5 Key Benefits Of Facing Up To Difficult Conversations

5 Key Benefits Of Facing Up To Difficult Conversations

What do you do about conversations at work that make you feel uncomfortable? Do you shy away from them? Do you hope the issue will disappear, or that someone else will broach the subject so you don’t have to?

In The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9–5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, author and entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss said: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

At Elevate Talent, we dedicate part of our training to “winning at difficult conversations”, because we know that having the courage to face up to them can help you to build resilience, make good choices, and help you and your team achieve goals to the benefit of the whole company. Communication is key to business success; poor communication leads to disaster.

In this blog, we’re going to touch on the main reasons women avoid difficult conversations, and the five ways you gain power by being willing to go there!

You’re not alone in avoiding difficult conversations 

We base all our training on research data gathered from our delegates. A recent survey showed that 92 per cent of the women we work with felt competent in their professional abilities; however, when asked about their willingness to have difficult conversations (the ones you prefer to avoid), only 55 per cent of women said they were proactive. This means that 45 per cent of women are proactively avoiding conversations that they find challenging.

Reasons women avoid difficult conversations

We have found that some of the most common reasons include:

  • Waiting for the “right time” 

Women often tell themselves it’s better to wait to bring an issue up at a scheduled appraisal, or when a significant project is complete.

  • Not enough time

When working under pressure or tight deadlines, difficult conversations are often sidelined for “later”.

  • Fear

Fear is the main underlying reason that challenging conversations are avoided, and it’s often disguised as one of the other reasons listed here! It might be fear of saying the wrong thing, of becoming emotional, making the situation worse, or of putting your job at risk.

  • Easier to stay quiet

Where a woman feels she may not fare well in a conversation or that there may be an adverse outcome if she “rocks the boat”, staying quiet is often considered the best option but, unfortunately, it’s a short-term solution. By not addressing the issue sooner, you’re more likely to face a repeat of the same situation in the future.

  • Previous bad experience

If a woman has previously raised a tricky issue and has experienced a negative outcome, it’s likely she’ll want to avoid a repeat performance.

Why it’s a win to tackle difficult conversations

When you think of all the things that could go wrong through difficult interaction, it’s normal to want to avoid it. However, when you consider all the reasons why it could bring massive benefits, you’ll feel far more motivated to dive in! Five key benefits are:

  • You could create a win-win outcome

Perhaps the conversation that you know needs to happen is being avoided by other people too; if you initiate the dialogue, it might benefit you, your team,  the company, and the clients or customers you serve!

Speaking up has the potential to bring multiple benefits, and even if it can’t be a win-win for everyone, it’s likely to serve more people than avoiding the subject. 

  • You will build trust and respect

There will be times when business requires you to make tough decisions and face up to difficult conversations; when you are willing to step up to the plate, you build trust and respect. 

  • Difficult conversations create progress

When we avoid difficult conversations, it can create a feeling of “being stuck”, but once you address the issues at hand, you’re likely to be able to make progress (not least because you free up all the energy you were previously using to avoid the issue!).

  • Source long-term solutions

Conversations create an opportunity to recognise the challenges that your team or company is facing, which in turn can help you to source better long-term solutions rather than a short-term fix.

  • You support other women to step into their power

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve put my head above the parapet and women have told me afterwards that they’re so glad I did, because they were questioning the exact same thing but reluctant to make their voice heard.

Every time you speak up, you lead by example and benefit the women who follow in your footsteps (and that might include your own daughters and grandchildren!). 

Your next steps

I hope you’ve found this blog insightful and a strong nudge to overcome any resistance to difficult conversations; when you reframe your thinking and recognise that by embracing them you are creating a “powerful movement”, how much more equipped and inspired do you feel to tackle them?

Drop us a line at Elevate Talent and let us know which difficult conversations you’re willing to get stuck into, or take the plunge and share your outcome!

P.S. You might also like to check out our earlier blog with Nicky Perfect, Communication Coach, where we explore the four P’s of negotiation (plan, permission, perspective, practice), and in this case, apply them to tackling difficult conversations.

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