A fellow leader and I recently dove headfirst into a tough conversation. We’ve been dancing around each other for the last two years, both not wanting to step on the other person’s toes. We had accepted a working relationship where we tolerate what happens in each other’s area versus learning to synergize around what’s possible in our area. We had chosen passivity and living in the comfort of “meh.”

For those who are familiar with the Enneagram, I’m an 8. My baseline tendency is to see things as very black and white and communicate in a pretty direct fashion. Over the years, I’ve learned how to cushion and fluff my messages to make the recipients more comfortable. But recently, I began to realize that my messages are getting lost like a needle at the bottom of an Olympic-sized pool! And it gets worse! Not only are my messages being hidden in the fluff, but it’s also been hindering me from RECEIVING feedback.

So with the best of intentions (<- so important!), I went for it. I dropped the fluff with my fellow leader, and it was incredible. When all was said and done, I couldn’t believe how much more productive our conversation was. Being honest swung the door wide open for the other person to be direct with me. When the conversation was over, I couldn’t help but smile.

It felt so good in three distinct ways:

  1. I didn’t have to spend a fraction of the time and energy to hash and rehash in preparation. I was spending so much effort recalculating!
  2. I got to share what I was seeing and experiencing. Whether I held it back or watered it down, I wasn’t sharing the truth!
  3. I got to hear their thoughts and perspective to help make me better and to strengthen our relationship. Because of #1 and #2, I had only received a fraction of the feedback I needed to grow as quickly as I’d like!

I can’t encourage you enough to listen to that spark and lean into crucial conversations that will help make others better and the team stronger.

The people around you are desperate for thoughtful, kind, and direct feedback, and history doesn’t remember those who let these moments pass. People who ACT on their convictions, take the risk in saying the hard things with the best intentions, push us, pull us when necessary, and splash us with water when we need a wake-up call are so inspiring.

Cheers to you for leaning in and taking the risk today!

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