Helping leaders emerge


When the Need to Be Liked Gets in the Way …

“I dreaded having the awkward conversation with my manager who was not showing up in the right way for her team. My usual tendency is to avoid conflict. Yet, by managing my discomfort and preparing for the discussion, I was able to share concrete examples of how she could improve. I learned that clear is kind and we got to a better place,” a client leader shared.

Most leaders arrive at the decision that being direct and honest is kind after learning the hard way; overcoming their mistaken belief they were helping someone by being “nice” to avoid hurt feelings. In fact, waiting too long to share constructive feedback can not only negatively impact someone’s development but also have the potential to lead to tears and drama, as one client recently shared.

As an executive coach, organizations often hire me to share difficult news with their leaders. I can’t count the number of times that client leaders have thanked me for giving them the direct, clear, and honest feedback that no one else was willing to share with them.

Most of us avoid conflict because it’s just so uncomfortable: tough emotions, physical sensations, and spinning thoughts often accompany these difficult situations. But, as I’m sure you know, conflict is a necessary outcome of working with others and if handled correctly can build bridges and lead to better solutions.

Many clients use a version of the questions (listed below) as a framework; they often share that taking time to prepare for the conversation can help minimize (though not necessarily eliminate) the discomfort (e.g., racing heart rate, tight chest, OCD thoughts, sweaty palms, etc.) associated with having a tough conversation.

Keep in mind it doesn’t have to, and won’t be, perfect. Despite your best efforts, your tone, body language, or phrasing might not be “perfect,” and that’s okay, it’s part of the process. Just make sure you set the right intention by preparing ahead for the meeting to bring out the best in you and (hopefully) the other party.

Click here to learn more about preparing for Courageous Conversations.