No pressure…..So here are a few of the things that have made the most difference to me:

 

1. Sorting the inbox out.  My wonderful PA Pat has done this for me and it’s revolutionised the way we work.  She’ll let you have her inbox tips if you ask nicely.  Email her on pat@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk.  On that note, OUTSOURCE or DELEGATE whatever you can.  I have worked with Pat for four years and should have employed her years ago.

  • 2.Scheduling ‘white space’ in the diary.  Free time between meetings, free time each week – diarised (otherwise it won’t happen). No more running between appointments with no time to breathe.  I hate that feeling of always being ‘just on time’ and of not having enough time to reflect between appointments.
  • 3. Blocking out Monday mornings.   In 2014 I’m blocking out Monday mornings to work from home and prepare my week and month ahead.  Which means I can relax and enjoy my Sunday without having to think about work.   (It also means I can avoid the Monday morning rushhour!)
  • 4. Prioritising three things.  Each day, I identify the most important things I need to do that day.  And do them.  But I’m human so sometimes I get stuck.  I procrastinate  Particularly if it doesn’t feel like an easy thing to do.  So I then adopt the ‘just take one small step’ approach and make a start.  That normally gets me off on the right foot!
  • leadership-coaching-overcoming-overwhelm

5. Creating rituals.  A ritual is a ceremony in which the included actions, and the order in which they are done, is established and fixed (thanks Wikipedia).  In my mastermind group, we’ve each established some rituals to help us start the day well.  I have some phrases I use to get me in the right frame of mind.  I say them whilst I’m making my morning cup of tea. Whilst I’m drinking my tea, I’ll also do a couple of minutes of deep breathing.

My colleague, who is writing a book, commits to writing her thoughts down before she has her morning shower….another friend meditates for ten minutes before breakfast. The point is, that these things become so much part of our day that we do them on auto-pilot and none of them takes longer than ten minutes.  And we are accountable to each other (by text each morning!)

I will have some more tips to share with you in my next blog and if there’s anything that’s worked for you, I’d love to hear about it. Email me on lynn@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk  and I’ll share the best ones!

To a wonderful 2014 for all of us.

Lynn

P.S. We still have places at our next Choas to Clarity event on January 16th. Find out more here.

Leadership Development Through Mindfulness?!

In my recent blog post ‘She drives me crazy’ I talked about the importance of recognising our triggers (triggers that bring about strong feelings which results in behaviour that doesn’t always serve us well!) . So I want to share this article by Drake Baer with you too – it has some great tips on labelling thoughts and emotions! Enjoy

drake-baer-small

We tend to think of mindfulness as,  being totally blissed out, man–you rest your butt comfortably, your lungs do their breathing thing, and your mind abides like a vast, crystalline ocean.

But the thing about vast, crystalline oceans is: They’ve got waves. Like waves of anger, jealousy, or guilt that don’t give a damn about whether you’re at the office trying to get some work done while that aggravating Steve guy in accounting won’t stop listening to Taylor Swift so loud.

But as psychologist-coaches Susan David and Christina Congleton write for theHarvard Business Review, we can’t get rid of–or even really directly control–our mind’s waves of unsavory feelings. And as breakthrough psychological research has shown, blocking negative emotions doesn’t get rid of them; it represses and amplifies them. They’ll rise up eventually, as surely as a beach ball held underwater will seek the surface.

So if we can’t get rid of our unsavory mental-emotional waves, what do we do about them?

ENTER EMOTIONAL AGILITY

When you recognize a pattern of thought without being driven around by it or repressing it, you’re acting with emotional agility, kind of like how Neo acted in the first Matrix movie–only instead of dancing around bullets, you’re moving with your resentment toward all things Taylor Swift and Aggravating Steve.

The actual practice of emotional agility is something psychologists call ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It comes in four steps:

1) You recognize your patterns: You notice when you’re getting hooked (again!) by you emotions–one telltale sign is when your thoughts become rigid and repetitive, as if you’re always thinking about how you’re not doing enough, why everybody on your team is in your way, or how you lover-parent-friend jilted you 10 years ago. Freud said that the hallmark of neurosis is repetition, so if we sense repetition, that’s great. Because then we can start working with that pattern.

2) Label the thought or emotion: When you’re hooked on hating Steve, you can’t think of anything else: His terrible office karaoke crowds your whole mental real estate. You can’t think of anything but how you knew that he was trouble all along.

