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Concern to Connection Part 2- Final Steps on the Difficult Conversations Roadmap -87
Episode 8719th March 2024 • THE GRIT SHOW • Shawna Rodrigues
00:00:00 00:26:49

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Curious how to navigate complicated conversations with clarity and compassion? Join Shawna Rodrigues on The Grit Show as she continues the conversation she started last week and provides the next two phases of the roadmap to approaching difficult discussions with confidence. We'll touch on the importance of anticipating the perspectives of others and understanding how fear and uncertainty impact conversations. Listeners are taken through practical steps to anticipate obstacles, fears, and self-interests to help prepare for these conversations. The episode also focuses on the pivotal aspect of delivery, where Shawna introduces the concept of keeping it "CUSH" - a powerful acronym encapsulating strategies for clear communication and connection. With relatable anecdotes and practical tips, this episode equips listeners with the tools to approach difficult conversations with confidence and empathy.

Shawna Rodrigues left her award-winning career in the public sector in 2019 and after launching The Grit Show, soon learned the abysmal fact that women hosted only 27% of podcasts. This led to the founding of the Authentic Connections Podcast Network intent on raising that number by 10% in five years- 37 by 27. Because really, shouldn’t it be closer to 50%? She is the Director of Impact for the network, which offers full-service support for podcasting from mentoring to production. In September 2023 they are also launching the EPAC (Entrepreneurs and Podcasters Authentically Connected) community for those in early stages and wanting a place for weekly connection. She still finds a little time for her pursuits as a best-selling author and shares the hosting of Author Express, a podcast that features the voice behind the pages of your favorite book. Find her on Instagram- @ShawnaPodcasts and learn more about the network and other happenings at https://linktr.ee/37by27.

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Transcripts

We feel it is important to make our podcast transcripts available for accessibility. We use quality artificial intelligence tools to make it possible for us to provide this resource to our audience. We do have human eyes reviewing this, but they will rarely be 100% accurate. We appreciate your patience with the occasional errors you will find in our transcriptions. If you find an error in our transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, or verify what was said, please feel free to reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, what makes conversations difficult? We talked about this a little bit last week, and today we're going to dive into it a little more. We laid out two of the first steps on our roadmap, and today we're going to give you those final two steps so that as you're approaching conversations that are difficult, which there are many that we navigate on a regular basis, you will have the tools to help you be able to find connection in those times of concern and complicated conversations.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Welcome to The Grit Show, where our focus is growth on purpose. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues, and I'm honored to be part of this community as we journey together with our grit intact to learn more about how to thrive and how to get the most out of life. It means a lot that you are here today. As you listen, I encourage you to think of who may appreciate the tidbits of knowledge we are sharing and to take a moment to pass this along to them. Everyone appreciates a friend that thinks of them, and these conversations are meant to be shared and to spark even more connections.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Last week when we started this conversation, I introduced you to the first two steps on our roadmap. The first was R, reflection. We went over a few different things you should reflect on before you actually enter your conversations. If I were you, I would go back to the last episode and listen to that in more depth because it takes a bit of time to kind of run through those different pieces of what you need to reflect on and take into consideration before approaching these conversations to help you prepare. Then we talked about O, which is focusing on outcomes. We wanted to decide what you wanted your desired outcome to be. And we also talked about what are some of the outcomes that are outside of your control that may make it more challenging with the importance of recognizing those pieces in advance.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Today, we're going to move on to the A, which is to anticipate, and the D, which is your delivery. We talk about anticipating some of that is for you to actually prepare for the conversation, to be able to make sure that the right people are involved and if they can't be involved, to understand how that will affect the conversation or how else you may be able to get them involved if they can't actually be there. Is it a conversation that both you and a sibling need to be part of? Conversation that you need your partner there for because it involves your kids? Or is it something you need to touch base with your boss about or your partner about before you enter that conversation so you can have their perspective intact as you go into it. So, anticipate who else's perspective is needed and who else might need to be there, or whose opinions need to be there, even if they can't be there. You also need to make sure that you have the information you need before you enter the conversation or have had an opportunity to gather it, or you're using that conversation as a way to gather that. So, those are some things you can anticipate. You also want to look at how uncertainty or fear might be playing into what you're going into.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

