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  • James McPartland

The Conversation You Don't Have Won't Help

Work, relationships and life all succeed or fail, one conversation at a time.”

— James McPartland

Have you been wondering if you should have that conversation?

I say go for it. No one conversation can change our relationships, yet any conversation can. And the conversation we don't have doesn't help.

Work, relationships, and life all succeed or fail, one conversation at a time.

A courageous conversation is one most of us are not likely to want to have. Why?

Because courage requires pain.

If we were confident about the relationship we'd have it. We do things that give us confidence. Things that require courage we tend to avoid, because they don't always feel good.

If I'm stressed, or disappointed, or frustrated with the way somebody is doing something, I have to recognize that if I was that person, I’d probably do it exactly the way they're doing it. It's easy for me to say I would do it differently if it were me in that scenario, but it isn't me.

I have to recognize that other people have different backgrounds, different conditioning, different upbringing, different fears, different aspirations, different goals, and maybe have even had periods of trauma in their life.

And if I understand that, then I need to choose to meet them where they're at.

So the most important thing I can do is tell the person what I am uncomfortable with or disappointed in, (using “I” statements):

“I observe”

“I recognize”

“I see”

If I use the word “you” when communicating, I'm going to put the person on the defensive. But if I open up the conversation letting the other person know I see something and that there's a place I'd like to get the relationship to, or that there is a result for the business I’m going after that's in everyone's best interest, then I can enroll that person in the discussion and ask them for their observation of the particular issue that I'm speaking of.

When having a courageous conversation, it’s important that we define what the scenario is through “I” statements, clarify that, and give an example. It’s also important to recognize that no matter what's going on in a conversation, we should always strive to give a hundred percent of our 50%. We can't ever give more than that, but we certainly don’t want to be giving any less.

Remember, no one conversation can change your relationship, yet any conversation can. So invite the person in. We can all deal with the truth. It might make us grumpy, but if we know the truth, we can at least deal with it.

Far better to be in the conversation, than to be the subject of the conversation.

It takes courage. That's why we're in leadership positions.

Have a courageous conversation, because the conversation you don't have won't help.


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