Being mindful of how your beliefs can set a challenging conversation up for success—or tank it—makes all the difference in the world.
Here’s what I mean.
I just got off a phone with a client that I admire and respect. Lindy is a strong leader in upper management working in an organization that I am honored to be serving. As she jumped on the line, I heard the angst in her voice within the first few minutes. (This is always a signal that a False Belief is creating havoc in our inner dialogue.)
Lindy: Can you help me with some talking points on confronting an employee regarding his job responsibilities?
Me: What’s going on?
Lindy: I need some tools to help me tell him that changes are happening in his job responsibilities and I’m afraid he won’t like it. He might think I am picking on him, or don’t trust him, or don’t value him in the organization. So, can you help me get some talking points to step into this conversation well?
Me: Sure, but before we do that, I’d like to check your beliefs. It sounds like you are believing that you will lose control of the conversation. Does this resonate?
Lindy: (laughs) That’s exactly what I’m thinking!! You nailed it! Ok, I see where you’re going, it’s a False Belief, right?
Me: Yep. I can give you all the tools and talking points in the world, but your best bet is to address what you are believing first. This way it will come out of a place of confident peace rather than anxious striving. (You know you’ve hit on the needed True Belief when you feel like exhaling and the peace starts replacing the anxiety) So, what’s the True Belief?
Lindy: Give me a hand.
Me: How about “I get to stay in the driver’s seat?”
Lindy: Yes!! “I AM in the driver’s seat and I get to stay there.”
Now that we were operating out of a True Belief, we were ready to discuss practical steps to set the conversation up for success.
1. State your Good Intent – My hope is to streamline some job responsibilities and set you up for success…
2. Affirm the Relationship – I value your role in the company and care about making sure you are fulfilled in your responsibilities…
3. Communicate what you need to happen – Here’s some changes we need to make…
4. Stay Objective (don’t let it go personal) – This will help us all grow as a team and it aligns with the policies, procedures, mission, and values of the company…
Not only is this helpful in our professional interactions, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how our beliefs can either derail or build up personal relationships as well.
This just happened to me the other day.
My 15-year old son was getting a little – well, snarky. The False Belief that was creeping in was –“He doesn’t care about how I feel”. As I believed this, it made me want to control, retaliate or demand respect. None of which goes over well in a relationship, right?
Before confronting his behavior, I paused and checked my belief with him. “It feels like you don’t care about how I feel, is this accurate?” His response was powerful. “Mom, I really do care about how you are feeling, what can I do to make it right?” Honestly, I was stunned. It took me back because I wasn’t prepared for this. I was gearing up for a strong confrontation. As I let the True Belief sink in, I responded simply with, “I guess it would be nice if you could just be kind.” He nodded and said, “I can do that.”
This conversation was so beautifully simple – and very different than others where my False Belief was running amuck. False beliefs can escalate the intensity in a challenging conversation because of the fear they bring into the relationship. Fortunately, this time I heard the belief I was saying to myself and stayed curious enough to check it.