Alison Green’s book, “Ask a manager” stemmed out of an advice column/blog she set up to enable people to get fresh perspectives on the things that were troubling them. She admits to being not a perfect manager or colleague, and isn’t to be seen as someone who has all the answers. But what she does know is this:
“Surprisingly often, the answers to the questions that my letter writers ask come down to this: Speak up. That’s often all that’s needed – a conversation.“
The inability to find, or want to say, the words you know you should, that are in your heart and your head, seems a common theme in the work I do with many people – whether through coaching, or coaching supervision. And I’m sure some have heard me say more than once what has become a fitting mantra:
- What would it take for you to find the words to say what’s on your mind?
Quite honestly, asking that question so often does the trick – people work it out, say it out loud, come out with it … and somehow it gives them courage to speak the words they want to say to the person they need to say them to. It’s lovely when they check in with me next time and tell me of their great success.
Miss Green’s book is fully of great ideas and practical language you can use to fit a range of situations that might involve a difficult conversation, with 3 overarching key principles:
- There’s no magic wand – problems probably won’t go away all by themselves; you nearly always have to speak up to make things better.
- Most people are reasonable – and they might surprise you with how well they receive your words.
- It’s the way that you say it – your tone, and set-up, for the conversation are key and will determine its success.
Can’t argue with any of that.