Are you having problems dealing with a difficult boss? Do you want to get past the hurdle of a challenging colleague so you can come and leave the office without a strained relationship looming over your head?
It may be time to have that tough conversation with them so you can speak up and talk about the issues that are weighing you down. Unfortunately, difficult conversations take strategy, skill, courage, and confidence that you may not have. Not yet, anyway.
It is important to remember that your ability to speak up has an influence on your success in the office, at home, and with life in general. If you can’t get past the stressful experiences you’re having, your productivity is limited, relationships are strained, and opportunities are constrained. You don’t want that, especially because it will slowly chip away at your self-confidence and undermine your sense of security.
Unfortunately, if your heart race or you get that sinking feeling every time you think about talking to your boss or confronting a colleague, it will be difficult to put on a brave face. It would feel even worse if you crumble in front of certain people or when you beat yourself up before and after every attempt of having a tough conversation.
Here’s the thing though, if you don’t make an effort to have a courageous conversation, you will continue to struggle. The first thing you need to do is overcome your fears and hesitation.
How do you do this exactly?
6 Keys to Have the Confidence to Have a Courageous Conversation
- They’re human too
Regardless of how difficult your boss might be, they are human too and they’re likely to be throwing their weight around because they are under a lot of stress or pressure. Their problems might even come from a variety of sources and they’re having difficulty coping, which accounts for their challenging behaviour. The same thing could be true with a difficult colleague. If what you’re doing, or the lack thereof, is exacerbating the situation, then you should think of ways to help alleviate it.
- Being likeable
People are more likely to say yes to those they like and reciprocate accordingly. So make sure to build rapport and behave in a likeable manner. This can influence how people will respond to you. If you’re not doing this yet, you might want to switch to this tactic. Just don’t end up looking like you’re sucking up. This can have the opposite effect.
- Be your best self
It is possible that your confidence is lacking because you’re unsure of how confident and resourceful you are. If you’re mismanaging your state of mind and wellbeing, then you’re not setting yourself up to be the best version of you. So make sure you’re well-fed, watered, and well-rested.
- Create a positive zone
Think of a positive outcome and play it through your mind over and over again. Make sure to watch the entire scene unfold and savour every moment that you celebrate your success in those thoughts. Then, whenever you start thinking negative or playing out the worst case scenarios in your head, stop, and go to your positive zone. You know the adage. “Be careful what you wish for”
- Do something in their favour
What can you do to a challenging colleague as a favour? It doesn’t have to be grand, but something they will appreciate. Research showed that people are likely to reciprocate and do you a favour if you’ve done the same to them.
If it’s not possible to make the first move, make them feel like they’ve done you a favour. Even as simple as borrowing a book and showing your gratitude would make them feel open to you and receptive of your friendship or attention.
- Work on your own demons and fears
Is there a reason that you have difficulty having a courageous conversation? Did a horrible parent or teacher shut you down and stomped on your self-esteem? It may be time to unhook on that history and free yourself. It may just be what you need to find your confidence and courage again.
It is important to understand that a relationship is a system that you can control. If you change something with the system, you will get a different response or an outcome. So if you want to build a working relationship with your boss or colleague, change something. If you didn’t succeed in your first attempt at having a tough conversation, try again. Make sure to try all the strategies listed above and enjoy the fruits of your effort.
Are you any good at saying no? Well, I reckon you’re pretty good at it because you say no every day!
But is that what you’re thinking?
Do you think of yourself as someone who is really good at saying no?
Or are you one of those people who shies away from saying no for fear of upsetting people or worrying about the consequences? Perhaps you think saying no is a career-limiting move. Well, whether you are one of those people or not, how do I know that you’re good at it?
Would you agree that there are only so many hours in a day and the chances are you have more on your ‘to do’ list than you can possibly get done? Yes? Do you feel you are continuing to run just to keep up and that your list of things to do never gets any shorter? Well, if that sounds familiar, you’re good at saying no whether you recognise it or not.
Let me explain. As there are only a certain number of hours in the day and it’s just not possible to get everything done, when you say yes to a request you must be saying no to something else. Would you agree? Then the key question is what are you saying no to? And is it OK to be saying no to this?
