Whether it’s confronting your boss, a member of staff, your Mum, your child’s teacher or the plumber who promised to finish the shower 2 weeks ago, difficult conversations aren’t easy.
I’ve coached thousands to have those icky conversations that you put off. Here’s your quick guide on how to have those tough conversations, get the result you want and ensure both parties leave happy.
When you think about the conversation you don’t want to have, you are assuming there is going to be swearing, doors slammed, bad words, tears, smashed plates and someone hating you for eternity. The fact is that this rarely happens, but your brain is in charge, and you have let it run crazy wild like a 5 year old on too much candy.
Stop and think about what you want to see happen. I am going to teach you how to have win win conversations and relationships — even with the passive aggressive pain that knows how to provoke you.
What do you want to see happen and don’t be unrealistic here. Ideally you want every conversation to end with a win win conversation building a win win relationship (I learnt about those from Bob Burg — check him out, great guy.) You don’t want to see them burn in the fiery pits of hell for all time — that level of negative emotion won’t do you any favours. What would be the end result you want?
3. Match — but not like your weird.
I teach a lot of people about how to communicate powerfully, whether it’s closing a deal, a networking event or getting a teacher to listen to your concerns about your child. And one way to get some on your side is to match them. Consider;
How fast do they speak?
Do they use one level or vary it?
How loud are they?
Do they pause?
Are they sat forward or back (Yes this still applies on Zoom and understanding this gives you an edge in online communication!)
Do they sit still or are they all jazz hands and big body movements?
What style of words do they like? Do they say things like “I see what you are saying” or “I hear you” or “I feel you aren’t listening to me.”
You can use this information to build rapport but a word of caution, over do this and you can look very creepy, and that other person is backing out of the room like you’re a psychopath.
Done gently you can make people feel listened to. Using phrases like “I hear where you are coming from” when they’ve used auditory language is a subtle way of connecting. People that are very good at communication naturally do this and you can learn to do it well too. Not sure on this one? Comment on my mastermind group and I will guide you.
To do well in difficult conversations know where your boundaries lie. What would you accept at the minimum? What would push you too far and make you walk away? Know in advance where you will give a little.
5. Internal confidence.
Note the word internal. There is a big difference between internal confidence and external confidence. One doesn’t’ alter on a good day or a bad, and the other does. If you build your inner confidence you can deal with difficult conversations a lot easier. I’ve so many strategies to do this, start with the why I’m Awesome Doc — write down on an A4 piece of paper on both sides, why you are awesome. Often there is a gap between what you believe to be true and the facts. This document helps bridge that gap. So don’t hide the finished document away!
6. But Mandie, what are they thinking!
You’ve got to worry less about what others are thinking. I know that’s easier said than done and I spent my life dealing with corporate team’s internal dialogue and business owners fears about what people might think of them. If it really worries you — ask them. Stop assuming and ask. But by building your internal confidence you can handle anything that people are thinking, because let’s be honest there are billions of people on this planet — you aren’t going to get on with them all.
7. State the facts.
To do this you need to know them in advance. Take out the emotions and word the facts before the session. Fact — You said X would happen and it has not. Fact “We agreed on X and not Y.” It’s not easy taking the emotion out of it so know your facts in advance.
8. Ditch the why
Coaching style questions are genius for getting people to do what you want them to do. They take away judgement and opinion and enable honest dialogue. For instance ditch any conversation that starts with “Why” and swap it to “What are the reasons this has……” this enables people to speak without believing you’re judging them — even if you are! I’ve got tons of awesome questions you can ask. Head to my website to learn some crackers or message me. But pre difficult meeting play out some questions to ask and some phrases to ditch.
Before you meet, what do you want to see happen next. It is one thing to know the outcome you want but what will be the steps to get you there? What would you like that to look like? Laying this out in black and white means there can be no “Oh I didn’t think you meant that” Passive aggressive types and those that aren’t going to listen no matter how compelling your argument will be good at moving the goal posts, so be crystal clear on what they are. Make sure they are put in writing if necessary and don’t be frightened to set a date to revisit the difficult conversation. You can do this now. Difficult conversations aren’t going to hold you back, are they? And lastly…
A big mistake people make in negotiations and in difficult conversation is they keep talking. Stop talking. State what you want to say, make them feel heard (repeat back what they’ve said to help them feel heard using the matching language) tell them where the boundaries lie and what you want to see happen next and then stop talking. This is powerful because people hate silence. When I get people to stand on a stage and say a sentence and then be quiet for 2 seconds, they rarely manage it, because seconds seem to take hours! So, if you stop talking, they will start. If you have stated your position, said what you want to see happen next, now let them talk. There may be an awkward silence but if you can become comfortable with awkward silence like a 1970’s library you will win. If it helps you can count the seconds — how long will you wait?
As always let me know how you get on, feel free to like this post and share it and ensure you are following me for the next one.
Got something you need help with?
Email me or connect on social media and I will write something especially for you — no one will know that.
Okay, it’s been on my mind for some time; Hump Day.
I hate it. No, I don’t hate Wednesday’s I hate the term hump day.
