What you’ll learn in this episode:
Difficult conversations are a necessary part of working well with others.
In order to run a profitable and successful business, you need to learn how to have and navigate tough conversations.
So often business owners either avoid difficult conversations all together, or they set out with a vague idea of what they want to achieve in their conversations (and an even more vague idea of how they want the conversation to ideally transpire).
In this episode, I share with you the 5 steps I take when having tough conversations and share with you how you can implement these steps in your own business and life to help create the outcomes you want, as well as foster positive relationships and trust in your business.
Here’s a glance at this episode:
- Why you need to be able to have tough conversations as a business owner.
- Why being grounded and clear before entering into a tough conversation is essential.
- Why good conversation skills, and good coaching, is built on asking good questions so you can understand first before offering an opinion.
- How to offer a constructive solution in a way that will not only promote clarity and buy-in
- Why tough conversations can often be one of the best stepping stones to positive outcomes and momentum for your team and clients.
Mentioned in this episode:
Work/Connect with me:
[00:02] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the practical mindset Podcast. I’m just Miller and I’m so excited to be here with all of you to talk to you about this week’s topic of having tough conversations. So, in business, difficult conversations are a necessary part of working well with other people. Most of us don’t love having a difficult conversation. But it’s really the first step toward creating the environment that we want to be working with creating good relationships with both our employees and contractors and people that surround us with. And I also think that having difficult conversations is also a really important step to creating the things that you want and the results that you want in your business. Because we are all human, we don’t all come to the table with the same ideas and the same perspectives. And so in order to move through toward the things that you want, and create success in the way that you want, you need to be able to have tough conversations with others in a way that can move you closer to creating and getting the things that you want.
[01:16] And so today, I want to talk about and share with you a handful of things that I do when I am going into or having tough conversations with people related to my business. And although this episode will focus very much on business, I will share with you that I believe that these things that I’m going to tell you about are not only valuable in business, I think that they actually will help you in your personal relationships or in other areas of your life, where you may need to have tough conversations. So starting off, I want to talk about this idea that when you go into a difficult conversation, if you know you’re going to be having a tough conversation, it is important to mentally prepare for that. And so the first step that I share with people about how I navigate through tougher conversations, is what I call checking yourself or getting grounded and clear before you go into the conversation. So as human beings, we are emotional people. And we make and take action. From a state of emotion from our feeling state, there is pretty much nothing that we do that doesn’t come from or isn’t triggered by our emotions. And so when we think about difficult conversations, we often come to the table with a lot of feelings about that.
[02:45] And one of the things that I think is so important for me before going into those conversations is to try to check myself and understand what I’m feeling what is coming up for me around those feelings, why I’m feeling that way. And try to get to a place where I can have an outlet for that and sort of ground myself before I go into a tough conversation. Although emotions are a necessary part of being a human being, when we are too overly emotional in our conversations, it can skew our judgment and can skew the way that we show up and the way that we communicate. And I’m sure that anyone listening to this has had an experience in their life or in their business at some point in time, where they have acted in a very emotional way where the emotion has sort of taken front seat, and it’s clouded their judgment. And maybe you’ve even had a conversation where you’ve acted in a way or said something that you maybe wish you hadn’t or that you felt almost like you were being hijacked by emotion.
[03:50] We want to avoid that state when we are having any conversation but especially having a tough conversation, because that clouded judgment likely is not going to help steer us where we want to go and help us create the things that we want to create. So the first thing that I do is I really check myself I want to get grounded and clear I want to center that energy. For me. I sort of reverse engineer this process. I know what it feels like in my body to be centered and grounded. And I’m sure many of you do too. And my question to you is, Can you recall a time where you have felt like you were really grounded in your energy and grounded in your wisdom where you had that clarity of mind and you just felt really centered and solid and clear. For me I that it’s a certain sensation in my body. I think it is for most people, I feel it usually in my chest. It feels like a very peaceful. It’s almost like a stillness that I would I would I would describe it as and so for me I work to get myself into a sense of stillness, physical stillness, by really managing my mind around what it is that I want to accomplish with this conversation.
[05:11] If I play this out in my head, what would a win win situation look like? And why am I having this conversation to begin with, like, what is the thing that feels true and an integrity for me, that is making me sort of compelling me forward to have this discussion. And so I try to get myself into that headspace, which drives that feeling of centeredness and stillness. Before I go into the conversation, I have found that the more that I do that, the more able I am to create the actual result that I have envisioned in my brain, the more dial down and centered my energy is, which other people in the conversation can also pick up on. So I think that’s very powerful. And then I’m also able to really operate from that executive font functioning prefrontal cortex part of our brain, not my primitive brain, which is in fight or flight when I’m very emotional, but that very centered executive functioning part of my brain where I can choose, and I could have rational thought and logic in the way that I approach conversation.