Let me give you an example of one of my clients. Let’s call him Joe. Joe continually found yourself working late at the office more evenings than not. When this came up on his coaching call recently, it was clear he was finding it difficult to say no to his demanding boss who seemed to find urgent things for him to do almost every day. But the thing is that Joe has a young family and by staying late most evenings he missed the opportunity of seeing his kids before they went to bed. So you see Joe
was saying no on a regular basis. But now he is aware of what he is having to sacrifice by saying yes to his boss he’s renegotiated and agreed that on three nights a week he will leave the office to get home
on time. Now I know that takes courage and a certain level of skill, which is just one of the things I teach at my Choose to Thrive Masterclass.
You don’t want to be doing this all of the time but if you want to live life on your terms it has to be done from time to time. Make your choices consciously rather than unconsciously.
So what are you currently saying no to that you are no longer willing to tolerate?
Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, showed that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Saying no is a major challenge for many people. No is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as ‘I don’t think I can’ or ‘I’m not certain’. Be clear and offer alternative solutions. Saying no to a new commitment honours your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfil them. When you learn to say no, you free yourself from
unnecessary constraints and free up your time and energy for the important things in life.
Have you come back from your holiday refreshed? Or are you feeling like you need another holiday?
Many people I’m hearing from right now still feel tired and exhausted even after their holiday. Is that you?
Maybe you didn’t get a chance to read that book or quietly sunbathe despite your best intentions.
Or perhaps you took some work away with you. You may not have literally taken your laptop but work nevertheless invaded your space. Maybe the odd email, phone call or conference call just had to be done.
So no time to really stop, unwind and relax.
Possibly you had reports to read, projects to plan or resources to juggle.
So have you really come back to work having caught up on sleep and with your batteries recharged?
Whatever is the reality for you, how is you battery level right now and is it enough to carry you through the next few months? If it’s not great, how are you going to get back on track and be ready for whatever comes?
Here are the top five tips and techniques I have gathered with my clients over the years.
If you want to increase your productivity, mood, creativity and well-being, the best thing you can do is get more sleep. Unless you’re getting from seven to nine hours of sleep a night, chances are you’re not getting enough. If you want to be a high-performer and get quality work done, research has shown that if you don’t get enough sleep you make more mistakes and things will take longer to do. An extra 30 minutes a night will make all the difference
2) Get ahead of your day.
Creating space and time to plan your day before it starts seems to be the crucial tactic for high-performers. Knowing what must get done today before looking at emails will help you stay on track. After all, emails are just a convenient way of organising other people’s agendas. If you mean business you need to be clear about your own agenda.
3) Agreements avoid disagreements.
How often have you found yourself working late into the night only to discover that what you’re working on wasn’t needed, or you did more than was necessary? Has that ever happened to you? Certainly it happened to me in my time at Goldman Sachs. You see, I never used to have the courage to seek clarification, particularly with more senior colleagues. As a consequence I often did more work than was necessary. But it doesn’t have to be so. Seek clarification before you get started.
4) Stop and take a break.
In today’s fast-paced world, which is continuously changing and bombarding us with distractions it’s easy to think that we need to keep going to get things done. However, the reality is that when you have information overload and decision fatigue it’s time to take a break. Even a short walk to the bathroom or to grab something to drink can be enough to allow your brain to recover and get back on track.
5) Choose who you hang out with.
If you want to hang on to that holiday feeling and don’t want to get dragged into office politics then choose your company wisely. Choose people who are going to motivate and energise and not those who will drag you down with their moans and groans. As my mum says, ‘hang out with radiators, not drains’.You are after all the average of the people you hang out with.
I hope you found these tips and techniques useful.
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You might do your job out of necessity, or it might be your passion that drives you, either way, have you ever wondered – is your career killing your marriage? There is nothing wrong with your focus being on your career, this is a highly positive thing, and you’re in a fortunate position if you are driven by something that fulfills you and gives you a great sense of achievement. However, should this come at the expense of anything else that is also important to you, in particular, your marriage? What you need to aim for is giving all aspects that make up your life sufficient time and attention; be it work, relationships or health and wellbeing.
Here we give a few pointers on how you can tell – is your career killing your marriage?
Do you have a good work/life balance?
