• Read Feeling resentful about something? Think about this.

    Difficult conversations

    Feeling resentful about something? Think about this.

    Giving feedback is never an easy task.  I’ve recently mused about this topic quite a bit, and written a blog recently on the art of straight talk, which highlighted the three elements that are critical to doing this well. And then there’s real life.  It’s one thing when it’s a colleague.  It’s another thing when that colleague is also a very close friend.  My friend Jenny and I have known each other for years, and we’ve also collaborated on a number of projects.  She’s one of my favorite people, she’s funny, insightful, hardworking, caring and full of entrepreneurial spirit.  She’s commonly the ideas person in our dynamic duo, and I work behind the scenes to help execute her ideas. Lately I’ve been experiencing some frustration relative to what I’m calling the whiplash effect.  She has a grand idea, I rush behind the scenes to make it happen, and then it gets shelved. we create resentment when we don’t speak up And so, a couple of glasses of sparkling rose into a business lunch we were having the other day, out it came.  I shared with her my frustration, and the grief this had been causing me.  It wasn’t a perfect delivery as far as feedback is concerned.  I didn’t follow each of the straight talk steps in perfect unison, but then again perfect is the enemy of good.  I was still scared, even though she’s my friend.  I was scared especially because she’s my friend and this relationship really matters to me. I fully expected her to listen, and she did.  I fully expected her to acknowledge the frustration and the mixed messages she’d been sending, and she did. What surprised me was the text she sent me later on.  “I’m going to do better.”  And she expressed sincere concern for hurting my feelings and sending mixed messages. I had to ask myself why I was so surprised.  And then I had a realization.  I’m not used to people owning things.  I’m not used to reciprocity in relationships.  And this isn’t because I think other people are inherently selfish, or I was picking horrible people to surround myself with (although in some instances I could have done a better job on that front).  In the past I often took the path of please and appease rather than assert myself and share my concerns.  I took that path because I was desperate for people to like me, to have a ton of friends in my network.  Unconsciously, this was a hidden measure of success.  Interestingly it didn’t matter whether I liked them. I got used to giving more than my fair share.  I got used to not sharing my voice or truth on things, then feeling resentful, and rather than expressing it, shoving it down and shaming myself instead.  Then I’d have to find ways to numb the pain.  Or it would spill out in other passive aggressive ways and ultimately pollute the relationship. when we know our worth, we can […]

    September 2, 2022

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    4.1 min read

  • Read Straight Talk: Speak the Truth with Love

    Authenticity, Difficult conversations

    Straight Talk: Speak the Truth with Love

    This week I’ve been teaching a course on straight talk.  I often refer to this skill as “Speaking the Truth with Love.”  The crux of getting this right depends on three important aspects. There are three elements to straight talk: Caring personally (compassion) – Caring personally about the individual who is on the receiving end of this conversation and demonstrating this care with your words in the conversation. Sharing your perspective and/or challenging directly – Or in other words, being clear about the issue that needs to be communicated and not beating around the proverbial bush. Inviting others to do the same – Creating the space to have a two-way conversation rather than merely talk at someone. Any straight talk conversation is a great opportunity for two-way dialogue and not merely a “dump and run.” Don’t Bury the Lead You’d be surprised how often we do the opposite.  When it comes to challenging directly, I notice one thing in particular.  I often sit in practice runs where participants are role playing a difficult conversation they need to have.  I’ve seen people do a million times something I call “burying the lead.”  At the end of the conversation, I ask the initiator what the issue was they wanted to communicate.  The person on the receiving end of the conversation often had a totally different impression of what the conversation was about.  The gravity of the issue had not been conveyed clearly or accurately.  This happens all the time, and people walk away with completely different perceptions of a conversation or an issue.  No wonder there’s so much conflict in our personal and professional lives! Remember that honesty without compassion is brutality But the caring personally aspect is just as important as challenging directly. It’s crucial to remember that honesty without compassion can be brutality. E.g. “I think your idea is stupid.” I’m reminded of an old friend and colleague that I used to spend a lot of time with.  She prided herself on her ability to give straight talk.  She had mastered the art of being direct.  On that front there was no one better I will admit.  The problem is her words were often not couched in compassion.  Over time it took a toll on my ability to relate to her, and eventually after I’d been stung enough times, I abandoned the relationship.  It just wasn’t worth it. So why don’t we engage in straight talk?  Or why don’t we do it well when we try? Mindset is Everything Mindset plays a huge role when it comes to this skill.  Do any of these sound familiar? It means being unkind. I must act professionally regardless of the cost. I can’t upset people. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I must tell the truth at all costs. Silence is golden. I can’t challenge someone senior to me. Which of these beliefs are true for you?  And how are they getting in the way of […]

    July 13, 2022

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    3.1 min read