When I lived in Boston a number of years ago, my teenage niece came to live with us for the summer. Once she was there, we learned that she hadn't passed all of her classes for the term before she had come out for the summer and she was in high school. We were very concerned about this. And honestly, she may not have come out and stayed with us had we known that she hadn't passed her classes. I immediately went to action trying to figure out how we could best support her and discovered that we could get her into the local high school's summer school, which she couldn't have actually done back home. So, it was probably a good thing she was there. They didn't offer summer school classes where she was from, which I didn't know at the time. Got her into summer school classes. I found this out, learned on Saturday she hadn't passed her classes, found out on Monday I could get her into summer school, which had started that day, and she could start the next day, which was a day late. So, I needed to come home and have that conversation with her, which I was a little nervous about. I did the anticipatory thing of who else should be involved and touched base with my partner about I need to have this conversation. I'll be the one that has it with her, but wanted to check with them, make sure this was our right choice to have her do this and how were going to move forward. And we did a little bit of the uncertainty, fear, and what the worst-case scenario would be. She was a teenager. She was away from her boyfriend for the summer. She was hoping to work, not go to summer school. We honestly thought that she might try to run away. That's where our minds went. We were completely incorrect.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

But it was important for us to know what the fear was, why this was a difficult conversation, right? For us to anticipate that worst case scenario and how we would handle it. We problem solved that a little bit before I ever talked to her. She completely rolled with it, shrugged, said, okay, went to summer school. And it was a great opportunity and it worked out very well in the end. Good example of how we can make mountains out of mole hills when we leave it to ourselves. But it was probably a good thing that instead of me just resisting the conversation because of the fear that I had, and not identifying what that fear was, that she was in a city she didn't know and she might be so upset she would run away, right? That instead of doing that, I actually talked that through. My partner found the person I need to talk it through with and got to the other side before I had that conversation with her.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, sometimes you need to actually think through the worst-case scenario and think of how you can take the power out of that scenario by figuring out what you would do in that case, how you would respond if that was the case, if it really is that terrible. I remember when I was in my early 30s and one of my friends was like, what's the worst that happens if you have this conversation with this guy? They break up with you. Like, is that so bad? Like, maybe they aren't what you need. Maybe this isn't a bad thing if they break up with you. And I realized I was all worried about having this conversation, when really it might be the best thing if it did end and I really should just have the conversation. I don't remember how that all turned out, but it was important that I thought through the worst-case scenario and realized it really wasn't that bad. And really it was maybe what I needed. So, having a look at that uncertainty and fear and finding out what you're really afraid of, and maybe taking the wind and the power out of that scenario is a good step to take as you're anticipating that conversation if you feel like there's a little bit of fear and uncertainty that might be holding you back. That is also that knowing the obstacles, we did some of that in our reflection, right? Of knowing what the obstacles are, that kind of plays into that as well.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

One thing that is a little harder to do is to look at what the self-interests are that might be at play and being honest with yourself about what those self-interests might be. Some of those self-interests that might make conversations harder are things like, self-image, that you see yourself as being nice or being strong or polite or easy going or friendly or tough, and that having this conversation might be challenging that or the reason the conversation is hard is because it might challenge that. So, it's hard for me to be the supervisor who is having the conversation with one of my staff about the fact that they aren't turning in their work like they need to be. When I want to be seen as nice, and that's how I see myself, my image of myself as being very nice and friendly, and I want to be their friend. And so, being nice and friendly and telling them they have to do things are incongruent. And that makes it hard for me. And so, for me to recognize that my self-interest and how I want to be portrayed is what's making this conversation harder than it needs to be. It might also be that one of my self-interests might be that I have goals, that my goals are different than what theirs are, that make it harder for us to arrive at the same place. And that because I'm working towards these goals and objectives and they're working elsewhere, that me trying to hold on to these goals that may or may not be important are what's slowing things down and making things harder. It could also be that I have fears that I don't want to be wrong, I don't want to lose. I don't want to be taken advantage of. I want to always be safe. I want to play it safe. I want others to see me as smart. And if I'm trying to make sure that I don't lose or that I’m seen as being right and that I got what everyone else got because I'm focusing on that, it can make it hard to have those conversations, too. So, trying to look at what some of those fears or even how your self-image or your ego, that you want to be seen for your sacrifice, you want to be seen as a person that should be acknowledged for your work. You don't want to be second guessed. Like, when you have those pieces that are at play, that they can make those conversations even harder. So, if you have a child that continually second guesses you, that that's what's making the conversation hard is that you don't want to be second guessed and that you might have a child who the way their brain works is that they question everything and that's just the way they are. And you're in a place that your ego is being pushed up against. And that's what makes a conversation more challenging.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And if you're anticipating that, then to maybe look at that and see if there's a way for you to soften that, if there's a way for you to look at it differently so you don't feel like you're being challenged or that your ego can step aside to be able to have the conversation you want to have, and then you go focus back at those outcomes that we talked about and what your outcome is that you want. And if that's more important than the ego that's being pushed up against and bruised each time, you're having these conversations about this topic. So, it can be helpful to kind of anticipate what you know might be dialed in and pushed up against based on your previous experience with these conversations. And it's also helpful for you to have an idea of things that you might have already decided, that you've already decided the punishment is x, y, or z, or if you've already decided that you want this to happen in the circumstances and to anticipate that you've already made these decisions. And if you can't be open to rethinking them, if you can't be open to having them be part of the conversation, at the very least, you need to be aware that you're bringing that disadvantage to the conversation, that you're making the conversation more difficult because you're bringing in that decision prior to having that conversation. So, if you're going to be having a conversation with somebody you supervise and you've already decided that they have to work with a certain individual on a project, and you're just going to inform them of that, that the reason why this conversation is more difficult is because you've already decided that and it's not an open topic for discussion. So, for you to be able to say, well, can I rethink that? Am I open to this? And if you know the reasons why you're not, that you need to make sure that you're explaining that and bringing them along in the conversation before that. You're anticipating that they're not going to be in the same place you are because they haven't gone through this whole process with you and that you're anticipating that and so, you're doing that as part of the conversation and that you recognize that's going to make the conversation harder.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Or if your family has decided that you have to move because you were laid off. We talked about that last week, about the layoffs happening at Nike and your partner got a job in Minnesota, and you have to tell the kids that you're moving. Like, this isn't open for discussion at this point in time. You have to move, right? It might be that you're open to, if one of your kids asked to stay with Aunt Sally and finish the school year, etcetera, etcetera, right? There might be openings for you. So, maybe you need to know, anticipate if you're open to thoughts and other conversations, right? But if you know that this has been decided, then you need to know that you aren't open to rethinking this, that this needs to happen for the benefit of the family. And so, knowing the conversation that you're going to have to bring everyone else along, because this isn't something that you can be open to and that you might need to think about what things are open to conversations, such as maybe the date, maybe the way you travel, maybe the place you get when you go there, to think of other ways that people can be involved in the conversation and that things can be rehashed together, and to anticipate how you can give people a little bit more control and a little bit more involvement in the conversation because of what things you aren't able to rethink and rehash. So, it's important, as you anticipate the conversation to kind of know what's already been decided and is outside the purview of that conversation and to try to balance that out by introducing more things that can be a conversation so that you can have the outcomes you want.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Because I'm guessing that the outcome with your family, if you had to move your family, is you want your kids to feel safe and loved and known, that your family is important to you, everyone there is important. And that this is something you guys are doing as a family together, and that everyone should still feel like part of the family in this process. And so, although this decision is made, what are the decisions can we make together as a team so we all feel like we're part of the family and this is something we're doing together? So, to think about that and anticipate for that.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, the other big piece we're talking about today is the delivery. Very important how you approach it and how you can use that for connection. Right? So, the acronym we use for this is we hope that you can keep it cush. And cush is C-U-S-H as in a cushion. Cush. So, keep it cush. And so, with the cush, the C is to clear your mind so you can be focused on the conversation at hand, right? To be present in the conversation and to embody the desired outcome, to keep that outcome front of mind, keep reminding yourself what the outcome is you're looking for. So, clear your mind is the C. The U is to uplift, to continually uplift, to take steps, to be in your best, most creative thinking space, to see the good, to find the truth and to call those things forth right so you can be present with that and to figure out what resources you can use to kind of change the mood and tone or temperature to kind of bring that together and as you're uplifting to find commonalities, because commonalities are going to be your best tool to bring folks together to bring things back.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, I've noted that I work a lot with children and families and with agencies that work with children and families. So, when I'm having difficult conversations, resolving things with the work element, with those pieces, a lot of the common grounds is that we care about kids and families, that we're all on the same team with that. So, if I have two different service areas battling out, like who's going to do what we bring back around to what we all care about is the kids and the families. So, what best serves kids and families? What's the most important with kids and families? If I have a disagreement with a fiscal element and with an education element, we all care about the kids and families. So, how can we do this? Because we need the money to keep the doors open, so we need the money to work, but we also, education is important for the kids and families, so how can we all work together and keep that at the center? And so, if you're with your family and you're having a conversation with one of your siblings about your parents and long-term care for them, then the conversation can be about, we all love mom and dad, we all care about them. Like, this is what we're here for, this is our common ground. This is where we're starting this conversation from. So, try to find that common ground wherever you're at in those conversations. That's when you're uplifting. You're lifting everyone up to that common ground, right? And there's a lot more examples that I use when I'm doing trainings, but we're packing this all in, so we're not going to go into this. But that's a little piece of how you can uplift.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And the S and the H in cush is you want to make sure the other person feels seen and heard in these conversations. So, you need to turn those listening ears on, you need to stay curious, and you need to validate emotions even when you can't validate behaviors. Because a lot of times you can't validate the behaviors, right? You can't support the way somebody's been acting. You can't validate if you're having a conversation with a teen and they stayed out way too late or they didn't pass a class, like, you can't validate that behavior, but you can validate the emotions. You can validate that you understand that it's important to them to feel like they're part of their peer group, that you understand that they want to be with their friends. You remember what it's like to be a teen and want to be with your friends and be out and lose track of time. However, safety, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But validate the emotions that they have, even if you can't validate the behaviors. So, if you're talking about a work situation and someone's obviously frustrated with decisions that are being made to say that you can understand their frustrations, you can understand that they wish things were differently, you know that it's challenging to work somewhere when there's been layoffs, you can find all the different ways to validate. When you have young kids that are throwing tantrums, like, I know it's upsetting when you don't get to have the things that you want. I know it's hard to be small and have everyone else telling you what to do all the time.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, when you are making sure they are seen that you are validating them and that you're validating the emotions, even when you can't validate the behaviors. And then part of that being heard is to make sure you are listening to them and that you stay curious and that you use open ended questions. Open ended questions help you seek to understand. So, when you're talking to them, to be able to say things like, what do you mean by and there's an exercise that I do when I do trainings where we actually talk about how different people mean things and don't even realize what the differences between the definitions of always and never and sometimes and how different that can be. So, sometimes it's useful to say things like, what percentage of the time does that happen? Or when was the last time that happened? Or can you tell me more about how that would work? So, you are honestly listening and trying to understand. So, if you're with your partner, with your sibling, with your parent, and there's something they want to do, that you're actually listening to try to understand what their plan is and fully hearing them out, which a lot of times we're just listening so that we can speak and tell them what we've already decided, right? Instead of actually listening about how that might work. And so, if you really are needing to move or relocate and your child has a plan about how they're going to help you pick out the house that you guys are going to move to, to say, so help me understand how that would work, because I can't imagine how you would be giving me input on the house if you're not going to be traveling with us to look at houses when we go there. But to actually, like, I'd like to understand more about that. Can you explain that a little more? And using these open-ended ways to gather more information and to really listen and to make sure that they feel seen and they feel fully heard.