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As yet another year comes to an end, many of us feel compelled to use the start of 2019 to reflect on how 2018 went. If we achieved set resolutions, it can feel positive or negative, depending on how you frame it. Although I no longer set resolutions like I used to when I was younger, I understand the appeal and the motivation behind the practice.
Resolutions help you start off the new year on track, achieve goals that have been looming over your head, or maybe even “force” you to try something new. Unfortunately, oftentimes resolutions come with feeling bad about ourselves if we don’t achieve them, which can then deter you from pursuing that goal or change in the first place.
With that in mind, let me introduce a different concept that may help you create a guiding force throughout the year without the pressure of hitting a bunch of benchmarks (note: if resolutions work for you, keep it up - no need to fix what isn’t broken!).
One of my cousins approached me shortly after the New Year last year and shared her “Word of the Year” concept. Each year, her and a bunch of her friends each pick one word that they want to focus on for the year. She asked me if I’d like to participate, and if so, what would my word be. Surprisingly (I tend to mull this type of stuff over), I immediately had the word ‘patience’ pop into my head and I determined that’s what I would practice for the next year.
Before I further explain the benefits of doing this versus resolutions, or just in general, I’d like to share my “Word of the Year” experience with you all so you have a better idea of how it might play out in your lives or what you might want to change if you decide to participate.
What I like so much about this practice is that it you can really focus on something more abstract, yet meaningful. I suppose I could have said that “I resolve to be more patient” as my resolution, but that wouldn’t grab me as much as framing it in my head as “This year, my word, my life, and my growth will be centered around patience.”
I decided to choose patience because I am anything BUT patient: anxious, Type A, want things immediately, lack patience for others, etc. I am a nightmare in the patience department. As a result, my mental health truly suffers, as do some of my closer interpersonal relationships. I also know that in order to be happy in this life it is helpful to be mindful and practice mindfulness when it comes to the present moment. If I’m so busy being impatient and wanting to get to the next item on my list or the next accolade or whatever “next” there is, I’m in complete opposition of being mindful, and by extension, happy.
Was I Successful?
I was not as successful in learning how to be more patient and enacting it in my daily life than I wanted, but I definitely improved. At the very least, I recognize that patience is something I need to work on, so now I will continue to do that. Through meditation, mindfulness, therapy, and identifying areas and situations that bring out my impatient tendencies, I slowly grew over time. I figure I’ve spent almost three decades being impatient, so it’s probably going to take at least a few years to even the scales.
Given that I still need to get better with patience, I’ve also decided that it will be my “Word of the Year” for this year too, along with flexibility. I think the two compliment each other pretty well, so I’m excited to see what growth is in store for me in 2019. While I do have my zen moments, I’m still a fiery, 100% Italiana, Leo (yes, I believe in astrology ;)) from New York (I use this list of traits a lot when explaining myself, but come on! The cards were stacked against me when it comes to patience haha), after all.
Benefits to “Word of the Year”
Of course, these benefits are subjective, but hopefully, they make sense! I found that picking a word was more fluid than resolutions because I didn’t have to hold myself to a rigid goal and/or plan to achieve success, but I still could if I wanted to. I also feel like focusing on a word and developing that skill or state of mind might lead to achieving other goals, like a domino effect, or vice versa (e.g., I want to be more patient -> I must meditate to achieve this goal; I want to be more empowered -> I picked up weight training to feel stronger; etc.).
Additionally, I enjoyed that I could fully personalize how I wanted to fulfill my dedication to the word ‘patience’ - I listed up above that I employed practices like mindfulness and meditation, but maybe for someone else it might involve their relationships with their children, or spending more time with an elderly parent, or really, any other way you can think of how our patience can be tested.
In my opinion, I find this practice to be more holistic than the type of resolution that I might pick for myself (e.g., don’t eat processed foods, lose X amount of pounds, learn a new instrument). If I can figure out how to be patient, that is going to make me a happier soul while on this planet far beyond what a low-level resolution that I would make for myself would be.
