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 […]
When you feel the need to please, think about this first
Ever been pushed into pleasing in a difficult situation and then resented the heck out of it? Here's something to think about next time you feel the need to please.
June 2, 2022
5.4 min read
The cost of believing the bad things about yourself
I recently participated in a leadership 360. If you’re not familiar, it’s one of those annoying survey things where you rate yourself on a bunch of subjective questions and a bunch of other people you nominate on your behalf rate you as well. Then you get your results and some fancy, overpaid consultant (like myself) helps you get a sense of your strengths as well as your opportunities for development (the latter meaning weaknesses in organizational development speak) and helps you put together a development plan to address the gaps. It’s interesting because as a leadership coach and trainer, I’ve administered them on other people’s behalf’s so many times, I just never had the opportunity to take one myself. I wasn’t sure to expect. I figured there would be a few things I would need to work on and had formed some assumptions in my mind as to what those things were. But about halfway through the debrief, something strange happened. I broke down in tears. Not because I was sad, but because I was overwhelmed. On every single measure (and there were a lot) I had rated myself significantly lower than my colleagues and peers had rated me. Every single one. We do not see ourselves clearly How can this be? I even course corrected for this. I know I tend to be hard on myself, the recovering perfection junkie that I am. I even took that tendency into account when I was rating myself and cut myself some slack. Or so I thought… But the results say what the results say. Here I am thinking that I have a fair degree of awareness, and yet clearly do not see myself in the same way that others do. I see this all the time in my clients. The problem isn’t as much that we are often doing all these horrible things we are completely unaware of. There are many assessments I’ve debriefed where a person has “soft spots.” Qualities they rate themselves low on that others believe to be much higher. When you think about the consequence and the cost of that, it’s huge. If I don’t believe I’m good at something, maybe I don’t put myself forward for an opportunity. Maybe I don’t dare to dream that big dream because I’m not sure I have the capacity to achieve it. Maybe I find myself talking myself out of things. I’ll go after it when I feel like I’m ready. But what does “ready” even mean and how would I know if I’m there? This is the circular thinking we often engage in that keeps us stuck in a rut. Life is funny like this…while every coaching client is very different, many of us are really searching for and working on the same exact things. I’ve often explained the practice of coaching as helping others see the incredible value they bring to the world and step into their greatness. And who better than a neutral third party, as we […]
April 19, 2022
4.3 min read
It was a privilege to work with Shelley as my leadership coach! The process was structured and yet flexible enough to meet needs as they arose. Shelley helped me to grow, learn more about myself, and to really achieve what I set out to accomplish. We worked on planning, navigating a promotion successfully, and so much more! I experienced many successes as a result of working with Shelley, she has great resources, knowledge, and really helps with setting the foundation to this coaching work. She won’t let you down!
Having the opportunity to have Shelley as my Leadership Coach could not have come at a better time in my career. I was recently promoted to CFO and was new to the Senior Management Team. Shelley helped me navigate joining the team as well as helped me to determine who I wanted to be as a leader. The Leadership Circle Profile helped our team to discover our blinds spots and to be able to understand each other better. Working with Shelley not only has affected my professional life in a positive way, but also my personal life. She helped me take leaps and has given me the resources to continue this journey of self-improvement. If you’re looking to find more about yourself and how you can be the best version of yourself, I highly recommend working with Shelley.
I have been working with Shelley for the past 2 years on my leadership development journey. What I thought would be a straight line, I soon learned with Shelley’s guidance, was a winding path with several ups and downs along the way. Shelley supported me as I took a deep dive into my professional and personal history and learned how it affects my approach and my perceptions. She helped me to slow down and recognize certain behaviors and understand that I can pivot in the moment or try again next time. Ultimately, my work with Shelley turned out to be so much more than what I expected. Her approach to coaching was exactly what I needed.
Senior Vice President, Consulting
I’ve learned more about leadership in the past six months working with Shelley than I have in my 10+ year career. She is an incredible coach with many tools in her toolbox. The guidance and mentorship I’ve received from Shelley has been life-changing. She will challenge your limiting beliefs and inspire new ways of thinking.
I highly recommend Shelley if you need a coach, thought partner, and guide as you consider the next steps in your career. She provides practical tools and advice to help launch your career exploration, but most importantly, she is an expert at helping you cut through the noise of your limiting beliefs. At the end of our time together, I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted in my life and a plan to make it happen. My only regret is that I didn’t find her sooner!
My career coaching sessions with Shelley have brought me back to living. It’s been contagious, spreading throughout my personal and professional life. I now have the building blocks I need to continue setting healthy boundaries, the freedom to show up as my authentic self, and an adaption of a growth mindset that has allowed me to make bold decisions and try new things. I’ve discovered that there’s always another way and how to eradicate barriers that lead to tunnel vision. These sessions with Shelley have been a great gift and have given me the momentum I need to continue the journey to be my best self.
It is amazing to think where I was only 10 months ago when I first started working with Shelley and where I am now. Not only professionally but mentally and emotionally. Shelley helped me navigate out of an unhealthy work environment by challenging me and asking me those tough questions we never seem to ask ourselves. What are the values of a true leader? How do those values align with my own? Shelley challenging me and guiding me through some of those tough questions is what led to my epiphany and me having the courage and confidence to leave an environment that threatened my well-being. She taught me how to become more self-aware and self-compassionate. Reminded me to be kind even when the world would understand if I did otherwise. And the biggest one for me, shutting down that crazy inner voice (we all have it!) and replacing it with being present. Shelley has armed me with tools that I will carry with me for a lifetime. Tools that will help me to continue to grow and learn. Life can be hard but working with someone like Shelley does make it easier. She will help you navigate the good and the bad and you’ll learn so much about yourself in the process.
Director of Marketing
First of all I would like to say that I would recommend Shelley to anyone needing career guidance. As my counselor Shelley helped me transition my career from bartending to Tech Sales which was a difficult and scary transition for me. From the start Shelley was fantastic. Initially I had no idea of which direction I wanted my career to go, I just knew I wanted it to go somewhere else. Shelley was so kind and patient as she helped me figure this out, and gave me a step by step guide on how to explore my options and make an educated decision. She also helped me assess my skill set which played a large part in directing my energy. I landed a great job within days of my final session with Shelley, and now I’m month 3 I am absolutely loving it and doing very well. It was the perfect job for me and Shelley was the one that got me there. Working with Shelley was one of the best decisions I have ever made, she literally changed my life and I am so much happier for it.