blog

THE NUMBER ONE SECRET TO HAVING COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS

By Louise Baring

by SHELLEY-COX
When was the last time you went for a walk, a drive, or a vacation with only nature as your background? Have you ever left a meeting and thought, “Wow…a lot was said, but nothing was actually solved.”? Are you comfortable with silence? In order for us to live up to our full potential as leaders, we must thoroughly know who we are and what it is we believe in. We must communicate with integrity and allow others to do the same. The simplest, most important way to do this is to make room for silence.

temp-post-image

In her groundbreaking book, Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott reminds us that “The best leaders talk with people, not at them.” We are all guilty of tuning out during a meeting, smiling and nodding while our children recount their day, or giving an automatic response to others when they ask how we’re doing. However, these mindless responses are doing us a great disservice! Not only are we showing others that what they are saying is not valuable to us, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to be present, to experience each moment, and to grow from each interaction.

“The best leaders talk with people, not at them.” – Susan Scott

When Our Words Aren’t Measured
It can be easy for us as women, entrepreneurs, and leaders to vibrate with energy and passion about our vision and goals for our businesses. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the details of our potential that we forget that business is a relationship. Potential clients are not engaged by what we’re saying because they are not a part of the conversation. There is a simple solution!

Get comfortable with silence. Befriend it. For it is in moments of silence that we can reflect, respond, and truly connect with ourselves and others. Learn to focus on participating in the conversation, and not dominating it. As Susan Scott says, “…Our knee-jerk responses may not reflect our highest and best thoughts.” Taking the time to listen and formulate a response after others are done talking is essential. However, many of us find this difficult. There is a vulnerability in silence, in not immediately having all of the answers. In order for us to learn to be okay with this, we must first experience the power of silence for ourselves.

Signs that You May Be Talking Instead of Communicating
Interrupting by talking over someone else
Formulating you own response while someone is talking
Responding quickly with little or no thought
Attempting to be clever, competent, impressive, charming, and so on
Jumping in with advice before an issue has been clarified
Using a silence or break in the conversation to create a distraction by changing topics
Talking in circles, nothing new emerges
Monopolizing the airspace
(Adapted from Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott)

If this list resonates with you as much as it does with me, now is the time to take the first step!

The Wisdom of Silence
Often, the most profound wisdom comes from those who spend time in quiet contemplation. Why is this? When we fill every second with mindless chatter, we may eventually come to a great realization, but our knowledge will be buried underneath all of our words.

“Let silence do the heavy lifting,” Susan Scott instructs.

For especially difficult situations, including that nagging problem you just haven’t been able to solve, often all we need is a quiet reflection to allow the bright gem of a solution to work its way through the sands of all of our thoughts.

How to Transform Your Conversation
If you want to respond from your heart, avoid pointless threads of meaningful chatter, and learn to be comfortable in your own company, provide silence. Take at least ten minutes each day to sit in complete quiet. Listen to the ambient sounds around you. Notice the wind, the leaves in the trees, the blades of grass. Breathe deeply and allow the silence to wash over you. Now is not the time to check in with social media. Listen to the steady stream of information from within. Confront the thoughts you’ve been dulling with the background noise. Follow the guide below to get started today!

Schedule in times of silence
Ask yourself these difficult questions:
If I could change something right now to make me completely happy, what would it be?
Are my relationships thriving? Why or why not?
What am I avoiding doing that would ease the stress in my life?
Is there anything I am hiding from myself?
Take the time to answer these questions honestly, and think about each answer.
Genuinely listen to others
Be willing to admit when you haven’t responded from the heart, or when you need some time to respond.
By learning to sit with silence, we become acquainted with our deepest truths and can both lead and communicate with others from a place that is honest, genuine and represents us completely. Allow yourself the space to consider the words of others before you respond. It may be difficult at first, but after you experience communicating in this way, you won’t ever want to go back to the casual chatter that says little and solves even less.

I invite you to start now. Visit my website at http://shelleycox.ca/ and sign up for a free giveaway. If you have questions and want to connect, I would love to chat: 902-431-5189 or drop me an email: Shelley@shelleycox.ca

Sharing your Leadership Journey,

Warmly,

Shelley Cox