Lastly, and similarly to creating a resolution buddy, you can get a group of friends together to support one another, regardless of whether you pick the same words or not. You can all hold each other accountable in a way that works for you!
So, my readers, here’s to another year! I hope it is your best one yet :) For me, I am crossing my fingers that I will develop into a more flexible and patient being.
If you think you might want to pick a “Word of the Year” for yourself, share it in the comments below if you feel comfortable! I’d love to hear what you choose!
By: J. Ryan BLesse
It’s almost 2019 – can y’all even believe it? Honestly, I’m not sure how many goals I really achieved this year given how quickly it has flown by, but I’m happy I can at least say that I’ve made progress on them. It is what it is, right?
This past year has been an eye-opening one. I’ve learned a lot: what I’m capable of, what I really want to achieve in life, and what I’m willing and unwilling to accept from others and myself. It’s been a bumpy ride, but it’s brought a lot of clarity and peace to my life. I’m so thankful for the journey – even the less fun stuff.
But 2019 is a big year for this guy – on January 5th, I’ll be turning the big 3-0! It’s had me thinking quite a bit. Sure, it’s an arbitrary number, but there’s always something special about turning the dial to the next decade. I’ve learned a lot about who I am in my 20s, but I won’t miss them. I’m excited to enter a new decade feeling like I really know who I am now.
With that said, I’m hoping to change a few bad habits I’m carrying over from my 20s into good habits that can help me thrive in my 30s. But when I think about these habits I have, the more I wish I’d focused on changing them in my 20s – I think they’re all habits that could have better helped me navigate my 20s.
So, without further ado, here are the six habits I’m going to change in my 30s:
1. Make your bed a device-free zone.
Your bed (and bedroom) should be sacred spaces for rest, relaxation, and reconnecting with your S/O. But if you’re like me and you rely on your phone to wake you up in the morning, you’re probably spending a lot of bedtime catching up on the apparently never-ending cycle of depressing headlines or scrolling through your social media feeds wondering why you ever encouraged your parents get on Facebook or Twitter. These habits, while seemingly innocent, are actually working against you – they’re making your sacred space toxic. On top of that, if you do have an S/O, it begins to paint a pretty grim picture: if you’re focused on your device(s), then you’re certainly not focused on one another. In 2019, try getting an actual alarm clock and leave your phone outside of your bedroom. We’re fortunate to have our own master bath, so I’m planning to plug mine in next to the sink with the ringer on (just in case an emergency comes up and someone needs to get ahold of me in the middle of the night).
2. Be more curious about others.
So often, I catch myself listening to respond or – even worse – just nodding along thinking about everything but the current conversation. I’ll own it: that’s a super toxic behavior, and likely a manifestation of social anxiety to some extent. But that’s not a cop out. You owe it to yourself and to the people around you to be curious and to ask questions. So, for example, if you ask someone you’ve just met what they do for a living, listen to what they say instead of rehearsing your own elevator speech in your head. If you don’t really understand what they do, ask them more questions. It’ll build rapport, make them feel valued, and help you to improve your interpersonal skills.
3. Approach difficult situations in the spirit of resolution.
I’ll level with you: I do not like confrontation. It’s uncomfortable, it’s vulnerable, it’s challenging, and it’s personal. But guess what? All relationships, whether they’re familial, platonic or romantic, are going to have some level of confrontation – what matters is how you’re approaching the conflict. If you’re focused on how the other person is wrong and you’re right, no outcome is going to be beneficial for you, your family member / partner / friend, or the relationship. But if you focus on the obstacle that’s causing stress in your relationship with the other person, you can both come to the table to overcome it and be stronger on the other side. Before confronting the other person, fight the urge to make a backhanded or sassy remark. Instead, figure out what is bothering you about the situation and come to the table ready to talk about how the two of you can work to resolve it together.