[06:16] So the first thing is, check yourself. The second piece is to seek first to understand, we’ve heard this all before we hear this in negotiation a lot. I believe when you’re having tough conversations, seeking to understand what is going on getting the context and understanding what happened. And what this other person is experiencing is very, very important. The number one way to do this is to ask lots of questions and to ask really good questions. And for anyone listening to this, who is a coach, or a team leader, which essentially you’re a coach, or a business owner, essentially, you’re a coach, even if you’re not a coach, quote, unquote, coaching, really good coaching is about asking really good questions, and a lot of them.
[07:06] And so I seek first to understand, like, why did why did something happen, helped me understand this, tell me more, I want to hear everything, I use a lot of that language, when I come into a conversation with people, because I really want to know what is going on. And in my world, in my brain, I am a person that very much believes that the details matter very much believed that the nuances are important. And so the context and that color, that things, you know, that you get when you get that information, to me is really important. And so the more information I have, the better decisions I can make, the better judgments that I can form from that information. So seeking to understand the other person, I think first and understanding the context is really important, it makes for a much more productive conversation. It makes for much more clarity. And I just think it is plain good coaching in general.
[08:06] So the second thing is to seek first to understand, the third thing is really hand in hand with seeking to understand and that is listening a lot. I think one of the most important skills you can have as a human being is really listening to what other people are saying, you might eat. When you ask a question, I think one of the best things that you can do after that is just shut up. Just let people have their moment to answer you. Maybe there is a pregnant pause there, and it’s silent. And you have to let the other person gather their thoughts. But when you listen, when you give people that presence of your attention, and that openness to listen to what it is that they have to say, from that neutral and grounded place that I mentioned before, when you move into these conversations, and you hold your energy in that way, it really does open this expansive space of safety for people to come and tell you what it is they really are thinking and what it is they’re experiencing. And your ability to listen to that and absorb it from a neutral place without judgment is very, very powerful.
[09:14] So asking great questions like seeking to understand and then listening a lot to what somebody has to say, is crucial. The fourth thing is to share your perspective. And to be clear, one of the things that I have found when people have difficult conversations is yes, there is a certain sense that people avoid those conversations. They don’t want to go into them. But what I have found happens even more often is people hold themselves back in that conversation. They come in with a very preconceived idea. And so sometimes they’re not overly honest. They’re not sharing their perspective or their position with clarity. And it’s not that people have the intention of lying. They’re not doing that they’re not trying to To be dishonest, but they’re not showing up in their, in their ownership, they’re they’re not owning their perspective and their position.
[10:09] Oftentimes, I have found for my clients that the reason that they don’t do this is because they are afraid that they will be misunderstood or that they will communicate something in a way that will be offensive or hurtful, like they’re going to say the wrong thing. And what I want to offer with this is that when you come to the table with this clarity, and groundedness, and there truly is this pure of heart, like you are really in that place where it is Win Win, where you are seeking to understand the other person, you want to listen to them, you’re not there to win an argument. But you’re there to have a productive outcome. That doesn’t always mean that that outcome feels great to both parties, but your intention is pure, I think you’re able to show up and share and be clear, in a much more powerful and compassionate way than if your brain is all over the place.
[11:06] Also, I believe if you’re not being completely transparent or honest, if you aren’t able to sort of share your perspective and your position in a way that you’re feeling safe to do, it will also not be beneficial to the outcome, and it will hold you back. So coming not only with that idea of the other person in mind, but also holding that space for yourself to come up. And, you know, stand in your truth. Share your perspective, tell people how you feel, be clear in what it is that you’re experiencing. And what it is that you’re looking for is so important. Although I think there is this sense that we might communicate it wrong, or we might offend someone, or there really is that’s a very real thing, especially now, currently, I think sometimes in the circumstances that we’re in with social media or whatever we can have this fear of, you know, being canceled or being misunderstood. But I believe when there is intention about what it is you really want to create, and you’re showing up in that open hearted space.
[12:10] With that Win-Win perspective, it really does come through and I think people can sense it, and they will understand where you’re coming from. And so it always, I always err on the side of tell people how it is level with people, I think more often than not people really appreciate your transparency and directness in my experience. And then the fifth thing is offer a constructive solution, when you have a tough conversation, and there is an outcome that you’re looking for having some solution that you can offer, versus like just coming to the table with this blank piece of paper and no direction is really, really valuable in helping to move that conversation or move that outcome toward a mutually agreeable place, as well as toward the thing that you’re hoping to actually get in the end. And so I can’t impress upon anyone listening to this enough, be solution oriented, have an opinion about how things could go put that piece out there to move the conversation or move the progress forward. By putting some sort of stake in the ground or giving some sort of option that people can springboard off of?
