Earlier this month, I hosted a couple of Socially Shared sessions on the theme of Handling Difficult Conversations.
Attendees at Socially Shared meetings are often asked to propose topics for future sessions and difficult conversations is a common request. So when a plea went out from the Socially Shared team to members for a volunteer to lead this session, I put myself forward.
I run The Career-Mums Partnership with my business partner, Nishi Mehta. We help parents to relaunch their careers after a career break and support employers to attract, retain and develop more women leaders and gender-diverse teams. We’ve been operating for just over 2 years and set our business up as we had both experienced career breaks and felt as though there was a lack of support available for experienced women, like us, to get our careers back on track whilst juggling family responsibilities.
Before my career break, I worked as a trainer and coach helping business leaders to develop their leadership skills including relationship building skills and abilities to handle conflict. During my career break, I studied psychology for 4 years. So when it came to putting a session together for Socially Shared on handling difficult conversations, I had plenty of resources and experience to share.
During the session, I shared a resources to understand possible sources of what we each individually find difficult to talk about, whether it be saying “no” to clients or potential opportunities, dealing with a tricky customer, finding it difficult to negotiate pricing or shouting from the rooftops what we are great at doing. These sources will typically have their routes in our early years’ experiences and our relationship with key figures of authority.
I also provided a range of different ways in which people typically handle conflict situations, whilst noting that we each have one or two favourite ways out of being accommodating, avoiding, compromising, competing and collaborating. When we understand each of these different methods and which situations they are most useful, they give us a broader repertoire of responses to use.
Remember if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results.
The session ended on a reminder that most sources of conflict, disagreement and misunderstanding come from a clash of values. Understanding what our values are – in our personal life and work life – and appreciating that everyone has different values – can help us to make more conscious choices and decisions.
So how do I know what my values are?
By answering these simple questions:
What’s important to me?
What does that give me?
And what does that give me?
Keep asking this last question until you get to a response that has emotion attached to it and is intangible (i.e. it’s not a thing – it’s not something that can be put in a wheelbarrow!). When you have discovered one value, repeat these questions until you find at least 3 values.
Your top 3 values will have an order to them – one will be more important than the others, so list them in order. This is your personal meaning and understanding of them, so it’s worthwhile reviewing these questions alone or with the support of a coach - who will not put their own interpretation on your own discovery.
In knowing your own values, it is possible to understand more about what drives you to do what you do and how you do it. If there are any values that feel as though they are not being lived or honoured in who you are and what you do, you are likely to have a conflict – a feeling of discomfort, of something not quite feeling right, a sense of unease or dis-ease. In this situation it is useful to work through what needs to change to feel authentic, true to yourself and for you to lead your best life.
It is from knowing your values that you can get a sense of your passions and purpose in life. It is from knowing your values that you can work through the things that you find challenging and tackle those difficult conversations with confidence. In knowing your values you can also:
establish boundaries that work for you in how you communicate and do business with others
start to discover your value and your worth – which can translate to confident decisions about pricing, hours worked, investment, offering discounts, providing special rates and so on
feel confident and empowered – give yourself permission to be the best version of you.
In your family, you will have a set of shared values as well as personal values that may or may not be in conflict with each other. Spend time together strengthening your understanding of your shared values to strengthen the bonds that keep you together.
In your business, you will have a set of business values – if you have a team, spend time sharing these values to get buy-in from the team so that you share in the common purpose.
All our values are within us, driving our behaviour every day. They are mostly under the surface, in our unconscious minds, beavering away. By becoming more consciously aware of them, we can understand them, re-order and change them if necessary and help us to appreciate why we do what we do. They’re very important!!
I trained as a coach over 15 years ago following an experience of working with a coach myself which included discovering my own values. If you’ve never experienced working with a coach, I would encourage you to give it a try. Coaching is no more than a conversation, but a conversation where you are fully supported to explore, discover and be challenged towards achieving a particular outcome.
For the Socially Shared community, we have a special offer for bookings made before the end of June - 20% off the cost of a one hour Confidence Booster coaching session that can be used to work through a particular issue that you have at the moment, perhaps something triggered by the notion of difficult conversations and /or knowing your values.
To book a coaching session contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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