4. Realize that you don’t owe toxic people anything.
I’ve talked about this before on Let’s Talk, but as you get older there is so much value in knowing how to spot rewarding and toxic people in your life. In my experience, toxic people tend to turn conversations back to themselves, take more than they give, are a constant source of negativity, and only reach out when it benefits them. I need y’all to hear this: You don’t owe it to anyone (and I mean anyone – family member, friend, or significant other) to suffer through a toxic relationship and sacrifice your own wellbeing in the hopes that they’ll be a more legitimate human being. That’s not saying that if your friend is going through a rough patch or your have a spat with a family member that you just have a mental eulogy for them in your head (empathy goes a long way). But if you leave every interaction feeling more depressed, anxious, or worse than when you entered it, the person or the relationship is most likely toxic and you need to see your way out, at least for the time being.
5. Use your paid vacation and personal days.
Honestly, I’m already good at this one – but it’s one that I’ve only really come to appreciate in the last couple of years. Unless your job allows you to carryover days or they pay you for days you didn’t take over the course of the year, not taking your vacation and personal days is only benefiting everyone but you. If you have paid days off and you’re sacrificing them, you’re literally refusing part of your income / salary. Obviously, there’s something to be said about not taking too much time off during particularly busy times of the year or when you have unfinished work others are depending on, but otherwise you should never feel guilty taking time off if you have it.
6. Be decisive.
Q: “What do you want to do for dinner?” A: “Oh, I don’t care. You decide!” Q: “What do you want to do this weekend?” A: “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” Q: “What movie do you want to see?” A: “Oh, it doesn’t matter to me! I love all movies!”
Listen, there’s something to be said about being considerate and open to what others want to do. But the older I get, the more I realize that if I’m consistently putting the onus on other people to plan my life, I’m no longer courteous: I’m potentially burdensome. If someone asks you your opinion when it comes to making plans, don’t toss the responsibility back at them every time, especially if you actually do have something in mind that you want to do. If they didn’t want your input, they wouldn’t be asking for it.
Can anybody relate, or am I just sitting out here by myself? If you’re in your 20s, what habits do you have that you’d like to change? If you’re out of your 20s, what are some habits you’d encourage 20-year-old you to change? Let us know below! Oh, and Happy Holidays, everyone – may your 2019 be bright!
The Holiday Guide is live! I am so excited to share this piece of hard work from the Let's Talk team. In fact, I'm so excited that I can't think of any other words to say, so just go enjoy the guide.
By: Lindsey Webster
Although it still feels like 2018 just started, the year is coming to an end and social media is filled with everyone’s statuses and tweets about how the year went for them. Before we jump to creating our new year resolutions and goals, we should definitely take some time to reflect and think more in depth about our year. Reflection helps us to take a look at good things, bad things, mistakes, lessons, and much more in order to help guide what our next step is going to be. I tweaked a few online tools I found about end of year reflections to help guide me in reflecting on the year.
What are your top 10 highlights, memories, and moments of the year? We have a tendency to start out looking at the negative side of things, so first start out looking at the positive things that happened over the year. Was there a special moment with a friend or loved one? Is there something you accomplished that you are really proud of? Was there a new milestone you hit? Did you take a trip you really enjoyed? Your top 10 do not have to be over the top grandiose things. Your top 10 can be whatever made you feel good this year. This can even look like something you stuck to not doing such as not returning to an unhealthy habit you previously had. Reflecting on your top 10 forces you to find the good in something.
Lindsey’s highlight: One of my top 10 highlights was going to Dubai this year. I love to travel and experience new things and cultures.
What are 5 things that did not go well for you this year and why? Was there a relationship that ended or had rocky moments? Was there a goal you did not reach? Was there a mistake you made? Did you backslide into anything you committed to leaving in the past? Reflecting on the disappointments of the year may not feel good because it can evoke emotions in us that we may typically try to avoid. However, reflecting on the disappointments allows you to then think about what you learned from that disappointment. There’s a lesson to be learned from every disappointment and that lesson can help to inform us how we can make different decisions in the coming year and motivate us to keep going.