So when you find yourself getting hooked in this way, David and Congleton suggest simply labeling the thought or emotion:

Just as you call a spade a spade, call a thought a thought, and an emotion an emotion. “I’m not doing enough at work or at home” becomes “I’m having the thought that I’m not doing enough at work or at home.” Similarly, “My coworker is wrong–he makes me so angry” becomes “I’m having the thought that my coworker is wrong, and I’m feeling anger.”

This is super useful, the authors argue, because it helps you see your feelings for what they actually are: “transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful,” rather than the absolute truth about your nature or that of pop music.

3) Accept the things that are happening in your mind: “The opposite of control is acceptance,” the authors assert. This means taking the middle path between getting hooked and getting repressed: “[It’s] not acting on every thought or resigning yourself to negativity but responding to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention to them, and letting yourself experience them.”

How do you experience them? Directly.

4) Act on your values: Instead of acting out of emotion, act from a place of long-term, well-articulated conviction–part of the reason that the happiest people have the hardest jobs. Why is this so effective? Because your emotions are changing all the time, David and Congleton say, but your values stay constant.

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

Procrastination Help For Leaders!

‘I love Leo Babauta’s work (www.zenhabits.net) and wanted to share this article on Procrastination with you!

leadership tips lea babuta

I’ve been procrastinating a lot lately. I actually love procrastinating and have nothing against it.

But for those of you who want to beat procrastination, here are 10 simple steps:

1. First make sure you really, really, really want to do it. Seriously – don’t skip this step.

2. Keep things simple – don’t mess with tools, formatting, anything, just start.

3. Make it the first thing you do today, before checking email or anything else.

4. Clear away everything that stands in the way of doing. Including turning off the Internet.

5. Just get started. Overcome the initial barrier by diving in.

6. Tell yourself you’re just going to do 10 minutes.

7. Put something you dread more at the top of your to-do list — you’ll put off doing that by doing the other things on your list. (Structured procrastination.)

8. Find something about it that excites you.

9. Forget about perfection. Just start doing it, and fix it later.

10. If you keep procrastinating, re-evaluate whether you really want to do it. Consider not doing it, or putting it on the back burner.

If all else fails, just take a nap or go outside and enjoy the outdoors or do nothing. Life isn’t all about productivity. Do less.

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

Leadership Strategies – 10 Steps To Masterful Meetings

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Diary cram-packed with meetings with no space in between to think, reflect or even breathe? An issue for many a leader.

How’s that working for you?

Do you return from meetings saying ‘that was a waste of time?’

You’re not alone.  Many people complain that the meetings they attend are like wading through treacle or herding cats.   They go on too long, the critical decisions are not made, some people are allowed to go off at tangents and other people don’t ‘speak their truth.’

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are my ten top tips for masterful meetings

(and, yes, they might be common sense – but are they common practice?)

1. Be clear on what type of meeting it is.  I love Lencioni’s thinking on the daily check in; weekly tactical, monthly strategic and quarterly offsite meetings .  Knowing the difference is key

2. Start and end on time – if people are late, start without them. It’s their problem, not yours. Make it one of your ground rules.

3. Allow a 10-15 minute check in if people don’t meet frequently.  How is everybody?

4. If it’s your meeting, engage people from the beginning.  Get them excited, energised… meetings don’t have to be dull

5. Agree simple ‘ways of working’ for your meetings – one person to talk at a time/no individual conversations/no emailing and texting during the meeting.  Make these explicit don’t just ‘expect’ people to know. They won’t.

6. Agree concrete actions steps, clear accountability and timescales.  No need for reams of meeting notes.  Who has time to read all that stuff.

7. Make sure all views are aired.  Great meetings have lively, healthy debate AND focus on outcomes and decision.

8. Please, please, please STOP ‘death by PowerPoint’ at meetings. Particularly those slides with reams of figures that we can’t read.

9. Know how much the meeting is costing you in terms of everybody’s time… is it value for money?  One organisation I worked with have a ‘taxi meter’ ticking away. Focuses the mind!

