The strength of courageous conversations

Clare Haynes is the tutor for our new Mindshift workshop, Courageous Conversations. Here, she explains why courageous conversations are so powerful and the difference they can make in creating behaviour change.

Why courageous conversations?

I’ve specialised in workplace communication for 15 years and have a background in psychology. Prior to this I worked in television, sport and the charity and public sectors, in relationship-building roles.

I’ve experienced not knowing how to deal with my boss or who to approach about difficulties with my boss. I’ve been caught in acute office politics, felt unsupported and battled through changes feeling rudderless.

That’s why I set up Wildfire, for people not to feel that way. When I’ve dealt with circumstances, it propels a shift and learning, no matter how uncomfortable. This boosts resilience and self-reliance and reduces feeling vulnerable and in limbo.

I’ve worked with clients dealing with physical aggression and infighting, staff slacking off due to relationship and addiction issues, the fallout of redundancies and restructures, or significant misunderstandings. The aim is to unlock dialogue blocks for people to find a path forward.

Why do we fear courageous conversations?

If it feels like a confrontation is looming, it’s probably a flag for a courageous conversation. A courageous conversation is one we generally fear because there’s the danger of it making us feel vulnerable, with little or no control and much uncertainty. But it’s the type of conversation which moves us forward, through a difficult circumstance, dialogue or relationship.

By having a courageous conversation we get to express ourselves, talk it through, and often speak up for ourselves. It’s the type of conversation we might find easy to have if it were on someone else’s behalf.

How does it enable behaviour change?

Just like gossip or a social media post, you never know what may go viral. One courageous conversation can inject that missing spark which moves a conversation on, inspires someone to do something differently or to take the baton without being asked.

Demonstrating courage to broach the topic might be all it takes to endear someone to listen or act differently. This type of conversation puts the human back into ‘management speak’ environments – and most of us respond favourably.

It may be a one-to-one chat or speaking up at a meeting, but it can touch a nerve (good or bad) that makes someone else think ‘that’s the same as me, I could have said that!’ Such that they behave differently in future, be it with courage, compassion, forthrightness, passion, determination, resilience or humility.

What conditions allow people to have successful courageous conversations?

We need to be able to slow down, think and speak logically, create a ‘safe space’, be ‘human’ and be direct to have courageous conversations. This workshop helps people to plan and structure, rapport-build, truly listen, use solution-based language, and recognise the triggers that can boost and block a progressive dialogue. We need to feel a degree of confidence to embark on these exchanges and this course builds on what we already naturally know about communication.

Top 5 tips for having courageous conversations

  1. Seek some agreement, however small
  2. Plan questions which may give you desirable outcomes
  3. Remove emotion and finger-pointing – use factual statements
  4. ..But don’t over-simply or confuse a gritty issue
  5. Remember you have the right to feel how you do

Want to know more?

If you’d like more information about how we can create bespoke Courageous Conversations workshops for your team, please get in touch using the form below.


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