Lindsey’s disappointment: I had planned to take the next step in my career in 2018, but I did not get any of the jobs I applied for. I was solely looking out of state, so it was not easy. However, it reminded me to be patient and not give up.
3 Focused Areas
What 3 areas of your life did you spend majority of your time and energy on this year and why? Does your top 10 show a pattern of an area you spent a lot of time on? Did you spend a lot of time tending to work, family, friends, self, etc.? We sometimes get to moving so fast in life that we do not even know where our time has been spent. It is good to know where you time has been spent in order to know if you are giving the time, attention, and energy to the things that need it the most and/or if there is something consuming your time and energy that needs an adjustment. Adult life pulls us in many different directions without increasing the number of hours in a day, so we need to be mindful of how our time is spent. Being mindful of your time is also important to decrease stress and improve self-care.
Lindsey’s focused area: I spent a lot of time on myself in 2018. In previous years, I probably spread myself too thin, so I was neglecting me.
3 Neglected Areas
What 3 areas of your life did you completely forget about or spent very little time and energy on and why? What did you neglect this year? Not everything requires the same amount of time, attention, and energy at the same time. Like I said, the number of hours in a day will never be increased. Therefore, it may be ok to neglect or give little time to certain things at times. On the other hand, there may be things we neglected that needs more of our time and energy and we need to be aware of that to make the adjustment. The “why” here is important because we sometimes neglect areas due to time and energy on other things, but we also neglect areas due to fear, worry, lack of commitment, lack of confidence, etc.
Lindsey’s neglected area: I have an interest in entrepreneurship, but I neglect this interest partially due to a lack of time, but I believe more so due to a lack of confidence within myself.
As you reflect on the year, how will you use your reflections to grow in the coming year?
By: J. Ryan Blesse
Somehow, it’s the end of 2018 and, while it’s great that the holidays are here and everything, the end of the year also means something else: year-end performance reviews. *Insert WOMP WOMP sound here*
Even though I’ve never really had a poor performance review (picture me knocking on all the wood right now), I’m always filled with a foreboding sense of dread anytime this time of the year comes up (well, anytime I’m not stuffing my face with food because, #TisTheSeason). It’s a weird ritual, right? You literally go into your boss’s office – someone you may know well or only speak to a few times a year – and get told what you did well, what you did not-so-well, and get asked to sign off on your agreement to said review.
It’s easy to know how to proceed when you come out of a review you totally aced (TLDR keep doing what you’re doing and try to expand your skillset). But what if you come out the other side of a review with some negative feedback? It’s probably not something any of us really wants to think about (and we’re sure you’re going to ace 2018), but negative performance reviews are a real possibility, and how to handle and respond to them can mean a lot for your professional future.
Here are five ways to respond if you find yourself on the receiving end of a less-than-ideal performance evaluation:
Take a step back and really listen and absorb the feedback.
Criticism is not easy to hear, particularly if you’re just starting your professional career, but it is so important in our personal and professional development. Chances are your boss isn’t going to throw a curveball at you and reveal brand new information regarding your performance during a year-end review (if they are, that actually points to a larger issue – consult with HR if your manager is bringing up new information during your performance review). More likely, you’ve already had a conversation or two regarding your performance before. If it’s coming up again in your year-end review, really listen to the feedback, take notes, and ask questions. While it’s on your boss to outline their expectations of you (more on that below), it’s on you to take ownership of meeting those expectations.
Ask your boss to clarify their expectations of you.
