Karin’s Leadership Articles

The Very Best Secret to Holding Tough Conversations

The Very Best Secret to Holding Tough Conversations (with video)

by | Aug 30, 2018 | By Karin Hurt, Communication, Winning Well |

So often when we’re asked to train teams on how to hold tough conversations, we find a deeper underlying issue that must be addressed first.

Has this ever happened to you?

Watch the Stage Version of this Story and Key Insights Here

The Very Best Secret to Holding Tough Conversations

Karin’s story.

I had promised to take pictures of my son, Ben’s, last marching band performance during his senior year of high school. This was a great job for me since I love my son and I hate sitting through an entire football game.

I raced into the parking lot just as the band was coming around the track during halftime, grabbed the camera, threw my high heels in the back seat, and ran down the grassy hill.

Thank goodness the band was just lining up on the far side of the track surrounding the football field. The sun was beginning to set, which I knew would make for perfect lighting.

I set up the tripod right on the fifty-yard line, adjusted the telephoto lens, and got some great shots: the mellophones doing their sideways stunt, some up-close headshots–I even made sure I got some great ones of his love interest crossing right in front of him.

I immediately went home to upload them to Photoshop for fine-tuning before he came home. I even put them into a powerpoint presentation. As soon as Ben walked in the door, I had him sit down for the show.

He watched unenthusiastically as I flipped through the shots.

“Hmmm. That one’s alright. Uh huh. Okay, what else you got?”

I finished the show and Ben asked, “Mom, did you get the guitar?”

“Huh? Benjamin, you play mellophone.”

“Mom, the band moves into a fantastic formation. It looks like a giant electric guitar right in time with the music. Did you get a picture of that?”

“Ughhhhh, no, I didn’t.”

I had completely missed the big picture.

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re working hard. Your team is working hard. You care. You have the tools. You want to do the right thing. And somehow you don’t meet expectations.

The #1 Secret to Tough Conversations: Avoid the Need For Them

What do you think I would have done if Ben had said, “Mom, no matter what, the most important thing is for you to get a picture of the guitar.”

I wouldn’t have been down at the fifty-yard line, with a telephoto lens, I would have been up in the bleachers with the panoramic setting on my phone.

expectations conversationsI would have asked about the timing to ensure I didn’t miss it.

If communication is breaking down, start first by ensuring expectations are clear.

One good conversation about expectations prevents fourteen, “Why didn’t you?” conversations.

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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