[13:30] It is incredible. This is true in like project planning and everything but especially in tough conversations, the ability to say, how about if we try this? Or here are my thoughts? What do you think about this thing is really, really powerful. It gives people something to react to, it gives a springboard for conversation. And it’s just it’s like that next stepping stone toward resolution that just gives people that much more momentum toward that. The other piece about offering a really constructive solution is explaining to people why this is necessary or how it might actually benefit them. I think this is like a really, I don’t even know the word for it. It’s like a gold nugget in what I have learned in sales, but also in negotiations. People want to understand what is in it for them, like why is this a good idea for them? How is it going to benefit them? It is so important to help put into context and perspective for people. What your solution will do for them. Why why do we have to do this? And how is this going to make your life better or different or here’s something that you may not have thought about that could be a silver lining or could also, you know, be doubly important or beneficial.
[14:49] So putting that solution out there explaining it to people telling them why you came to that decision, how it may be beneficial, why it might be good for them sort of what’s in it for them. It will go a very long way to also helping that person, get on board with where it is you want to go and see what you’re seeing. It also opens the door for them to give you feedback or tell you where there might be loopholes or why it may or may not work or, or to tell you that they’ve bought into it, which is ultimately, you know, again, it’s the next step of where you want to go. So, just to recap, having tough conversations, having difficult conversations are a necessary part of working well with others. It’s part of being a business owner, if you’re an entrepreneur listening to this, you have experienced, I am sure, or if you’re brand new, you will experience having to have a tough conversation with other people that you work with with either within your company or contractors, sometimes clients, it is a part of doing business.
[15:53] And if you want to have a thriving business that makes money and continues to flourish, you need to know how to have tough conversations in a way that promotes a positive outcome, and a mutually exclusive next step. And so these five things that I shared today are the way that I navigate having tough conversations. And I have had many of them in my both my corporate career and in my entrepreneurial career. And I’ve had many of them also in my personal life. And I have found that the more courage that I have built around, thinking through those tough conversations and not avoiding them, and believing that I have the tools to navigate through them, the easier those conversations have come, and the better the outcomes are.
[16:43] And the five things that I do, just to recap are number one, I check myself before I go into these conversations, I get grounded and clear in what it is I want the outcome to be, why am I having this conversation? Why is it important? Why is the other person that I’m having the conversation with important to I am looking to get myself into that physical and emotional state of neutrality. So I can really be open and grounded when I go into the conversation and not flooded with emotion, that clouds my judgment and often will then result in something that that I create that I don’t really want to I seek first to understand the other person I want context, I want to truly understand and be clear about what’s going on. I ask a lot of questions. And I really do believe that, you know, good business and good relationships, and really good coaching is based on asking really good questions. I also the third thing is I’ve listened a lot. I try to offer something or ask questions. And then I try to just shut up and let people tell me what’s going on. And I try again to do that and listen from a very neutral place without agenda. Four is I share my perspective and my position with clarity. It takes courage sometimes to show up in a tough, tough conversation. And to share exactly what you think we are afraid of being misunderstood. We are afraid of offending people, we’re afraid of being you know, cancelled. But I promise you that I think more often than not, when you come with an open heart, when there’s an intention for a mutually exclusive outcome. People can sense that. And they also really appreciate your directness and your, you know, vulnerability in that situation. And often, I
[18:29] think that goes much farther, both in getting to the outcome that you want, but also in being able to support yourself as much as you’re supporting the other person in the conversation by being transparent and clear. And showing up in owning whatever your position is or what you need in that situation, even if it’s a tough conversation to have. And then last but not least, it’s offering a constructive solution. And explaining why the solution is necessary, how you came to this conclusion, how it might also be beneficial for the other person. I think this also lets that person know that you had them in mind when you were thinking about the solution.
[19:07] But you didn’t make this, you know, decision or come up with this idea in isolation, that you have them in sort of your heart and mind. And it lets them also understand why this could be a good thing for them. And I will tell you that even in some of the hardest conversations I’ve had, where the person receiving it may not be happy with that outcome per se, because these tough conversations. They’re not always you don’t always end up in the same place, both feeling great about the outcome. But I think often people can understand when you explain it, and you understand the context of it. They can understand why you made the decision that you made, and they can usually see it and it lands a lot better than if you just threw a solution out there or threw a verdict out there with no explanation and no sense of taking them into a you know into the equation of making in that decision. So those are the five things that I think are really helpful in navigating tough conversations.
[20:08] And as I mentioned, you know, part of being an entrepreneur, all the all the glory of being able to own your own business, it comes with all those highs and all those amazing things that we do. But it also comes with some of those not so fun things that we have to do. And the wonderful thing about being an entrepreneur is like, you get all the glory, but you also get all the tough things too. And so the more that you can navigate these tough conversations from a place of being centered and neutral, holding the space for people standing in your leadership energy, and creating those outcomes in the way that you think is best for both your business and for the people in it, the more successful and the better it will feel as you navigate through your business on a day to day basis.