In my time as a business and career coach, I don’t just teach clients how to work with their numbers and strategies.
Those things are important, but they don’t tell the whole story of what we have to navigate.
There’s a ton of other skills that are helpful to develop to be a high-earning business owner or career builder. Like using up your voice on your own behalf, speaking out when something doesn’t feel right, and standing your ground.
There could be tension brewing in your personal life. It might be time to face that head on — because I believe the business is personal and the personal is business.
I encourage all my clients to self advocate. One of the ways they have to do this is learning to be assertive.
You don’t have to be aggressive to master confrontation, but you do have to be willing and able to have the tough conversations.
When you work for yourself, you have to advocate for that self — and usually that means having difficult conversations and conveying both your point of view, and understanding someone else’s.
Under capitalism and white supremacy culture, we’re taught to conform. We weren’t taught to navigate conflicts; instead, we internalized “keeping your mouth shut” or “keeping the peace” or “being more understanding of other people.” Usually to the detriment of anyone who isn’t a straight, white man.
As social human beings, we WILL have difficult conversations with people of all sorts. If you don’t, then you’re not creating the authentic and healthy dynamics that will keep you accountable to your own growth. Sometimes, we don’t feel safe to have those conversations, and that is real, stay safe for sure! But when your body language conveys the tension and you can feel yourself avoiding the tough conversations you can have, check yourself.
When we learn to use language in a healthy way, it creates deeper connections with others that we can learn and grow from. Avoiding doesn’t help, because the buoyant force of whatever you bottle up always comes back.
The reality: we are all different individuals from others in the world, even from our own siblings and parents. Most people can’t read your mind. Often, you can’t read theirs either.
We grow up differently and we have different ideas, and sometimes those ideas can come into conflict. We can’t expect change if we won’t change and be the person that advocates for ourselves.
So, how to go through confrontation or hard conversations? Here is my step-by-step to understanding the big picture even when you’re scared as sh*t to talk. If you’re a recovering people pleaser like me, this can help you stay grounded!
1. Why is this relationship important?
Not every person is worth your time and energy. I repeat: don’t hold onto anyone who may make you feel very disrespected. On the other hand, sometimes people often are worth your time and energy and add to your life.So ask yourself — who is this person to me? Why should I care? Do I care?
If you can write out your reasoning in a calm, grounded way, then you know you’ve hit gold and you’ll benefit from navigating conflicts with them.
2. Remember it’s not about who is right or wrong. It is about understanding the other person.
The goal should always be about understanding one another. Reminding yourself that there can be “win-wins” in this scenario can help you stay calm even if the other person has accusatory energy.
There doesn’t have to be a “you vs. them” aspect to conflict. Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of perspective, and opening up your tone and even body language to being firm but still understanding can show strength and empathy. (rather than backing down!).
3. Have the conversation not in a stressed or heightened state, but in a calm and peaceful state
If you are worried you won’t be able to stay calm in the face of conflict, wait til you’re feeling more relaxed. Give it 24 hours or even a couple days to dissolve the feelings a bit in your body. This way you can hear better and receive better.
4. Share with that individual why you want to talk in an earnest, patient manner.
Similar to the above, telling the person you want to talk in the gentlest tone you can creates safety for both of you that this isn’t supposed to be a hostile environment, that their trust matters. Clarity will be key to having a generative conversation.
5. Listen to the other person without talking over them and with curiosity-driven questions.
Try to understand them. Ask open ended questions such as, “Can you help me understand why you felt like that when I did this?” or “I’m not sure I understand xyz. Can you explain it in a slightly different way?”
All in all, having tough conversations is a part of life and I think we all need more of them if we are to set better boundaries and be better people for each other.
Strengthening how to tactfully manage conflict will go a long way in your business as well.
Still feeling stuck as to how to manage these sorts of conflicts? If you would like further support in your career, business, or leadership, my team and I would love to support you in creating a sustainable life! You can schedule a 30-minute legacy business or career review call with me to see if it’s a good fit to work together, and you’ll receive 3 action-items from me.
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