Your discomfort is whispering to you

With the scariest of holiday seasons behind us, it’s time to talk about fear. Not the running-away-screaming variety, but the smaller, uncomfortable kind that you may avoid in our workplace like:

  • Having difficult conversations
  • Giving honest feedback
  • Asking for feedback
  • Speaking truth to power
  • Making a sincere apology
  • Being honest about your vulnerabilities

These are some of the things,that when ignored, self-sabotage your ability to be the best leader you can be. They damage your reputation, disengage your team, and can cause your organization to fail. They may be excused away as small things, but they add up to something bigger than they seem because you’re a leader who is being watched and imitated.

The discomfort you feel is normal and the tendency to avoid these conversations is common.

That tiny gut feeling that’s telling you to take the high road is whispering to you, “What would a leader do?”. Listen to it, and make a decision to:

Take a pause before you speak. This might consist of taking a deep breath, writing down a few thoughts, or “sleeping on it” before you act. The pause gives you time to gather your thoughts. Before you speak consider that you need to reassure yourself that what you want to say is for a noble cause that is bigger than the words alone.

Get support when you can from someone you trust. This person can provide you with some thoughts around the best way for you to approach the situation. Always choose a good listener and someone who is willing to challenge your thinking. Listen to them because they may add some value to your actions.

Speak with respect no matter if you are addressing the CEO or the janitor. Even when they’ve done something you believe is repulsive, they deserve civility as a fellow human being. Be direct and kind as you say what you need to say. If you get nervous in these situations, speak slowly and breathe slowly to allow you to say what needs to be said with clarity.

The easiest thing to do is to avoid these uncomfortable situations, but you’re better than that. Listen to the discomfort you feel and do the right thing!

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.