With a busy work schedule, we can often go into autopilot, leaving the house early, not getting back until late, followed by dinner, bath, bed – and then doing it all again. Making time for a marriage or a relationship in the working week can seem difficult, and for some it might even be seen as unnecessary. However, even the healthiest of relationships still need nurturing in order to flourish. Giving time to a marriage on a daily basis can seem unimportant, however in the bigger picture this can lead to neglecting the relationship and taking your partner for granted. Make time in your day for your partner. This could be sitting down and having breakfast together, or dinner, or having some quiet time in the evening where you focus on each other, and not the TV or smartphone. If this is something you would rather avoid, you should be asking yourself why.
Does you partner hate you working?
Having a career we love and are good at can deliver a great sense of achievement, build self esteem, and keep us feeling fulfilled. However, it is not unheard of for a partner to dislike their other half having a career. The only way to overcome this is to communicate, and get to the bottom of the reasons why. Your partner could feel threatened by your success due to their own insecurity issues. Or, they could resent the fact that it takes up so much of your time, especially if work spills over into home life and the things you do together. Be sure to communicate how you both feel, and come up with compromises if need be. Make sure you are putting as much effort into your marriage as you need to, and try and see it from the other side.
Do you snap at your partner for no reason?
Sometimes you can snap at your partner without even really being aware of it. If you are feeling irritable, it could be for many reasons (medical, tiredness, stress) however it can often be related to stress at work. When you feel stressed about work, and do not deal with this stress, it can spill into other areas of your life. Try to be more self aware, and when you catch yourself snapping at your partner, acknowledge it, apologise, and explain the feelings behind it.
Do you feel resentful toward your spouse?
When small things aren’t discussed and dealt with properly, they can fester and grow. If you find yourself feeling moody and resentful toward your partner, take a step back and see if you can figure out why. Is it because you feel you are doing more housework than them, despite working full time, or do you feel they don’t understand you? Whatever the reason, communication is key. As well as communication with your spouse, being able to know yourself and how you really feel about things is vital.
Do you speak up at work?
Not speaking up at work can mean you come home feeling frustrated and unheard, or perhaps undervalued. And as you might expect, if these feelings are not dealt with in the workplace, they are brought home. These feelings of frustration, maybe anger, at work are likely to spill over into your home life, and it is common that these feelings can be projected onto your partner. It could be that you are acting as if you are unhappy at home, when really you are unhappy with issues at work. Try to deal with work issues in the workplace, and you will be less likely to take them home with you.
Take time out for yourself
In addition to having a career, and being a spouse, perhaps a parent, and any other role you may be fulfilling, it is important to take time out for yourself. This doesn’t mean having a cup of tea or a glass of wine and scrolling through your phone. This means, quiet time when you are alone with your thoughts and you can work out what is really going on. If you are stressed, ask yourself how you are feeling, and what might make it better. If you or your partner seems unhappy, ask yourself what can make it better. While it is important to put time and effort into your marriage, it is also vital that you nurture your own self and deal with your own feelings about things too. As they say on planes these days, fit your own oxygen mask before you help others to do the same.
Do you find yourself rushing around with no time to think? Perhaps you have so much on, that it’s impossible to keep up? Or maybe you know the quality of your work is not its best and you’re worried you’re going to be found out?
Imagine 2017 is the year you get on top of things and that you will be in charge of your day rather than your day being in charge of you.
You see, “The quality of everything we do is dependant on the thinking we do first” – Nancy Kline.
So creating time to think is vital. But how do you do that? It’s certainly not always easy and not always possible but try these ideas to regain control, get some time back and be in charge of your day.
Before you look at emails, and I mean BEFORE, think about these questions:-
o What’s important to get done today?
o Who do I need to reach out to?
o What sort of leader do I want to be?
o Who do I need to appreciate/acknowledge?
You might need to lie in bed for a couple of minutes longer to do this if you can’t trust yourself not to look at emails first thing!
As you walk between meetings ask yourself these questions:-
o What was great about that last interaction?
o What would I do differently next time?
o What do I want out of the next interaction? Win:Win
o How do I need to be to get the result I want?
And during your commute home or at the end of the day
o What can I celebrate, however small?
o What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned?
o What needs to happen so I feel done for today?
o How can I best switch off and recharge the battery ready for tomorrow?