10. Stop rushing from one meeting to the next – have space to reflect and gather your thoughts

By the way, if you hold meetings where everybody goes round the table and shares what they’ve been focusing on for the last month…. STOP IT NOW! It’s tedious, time consuming and, frankly, a waste of everybody’s time. Find a better way to communicate. The daily 5-10 minute check-in might, may be just what you need.

But that’s just my opinion.

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

She Drives Me Crazy!… Cue for a Song Or A Leadership Challenge?

difficult-relationships-lynn-scott

 

She Drives Me Crazy

(as the Fine Young Cannibals once sang)

Or he does…..

I’ve worked with three different people this week who’ve had what they all described as ‘tricky’ or ‘difficult’ working relationships with one of their colleagues.  There were a lot of similarities in what these three leaders described.

  • The ‘tricky colleagues’ are all described as competent peopleso it wasn’t about performance or results
  • The working relationships had felt challenging for a long time – so the situation wasn’t new

These relationships can feel hugely frustrating and what we really want is for the other person to change his or her behaviour.  Well, guess what……. They won’t.  Unless there is a compelling reason for them to do so.

leadership-coaching-the mirror

So what to do?

As is often the case, we first have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘what is my part in this?’  How am I contributing to making this a difficult relationship?’

Here are five things you can do to get to grips with those tricky colleagues:

1. Get to know who or what pushes your hot buttons and triggers strong emotions in you – then ask yourself:  ‘what is it about me that makes this relationship difficult? What      might I need to change about myself (including my beliefs or assumptions) to get a better outcome with this person?

2. Who does this person remind you of?  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘transference’ I would describe it (in very simplistic terms!) as treating somebody as if they were somebody else (unconsciously).  So you behave with a senior colleague as if she were your mother, for example, because when you are with her, it feels like being with your mother!  You get the picture. I’ve had a few light bulb moments myself with transference.  Once I understand why I feel so strongly about somebody and who they remind me of it becomes a lot easier to build a better relationship with them as a unique human being!

3. First seek to understand – imagine what it is like to be in their shoes for a day.  What are their challenges? Frustrations? Fears? Hopes?

4. Work on developing your empathy – one of the best ways to do this is to use (metaphorically or literally!) what Stephen Covey calls The Talking Stick

5. Ask your colleague ‘what can we do to develop our working relationship’?  Are you getting what you need from me?’  Then LISTEN to the answers.  You might be surprised!

Vive la difference!

Till next time,

 

Lynne

Events

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Leadership Team Coach Training Programme

The Ultimate Team Coaching Solution

with Lynn Scott & Lois Burton

starts 5 March 2014

 

Would you love to coach leadership teams but not quite sure how or where to start?

Do you want to earn more by coaching leadership teams or add more value to your organisation if you are an internal coach?

Are you a bit unsure of the whole leadership team coaching process (there is one!) from start to finish? (Miss out any of the pieces of the jigsaw and you won’t be as effective as you could be)

Do you want a framework and lots of practical ideas for making leadership team coaching part of your offering to clients?

Are you struggling with how to sell or market yourself as a leadership team coach – either externally or inside your organisation?

Are you a bit worried about working with ‘challenging’ leadership teams and wondering how you will manage yourself, manage them and manage the process?!

Do you want to hone your working skills with leadership teams – courageously and with integrity?

Do you love the idea of a blended learning approach to team coaching? A mixture of live, virtual masterclasses and ‘Focus’ calls (all recorded) that you can access from wherever you happen to be as well as a challenging and experiential 3 day workshop (in June 2014) to help you hone and stretch your team coaching skills?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, and you’re an experienced coach, the Ultimate Team Coaching Solution is the right leadership team coaching programme for you.

 

Here is what previous participants had to say….

 

“As an experienced coach I attended the course to gain an understanding of the team coaching process, but I got so much more.
A really practical course, where the tutors role model team coaching skills throughout and as a consequence really stretched and challenged
my own coaching skills.  More courses should be like this!”  Sue Featherstone, Independent Coach, Developing Success Ltd

“I am really thrilled to be on this programme; my experience of the programme so far is that it is enlightening, motivating, informative and through the experiential learning approach
that is embedded throughout it challenges me to up my game as a coach. I like the eclectic approach and in particular the fact that everything we talk about we personally
experience which is modelled by Lynn and Lois. They embody and model challenge and stretch which as a coach is vitally important in our development and in team coaching.
They are both very supportive and welcoming and the experience is very holistic. I am very pleased to recommend this program.”
Carole Swindells Associate Director of Learning and Organisational Development at Salford Royal Foundation Trust

