Anthony Tjan of Harvard Business Review interviewed global CEOs and senior executives. He asked: Are your meetings achieving your intended objectives? Their answer: less than 40% of the meetings did! Over half of their meetings were unacceptable…but continuing!
How does this happen? How do all us smart people underachieve in our meetings where we went hoping to get big results? It’s pretty simple: most people are avoidance-motivated a great deal of the time. Most want to avoid conflict at all costs. Tjan writes, “…the answer lies at least in part in the human tendency to avoid or massage the delivery of difficult or conflict-causing topics.” Translation: Hard conversations are hard.
But, of course, this is when we most need to be direct and honest…and most effective. It’s not like directness can’t cause problems, so: you must express yourself clearly, you must be compassionate, and you must prepare and practice. You must not wing it! Hard conversations are hard and also the most important to have because you’ll accomplish the most!
It takes courage to confront what you should. Tjan concludes: “Diplomacy is a great virtue but so is clarity, and diplomacy without clarity is just undiplomatic B.S. Have the courage to be direct.” Yep, it takes balls and trainability. Why? Life and business ain’t easy.
Help your people understand what they should know and what you expect. Discuss the rewards and consequences, often. Give them honest and timely feedback. Otherwise, they’re not on your page. They’re confused about what they need to do. And when they’re confused, they won’t act decisively or in your company’s best interest.
To increase your effectiveness, learn to be direct. Have the hard conversations as soon as you feel you should. Strategize, prepare, and practice for them. But have them. Have the hard conversations now! Stop sabotaging your own success!