I spent decades believing that I was an easy-going person, and this was why I didn’t engage in conflict very often. My adept conflict avoidance skills were a strength. The truth was I approached most conflict or perceived conflict with fear and trepidation.
Most of the time, when I had an urge to speak up or have uncomfortable conversations, I would rationalize away the notion. This relationship doesn’t matter. This problem will go away shortly. When I couldn’t apply those labels to the situation, I resorted to self-criticism and self-judgment. Stop overacting, Becky. You shouldn’t feel that way.
I often felt unworthy to be heard or express my feelings. Uncomfortable feelings inconvenience others, and they don’t deserve that kind of “drama.” Eventually, I became a “professional stuffer” of my emotions down and learned to push transgressions so far down they only poisoned myself. Oh, and my relationships with people that have hurt me. Stuffing becomes a re-enforcing cycle that leads you to doubt yourself and your worth.
Now that I have more self-awareness on most days, I often question whether I’m approaching the situation from a place of love or fear. If fear is the answer, then I know I need to have a difficult conversation. And this is where Ms. Lewandowski’s session at GHC 2020 gave an actionable method for having difficult conversations.
Let’s delve into a high-level overview of the session that inspired this post.
B – Build self-awareness
Self-awareness underpins so many things like your ability to show up and be present and knowing what you want so that you can ask for it. Meditation, journaling, and alone time can help you find it.
R – Revisit your strategy
What’s the timing? I’m guilty of starting conversations with people when they were distracted or flustered. It’s definitely not a winning strategy. Also, how are you going to start the conversation? Ms. Lewandski uses the example of starting a conversation with “We need to talk” vs. “Can we talk, I need your help?” The first option immediately puts someone on the defensive.
A – Anticipate scenarios
For catastrophizers and conflict-avoiders (guilty), this one can be a slippery slope. However, anticipating scenarios a critical prep step to consider before you begin the conversations. If this is a negotiation, what
V – Value your opposing partner
We all have this innate desire to feel seen and heard. Are you able to show up in a way that makes your opposing partner feel valued? Are you truly listening, or are you defaulting to your biases derived from your own narratives?
E – Encourage the conversation
This step builds on the other steps. Ask questions, listen. Be mindful of not trying to shut down the conversation too soon.
If you are interested in reading more blog posts and notes from this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration, please follow my fellow Anita Bees on Medium. Also, stay tuned for my more #GHC20 content from me.