difficult conversations

Those difficult remote conversations

The challenge with remote conversations, even when you have Zoom, Skype or Teams, is that they can be a bit transactional.

It’s no bad thing to be rational, but if you hide behind distance and try and strip the emotion out altogether, if you fail to acknowledge the feelings that accompany any interaction between two people, even if they aren’t face to face, and if you try and keep each everything purely on an intellectual level, you miss the central point of leadership:  it’s about relationships!

Remote leadership and calls for a high degree of emotional intelligence and right now empathy, understanding and kindness are key.  Get these right and you will be rewarded many times over.  Get them wrong and you’ll find people have very long memories!

We all get stressed, to a greater or lesser degree, when things don’t go to plan and the isolation of working at home can make everything feel so much worse.  Stress is associated with the thought that something is dangerous, could hurt us or that we might experience loss.

When we think of something as dangerous, we become frightened.  When things hurt us, we generally feel angry and when we experience loss, we feel sad: three primary emotions – fear, anger and sadness. Difficult conversations handled badly can invoke all of these emotions.

So, what happens with each?  If we feel frightened, we want to run away.  If we feel anger, we feel compelled to attack and if we feel sad, we often close up and want less contact. 

Just because we aren’t face to face with someone experiencing these feelings doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still take them seriously.   

The frightened person really needs help and reassurance to stop them fleeing, emotionally or physically.  The angry person needs to see that something is able to change, and the sad person needs some consolation.

Now is the time for leaders to really grasp the idea of providing psychological safety.  The Dunkirk spirit and the rallying cry will only get you so far.  This is the time to be fully human!

Interested to learn more?  Order a copy of our book Staying Sane in Business or get in touch and talk to us about how we could help.

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