For more details and price, including Early Bird price, download our brochure: Brochure January 2014 Lynn Scott

 

Email: pat@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk      telephone: 01729 548024

Your Leadership Mindset

Carol_Dweck

 

If you find yourself (or others) saying ‘that’s just the way I am’ or ‘it’s just my personality and I can’t change it’ you (or those others) have what Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset calls a FIXED MINDSET.  Here’s what she says:

‘A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.’

leadership mindset

‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is an expression that springs to mind, here. Or ‘I’ve never been any good at……..’ Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

What inspiring leaders want to cultivate is what Dweck calls A ‘growth mindset’With this mindset you believe that you can change things through effort, practice and experience.  So, yes, you can have leadership presence; yes, you can influence your senior team; yes, you can have a better work-life balance; yes, you can run effective, engaging and purposeful meetings; yes, you can deliver great presentations.   You can see where I’m going with this…..

One of the reasons that traditional training courses don’t always result in the desired changes is because they completely ignore mindset.

You’ve probably attended a few courses where you learn new theories, models, and frameworks – all very interesting and useful in many ways.  But, be honest, you’ve not really applied them back at work.

Or you’ve sent your team members on expensive leadership programmes which they enjoy but (frustratingly) their leadership capability doesn’t improve one iota.

assertiveness training

Or you’ve sent team members on assertiveness training – they learn a few phrases, they learn about body language, they learn ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ but they are no more assertive than they were before. (Ask them about their beliefs, their drivers, their values, their biggest fears and you’ll start to get to the mindset behind the behaviour).

My favourite example of Focusing on the Wrong Thing is Time Management training.  Nothing wrong with it, per se.  But I know people who can spout every theory going about time management but still choose to let time manage them.  Why?

Because sometimes it’s easier to spend time doing ‘safe’ things rather than those in the ‘difficult’ box! (So reading emails is safer than having that difficult conversation).

sitting-on-the-fence

I know enough now about mindset to know when I need to change mine, get off the fence and stop making excuses.  And it can be very challenging.  I might procrastinate for a while. Because sometimes the fence can be a comfortable place to be – but it’s uncomfortable even painful after a while.

So here’s how to start cultivating a growth mindset.

Look at one belief you hold about yourself that is not serving you well.  (often starts with I should/I must/I ought…..)

Ask yourself ‘what effort, practice and experience do I need to change that mindset?’

Because you can teach an old dog new tricks!

And new tricks means more rewards!

Till next time

 

Lynn

Leadership Stories – Values in Action and The Tale of The Quirky Accountants

russell-smith

Last week, just after I’d posted my blog on Values  I met with my accountant Russell Smith   for our yearly review meeting and lunch (thanks Russell!).  Back in his office afterwards I met some new members of his team and he showed me the Values that were painted on the office wall (I loved this – part of the fabric of the building, not on a separate plaque or sheet of paper!)

calculators and statistk

The company values are these:

A. Innovate systems so that we never make the same mistake twice

  • B. Do whatever it takes so our clients become raving fans

C. Be passionate, fun and (sometimes) quirky* (now how many of you are surprised at that for a firm of accountants!)

D. Care for people’s happiness, fulfilment and well-being

E. Seize every moment as an opportunity to grow and learn so we always give our best

I love these values – they mean something. They are inspiring and yet grounded in reality.

Not like:

‘We aim to provide great customer service’

What does that mean?

Now, some of these values can be measured quantitatively (an occasional client survey, for example) but as Russell says ‘just because you can’t measure something it doesn’t mean it’s not important’.  A better question to ask is ‘what stories can we tell this month that show we have lived our values?’ No stories?  You’re in trouble!

Stories can be so much more powerful than data in bringing values to life.

lynn-scott-coaching

Never one to miss an opportunity, I asked Russell what guidance he would give to other teams or organisations looking to get real clarity on their own values.  Here are his top tips;

1. As a leader/business owner be clear on your own personal values first.  Write them down.  This helps you see if you really are living congruently according to your values.

2. Spend time with your immediate team getting real clarity on what your organisation (or your team) is really about (not what you aspire to be – what you are really like.) Russell’s team asked themselves:  ‘ What are we actually like? Is that good or bad’? For Russell, this was a two day exercise involving heart searching, honest conversations and really getting under the skin of who they were as individuals and as a team.

