The Secret to Unlocking Hidden Genius: Challenging Conversations
Hey folks, how was your week? 👏
Mine was a whirlwind as I got back into the swing of work and home life after my trip.
I'm straddling two worlds — one foot in coaching and the other in my personal life. But the more I delve into coaching, the more it seeps into my thoughts and shapes how I engage with friends and family.
I recently led a workshop on the importance of healthy debate and embracing difficult conversations for both personal and professional growth.
The workshop was a hit. ❤️🔥
I've put together the main takeaways to share with you right here. We can all use some help when it comes to tackling those tough talks and discovering how they can take us to the next level.
Let's dive in, shall we?
How to have challenging conversations to unlock new insights?
First, an opportunity for you.
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Alright, onto today's newsletter...
If there were a dysfunctional communication award, we'd all miss it, too busy misinterpreting the nomination email.
Since the dawn of time, miscommunications have gotten in the way of groups of people making progress together.
It’s why sports teams have coaches and businesses have Human Resources roles. These positions exist to navigate the challenges of steering a group towards a common goal.
Because a group of humans can accomplish much more than they can independently.
To unlock and leverage that collective genius and power, each individual must thrive. That only happens in environments that encourage personal growth.
A win-win where everyone benefits — that's the goal.
But the key to achieving collecting and personal growth lies in something many dread: uncomfortable conversations.
Engaging in these discussions is uncomfortable for a reason. They force us to confront issues that make us anxious, flushed, stressed, or even nauseous. The physical sensations accompanying these talks are no walk in the park.
Why are these talks so tough?
One major factor preventing teams from having these conversations is protecting ourselves.
But what exactly are we shielding ourselves from? What it means about us as people.
But doing self-work isn't about who you are; it's about how you behave.
In the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott, the two essential elements to a successful team are described as follows:
Most groups already do care personally about each other. Families, sports teams, and friends comes to mind.
At work, some teams do care personally, but others don't. I've had the luck of working on both kinds of teams, and I can tell you confidently that caring personally about each other is a gift to each individual and also the group as a whole.
Sustainable growth isn't possible without caring about each other personally.
And caring personally lays the groundwork for the next step: challenging directly.
Here is where many groups struggle. Challenging people directly is tough, but it can bring about incredible growth and unlock a group's hidden genius.
The question is: are we willing to challenge each other to help one another grow?
There are three major reasons that get in the way of caring personally while also challenging people directly:
Obnoxious aggression: This is a hard no. You likely know people who are obnoxiously aggressive, and you likely steer as clear from them as possible. (I know I do.) If this behavior is present in your group, the first step needs to be to change that ASAP. (Thankfully, this is a rarity. Most people are not obnoxiously aggressive. At least not in the groups I hang out in.)
Ruinous empathy: This occurs when someone cares personally but fails to challenge directly. When we avoid hurting someone's feelings, we risk withholding information that could ultimately benefit them. Trying to protect someone's feelings can actually damage the relationship in the longer run.
Manipulative Insincerity: This is when we hold back criticism, not because we care about others' feelings but because we don't care enough. We prioritize our reputation over what's best for others. This is a hard one to pinpoint, but it happens quite often.
To remedy this, we can all learn to challenge the people around us directly — and kindly.
Let's explore how we can enhance our relationships and teamwork by practicing essential skills as soon as possible.
Any message can be communicated kindly. As Brené Brown says, "Clear is kind." Strive to be firm yet friendly when delivering your thoughts. You can disagree with someone while still communicating kindly.
Reframe feedback as guidance. Instead of giving potentially off-putting "feedback," offer "guidance" that includes both praise and criticism. This approach is usually easier to receive and process in a positive way.
Don't take it personal. When on the receiving end, don't take conversations personally. Presume the person providing it has positive intentions. Focus on actions rather than personal traits, and keep in mind that guidance is about behavior, not self-worth.
Steer clear of the blame game. Collaborate to comprehend each person's contribution to the issue and seek solutions together. Prioritize understanding over accusation.
Encourage healthy debate within the team. This helps refine ideas that are essential to the wellbeing of the group. And it doesn't attack anyone's identity. Maintain a focus on ideas instead of individuals, fostering open-mindedness and respecting diverse viewpoints.
Tackle issues directly and respectfully. Utilize "I" statements to convey feelings without being accusatory. Strive for common ground and work towards mutually advantageous solutions.
Building trust in your relationships. Practice honesty and transparency, honor commitments, and cultivate a safe space for open communication and vulnerability. Never belittle or criticize anyone for their contributions.
Adopt these principles and integrate uncomfortable conversations into your daily life, and you'll create opportunities for both personal and collective growth.
When you care about people personally AND you challenge them directly to improve how you work together, you're setting the entire group up for success.
Guidance is about improving how we act, not who we are.
So let's start challenging each other to help ourselves reach our full potential.
You got this. ✌️
Okiedok, that's it for today's edition.
As you take these insights into your day-to-day, take a moment to think about:
Are there any difficult conversations you've been avoiding? Which ones?
In what ways does dodging these conversations help protect you? From what?
What insights or benefits would you gain from engaging in these conversations?
How might you approach these challenging convos this week?
And if you want to dive in to these concepts further, you can check out the books:
I just ordered another book on the topic, and you're welcome to read along with me:
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenburg
Have those conversations, folks, and hit reply to let me know what you discover.
Until next week, friends.
All the best vibes ✨
— Marcella ✌️
A penny for your thoughts
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