Think about it. If you are lucky enough to live on this planet for 85 years you are choosing to put in your head a hatred of 4420 days of your life. That works out as 12.1 years you are going to tolerate and complain about!
So, if you hate the week and struggle to make the weekend, do something about it.
If you hate Wednesdays rename them. Here’s some suggestions, strategies and ideas for you;
Where you dump the bad thoughts in your head and concentrate on what you do want instead.
Where you dump the venomous relationships with other people (and yourself) and find strategies to handle tough conversations, controlling people and passive aggressiveness (there’s lots of advice, articles, courses an books on this on my website – help yourself).
Where you bump the things you hate to another day – imagine a day where you prioritise all the things that make you happy and productive?
Where you appreciate you’ve been bumping stuff for so long is it really even important? If you really keep bumping it maybe it’s time to dump it? I teach people to dump or deal. I.e., Deal with that thing that’s sat on your to do list for 4 months or dump it for good. Your need to do that job was possibly created by external forces or ambitions. What do you think on the inside about that thing?
Where you focus on how to be motivated, positive and have a mindset that says, “No matter what, I will thrive and achieve great things.” I always say “Know on a good day how to handle a bad day. Check out my mental health tool kit to help you with this too. What people inspire you? Start your day hanging out with them, even if its just on social media. What pumps you up? Does it really need doing? Will it really help you and your success and happiness?
Okay not every month, but maybe have one day a month where you can freely moan. My Dad jests that if we take moaning away from him, he won’t have anything left. The irony being he is someone that always finds the positive and concentrates on inspiring and nurturing rather than what he can’t control you.
I’ve always been tempted to set up a Grump page on Facebook that is confidential. Where you can hop in once in a while, rant, get it off your chest and move on.
Sometimes in life it is tough, and it does feel all consuming. Don’t put up with it. Being grumpy is considered a crime. But if you give yourself permission to grump, swear, stew, and dump that word again) it on paper or to a kind friend. You will get back to a positive empowering mindset faster. (this won’t work for all people – only do the ideas that resonate with you.)
Where you do the things that get you buzzing. I love a dance every morning. While I brush my teeth, make my bed, brush my hair. I’ve playlists that will make me bouncy, concentrate, calm, grateful, laugh. Exercise has been proven to do so much good to our minds, so how will you jump and get active?
Where you plump up what you think about yourself.
You aren’t going to walk down the street greeting everyone with “Good morning, did you know I’m amazing?”Mandie Holgate, Author, Speaker, Coach
However most of us need a reminder that we are awesome and how it presents itself in our life. I get many clients to write a 2-page document on why they are awesome. (Taken from my book Taking Control Of Your Mind) It builds confidence, it reminds you of all the skills, attributes, and successes you’ve had, and you have every right to do it all again.
So, let’s take ownership of those 4420 days and claim them for us. What do you want Wednesday’s to be from now on?
What do you need in your life and how are you going to make Wednesday’s your reminder to go for it and get what you want and deserve in life?
I would just say there is always Rump day too – I could be talking steak which in our house is a treat night, romantic night with my wonderful hubby or it could be something else?
The quality of your thoughts creates your actions, and results in life. So own Wednesday’s you’ve got 12 years of them (at least!)
I remember as a child being told “Mandie Timns you ‘re all doom and gloom!”. I was always Mrs Happy, Positive I love life or Mrs Oh no the worlds’ ending. (That’s why I know we can all change, because I have!)
As a child I loved Lost in Space and the sad robot was who I was compared to most of the time. It’s not easy to change however it is something we can all do.
So last night I was lucky enough to slide into a beautiful full length ball gown covered in sequins, spend far too long getting ready and head out to celebrate the finest businesses of my home county, Essex.
As a coach and Founder of The Business Womans Network I realise that one of my super powers is that I love business. Not just mine, everyone’s! I’m so ridiculously proud of everyone’s achievements and I’m very happy to be regaled with your business story, passion and ambitions. Therefore to spend the evening with so many businesses that I’ve helped, watched and loved for years and to see their faces light up on hearing their name called out was sheer joy.
But here’s the thing. Many of the speakers and guests were also overjoyed at everyone’s success and passion however I couldn’t help noticing the doom and gloom.
Into too many speeches in my view Brexit reared it’s stupid, unruly head. (This is not a political post so you are safe to read on.)
Why does this matter?
Surely it is something that is happening right now and could impact on all businesses?
Last time I looked I was not a politician or the Prime Minister so getting stressed about Brexit achieves nothing. On a celebratory night to mention the B word was just as useful.
Have you noticed how two people both have the same end destination or goal and yet only one will get there despite similar skills, beliefs and passion, why?
And what does that have to do with Brexit?
Concentrating on the negative around us is not good for business, we do need to be mindful of what could impact on success, our teams, our suppliers and profit margins however ultimately you don’t have control over Brexit so talking about it only creates fear, tension, negativity and nervousness – and consider any big occasion in your life, were those feelings and thoughts useful or damaging?
