What Conversation Am I Dodging? What Issue Avoiding?

by Sheila on July 31, 2011

Today I will tackle my toughest challenge.

In previous posts about “firece” conversations, we have worked hard to engage ourselves and others in conversations that are real, interrogate reality, provoke learning, and enrich relationships.

This post will focus primarily on developing the skills needed to confront and resolve issues that stand beetween us and our own success and happiness.

A problem named is a problem solved.  -Pat Murray

I like to think of it in this way: What one  behavior do I need to do or what behavior do I need to stop that will change everything.

Confronting the issue:

The issue is:

Be concise – 1 or 2 sentences to et to the heart of the issue.  Is it a concern, challeng, opportunity, or recurring problem thiat is becoming more troublesome?

It is significant because:

What’s at stake? How does this affect my livelyhood, relationships and the future? What is the future impact if the issue is not resolved?

My ideal outcome is:

What specific results do I desire?

Relevant background info:

Summarize: How, when, why and where did the issue start. Who are the key players (if others involved), Which forces are at work? What is the current status?

What I have done up to this point:

What have I done so far? What options am I considering?

Ask for help (if necessary):

Who might I reach out to for alternative solutions, confidence regarding decisions, identification of consequenes, where to find more info and critique of my plan.

It is crutial to name the problem/issue. Get very clear here.

It is also important to be gentle with ourselves. We all have difficulty with confrontation and are the best at avoiding it within ourselves. But here’s the thing: the very outcomes we fear are practically guaranteed to show up if we don’t confront our behaviors (or lack of them). It might take longer and the results will likely occur at the worst possible moment – with a huge price tag.

If your issue involves confronting another individual, be gentle with them also. Fierce does not mean telling someone exactly what you think of them and the horse they rode in on. Stand side by side with this person and look at the issue together.

Remember all truth is partial – we all own a piece of it – nobody owns it all. When multiple realities are explored, learning is provoked and new understanding emerges for both and the relationship is enriched.

There’s a story about a group of monks who are blindfolded and asked to touch a different part of an elephant and describe it. You can read the story here.

As you can imagine, depending where they touch, they experience something quite different individually.


Think of that one conversation you need to have with yourself or another – it’s that one that every fiber of your being wants to avoid. Write it down.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • We are often nervous about these types of conversations and we might start out with, “So, how are you”? An opening like this is disrespectful and dishonest. Plus, you are not fooling anyone or relaxing anyone – just the opposite! Their internal reaction is mostly likely something like, “Well, not as good as I thought, apparently.” We can all smell hidden agendas a mile away and we don’t like them. I really hate the one, “We need to talk.” Are you kidding me? No way am I talking to you now! Most of us know the hidden agenda and try to bluff our way through and some of us are very good at this.
  • The Oreo cookie. Have you ever done this? You have something difficult to say and you start out with something nice…throw in the issue in the middle…and end with another nicety.  We deserve better than this. Even if we haven’t asked for it, we deserve clear, straight messages. And, this is one reason people get tense when receiving a compliment – they they think the other shoe is about to fall.  Keep praise in it’s own message.
  • Finally, don’t write a script (physically or in your mind). If you have clarified, you know what the issue is. Be present and available for what shows up in this conversation. This is where the magic is. Trust yourself! You have everything you need within you to have this conversation and stay with it coming from a place of love and compassion. Just show up with an open heart and mind.

When you tackle your toughest challenge in the coming weeks, let me know how it goes. I will look forward to your comments.

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