Having Courageous Conversations

Having Courageous Conversations

By Craig Johns

How often have we avoided uncomfortable conversations in our lives? We see something, hear something and even feel something that isn’t quite right, but we don’t speak up. Too often employees prefer to keep the peace as they are afraid to speak up in the workplace due to fear of retribution or damaging the relationship. 

In a world where quiet quitting and avoidance of difficult conversations are growing in prevalence in the workplace, it’s time to create an environment where uncomfortable conversations are not only encouraged but supported. Imagine the shift in company culture and our confidence when we know how to speak up without damaging how others see us.

Unintended Consequences Of Not Speaking Up

The result of people not speaking up are that mistakes happen, tension is created and relationships are strained. Sometimes opportunities are missed, we may not see the bigger picture or it creates a negative culture. It can even mean talent goes unseen, someone’s mental health is affected and people feel like they don’t belong.

Leaders require the awareness that everyone is being heard, observe people’s behaviours, invite contributions from everyone in the meeting, and allocate time and space for other people’s ideas and opinions. We need to reserve judgement when people share. Instead of reacting, respond with curiosity, acknowledge people for sharing, allow others to contribute when someone shares something, and spend less time talking and more time listening in meetings.

As individuals we need to assess our own permission to speak up. We need to understand why does it matter to us, prepare in advance by writing bullet points, check if the timing is right, know who you are speaking to, and most importantly pause and breathe before responding.

How do we speak up & have a courageous conversation?

First we need to create a slight interruption and create a space in the conversation, then pause & set a serious tone, introduce the subject that you wish to share in one short sentence, briefly describe the issue or suggestion in one or two sentences, pause and allow time to for people to absorb, and if appropriate provide more detail or a response. 

It’s necessary that you separate the problem from the person by using sentence starters such as “I would like to share an observation”, “I have noticed”, “What if we could ” or “Have we considered”. 

“What i observed yesterday didn’t go down well with the team. I noticed the reaction. What I witnessed was obviously that the off colour joke that was told was not acceptable, not only within our organisation but by the fellow team members as well.”

Should We Speak Up?

Just as important as knowing when to speak up, we also need to know when not to speak up. If you feel a level of hesitation, first ask yourself if your comment would be better left for a one-on-one conversation, are you trying to show off or how intelligent you are, or you are trying to empower others on your team? If the answer is yes, then speaking up probably wont serve you.

How can we create a culture where it is encouraged, accepted and expected that people speak up when they feel uncomfortable, unsure or would like to share a different perspective?

Craig is a 10x National Champion, International coach and CEO turned high performance leadership expert, international speaker and and Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast host.

He is the CEO & Managing Partner of Speakers Institute Corporate, a high performance leadership expert, and a leadership, high performance and workplace culture keynote speaker.

Learn more about how Craig is working with a diverse team of exceptional human beings to inspire great leaders at www.speakersinstitutecorporate.com.

Book Craig as a Speaker and learn how to become a high performing leader by going to www.craigjohns.com.au for more on the Gravity of Leadership, Break The CEO Code and Atomic Pressure.

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