3. This one I love – spend time as a senior team living and breathing the chosen values before sharing them with the wider team.  The values have to really ‘hit the heart’ for everyone.  The senior team did this for six months before introducing them more widely across the organisation.

4. Values should be expressed in a sentence and five values is probably the maximum you need!

  • 5. If you do this purely as a marketing exercise you’re missing the point.

6. Once you’ve got your values in place, review them quarterly with each team member but also ask yourselves ‘how are we living these values as a team’?

Having values written down makes it much easier to:

  • Recruit the right people – they ABSOLUTELY MUST share the same values (even if they are technically brilliant, if they don’t share the values they won’t get hired)

 

*if you want to know how they are ‘sometimes quirky’ – Ask Russell www.rsaccountancy.co.uk but colour themes and cupcakes might give you a clue.

 

Till next time

 

Lynn

 

Leadership Coaching Tips – 6 Steps to Behaviour Change

old dog and a new trick

Can you teach an old dog new tricks*?  (For the answer, read on……)

I find that one of the reasons that people don’t always deliver on their promises, meet their goals, objectives, or KPIs is that even with good intentions and the best will in the world they know ‘what’ they need to work on or change but they don’t know ‘how’.

Let me explain.

Leaders often want their team members to ‘improve this; increase that; influence more effectively here; develop new ways of doing this or that’.….. and so on.  And, intellectually, team members ‘get it’

They get the ‘WHAT’.

But when the WHAT is about some kind of behaviour change, they can get stuck.

Because they don’t know where or HOW to start.

And it seems a bit overwhelming; scary even.

So to all leaders who find themselves in this position, wanting to help your team to make those behaviour changes these tips should help:

We’ll use a simple example of speaking up at a meeting

Firstly, you both need to agree that the behaviour change is necessary (and why)

1.Ask your team member how ready he is to make the necessary change – just because you’ve spoken about it and you both agree, it doesn’t mean he will make a start straight away.

2.Be clear on what YOU will be thinking, feeling, hearing, seeing if he makes the change (for example you might think that he clearly has something of value to say that is useful to the whole team; you will be hearing his ideas which can be very useful to the team’s thinking process; you will feel happy that he is making a really valid contribution and you will be seeing his team members feeling that he is contributing equally and taking part rather than sitting  back or ‘opting out’).

3. Ask him what HE will be thinking, feeling, hearing seeing if he makes the change – and possibly what others will make of it (e.g. his team members).

4. Ask him to share what he thinks the pros and cons of changing his behaviour might be.  This is important.   For example, the pros might be all of the points in (3) above.  But for him, at the moment, he doesn’t rock the boat/put his cards on the table/disagree with others by staying quiet – so he stays ‘safe’.  So, for him, changing behaviour potentially comes with some perceived risk. So what are the beliefs behind his current behaviour? These should provide some enlightening pointers.

5. How can you help him prepare for the behaviour change?  (What might he need to write down/think about in advance/ask somebody else/practise)?

6. What’s the first step he might take – this is key.  Maybe his first step will be to speak up once or ask one question at the next meeting.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

lynn scott coaching -leadership development

In my coaching work, I often ask clients to do experiments to help with behaviour change.  I once worked with a man who was extremely well respected in the organisation but who had this feedback from his colleagues:  ‘Nobody knows the real you ; you don’t share much of yourself; we’d love to see more of your personality – because we don’t know you, we can feel a bit wary of you’. 

This was not how he wanted to be perceived so behaviour change was the order of the day!

This was a man who was highly intelligent, professional and successful.  His belief was that board meetings and indeed work in general should be all about getting on with the job in hand and not what he called ‘small talk’.

This belief was not serving him well.

l

So we set up an experiment where he would make ‘small talk’ in the airline queue, on planes (he travelled a lot on business!), in the supermarket and so on.

We also agreed that he would find out two things about each of his board member colleagues that was non-work related –  in whatever way he felt was right for him.

Small steps.

But these experiments were totally transformational to the way he saw himself and the way others experienced him as a colleague and team member

He truly came out of his shell!