If you’re unclear on why you’re not acing your performance review, it is likely that you’re just not sure what your boss wants from you. If you’re unsure what your boss’s expectations are of you, then there is a communication breakdown somewhere. Ask your boss to explain what habits or behaviors you can change to better meet the position’s requirements and your boss’s expectations of you. Ask for specific examples of when you have failed to meet expectations. Neither you nor your boss is expected to be a mind reader, so open up that line of communication if it’s closed off. It may not be the easiest conversation to have, but you can only do better when you know better. Check out this article from Monster about what questions your boss should be asking throughout the year (and, if they’re not, what questions you should be asking).
If your boss is providing feedback that portrays you in a poor (and inaccurate) light, provide more context.
Now, this does not mean you make excuses for poor work – there is something to be said about owning up to inadequate performance and taking steps toward correcting it. However, your boss may only be getting the bird’s eye view of your professional life. If your boss has the wrong perception or incorrect facts about something that’s impacting your performance review, you’re well within your right to provide that additional context. But remember, this is not about avoiding responsibility – if their review is fair, then own up to it and use it as a jumping off point for improvement. If you’re truly caught off guard, admit that the feedback is surprising, ask if you can have a few days to mull it over, and determine what your next step is.
Note: If you really don’t agree with something in your performance review and you and your boss cannot come to agreement or compromise, remember that you do not have to sign off on the review just because your boss said so. Obviously, check your organization’s own policies on how to proceed if you’re in this situation before doing anything, but most employers allow you to consult with HR on next steps before signing off on a performance review you don’t agree with. Also, take a look at this article from Harvard Business Review – it has some great tips on how to approach these kinds of conversations.
Set a date to go over a plan to remedy poor performance.
If you and your boss are unable to outline an actionable plan for course correct during your review, decide on a date to meet again to go over how best to improve. Ask your boss to come with ideas, but make sure you really own the plan – while your boss should have input, they shouldn’t necessarily be the one to decide every step of the process. Determine what will really work (and is feasible) for you to accomplish the next year and go back to your boss with a real plan of attack. Consider using this development plan from Rochester Institute of Technology – the examples focus pretty heavily on academic positions, but the advice is sound for any position.
Finally, remember that one bad performance review isn’t the end of the world.
Real talk: If your performance review didn’t go well, it’s concerning. This review is based on what you do for 40+ hours a week, so you shouldn’t be totally flubbing it. However, it’s also important that you keep this in perspective. In all likelihood, the dings you got on a review are outweighed by the positives, so use that to lift yourself back up. Use your strengths to figure out a good path forward to meet not only your boss’s and organization’s needs, but also your own.
Have you ever had negative feedback during a performance review? What steps did you take? Let us know below!
By: Lindsey Webster
I saw this diagram a year ago and it really got me thinking about what it means to create accountability for self and others. We often think of accountability as a process where an expectation requiring some sort of behavior is set to reach a certain goal, progress of the behavior is measured, and consequences are applied if adequate progress is not made. While those three steps are definitely a part of the accountability process, I think we tend to miss a few crucial steps. And when you miss a few crucial steps, I think that is when we do not see progress made and ultimately, the goal is not reached. The lack of true accountability leads to dissatisfaction at work, in relationships, or with self.
The S.I.M.P.L.E method is a 6-step outline to create accountability. The steps are Set Expectations, Invite Commitment, Measure Progress, Provide Feedback, Link to Consequences, and Evaluate Effectiveness.
Set clear, direct, and thorough expectations that align with the goals and wanted results. Work with the other individual(s) to determine what the expectations are and allow time for questions to be asked. We cannot assume that people know what is expected of them and it makes it really hard to hold anyone accountable to something that was not made clear as an expectation. Setting clear expectations allows all parties to know what behavior they are going to be held accountable for and also gives parties the chance to voice if they can or cannot do something and to also express any concerns. It sets the tone and gets everyone on the same page. Once the expectations are set, write them down and share with all parties.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Invite commitment to the expectations and reaching the goal. This conversation will most likely happen while the expectations are being set. If not, it still needs to happen. People are more likely to follow through with things they buy into and things where they had an opportunity to genuinely share their voice. This is one of those often missed steps. If commitment is not invited, people may feel they are in a dictatorship. A dictator may get results out of fear, but people will not be satisfied and the chance of them leaving is higher. Dictatorships also can create high stress environments, which can affect a person’s ability to carryout the expectations. Inviting commitment creates a collaborative atmosphere.
