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July 22, 2014

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Courageous Conversations

Sometimes we go against our gut feeling. We don’t always say what we feel, or we go along with a decision that we don’t endorse. Sure, it’s difficult to be the only one in the room to voice concerns — but not to do so makes the situation worse and keeps one from acting authentically.

I had a conversation with a good friend the other day about a situation in his office. One of his partners is interested in selling his stock in the company. The other three partners agree, but the company (not surprisingly in this economy) does not have the capital to complete the transaction.

The firm was approached by an outside party who is interested in buying in and whom could purchase the stock with cash. The partners were interested and saw it as a good way to satisfy the stock purchase and perhaps capitalize on a new partner who could bring in new business. The parties met a few times trying to iron out the terms and conditions for the sale and the role of the new partner. Even though my friend was unsure if this new person was a good fit for the firm, the talks continued.

During the third meeting, my friend finally voiced his opinion that this was not going to work. Negotiations were stopped and my friend thought that his partners would be mad at him. They weren’t. In fact, they agreed with him and were glad that he had the courage to voice his opinion authentically, before it was too late.

We have probably all been in similar situations. I remember one time when my partners wanted to hire a new person in my office. Even though my intuition was screaming opposition, I went along with the decision, thinking that perhaps that I didn’t know the person well enough. Besides, I trusted my partners and they definitely saw something of value in this person. It wasn’t long before we all realized that we made a bad decision. I wish now that I would have had the courage that my friend had. I could’ve saved my firm from some anguish.

Following are some things that I have learned about following my intuition:

Trust your intuition. Too often we repress our gut feelings. But intuition is a powerful attribute that we all possess. Most often, our intuition is correct even though we cannot articulate the exact reasons. Perhaps, it is an emotional way of protection, but too many people ignore it because it is not rational. Practice accessing your intuition and pay attention to what it is telling you.

If you aren’t true to yourself, you’re not being true to anyone. Strive for authenticity. If you can’t be true to what you believe, how can you be true to anything else? Practice being the same person in all situations. Many people are worried that they will make others mad at them so they accept things that are not in concert with their values. Take your time to make decisions and make them using your values as your guide.

It’s what you say, and how you say it, that matters. Don’t be worried about how what you say will be heard. Concentrate on saying it in a way that is professional, thoughtful, and respectful. You cannot control how someone will hear what you have to say, you can only control how you say it.

Keep practicing your courageous conversations. Some day, they won’t feel so courageous, they’ll just be natural.

Until next time ...

Craig

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