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You're going to have these high-heat meetings with your team at work, your family, and your community. As authentic leaders, how we handle these situations takes courage, intention, and practice and says a lot about who we are as leaders.
I've learned a few things over the years about critical conversations:
1. In any high heat meeting, stay true to your values.
No matter how heated the conversation gets, stay centered in your values. One of my values is relationships. As an extrovert, I thrive on the energy that my interactions with others bring into my life. Putting relationships at the center of the conversation in a mindful way helps me to stay on track with my goal: to make sure the relationship remains intact, even if healing time will be needed.
2. Don't respond immediately to a negative comment.
It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment. Resist this temptation. Instead, use a deep breath or a 3-second pause to help you gather your thoughts and keep from intensifying the conversation into a shouting match or stony silence. This practice is simple, but it is not always easy to do when we are hooked.
3. Remember to be compassionate and empathetic.
We don't always know what prompted a sharp, hurtful comment or an attitude of defensiveness or anger. Putting ourselves in the other person's "shoes", even for a moment, can help deflect any increasing heat in the conversation or meeting. Compassion takes tapping into your heart and can change the conversational path and (sometimes) the outcome.
As I continue to develop as an authentic leader, I've learned that I need to enter any challenging conversation or meeting with intention and when possible, preparation. As my friends and co-workers will attest, I don't always get it right, but I have greater awareness that how I was raised and how I live affects how I show up. And that awareness alone can really change things. Develop these practices and see if you agree.
Interested in learning and improving your skills in critical conversations? Join Larry Dressler, Scott Kriens and me at 1440 Multiversity, May 27-29, 2020 for Critical Conversations for the Authentic Leader, May 27-29, 2020. Space is limited so register soon.