Let’s talk. (How to engage in brave communication, and why it matters.)

Let’s talk.

You needn’t ask me twice! I love talking, I love telling stories, I love sharing.

It’s no wonder I speak for a living!

But it’s not always about me (promise!) as I love being in conversation even more. And I truly believe there isn’t anything that can’t be solved through communication. 

The problem is, we don’t always communicate as effectively as possible.

Have you ever avoided a difficult discussion for longer than you’d like to admit? Or perhaps you’ve ‘put off’ that conversation until you had more time (which, let’s be honest, never happens!) Ever felt like that person should be able to read your mind, or just doesn’t get it, or get you?

There are a number of reasons we don’t always talk as effectively as we could. And yet here’s the truth:

The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your communication.

Although a bit of a bold statement, it’s also true. 

How we communicate affects all of our relationships, it impacts how we advance in our work and careers, and it plays an important role in our own sense of joy and fulfilment. 

And while I certainly believe all challenges can be solved through communication, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always easy!

Far from it, actually. 

And yet, the braver we are, the greater the reward. 

This week was full of evidence to prove that. 

On Tuesday evening I attended an event with Women Of Influence that showcased a panel of experts to talk about some pretty important topics: ageism, fertility, and mental health, and how they show up in the workplace. There were some tough truths revealed, and there was certainly some uncomfortable wriggling around in seats!

Over the weekend a very good friend of mine invited me to have an ‘awkward conversation’ about something that had happened and how it made her feel. I was tempted to get defensive even before we began, but instead chose to be open and ready, and made a commitment to listen without judgement. We created a space where we could share honestly and vulnerably with one another, and what transpired was not awkward at all, but instead pretty darn powerful. 

And a few days ago, I got my brave on and shared with a client about the fact I’m going to be freezing my eggs (EEK, just did it again! NOT easy to admit openly!) and because the actual timing of things can’t be predicted in advance, there was a possibility of overlap with a training session previously confirmed. A pretty vulnerable share, and yet she was so appreciative of my willingness to be open, was extremely supportive, and we simply found another date. 

Difficult conversations can be, well, difficult. And yet they are so important.

And we need to get braver with respect to speaking up. With respect to advocating for ourselves, asking for what we need and want, and with respect to those tough, awkward conversations.

Ultimately, we all want to be able to perform at our best, and feel as fulfilled as possible at work and in life. And sometimes that’s going to require you to practice braver communication… in how you use your own voice, and also how to listen to others. Because you are both giving and receiving in any effective conversation. 

Here are some ideas to get your brave on with respect to your communication this week:

 

Ask questions. Be curious. Don’t make assumptions. 

We don’t necessarily know how another person – be it a colleague or a close friend or a family member – is feeling. And making assumptions sets us up for all kinds of miscommunication and misunderstanding. So get in the practice of active listening, and without judgement. 

 

Be honest. Be raw. Be vulnerable.

When you are open and honest about what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing… it invites the other person in. And it gives them permission to do the same. Be brave enough to be a role model. Be brave enough to be the first. Be brave enough to be real. 

 

Practice more compassion. Exercise more empathy. 

Whatever the discussion, do your best to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to imagine why they may be feeling the way they do, or why they have that perspective. Sometimes that may mean simply providing space for someone to vent. People want to be heard, they want to be acknowledged, and they want to matter. And it’s the greatest gift you can give someone. 

 

We all strive for deeper human connection. And one of the most powerful ways to get there is through our communication. More specifically, through our brave communication. 

So this week, I challenge you to be more curious, more vulnerable, more compassionate. And I challenge you to have a courageous conversation (you know, that one you’ve been putting off for way more than enough time now?!?) with someone you care about. And then I want to hear how it goes in the comments below!

 

Have a FAB week!

P.S. We are now booking speaking engagements and training opportunities into 2020… if you’d like to explore how we could bring this idea of brave communication, or brave leadership to your group or organization, let’s hop on the phone!  

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Carol Schulte

Carol is a published author, has been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts, and is a returning guest expert on Rogers TV. Having lived and worked in 16 countries including Ashrams in India and vans in New Zealand, rocked dreadlocks in Thailand and shaved her head for breast cancer, she certainly walks her talk and brings a global perspective to all she does. When she’s not traveling or speaking on stage, you can find her volunteering as a bereavement facilitator, training for her next triathlon, or practicing her serious carpool karaoke game.

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