I watched “Meet the Press” last weekend, and in one segment they interviewed average Americans about the first presidential debate. One man’s thoughts, “We don’t know how to have a conversation anymore.”
I don’t disagree. There are lots of reasons for this in 2020. Let’s look at a few…
- There is polarization. Opinions are strong. Leaders talk over each other. There’s not a lot of listening going on. The desire to be understood is stronger than the desire to understand others or find a resolution. (I admit I’m guilty of this on certain social issues when I disagree with every fiber of my being.)
- This is all new. People are dealing with circumstances they’ve never experienced before. A coaching client recently said work-life balance doesn’t exist anymore—everything’s just blurred together. Another client said they never imagined needing more contact with co-workers because they’re feeling so isolated at home.
- Uncertainty creates fear. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, the economy will improve, or the outcome of the election. When people operate from a place of fear or anxiety, fuses can be short. Conversations between even the closest colleagues can be strained. And combining fear or anxiety with relationships that are already low on trust? Well, that’s where things can go downhill exponentially fast.
It’s Time to Talk
Here’s the deal. We can’t wait out the pandemic, the politics, or the uncertainty. We can’t just hope that the people problems will go away on their own. We need to talk about them.
People problems exist because people don’t communicate well.
You might try to avoid it. Something bothers you, but you don’t want to say anything. “It’s not that big of a deal” you tell yourself. “Maybe it won’t happen again.”
But then it does happen again. And now you either continue avoiding the conversation and it gets worse—and resentment builds. Or maybe you decide to say something, but it doesn’t go well and things get even tenser.
Communication skills are always important. Communication skills in 2020 are essential.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult!
Oftentimes clients express hesitation because they feel like the conversation will be tense or serious. But it doesn’t have to be, if you take time to engage your core.
Pause and Think: How do you want this conversation to feel? Light? Open? Easy? Productive? Once you decide, Act with that intention. You’ll be amazed at how well it goes when you imagine how you want it to feel beforehand.
One-Minute Thoughtfully Fit Workout
So here’s your one-minute workout for the week. Identify one relationship that isn’t quite in the groove you’d like. (Tip: Don’t start with your mother-in-law. Consider starting with a relationship that might just be a little off-track right now.)
Once you identify someone, have a conversation about how to have a conversation. You read that right. Don’t get into the nitty-gritty of the issue. Simply talk about the best way for the two of you to talk about it.
Here’s a possible script:
I’ve noticed that things have been tense between us lately. I value our working relationship and would love to talk about how we can communicate better. I’m curious how you see the situation and if you’d be open to talking about it.
From there you can work to find BALANCE by stating what you need and finding out what they need.
After you have a conversation about your conversation, let me know how it goes!
P.S. Want more information before having your conversation? Check out our free resource, Communicate with Confidence: Three Essentials for Balanced Conversations.
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This resource will provide you with 9 steps to build the resilience and grit necessary to overcome your obstacles and be successful!