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  • Teresa Carey

The Best Place for the Conversation

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Susan has been working for months on an initiative that’s aligned with one of her strategic goals. Armed with research and all the needed data, she presented it to the leadership team. Confident she had gained approval from her senior leader, Ty, Susan scheduled a meeting to complete the discussion on the two last areas that stood in the way of moving forward. During the meeting, a couple of other leaders read the tea leaves and noticed there was some reluctance from Ty. Susan’s enthusiasm blinded her to what was apparent to others in the room.

After the meeting, one of the leaders spoke with Ty about his observations. “Hey, it seemed like you’re not sure about the approach Susan is taking on the project. What’s your hold back?” Ty explained he’s not convinced the timing is right and he’s confused about the ultimate goal.

What happened? Ty was finally having the right conversation. Yet it was with the wrong person, in the wrong room.

It’s seemingly so simple - yet happens way too often. Just have the conversation in the room. Ty could have shared any of these thoughts in the room at the meeting, but he didn’t.

  • “Susan, since we last met, I’ve given this more thought and have a couple of questions.”

  • “Susan, thank you for all the work you’ve put into this. I’m concerned about the timing. Here’s why…”

  • “Susan, I was wrong not to explore this more deeply in the last meeting. Can we talk about a couple of items I was remiss in mentioning?”

Unfortunately, Susan will be unnecessarily surprised when she’s ready to launch, and a last-minute objection falls on the table.

What prevents us from having the conversation? It may be:

  • A failure to empathize and realize the impact of not being honest.

  • A feeling of protecting others – not wanting to hurt feelings.

  • A shortage of respect for the person or their approach.

  • A lack of personal authenticity and leadership in being able to speak truthfully.

While this list is not exhaustive, there are a handful of reasons typically involved. What do Susan and all of our team members really want? Our opinions. A moment of truth. To have the conversation in the room.

When have you forfeited the option of having the needed real time conversation? Reflect back on the last 30 days. What frustration could have been avoided, time could have been saved, and clarity could have been provided if you had said what needed to be said?

Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, had this to say about having the necessary conversation, “It’s not mean. It’s clear.”

Never let a needed leadership moment be lost outside the room based on the failure to communicate inside of it. Have the conversation in the room.

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