Turning Discomfort Into Opportunity

How often do you have hard conversations with your employees? Conversations where you may have to address an issue they have, or talk about something you are struggling with. Chances are, you try to avoid these conversations — we all do. They can be uncomfortable and awkward, and it is easy to convince yourself that they are not worth your time.

You have to force yourself out of this thinking, though, since your employees are always watching and mirroring your actions. If you cannot be honest with how you are struggling, your employees will follow suit. Being honest enables trust, and allows your employees to relate with and confide in you, stimulating growth and creating a comfortable work environment.

Below, I’ve written a few ways for you to take advantage of those tough conversations. Following these steps can prevent the numbing that happens when people begin to feel vulnerable and anxious. Instead of searching for ways to avoid confronting issues, your employees will begin to lean into their discomfort and confront it. Attending to one’s fears and feelings will result in higher levels of productivity, since it prevents ineffective behavior and can stop issues from turning into bigger problems. 

Here are some steps to turn those conversations into opportunities for deeper relationships and growth within your organization. 

  1. Start more conversations. 
    • Having hard conversations with your employees conveys that it is safe to discuss certain topics within your workplace and with you. 
  2. Remember, it’s not about you. 
    • In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes that daring leadership is about serving other people, not ourselves. Having hard conversations might be uncomfortable for you, but remember, it is not about you: it’s about making your employees feel comfortable and at ease in trusting you with their issues. 
  3. Be clear
    • Tell your employees exactly what you’d like for them to work on. Being absolutely clear prevents other issues from arising, like talking behind people’s backs, or missing opportunities for real growth for your employees. 
  4. Acknowledge and reward great questions
    • When your employees tell you they aren’t sure, but would like to find out, reward them. Eagerness to learn is an exceptional quality. If your employees see your excitement when they respond to problems in this way, they will continue to look for ways to learn instead of letting the issue sit and stagnate. 

Brene Brown put it simply when she wrote, “we have to have the hard conversations even when we’re not ready.” It’s not easy, but in practicing these skills, you will be able to effectively communicate with your employees and develop stronger relationships with them. Remember, a daring leader is one who can be vulnerable and open about their own issues, enabling employees to follow their lead. 

Are you interested in exploring how to develop honest relationships with employees and confront tough conversations? You can reach me via my website, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

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