Let's LEAD - April 2021
I've been ghosted!
In my day (did I just say that?), it was called being 'blown off.'
Look, I get it. Our inboxes are inundated with so many emails, and it seems like there's not enough time to get to them all. Admittedly, I'm one of those people who needs to end the work day with NO 'unread' emails in my inbox. Does it mean I have responded to each? No, but at least I've scanned (or deleted) them.
I recently spotted my husband's iPhone screen...over 7,000 unread emails. It made my stomach hurt.
'If it's important, they'll email me again.'
Thanks. For those of us awaiting your reply, we appreciate that...
But this isn't a newsletter about how to manage your inbox. It IS about how to prepare for a tough conversation, especially when the stakes are high and your first instinct is to run for the hills.
So, why do we 'ghost' people? Some thoughts on this:
- It's inadvertent: your email got lost in the black hole that is my inbox. It happens.
- You 'spammed' me: I have NO relationship with you (this is for the guy who thought it was a good idea to use LinkedIn as a dating service, and actually said he WASN'T doing that!)...buh-bye!
- You've got what you perceive as bad news to share with someone: you need to say 'no' or provide some disappointing news or feedback.
Let's focus on that last one.
3 Tips - Tough Conversations
Tough conversations are tough because relationships, whether personal or professional, are involved. If you've been a 'ghostee,' you know how it feels to be left hanging with no closure. If you're the 'ghoster,' well, these tips are for you.
As leaders, effective communication skills are a MUST...maybe you need to share details about a big change on the horizon, or you need to negotiate roles and responsibilities on a key project. You don't need to love it, but you need to do it. Let's talk about how to be more skilled at it.
Before I dive into the tips, I'll say this: strong relationships built on TRUST make tough conversations so much easier!
I'll use the 'checking account' analogy: a positive account balance with deposits of support, care and promises kept vs. an overdrawn account balance with withdrawals of neglect, disregard and promises broken will make all the difference in getting the result you want from that tough conversation.
So let's jump in:
Plan. Plan. Plan. If you don't think of yourself as a 'planner,' this needs to be an exception. In my experience, more planning = less anxiety.
Consider these questions as you create your plan:
What's the outcome you want? Begin with end in mind. If the goal is for the other person to change their behavior in some way, then everything you say should be toward that end.
What key points need to be raised? Consider recent occurrences, any relevant data, and the consequences of what will happen if NOTHING changes.
When should I deliver this message? Generally, the sooner the better. An exception: if your emotions are triggered, best to delay until they aren't. See tip #3 below.
Get out of email. As part of your planning, consider the best communication method for the conversation. With COVID, delivering the message in person is probably not an option, so what's the next best delivery method?
Hey, I love email because I can frame up my message, set it aside, then come back to it with a fresh perspective. But when the stakes are high or an exchange of ideas are needed, it's better to move the conversation to a live, dialogic format.
Ground yourself. A couple of years ago, I needed to have a difficult conversation with a team member, and a trusted colleague gave me some solid guidance that I've leaned on ever since.
We all bring our own baggage with us to tough conversations, so it's best to unpack them BEFORE entering the conversation:
What assumptions are you making about the other person? I shared some tips about how to 'check your story' in last month's newsletter...see Tip #2!
What emotions are you experiencing? Anger? Fear? Planning will help you work through it.
How do you want to show up? Set an intention around who you need to be to get the result you want. I often want to show up as:
- PRESENT: Remove any distractions that are...distracting.
- CALM: Again, if I'm angry or experiencing some other negative emotion, I need to work through those emotions first.
- COLLABORATIVE: How can we work together to solve the problem?
- CURIOUS: What's important to the other person? What information am I not aware of?
'Ghosters' are avoiders. Dodging important conversations comes at a high cost, for both of you. The impact of NOT having tough conversations is more costly than the conversation itself.
What important conversation are you avoiding?
What I'm reading (articles, books*):
I was recently introduced to (reminded actually...my first business coach led me through this process, and I forgot about it!) a performance model called Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. I'm about half-way through the book, and I'm excited to see how it aligns so closely with my work using Emotional Intelligence.
*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice
"The bulk of the work in weakening your Saboteurs involves exposing them to the hot light of awareness..." -- Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence
...and something more:
If you're disappointed that this newsletter was NOT about how to manage your email, here's a great podcast on that very subject: Dave Stachowiak's Coaching for Leaders: How To Get Control Of Your Email with David Sparks.
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I look forward to connecting!