Alpha Advice: Handling Hard Conversations

What Will You Say?

November this year is going to be a standout month and that’s saying a lot given what 2020 has brought us.

From COVID-19 and Election ‘Day’ to full moons and Thanksgiving… there is a lot to talk about. And, those conversations are not always easy… whether it’s with employees, family or friends.

Some of the controversial topics at my table this month will be about Brussels sprouts. It seems to me the world is indeed divided into two; those that appreciate the versatility of the small-but-mighty leafy vegetable, and well… everyone else.

In my experience, Canadian Thanksgivings involve a lot of beer, bacon and my beloved Brussels sprouts. But what I loved most when I moved to the States, is that Thanksgiving is a holiday for everyone. To me, this is the essence of a holiday – surround yourself with loved ones, eat great food, share stories, and spend time together.

That also means, that when friends and family gather to give thanks, they also give opinions. Throughout my career I’ve been lucky to receive good advice, and also suffer through uninformed opinions and ill-willed comments. I learned a lot about how to listen and to speak up for myself and others.

Alpha Advice: Top Three Talking Tips

Honesty is the best policy.

In any scenario, honesty is the best policy. But, when having hard conversations it’s particularly important.

If you’re giving advice or sharing feedback, be honest and clear on your expectations. If you’re receiving advice or feedback, be honest in acknowledging how you feel and if you aren’t clear on what the other party is trying to communicate.  

Listen. Process. Respond.

Acting on impulse is never good. Especially when you’re having tough conversations, actively listen. Take time to process the answers and really think about what is being said before you respond. 

Don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions. If you need clarification, ask for it and then respond based on the full details. 

Lay the Groundwork.

If you’re having a particularly hard or emotional conversation, lay the ground work and set expectations up front. 

I often start hard conversations with phrases like “I would like to talk to you about…,” or “we are here to discuss…” so that we lay the appropriate groundwork for the conversation at hand. 

Particularly, when the conversations are hard, it’s important for the other participant(s) to know what’s coming so that we don’t catch them off guard. 

No matter what your Thanksgiving may look like this year, just like your turkey, it’s best to be prepared for many different outcomes. If you’re serving up a dish with an extra helping of advice, make sure it’s wanted, fair and just.

Alphas, whether you’re prepping to take your seat at the Thanksgiving table or the meeting of your life, I can help. Schedule a one-hour coaching session with me, and we can talk through how to show up, be heard and listen.

Don’t look back and wonder if you could have done more.

More from Alpha Women Rock
My Absolutely Alpha friend of many years, Debbie Wolpov, who is the CEO of MerX Payments is our featured Alpha in Action in this month’s edition of Alpha Woman Today. If you haven’t had a chance to sign-up for the e-newsletter please make time to do so; I think you’ll find what she has to say about being an Alpha Woman very poignant, especially this time of year.

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