Being in the discomfort of feedback

Last night I watched England and Denmark in the Euro Semi finals. One word sums up the match - tense.

If you watched it, you will know exactly what I mean. I was in a constant state of discomfort, unease and adrenaline was pumping through my body. 

And yet I sat with it.

OK, from time to time I tried the flight approach and went to get a drink or even played on my phone to give me a moment of comfort - and then I returned to discomfort. 


Well because I was convinced there would be a prize at the end. I had faith. I had hope.

So what is the leadership lesson here? There is always a leadership lesson right?

Courageous conversations are exactly the same. They are tense. They are uncomfortable. And yet, we do them anyway because there is a prize at the end - we hope.

Whether you have to be honest with a peer who said something inappropriate in a meeting, or a team member is not delivering, or perhaps you have to assert your boundaries and ask for what you need, they are all conversations that you would probably avoid if you could. 

If they were easy, you would have them all of the time.

But here is the thing. In an organisation where feedback is the norm, where honest conversations are part of the culture, the discomfort shifts to comfort. Everyone gets accustomed to having a different kind of conversation. A conversation that is based in honesty and with kindness and clarity at it's core.

As the leader, as you begin to role model the behaviours for the first time, it may feel tense or uncomfortable. You are changing the norms. Perhaps, frame that the conversation will be a little different to past conversations, prepare the environment, yourselves and the other person.

But if navigated well, the benefits are huge:

1. Stronger Relationships

2. More understanding

3. Great empathy

4. Better teamwork

5. Improved culture

We run workshops in courageous conversations and you can access the course on our 3WH leadership platform