The Role of Difficult Conversations in Success

Success is only possible through communication. Everything designed and created, every piece of music or piece of art expressed, any venture materialized, any organization developed or transformed, all systems and procedures conjured up, upgrades, improvements and adjustments made, have one thing in common: conversation. Whether through inner dialogue, or brainstorming and implementing with others, conversation is required to bring a thought to reality.

Conversation is a basic, yet essential, and vital part of the creative and development process of any endeavor. However, the intention and quality of our communication is the differentiating factor in creating the right energy, environment and mindset for  success. Desiring to nurture the work environment and level of team spirit, many people will shy away from difficult conversations for fear of causing disappointment, frustration, anger, victimization  or disengagement yet therein miss the opportunity to grow from the discomfort.

This blog is intended to give rise to the possibility, potential and growth that we can cause through an intentional approach to embrace and engage in difficult conversations.

Difficult conversations, called Crucial Conversations in the book by VitalSmarts, are defined as “A discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.” This description alone may prompt an emotional response for any person who has assumed any high stakes, opinionated, emotional work-related conversations after which they likely resolved to never let that happen again! I have been there many times!

Some areas where difficult conversations arise in the workplace are related to:

  • strategic direction
  • job and organizational performance
  • discussions around job fit, promotions, transfers, compensation, and benefits
  • organizational restructuring/change management
  • policy and systems development or improvements
  • negotiations
  • brainstorming ideas
  • developing projects and new ventures

You get the drift, basically any conversation that drives organizational progress and success can be difficult and sensitive but is critical in order to evolve and move forward. 

Clearly difficult conversations are necessary for business. The misguided notion of “maintaining the peace” in order to create a positive environment actually works against you. It allows the status quo to prevail and can cause irreparable damage to goal setting/achievement and team morale and if you are not careful, find yourself out of business. 

At ELEVATE Consulting Ltd., we face difficult conversations head-on. We embrace engaging our clients in open, honest, bold and direct conversations with confidentiality and integrity addressing critical needs to ensure the results our clients seek. Hence our motto; “your success is our business.”

Let’s face it, conversations around vision, mission, targets, project management, greater efficiency, increasing bottom line, developing new strategies, upgrading systems, and organizational functionality etc. will stir emotions and opinions of those invested in success. Yet, if we can simply acknowledge that it will be uncomfortable, while embracing the opportunity, then a space opens for creativity, innovation and teamwork to take place. 

Here are a few reasons that highlight the contribution to success that difficult conversations offer: 

  • If we can create trust by withholding judgment in our communication and offer a safe place for individual expression, we can benefit from collective wisdom and creativity rather than rely on ourselves or the leader to do all the thinking.
  • If we can be honest and frank, yet safe and respectful and gracious, then we engender loyalty even when addressing performance issues. 
  • If we can be transparent, purpose, vision and mission focused when implementing restructuring or down-sizing, we can create mutual understanding and appreciation even when the action negatively impacts people. 
  • If we can hold people accountable to embracing our organizational values and for their responsibility, commitments, and deadlines, then we can expect them to a) be better and rise to the challenge b) acknowledge that they are a poor fit for the job or c) recognize better placement 

Would you like help in this area? Our experienced team of professionals are ready to support you, we can definitely guide you in making difficult conversations work for you!