One of the most useful books I have read on the subject of behaviour change is Changing for Good .  The Stages of Change model outlined is a really useful indicator of the steps that we all go through when making changes (or not) in our lives, how change takes place and some of the reasons why we don’t change.

*Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks  – but like the ‘changing a lightbulb’ joke, the dog has to want to learn!

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

Leadership Development – 3 Ways to Master Difficult Conversations

leadership-development coaching-difficult conversations

As I have been recently facilitating a number of leadership development coaching sessions I’ve been speaking to a lot of leaders  about ‘difficult’ conversations.    They are the conversations that:

(a)     You don’t know how or where to start

(b)    You’re worried about the outcome

(c)    You can’t quite find the words

(d)    You feel you’ve ‘messed up’ in the past

So you hope that if you avoid the conversation, the problem might go away. (A clue:  it won’t).

So ask yourself this:

What’s to be gained from having this conversation?

And

What could we potentially lose if we have this conversation?

This is clearly an area that a lot of us could get better at both at work and in our personal lives –   which is why there are so many books written on this  subject (Tough conversations; Crucial Conversations, Fierce conversations…. You name it, there’s a book!)

And I would say it’s a topic that comes up in some shape or form with most of the leaders and teams I work with and it’s been one of the most challenging areas of work for me personally.

Much as I hate to generalise or stereotype it’s something we Brits seem to be particularly poor at, for some reason.  When I work with other Europeans they often despair of our total inability to ‘say it as it is’.

lynn scott coac

So why do we find it so difficult?

The most common reasons are:

  • A strong need to be liked  (yep, that was mine!)

And/or

  • Fear of conflict (psychological or physical)

But where do those beliefs come from?  Often we’re brought up to believe:

  • I must be nice
  • I must be supportive
  • Don’t rock the boat
  • Don’t make personal remarks

You’ll have your own script.  And whilst these phrases might seem to serve us well some of the time, we have to ask:

In this situation, in what way is this belief serving me (or others) well?’

If the answer is ‘it’s not’ then there’s work to be done.

Here’s my story.  Wanting to be liked made me a great supportive coach.  But most leaders want to be challenged.  They want their thinking to be challenged, they want honest feedback about their impact and their blind spots; they want to be stretched to the edge of their comfort zone and beyond  and they want somebody to ‘say it as it is’ to them with what is sometimes beautifully described as ‘fearless compassion’.

So to be a better coach I had to get over my desire to be liked and focus on the need to ‘speak my truth’ to serve my clients and their organisations in the best possible way.

At first it was hard.

I took a lot of deep breaths before speaking.

At times, I screwed up, misread a situation, got the wrong end of the stick or was too focused on my own ‘stuff’ rather than the person in front of me.

But I believe it was Woody Allen who said ‘if you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative’.

So I keep on going!!

And that is where preparation is the key to making a good start.  Now, I’m not saying you should prepare a script but you do need to be clear on:

  • The purpose of the conversation
  • The  outcome you want as a result of the conversation
  • How long you need for the conversation
  • What will happen after the conversation (immediately after and in the longer term)
leadership conversations

Once you’re clear on that, I’ve found that one of the best things to do is to practise saying out loud the things you have written down.  You can do that with a friend, a colleague or a coach.  Or you can simply practise saying it out loud when you are driving, doing the washing up (well, that works for me!) or anywhere else.  There’s something about saying the words over and over again a few times which helps us become more comfortable with what we need to say.

difficult

So you’ve done your preparation and it’s time for The Conversation…..

Remember, it’s a two way street.

So you’ve done your preparation and practised out loud.  The two of you are in a room together

So start by:

  • Outlining your reasons for having the conversation
  • Explaining what is at stake
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings on the issue (I think/I feel NOT you make me think/feel….)
  • Explaining that you are looking for a solution and mutual understanding

Then:

  • Ask for a response from the other person
  • SHUT UP AND LISTEN! And allow some silence for reflection
  • Explore options to help you move forward
  • Agree actions.

Like many things, the more we practise the easier these difficult conversations will become.  But if we do nothing….. well, you know the answer to that!

So here are the three ways to master difficult conversations:

  1. Understand your beliefs and where they come from (and decide if you need to ‘re-visit’ some of them if they are not serving you well)
  2. Prepare
  3. Practise

Once you do this a few times, you’ll find conversations become less difficult and easier to have ‘in the moment’.

Good luck!

Lynn