Mediation visionary Raymond Shonholtz posted a guest blog item on the New York Peace Institute website in November 2011. His comments explored the notion of courageous conversations. He spoke of conversations as being courageous because both the person’s actions and the message they delivered, put them in a position which was usually fraught with danger, and often death.
In the business world, we speak of courageous conversations – conversations that take courage – but are we kidding ourselves that they truly take courage when all we might face is a backlash of criticism, a scathing reply or stone cold glare? How does that compare to those who step forward and face real risks of persecution, even death?
Where we can draw parallels with Shonholtz’s concept of courageous conversations is with his belief that ‘not all courageous conversations are heroic, but they are always about change’.
Stepping forward and speaking up at work is about change. Maybe is it because we realise that we, ourselves, need to change: to take bold steps, stand up and be prepared to have our voice heard (or if we are currently doing this, change our approach, style and methods). Maybe it is because we want someone else to change or we would like to change a situation which we find uncomfortable or believe to be unproductive.
If you are familiar with change management 101 – try applying the same principles to your next ‘change conversation’. These conversations are not about finding courage, they are about applying a process – always laced with a good dose of emotional intelligence.