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Why difficult conversations can be more important than the solution

31 May 2016

“What will support any relationship is clear, complete and conscious conversations when upsets or breakdowns occur”. -  Iyanla Vanzant

As leaders we often feel that whenever there is a problem, it is up to us to fix it.  Perhaps that’s why we so often leap into action and focus on solutions rather than dealing with what led up to the situation in the first place.

The problem is that the solution is not likely to be perfect until you’ve had a conversation about what is going on. 

It is not always easy to have difficult conversations or to uncover the real story about a problem, so it’s natural to put them off.  You fear you’re going to make things worse or hope that without intervention the situation will magically rectify itself.

If only this were true! 

Instead of dreading these conversations, they could be seen as opportunities for growth and learning on both sides. 

This mind shift will make you feel more comfortable and change your goal from a negative to a positive.

Regardless of how it unfolds, the conversation will have some immediate and positive effects.  You clear the air and your own personal stress levels will reduce.

Not addressing issues can cause people to lose respect and motivation, so by opening a difficult dialogue you show commitment and care and it provides you with an opportunity to become more involved and get to know your team to a greater extent.

You may also find your team are even better prepared for the conversation than you are, and this allows the natural leaders to step up, have input and be proactive in solving the situation at hand.

The more experience you have addressing issues and having courageous conversations, the better you will become.  You will learn what works for you and your team, and you will trust that the outcome and opportunity outweighs the initial discomfort and fear.

In many ways the conversation is more important than the final solution.  

You can learn a lot from your team members by talking about what is going on.  Attitudes, thoughts, values and perceptions all show themselves in a conversation about the process rather than the solution. Then you know what you are dealing with. 

James Clear says “Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.” The signals you need are in the conversation and until you find then, your solution will always be only a band aid. 

When you make this process part of your personal policy, you will find your team comes to expect and respect you for it, knowing you will deal with situations quickly and fairly as they arise.  Speaking up is how you became a leader in the first place, and speaking up is how you will continue to lead fairly and transparently.

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