“M” can be called measure progress or measure results. There must be checkpoints along the way to measure progress and/or results. These checkpoints should already be outlined when the goals and expectations are being set. Measurement drives conversations about performance and if the goals or expectations need to be adjusted.
Feedback should be given during the discussion about the information gathered from measuring progress/results. Feedback has to be honest and direct. People cannot correct or improve on things if the feedback is not given about what needs to be done differently. Also, feedback does not always have to be in relation to what needs improvement, feedback should also be in regards to what someone is doing well because that can serve as a motivator for people. Feedback should also go both ways. The person who is being held accountable, should have the opportunity to provide feedback as well.
Link to Consequences
Consequences help to keep us focused. They are not a bad thing, but they are needed to keep people on track to reach the desired goal. Consequences should not be confused with punishment. Punishment leads to resentment or hurt. Consequences aim to encourage people to take their commitment more serious and to make positive choices. This is also one of those often missed steps when the link to consequences is not discussed when the expectations are set. I often see consequences given, but the link to consequences was not made in the beginning. Thus, possibly leading to frustration, confusion, or discontent.
Evaluate the overall accountability system for strengths, weaknesses, areas of improvement, and things that are going well. Afterwards, what are the next action steps to grow? All parties should be involved in the evaluation process. Again, this creates a collaborative atmosphere where all voices are heard and valued.
Using this method creates a fair accountability system. A trusting relationship between all parties is important for accountability because you have to trust that people are being fair and doing what is in the best interest of the goal being reached. This method can be used not only at work, but in your personal life as well.
How will you use the S.I.M.P.L.E method in your life to create a more effective accountability system?
It’s performance review season! Woo! (sarcasm, y’all) If you’re like me, this time of year gives you some serious anxiety because it’s time to be evaluated as an employee. I know, I know…if you have a good boss, you shouldn’t be surprised by what you hear. I think that’s very true, but still, the overall process causes me a certain level of apprehension. Here are a few tips to make your review a successful one.
Speak in terms of results.
It’s great that you got done six projects this year; however, speak to the real business results of those projects. Did you help increase efficiency or productivity? Did you increase sales? Look at the following example and notice how the statements read differently.
State at least one area for improvement.
No one is perfect and in your performance review, you shouldn’t try to be. There have been bumps and bruises through year because you’re human. Talk about them. If you try to come off as this perfect employee, your boss is going to see through that fluff immediately. Also, he or she will likely appreciate the honest assessment that you’re providing of yourself.
I recently read “The Millionaire Next Door,” and one of the millionaires stated that he was his own best charity. Treat your performance review the same way. YOU are your own best advocate and number one cheerleader. It’s going to feel strange, but sell yourself and what you’ve accomplished. No one else is going to do it for you. YOU are in charge of your career.
Employees, how you can ensure you’re prepared for your performance review? Management, what could you do to better prepare your employees for the performance review process?
By: J. Ryan Blesse
A lot changes when you start doing this whole adulting thing. You have a full time job you can’t regularly skip out on just because you’re tired or hungover. You pay your own bills. You have to set up your own doctor appointments. But maybe the weirdest thing about being an adult is the way your relationship with your parent(s) changes(s), and it’s literally the one thing no one ever really prepares you to go through.
Even if you’re the Rory to your mom’s Lorelai (Gilmore Girls fans, anyone? Am I dating myself?), the transition from a non-adult based relationship to an adult-based relationship with your parent(s) can be daunting. It’s basically the only relationship we have where the imbalance of power is so extreme for 18 to 22 years, and one of the individuals in the relationship goes from glorified leech to fully autonomous human being.
