No one likes confrontation: it’s uncomfortable, especially when we need to find the courage to speak up. If a team member isn’t performing well, this person deserves to know. If we’re feeling unmotivated, we need to be vulnerable to find support. If anyone, whether a client, new business prospect, team member, or stranger in public says something inappropriate, we need to let them know in a respectful way. It’s no surprise then that it’s easier for people to be passive. But, it’s not the right way to be; the hard things are often the more difficult things, even if our stomachs churn at the thought of taking action.
Instead of ruminating on the discomfort, start preparing yourself for conversations. When we communicate well, we’re better to ourselves and others; when we don’t, we repress feelings and stall our ability to move forward. Meet four people who arm us with the tools to communicate well:
Esther Perel Helps Us See Someone Else’s Perspective, @estherperel
Modern relationship expert Esther Perel rose to recognition when she gave her TED Talk, The Secret to Desire in a Long-term Relationship. She says the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.
There’s a lot to learn from her hard-hitting approach about how we communicate with each other in both romantic and non-romantic relationships. She helps us examine why we act a certain way in conversations, so we can break unhelpful behavioural patterns - they’re rooted in our childhood and how we learned about intimacy. “Our conversations about relationships and power become more sophisticated when we examine why a certain behaviour occurs,” said Perell. “Instead of simply denouncing, let us get at the root of the issue and begin to make changes.”
Read this post about recognizing patterns in arguments.
Amy Cuddy Shows Us How Our Body Language Influences Who We Are, @amycuddy
Amy Cuddy is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School. Her 2012 TED Talk, Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are, is the second-most popular talk in history from the organization. She believes our body language influences our confidence; she learned through her own experience as a student at Princeton, when she believed she didn’t belong among her classmates.
Today she asks us to bring our boldest selves to our biggest challenges: we do that through power poses - brief, nonverbal expressions of competence and power. In an interview with Forbes, Cuddy said, “confidence is a tool. Arrogance is a weapon. Confidence invites people in and arrogance pushes people away. People use arrogance as a wall to prevent others from challenging them. And it does prevent people from challenging them, but not because people think they are smart. It is because people don’t want to be around them.”
Cuddy uses Twitter as a tool to be honest and open about social and political issues, and she invites people in to discuss and support her. On June 18 she tweeted: “I'm sorry. Having a rough day. Picking myself up. I'll be back. Don't worry.”
Watch this clip about power poses.
Sukhjit Khalsa Speaks Up For The Truth, @sukhjitkhalsa
Sukhjit Khalsa is a young Sikh woman born in Perth, Australia, who speaks the truth about race, religion, and gender in the country through spoken-word performances. From a young age, she’s been encouraged and empowered by her family to educate fellow Australians about what’s right and true in society.
Khalsa uses satire and humour to address core social issues, and her work was recognized when she performed on Australia’s Got Talent in 2016. While Khalsa’s work mostly aims to unravel systemic racism, she shows us the power of humour to get a point across, without defusing its importance. In a heart-warming and eye-opening interview with Viceland, Khalsa said, “the only thing I can think about being Australian is using humour...I get to be a translator between my community and the general public of Australia.”
Watch this clip about standing for who you are and what you believe in.
Amy Gallo Believes Disagreement In The Workplace Doesn’t Have To Be Unkind @amygallo
Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business and the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. Gallo also co-hosts the HBR Women at Work podcast, which covers the biggest challenges women face and ways to overcome them.
Her recent conversation on Twitter, as part of an international competition for women entrepreneurs organized by Cartier, the Women's Forum, McKinsey and INSEAD, features six questions about women in work, our life partners and our work, and finding a balance with both. She said, “have frank conversations with partners, bosses, peers about what's important to you. Advocate for what you want. Don't apologize for taking the time you need.”
On supporting each other at work, Gallo said, “I'd love for companies to help employees better share workloads so that people can pick up one another's slack when necessary. I've heard colleagues say they don't take vacations because they can't handle the backlog of work on their return”
Scroll through this list of books recommended by Gallo for having difficult conversations.