Courageous conversations have been surrounding me for months. Everywhere I turn, my life presents me with an opportunity to bear witness to or engage in a courageous conversation. These talks aren’t without pain. But when both parties are committed to compassionate truth telling, everyone grows.
My life these past few months has been all about tough talks and pushing myself and others to move beyond ego, beyond established patterns, and into a presence that is tenaciously authentic. As I do this, I feel the possibilities for who I am expand. I’m starting to think that courageous conversations are at the heart of our work as humans.
Need support having some tough conversations in with your colleagues in the workplace? Get help here!
2019 AMS Conference
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the American Montessori Society conference in Washington DC. I was invited to speak with their Emerging Leaders Fellows cohort about what it means to be an individual advocate for children. We explored how to connect with our personal superpowers and use them to our benefit as we engage in courageous conversations with our colleagues and elected officials.
I also spoke to a room of about several hundred people on the topic of how to have difficult conversations in the workplace. We started the session by acknowledging our limitations and assuming that we needed to check ourselves before ever launching into a tough talk with a colleague. These limitations include our personal biases (yes, we all have them…LOTS of them). The existing heirarchical structures in our organizations often blind us to power inequities and bad policies. Our personal attachment to what we see at “truth” can also taint our understanding.
Courageous conversations start with using filters to ensure it’s a conversation worth having.
While I was there I also had the chance to sit in on several professional meetings with colleagues I respect. I witnessed conversations that were simultaneously compassionate and bold. People who respect their colleagues enough to ask them hard questions and know they’ll respond with intelligence and integrity are role models for me.
Say It With Grace
We need to do better at believing in each other enough to say the hard things AND hear the hard things with grace. When we give that respect, people show up for the challenge. We can have courageous conversations in the workplace and trust that our peers are mature and grounded enough to engage.
Sometimes, taking the first step is hard. Building a culture in which courageous conversations are the norm can take time. Especially if the existing culture involves toxic behaviors like avoidance or gossip. It leaves a leader feeling paralyzed on where to start.
That’s where I come in. I prepare the environment for your full staff to come together for conversations that are refreshingly honest while also feeling safe and respectful. When I’m with a team of people, I delicately balance holding space with moving forward. Everyone is heard.