Earlier this year, my coach taught me all about THE GAP.
But it wasn’t the gap I was expecting.
I know about the chasm between your thoughts and facts (such great news, right?!?).
And that there’s a difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset.
Oh, there’s also the giant hole between management and leadership.
No, the gap she told me about is what appears when we talk about difficult conversations.
Let me back up a bit.
Usually, we experience a situation with someone that is less-than-great.
Maybe your assistant consistently allows newsletters to go out with spelling errors after she’s promised to double check all content before pressing the send button.
Or your new project manager says they understand your business vision, only to start a project that leads your company down another path.
Or your business manager has said that weekly team meetings are a #1 priority and when you’re all together last week, she spent 90% of the time eyes-glued to her device.
Or your client says she wants to finally put together the outline for her memoir, yet was 15 minutes late to your last two sessions.
For us, we face an internal struggle because the outcome we want isn’t happening.
Our vision isn’t matching reality.
A gap between where we are and where the other person is exists.
It’s super easy to slide right into finger-pointing, frustration and fault-spewing at this stage.
And sitting in that self-righteous space feels good, right?
But it’s terrible for team motivation.
It stifles creativity because it erodes connection.
Ultimately, you take a nose-dive, too.
What my coach showed me is that although it might feel good in the moment to deflect and blame, it isn’t serving anyone – you, the other person, your team, your business.
So what do you do?
You get curious and seek to understand before being understood.
Which is where we get to the difficult conversation.
Because the only way to understand where the other person is coming from, what they’re thinking, what they’re experiencing is to talk to each other.
This is where most people stop, cross their fingers and hope resolution will be found without any intervention.
Well, maybe divine universe magic but no legwork of their own.
This little gem of a sentence is all you need, “Help me understand.”
Okay, so you don’t completely lead with that line.
But you do use it as the jumping off point in your difficult conversation.
Here’s how it might go… “Last week you said team meetings are the #1 priority and you were on your phone the majority of the time. Help me understand what’s going on.“
And then you seek to understand.
Maybe your assistant isn’t clear on her actual responsibilities and who truly owns the proof-reading task because you keep stepping in to correct it.
It might be that your project manager doesn’t actually understand your business vision and does believe she’s in line with you.
And your business manager just may have been dealing with personal issue that’s pulling her focus.
Your client might need a nudge to recommit to her goal or permission to reset what it is that she wants.
But you can never get to these places without getting a little uncomfortable, opening your mouth and speaking to the person.
I promise, all will be a-ok on the other side. Likely even better than it is right now.
Where can you see this phrase coming in handy in your business? Where might you use it next?
Post below and fill me in. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash