One path toward becoming a more effective leader is to be a courageous communicator.
Most people don’t communicate courageously. There are a variety of reasons:
- You don’t want to hurt feelings. By its nature, courageous communication involves saying something that could be awkward or uncomfortable. So, rather than deal with the awkwardness or discomfort, we pass.
- You don’t want to appear judgmental. Most courageous communication involves a difference of opinion or principle. In our “live and let live” culture, taking an opposing view can be frowned upon by others. So, we hold back.
- Most courageous communication seeks some sort of change. Change means extra work on the part of the communicators. It means handling a disagreement or an issue until the disagreement abates or the issue is resolved.
So, here’s what I’ve learned. Hurt feelings don’t last. If the communication is handled with great consideration, the feelings pass quickly. In fact, most people will express gratitude for discussing it. Everyone wants things to be better. So, while it can be uncomfortable, it works to advance the ball.
We grow when differing opinions and principles are addressed. Teaching takes place. Learning occurs. Opportunities for improvement arise. Courageous communicators know and trust the process. So, once they have done it, they will do it again.
Finally, avoiding change is the lazy way out. Banking magnate Jamie Dimon says that problems don’t age well. So many times, an issue put off today becomes one that is so painful later, it has to be addressed. Fixing the later mess takes more resources and requires more change.
The great poet Maya Angelou says: “You develop courage by doing many small courageous things.” That’s the trick with courageous communication. When your mind says you should but your fear says not to, push on through. You will be glad you did.