It’s jarring for sure, but the transition from being parented to not being parented is jarring for both the parent and the child. On one hand, no one is ever truly done being parented or parenting. On the other, you have to stop being parented and parenting at some point. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?
So how does one navigate the turbulent transition from being parented / parenting to having an adult parent-child relationship? There’s no sure-fire method, and it’s very likely that the 18 to 22 years preceding this transition will be a huge factor in how bumpy the road actually is, but here are four baseline methods to develop and nurture this adult relationship with your parent(s) (#SpoilerAlert: They’re all relationship maintenance strategies you should probably be using with everyone).
1. Recognize that parents are people.
I’m not a parent (yet), but the older I get the more I recognize how exhausting it must be to be a parent (and the award for Captain Obvious goes to…). But seriously, imagine having to be this pillar of alleged perfection for 18+ years only to have your child figure out that you’ve been pretending to have it all together and are probably just as much of a hot mess as they are. To have an adult parent-child relationship, you have to allow your parents the opportunity to be human with you. They’ve made mistakes and they’ll continue to make mistakes. Don’t hold it against them – learn from them and use those mistakes to better yourself and your relationship with them.
2. Not only set your expectations, but also communicate and negotiate them with your parents.
This is particularly important to point out especially given that the child-turning-adult transition is such a tricky one for parents and children. Any relationship requires that both individuals communicate their needs, wants, standards, and – ultimately – boundaries. If you don’t set your expectations, you cannot reasonably be upset and / or punish the other person for not reading your mind and complying.
But. While you are absolutely in the right to communicate your expectations for the relationship, keep in mind that this isn’t a one-sided relationship and the adult parent-child relationship you want isn’t al a carte. If you don’t want to be parented and you want an adult relationship with your parent, then you can’t expect them to make all the compromises. Ask them what their needs, wants, standards, and boundaries are. There’s bound to be conflict, but meet in the middle where you can and agree to disagree where you can’t find middle ground.
3. Stop. Asking. For. Money. (or anything else that is considered a basic need you should be providing for yourself)
Again, this adulting thing isn’t a buffet. If you want to have a fully adult relationship with your parent(s), you have to stop treating them like your caretaker where and when it’s convenient. Stop asking for money for groceries, rent, car payments, phone bills, etc. unless you’re in an extreme situation. Obviously, don’t become homeless because you’re too stubborn to ask for help. But if you find yourself constantly asking your parents to provide for you and you’re out of the house with a full-time job, that’s a you problem that only serves to perpetuate the non-adult parent-child relationship (and you can’t complain if your parent keeps trying to, well, parent you).
4. Go into any difficult discussion with forgiveness and reconciliation in mind.
Again, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff – just basic relationship maintenance. Think about it: when you are going through a conflict with your best friend, you probably aren’t going into the conversation kitchen-sinking the hell out of them. Instead, you’re going in thinking about what you did wrong, what they did wrong, how you can make amends and be better in the future, and move on with your friendship (usually stronger for it).
We have a tendency with family to think that we can go in and dump the worst versions of ourselves on them and expect everything to be fine just because we’re related. But that isn’t how healthy relationships work! If you’re going through a rough patch with a parent, don’t go into it naming every single thing they’ve ever done over the last 18 years that has somehow wronged you. Focus on the conflict that’s happening now. What is your role in it? What is their role in it? What can you (and they) do right now to make it better? What can you both do moving forward to avoid the conflict coming up again?
Have you been through this transition? Are you going through it now? What’s worked for you and, maybe just as important, what hasn’t worked for you?
By: Lindsey Webster
I had an amazing boss named Beth at my first job right out of college. I admired many things about her leadership style, but I most admired her ability to have conversations to address concerns, issues, or to give feedback. While she was not your best friend and did not act like it, her ability to build a positive work relationship with you allowed for those conversations to happen in constructive ways. I never left a conversation with her feeling any negative feelings even when discussing tough topics. You always left the conversation thinking of ways to grow and become better.
