• Scott Hackman

Let’s Talk About Courageous Conversations

When it comes to hard conversations, the books Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability prove to be invaluable resources. Many companies implemented them in their professional development curriculum for employees to build their communication muscles to empower them to solve problems with peers before escalating. Essentially, employees are able to get the work done because of their improved ability to communicate. The two books are incredible resources and I would recommend them to anyone.

However, I wonder if we should also talk about courageous conversations?

I define courageous conversations as the willingness to speak up when no one else is. It’s questioning when something is not working, or addressing the elephant in the room, in a respectful and informed manner, when conflict is NOT present.

Here’s one example. After a workshop with a group of managers, I overheard one of the leaders venting about an interdepartmental meeting. It had been established with the goal of solving large, company-wide problems, but, after several months, the meeting had somehow become a status update from various departments and there was never time to talk about problem-solving. The meeting had been going on in this unproductive fashion for months.

I asked if anyone brought this up in the meeting. The leader confirmed that no one in the meeting has spoken up about it.

Here’s where a courageous conversation can be beneficial. What if someone did speak up?

A simple statement, like “Hey, before we jump in with updates, can we talk a little about the purpose of this meeting? I’ve noticed that this has become a status update meeting. What have you observed?”

If one person thinks it’s unproductive, chances are others do as well. You can continue with: “What can we start, stop or continue to accomplish our purpose?”

By asking the right questions, you’re creating an opportunity to facilitate productive meetings, and ultimately, provide a better focus for people to participate.

Is there a courageous conversation you can have at work? We’d love to hear about it. Send us your questions or share with us how it went!

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