We avoid difficult and challenging conversations because we’re afraid of the negative consequences these conversations might create. The problem with this avoidance is that the negative consequences of NOT having these conversations are probably greater than any consequences of actually having them.
Because of our avoidance we:
Let me say this very clearly – when you don’t challenge others, either on their behavior, their words, or their points of view, you dishonor them. I say this because when you withhold a challenge you are assuming the other person won’t be able to deal with your challenge, or that they are too far in the wrong to ever come to your – obviously correct – point of view.
There’s nothing easy about having a challenging conversation, even, or perhaps especially, with someone to whom we are close. Here are a couple of ideas about how to think about and act on these interpersonal and professional challenges:
I’ve been on both sides of deeply challenging conversations. I’ve been the challenger and the challenged. In both roles, I have become a better person.
Are there risks to challenging others? Of course, especially if you’re challenging someone powerful or autocratic. But think about your legacy – will you look back at your career and lament the conversations you had, or will you lament the ones you didn’t have?
Challenging another human being can be a profound service, in some cases changing the trajectory of their lives – and likely yours as well.