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, those are the things that we want to make sure that you have in your pocket when you're getting ready for the actual conversation. So, let's go over that one more time. Keeping it cush. When you're having a complicated conversation, you have a full roadmap, right? ROAD. So, we're at this last step of the delivery. And when you're looking at the delivery, you want to keep it cush, you want to clear your mind, you want to be uplifting and there's a lot of things under that we just discussed. So, you can go back, listen to all the pieces of ways you can be uplifting that conversation. And then for the S and the H, you want to make sure that they feel seen and they feel heard. And with feeling seen, we want to make sure we validate them. And that is being the emotions, even if we can't support the behaviors. And in feeling heard, we want to make sure we're listening. Not listening to respond, but listening to hear. And that involves a lot of open-ended questions and inviting phrases to have them continue to explain till they get to a level that we really do understand.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, you have made it completely through the roadmap. And these are some great tools. Like I've said, it's a much more in-depth training, but this is a great way to start some ways that you can use to help you navigate those difficult conversations and be able to look at ways you can contribute to them in a more positive way and to be able to build them and look at them deeper. There's also like a bunch of stories and examples and additional tools, so it's hard for me to kind of just shut it down there. But this is a podcast, so we're going to fill in these pieces and give you guys a good platform to start them. So today, we're going to switch things up and we're going to lead with the grit wit instead of our self-maintenance minute. And we're going to talk a little bit more about how you can apply this. And last week we talked about you selecting a specific conversation that you wanted to kind of apply this to and take this forward on.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, as we're doing that, there's a lot of elements, right? So, you could listen back through the whole episode. And hopefully, if you had that in mind throughout the episode, you were already applying it. But today I really want you to specifically think about what things have I already decided that I might be open to rethink. And if there are things that I've already decided that aren't negotiable, like we have to move to I think I said Michigan, right? Michigan, Indiana, somewhere. If we have to move or this has to happen, what things can I bring into the conversation that are negotiable so that you aren't just telling somebody, this needs to happen or this is going to happen, this is going to be a conversation. What things can I bring in that are negotiable? And I want you to focus on that one today. I want you to look at this conversation you've been waiting to have and think about things that you've already decided. And think, if you're open to rethinking them once you have the conversation, to get new information, right? Or think about what things can be negotiated and be negotiable. So, if we go back to my example with my niece coming to live with us and having to go to summer school, I already decided she had to go to summer school, right? That wasn't negotiable. And so, some of the things that were negotiable was how she was going to get to school, if she was going to walk, if she was going to get rides, how that was going to work, when was she going to do her homework and have access to a computer. So, we had all these other things that we worked through with her and that conversation once I got over my initial shock of how well she took it all, right? But that's like, the thing you need to do in those difficult conversations is find the things that you can then have the conversation be reciprocal and be a conversation and a back and forth and the things that they can contribute and be part of instead of it just being that this has been decided to figure out the things that we can decide together and we can figure out together that they can have input on. So, that's what I want you to focus on today and to see how it can be a conversation and a back and forth. And you're welcome to look at some of the other pieces, obviously, and think about making sure they feel seen and heard and other ways you can anticipate. But that's the one I want you to focus on today.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And then as you do the self-maintenance minute, I'm listening to an audiobook that I absolutely love. I actually tried using Spotify listening to a book. Don't recommend it. I ran out of time and it was also playing things out of order. It wasn't a good experience and I already knew that they weren't good to authors, so I never should have tried it, probably. But I went and bought the audiobook on Chirp and it was interesting because I typically like to sit and read or I do audiobooks when I'm driving is usually how I do the audiobooks. But because I'm in this transitional space, I've been finishing listening to the audiobooks that I don't also buy the book and I've been doing some exercises I need to get done in physical therapy from some stuff back in November. And so, I was doing my physical therapy exercises while listening to my book. So, it actually made for a nice break today to do that. And so, I like that cadence. I think I'll be doing more of that. So, that was my self-maintenance. It was pairing listening to an audiobook with doing exercise. So, I'm going to do more of that. So, I hope you're finding things in your toolbox for your self-maintenance that are useful for you. So, thank you for being here and I'm excited that we got to have this conversation about the roadmap for difficult conversations. I would love to hear if you found it useful, what you got out of it, and even if you'd add something else to it, because I definitely think it's important and something I will continue to work with others on and would love more feedback on.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to jump on over to Instagram and follow us at The.Grit.Show. And if you aren't already following Authentic Connections Podcast Network at 37by27, you should definitely be doing that as well. Don't forget, you are the only one of you that this world has got and that means something. I'll be here next Tuesday. I hope you are, too.

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