Helping leaders emerge


Critical Conversations: How to Show Up When the Other Person Plays Win Lose

“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” – Unknown

I recently coached an individual who was struggling with how he should show up when communicating with a difficult colleague. He explained to me that whenever there was a disagreement, his peer would start lashing out and ultimately play “win-lose” – that is say anything to make him appear like the righteous one and my client the bad guy. My client would leave the interaction feeling triggered and it would take time to cool off and get grounded.

While it’s not always this extreme, many of my clients struggle with difficult situations and people. So what can we do? How do we show up when someone does not want to engage in an open conversation, and play fair? While good communication strategies and proven tools often improve difficult situations and critical conversations – what do we do when they don’t? How do we remain grounded and non-reactive to the other person?

My client used the following mantra, Accept, Let Go, Compassion.” He explained as follows:

  • Accept how the other person communicates and accept that I feel triggered when these interactions occur.
  • Let Go of the need to fix the situation (he realized he could not).
  • Have Compassion for himself and his colleague. He understood that if his peer felt the need to lash out he probably wasn’t feeling so good about himself.

My client also started a meditation practice – 10-15 minutes per day. He meditated on the words, “Accept, Let Go, and Compassion.” He found over time he was able to take more of the balcony view, that is visualize himself from above the conversation, and show up more as an observer during these difficult conversations – rather than be in a reactive, angry mode. Inspiring.

My client found a way to establish better boundaries, take care of himself, and show up grounded and calm. And while it was never perfect, things did slightly improve between the two of them.

If you want more ideas on how to show up grounded and calm here is a link to a former blog I wrote Managing Your Lizard Brain: How to Stop Your Triggers!