‘Fierce Conversations’, what does that phrase mean to you? It doesn’t mean aggressive, cruel or threatening, that’s for sure according to Susan Scott. If you read my previous articles about her book that carries this title, you’ll remember she shares some principles of having powerful conversations that in her words enrich relationships. As she also says, “The conversation is the relationship”. If you didn’t, you can read it here.

These conversations are powerful, impactful and transformative. In this article, I want to dig into the first 4 of her 7 principles for having ‘Fierce Conversations’, so you can start to think about what they mean in reality and importantly how you can have them to benefit your personal and professional relationships.

  1. Master the courage to interrogate reality.
    This is all about acknowledging that change happens and facing the reality of how things are now. This makes sure the basis for a conversation is valid. Imagine a monthly team meeting to discuss an on-going sales and marketing plan, it’s important to consider what has changed since the last meeting that may affect the plan and the next steps e.g. a competitor action that may require a response in the market.
    Of course, this principle can be tricky, as people see things from different perspectives, so one person’s reality may differ from another, so discussion of this is vital to be able to move forwards. It also means the corporate culture needs to be one where people do speak up about their perspective….I didn’t promise knowing the principles would make the conversations straight forward!
  2. Come out from behind yourself and make the conversation real.
    This is about being clear about where you are at, who you are and what that means needs to be discussed. If you don’t, then the conversation is not going to have a positive result. If you aren’t clear where you are coming from, then the conversation won’t have a strong basis. It doesn’t mean you just say whatever, however you like.
    Thinking about how you say things is important, to maximise the chance of getting yourself heard and it is important to show up as you really are with clear thoughts on what that is. Be clear about what you want the result of the conversation to be.
  3. Be here, be prepared to be nowhere else.
    This is about being truly committed to what you are involved in, at a broader level the job or relationship but the moment of the conversation too – avoiding auto-pilot. It means really engaging with the situation and person/people in front of you and not just what you expect or want to see and hear. It’s about the purity of attention and avoiding the urge to just be ‘waiting to speak’. Really ask and really listen to the response.
  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today.
    This is thinking about what really needs tackling and trying to do so. Susan Scott makes the point that most burnouts happen due to trying to solve the same problem on repeat. Naming the problem is a very good start to tackling it, as you know what it is you are trying to resolve. Both confrontation and appreciation will be needed to face the toughest challenge and are both a feature of healthy relationships. Again though, the way the confrontation is done needs thinking about.

I hope those principles have given you some food for thought on both what conversations you might need to have at work (or indeed at home) and how to start preparing for them.In my next article, I will look into the final 3 principles in Susan Scott’s book:
        5. Obey your instincts.
        6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
        7. Let silence do the heavy lifting.
Remember this is all about enriching relationships, so have a think today about what really needs confronting. Make a list and prioritise it according to how much the on-going issue affects you/the relationship and the importance of the relationship in your world.
If you are having challenges with work relationships, get in touch [email protected]. I have helped many clients understand how their behaviour impacts others and how other people are impacting them, so they can make powerful changes for improved individual career progression and organisational performance.
If you want to buy Susan’s book, you can do so here.
Image from freeimages.com/MischavanLieshout