As I moved on in my career, the importance of having conversations around concerns or issues stuck with me. I have been in my field for 8+ years now and more often than not, people do not want to discuss concerns or issues with one another. You see and hear people discussing things with everyone except the person they should be talking to. Why are people nervous to have courageous conversations? I think we all know life isn’t perfect, so having an issue, conflict, or concern is going to happen. My ability to have courageous conversations has surely been put to the test especially when I became department leader a few years ago. I’ve had to figure out how to have courageous conversations with bosses of mine, colleagues in my department, and other staff members I have to work with on a regular basis. The four strategies below are what have helped me have courageous conversations.
Strategy #1: Build a positive work relationship with everyone.
A lot of change happened within my building and office a few years ago. There were a lot of new people and different people in new positions and some of these people were in close proximity to me. Recognizing that I hold a leadership position and have to work with these people, I made it a priority to build a positive work relationship with them. Building a positive work relationship with colleagues has nothing to do with being friends with one another or even personally liking one another, it means that you maintain a positive attitude in your interactions and display the same positivity in your behavior by being courteous and kind. This can be as simple as saying “Hi, How are you doing today?” when passing a colleague in the hallway. This could be engaging in simple conversation about common interests. In my office, we have lunch together. Building a positive work relationship with others creates a rapport with other people and a certain level of trust. This opens the door for courageous conversations to happen because it helps people understand you are genuine and it also lessens the chance of people feeling there is ill intent or malice. Think about it. Do you better accept criticism from someone you do not even speak to or from someone you have some sort of positive relationship with?
Strategy #2: When? Where? What?
When to have the conversation? Where to have the conversation? What are you going to say? These are all key questions when having a courageous conversation. The “when” matters because you want to have the conversation when both parties are in a rational mental and emotional state to have the conversation. The “where” matters because some conversations do not need an audience. I have specifically asked colleagues to have conversations in places where others are not around because an audience is sometimes not needed. The “what” is the most important part. What is the conversation going to be about and what are you going to say? You must make sure you are clear, confident, and direct during the conversation. If you are not, people may not take what you are saying seriously or the message may not be conveyed. I once had a colleague who had some strong feelings about how I did my job. They talked about me behind my back and tried to silence me in meetings. I was furious, so I reached out and said we needed to talk. I asked to meet before work in a private place to discuss the issue and we didn’t have a problem again after that conversation. Say what you mean and mean what you are saying. If you are concerned about your message getting across, discuss it with another trustworthy person first.
Strategy #3: Don’t take it or make it personal.
Some situations may be personal, but there are many others that are not personal attacks. Taking or making something personal means that things are delivered or received in a way that is about someone’s personal character. For example, if someone gives you feedback about how to improve your performance and you interpret that as “I’m the worst person at my job ever,” then you are taking it personal. Sometimes, it is not about “you” personally. Do not internalize issues or concerns that are brought up because it isn’t always about “you.” If you are the person having the courageous conversation with someone, do not make it personally about them if it is not personal and on the other hand, if you are the person the conversation is being initiated with, do not make it personally about you. Try to leave personal feelings and emotions out of the conversation if it is not needed. The issue and concerns at hand get lost in translation when personal feelings are brought into it.
Strategy #4: Pick your battles.
There are times when it is best to let some concerns or issues go without a conversation. If you are thinking of having a conversation, but can’t identify a real purpose for the conversation then maybe it’s not worth bringing up. Or if having the conversation is not going to produce a different result or advance towards a goal, then maybe it is not a conversation worth having. If you are ever unsure if something should be discussed or not, then consult a trustworthy person.
Is there someone you need to have a courageous conversation with? If so, how will you use these strategies to have the conversation?