Safety trumps fear: Are you creating better conversations for employee engagement?
Fear immobilizes. We may stay frozen in place with the unwillingness or inability to move forward. We may be ready to do something but not willing or able to do something. I sometimes see participants in our courses on Crucial Conversation and Crucial Confrontations work on a significant conversation they plan to hold after the course only to return to the workplace and fail to hold the conversation.
Stated Reasons. There are a variety of reasons for this. They may state that they are unprepared and need more skills. They may not be ready, willing, or able to hold the conversation. Yet this is puzzling to me after developing skills and conditions and structuring the conversation during the two day course.
Fear. I believe what often holds people back from the conversation is fear. Fear that they may fail. Fear that they may be incompetent. Fear that they may hear something from the other they don’t want to hear. Fear that nothing will change. Fear that they will need to change. Fear that if they are successful once they may need to engage in even more conversations. Or a host of other result and relationship fears.
Safety extinguishes fear. As a counsellor educator for 20 years at the University of Manitoba I was influenced by Dr. David Martin who taught that most counselling issues were fear or anxiety based. The only way to overcome a fear according to Dr. Martin was to experience the fear while also feeling safe. Safety extinguishes fear. Counsellors use empathic understanding to create safety while letting the client experience the fear by talking about what they fear and thereby dissipating the fear away through safety.
The feeling is mutual. In Crucial Confrontation and Crucial Conversations we teach people how to install mutual purpose and mutual respect to create safety in a conversation. The mutual purpose and respect must be authentic but when experienced they create safety both for the person receiving the conversation and the person initiating the conversations. To be fearful or anxious requires a focus on the self and when the focus broadens to the other person we lessen our capacity to experience fear.
Don’t be afraid of fear. When you feel fear move beyond yourself to mutuality. Find or create mutual purpose and mutual respect not only to help the other person but to help yourself experience and extinguish fear.
The fear busting pathway. The pathway to achieving solid relationships and robust results when the stakes are high, with differing opinions, and strong emotions or surrounding broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior is to move into and through your fear by creating mutual purpose and mutual respect to extinguish the fear.
Yes. Say yes to your conversational fears and trump those fears with your ability to create safety.
Photo credit Flickr Creative Commons: FEAR, http://www.flickr.com/photos/allthehopeintheworld/4900490358/