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Tool Box: Resources for Honest Conversations

Tool Box: Resources for Honest Conversations

Last week I wrote about that dreaded organizational syndrome, the “meeting after the meeting.” I included some suggested action steps for how to avoid that pattern, and today I want to add to your list of resources for addressing this challenge. Because, let’s face it, having honest, direct conversations about tough issues is hard for most of us. It takes skills that we haven’t necessarily had the opportunity to practice. And yet, it is a vital skill for leaders and teams. Without it, the most you can hope for is mediocre performance.

So, here are some resources I have found valuable when it comes to developing the skills of speaking up and having the meeting DURING the meeting.

Books

Learning in Relationship: Foundation for Personal and Professional Success, by Ron Short

Ron was one of the original founders of the Leadership Institute of Seattle, and this book is one of the most comprehensive resources that I’ve read for how to communicate clearly and function effectively inside teams and organizations. His emphasis is on learning, and he focuses on three different levels of inquiry that are always possible within a team: your own internal experience, the experience between two people, and the patterns within a human system. The book includes very useful ways of thinking about organizations and communication, and some suggestions for how to practice the skills he introduces.

Ron’s two other books are also great tools: Learning from Your Experience with People, and A Special Kind of Leadership: The Key to Learning Organizations. You may need to contact him directly at www.learninginaction.com to find copies of these.

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, by Susan Scott

This book is a quick, easy read, and Scott offers lots of stories and examples of how to engage in authentic, meaningful conversations (and what can happen when you don’t). She also shares tools and ideas for how to jump start these kinds of conversations, including at work.

 

Workshops

InterAct: Skills for Adaptive Leadership

This highly experiential, three-day workshop focuses on building effective communication skills that support individuals and teams in skillfully having tough conversations. I introduce these skills to my clients all the time, and they always lead to greater authenticity and clarity in their interactions. InterAct is offered through LIOS (Leadership Institute of Seattle), and there’s one coming up next week, so if you’re interested I suggest you check it out.

Leadership Embodiment: A Practice for Clarity, Connection, and Presence

This is a two-day workshop that I offer, which focuses specifically on building a body that can have tough conversations and lead effectively. Our tendency to avoid speaking up when it matters comes in part from not knowing what to say, but also from not being able to tolerate the physical discomfort that comes with listening to difficult feedback or speaking a difficult truth. Instead of staying open and present in the interaction, we tend to constrict and get defensive or aggressive. “Leadership Embodiment” offers the opportunity to explore your particular patterns of constriction, how they show up in your actions as a leader or team member, and practice the skills of listening non-defensively, advocating non-aggressively, and staying present when the pressure is on. There’s a workshop coming up soon, and space is limited. Click here for more information.

What resources or practices have you found useful in developing the skills for speaking up and having tough conversations? Please comment and let me know!

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