I was talking with a friend the other day (who happens to be a family systems expert) about how to have difficult conversations, and he reminded me of something that has significantly helped me manage my own anxiety in leading difficult conversations.
When we’re unable to manage our own internal anxiety, it “leaks out” in at least one of four ways:
- Conflict (arguing about the issue, trying to convince others of the rightness of my point of view) – at Gravity we call this Call Out.
- Over or Under Functioning (managing other people’s feelings) – we call this Hang Out
- Distance (withdrawing from or cutting off relationship, avoiding the issue) – we call this Check Out.
- Triangulation / projection (scapegoating, blaming, finding fault)
It’s helpful to recognize which of these we tend to move into most easily, so we can “catch ourselves” before it’s too late.
For example, I know I’m quite prone to both conflict (“If I explain this to you more thoroughly, you’ll see it like I do!”) and over-functioning (“I’ll work overtime to make this okay for you.”).
I’m becoming familiar with what it feels like internally to move into these modes, and I’m learning instead to seek connection (“Let me make sure I’m understanding you”) and self-differentiation (“I have a different perspective”).
Which of these tendencies do you most easily fall into in moments of anxiety? What are you learning about managing your leadership anxiety?
Also, if you’d like to get training in how to manage your leadership anxiety so you’re free to love the people you lead in the way they each need to be loved (we call that “Call In”), you should join our next Gravity Leadership Academy cohort, because that’s what you’ll learn.