It is mindful to remember that bad news sells, not good news, and as such if you want proof that it’s all doom and gloom you are going to be able to find it, however if you want to hear that business is good, people are seeing record breaking sales, profit margins and companies are sustaining growth despite smaller budgets, then you can find evidence of that too.
You see the human is a clever thing, it can look where it’s told to, the brain in all humans can be powered up for greatness or reduced to a nervous bundle of oozing do nothing just with a thought. So if you concentrate on the negative your actions will be impacted upon.
This is not pie in the sky, airy fairy “your coach believes in you” nonsense, this is factual. I can work with a team who know that there is no more money, there will be no extra staff, they do have far too many emails and the to do list seems to grow as fast as they tick things off – and despite what could be perceived as doom and gloom there company grows, the staff become happier and feel more respected, KPI’s are nailed and profits grow. What did I do?
So often when I’m working with a new client I hear “We want to achieve this” and when I ask them to explain it in more detail there is no depth to their want for that goal. Which means that in times of uncertainty as we clearly could be considered as having right now, it’s imperative that you choose the calibre of your thoughts. Remember bad new sells, and you are not a news story.
Define your own direction. Don’t get pulled into a negative rabbit hole. Concentrate on what you want and how you are going to ensure you will get there, we all know someone that has achieved great things despite the odds.
That’s all of us right now.
Ditch the doom and gloom. Leave that for your competitors. I established The BWN in the middle of the last recession. If I’d listened to the doom and gloomers I’d have believed;
The list was long, and I didn’t’ listen to any of it. If anything I have always found that when everyone else is stunned like a rabbit in the headlights that is the perfect time to think big, plan well, structure the actions and concentrate on what you really want. Because you are likely to achieve despite anything. It’s your choice where you choose to focus your thoughts, energy and actions – choose wisely.
Words you wouldn’t expect to hear from a business woman whose father taught her never lie. As Dad always says;
“Never lie, with a thief you know they will always try and steal from you, with a liar you never know where you stand.”
It’s a rule I’ve always applied to my life and every aspect of it.
But today I realised that’s a lie. Oh the irony!
You see I think sometimes we do have to lie, but the only person even now I’m lying to is me.
You see if I didn’t I’m not sure I could cope.
The last 4 years have tested me physically and mentally like never before. I have Lupus, Sjogrens, Reynard’s and Fibromyalgia. You don’t need to know what they are, just that if you wanted to know what that means, imagine going Christmas shopping for 10 hours in heels, then having a massive party night and waking up the next day with flu. That would give you a hint of the way it feels most of the time. So if I don’t lie to myself how would I get up?
I have to tell myself that I can do it, when I feel like I can’t.
I have to tell myself those steps won’t hurt, when they do.
I tell myself that I’m full of energy, when I’m struggling to put a pair of tights on.
I shout in my mind “Go for it Mandie, its mind over matter. And if you don’t mind it don’t matter.”
And when people say “How are you?” I say “Fine thanks, you?” That is not the British I’m fine when I know I’m not. That’s the I live with an illness that means I will pour medication down my throat every day of my life and I know that one activity too many can floor me for days. But I will not be dragged down by this and so I lie.
So I ask you, is that a lie?
Or is that protection?
Is that dogged determination to live life to the fullest and still respect my body?
Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes when someone who cares say’s how are you “I’d like to burst into tears and lean on their shoulder and say “I don’t want to do this anymore, oh woe is me, it’s not fair, rant, rant ,rant…..” But where would that get me?
A part from having people crossing the street to avoid me. I think that level of giving in is not good for you long term, you need to understand that we all need to know when to sob on a shoulder to someone and when to raise our heads high, suck our guts in, suck it up and say “Bring it on, I’m ready!”
I don’t have the attitude that some try to give me. “It could be worse” because that’s madness. Because let’s be honest it could be a lot better too.
I have the attitude that I can, and I will.
And sometimes I know I need to not lie to me and I have to listen to that voice that says “give it up Mandie, sit on your butt and accept life is over” As one helpful doctor once tried to tell me. Sometimes I pick up the phone to a friend and say “I need to talk.”I book myself in with my incredible friend and holistic therapist, Brenda Seaborn and let my body talk to Bren and let her fix it without my thinking. I know it helps and I let myself have those moments where I’m honest and I work out a new way to deal with things.
I bet you are thinking Mandie, you normally share work ideas, ways to grow my business or overcome my business obstacles and fears, how is this relevant?
Well ask yourself “Are you lying to yourself?” are there things that you are putting up with and allowing to be obstacles to your success?
As I like to say “If you allow that obstacle to stay, what are you agreeing to? What are you accepting you can’t achieve?”
Remember your brain is one big muscle and if you don’t train it to get the results you want, it will get flabby, out of peak performance reverting to negative automatic thought processes that keep you stuck.
So go on be honest with yourself and still have my attitude – “Raise your head high, suck your gut in, suck it up and say “Bring it on, I’m ready!”
(And if you are lucky enough to live in Essex or Suffolk, UK then you are lucky enough to have a try of Brenda Seaborn’s brilliance for yourself. Visit her website for more information http://www.banishstress.co.uk/ )