When was the last time that you looked forward to having a difficult conversation?
Most of us run from confrontation. Consequently, we carry the weight from unresolved conflict and sub-par relationships.
What keeps us from having more emotional courage to confront?
There are 3 top reasons why:
1. You don’t feel safe.
You may feel that the difficult conversation you need to have will place you in a vulnerable position. For example, the person you may need to confront is your boss.
If that person has a history of questioning the motives of the message-bearer and judging them, rather than to focus on the issue and solve it proactively, this will feel unsafe. You will worry about negative repercussions such as branding you, and this will cause you to hesitate clearing the air.
If this is your situation, you will want to weigh the pros and cons of addressing the issue to come to some sort of resolve. If you do not, you will carry the burden of stress and discomfort from an unresolved situation or relationship, which hurts not only you, but all others involved and those around you.
2. You fear loss.
You may feel that by confronting, you will risk being rejected or unloved. If you identify with this, you may have an element of “people pleaser” in you, which requires some work.
People-pleasing weakens the effectiveness of leadership and threatens the integrity of your decision-making.
A first step in realigning this is to change the expectations you hold for yourself. Fact: You cannot please everyone – but you can certainly earn and hold their respect.
As you consider having a difficult conversation, ask yourself what you fear happening most. More likely than not, you will recognize that your base fear is not rational. The chances are slim that the whole world will turn their back on your leadership if you make an unpopular decision.
Ask yourself what positive things you can gain by having the conversation, and identify how this will positively affect your work, life, and others affected by the current negative state – a great start to lifting up emotional courage.
3. You aren’t comfortable with negative emotions.
Human beings don’t like discomfort, and most of us have not been taught the value of negative emotions.
They therefore make us mentally and physically uncomfortable and we seek to avoid them. Instead of this, consider managing them.
Negative emotions are really key indicators that invite you to pay more attention to the situations that have created them. Use these smart and helpful alerts to decipher what about the situation or problem is upsetting. This will help you to widen your lens as you consider solutions.
Where, within these three areas, do you need to strengthen your emotional courage so that you can become more effective in your leadership?
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.