How to get ready for an awkward conversation

A friend asked me the other day about how to stay steady and open in awkward conversations.

That was enough to decide to make it my next free Change Conversations class!

In this class, I share some thoughts that I've gleaned from years of reading, thinking and coaching people that might be of use.

This class is about how to get mentally and emotionally ready for ordinary awkward or uncomfortable conversations.

There are wider and deeper things to consider if you have a conversation that is more than just awkward, but the advice in this class will still apply.

As always, it'll be a mix of nitty-gritty and more strategic stuff, focused on being open, awake and kind.

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How to begin to tackle the overwhelm of messy situations

Problem-solving techniques work okay-ish for situations that are easily defined, with clean boundaries and a definable problem.

Pretty much all of the non-trivial issues we face are not like that.

Whether it's a professional situation for an individual, a big change for a team, or even an intractable issue for a movement, there's one practice from systems thinking that really helps: building a rich picture.

The act of building a rich picture helps you to widen your perspective and see more of the environment your issue lives in, allowing you to see possibilities for action you've probably been missing.

In Friday's class, I shared how I begin to work both with individuals and groups when they come to me with a tough challenge.

First I introduced some useful concepts then I discussed the practical process you can use, including which actual tools make this work. Post-its, index cards, pens, whiteboards, flipcharts? From hard-won knowledge, I can tell you they all make different things possible in connection with making a rich picture.

You'll leave this class better equipped to begin helping others or yourself enquire into tough-to-define-and-solve situations. You'll have a place to start that then will branch easily into next steps.

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Six simple strategies to finally deal with presentation nerves

Do you need help with presentation nerves? One of the reasons I wrote Presentation Now was because no one was really taking presentation nerves seriously. When I'm working as a presentation coach, the main thing everyone's confesses to me is: "I feel really nervous."

But just imagine the possibility of knowing you've got a public speaking opportunity and... you feel totally fine about it. Just quiet, together and ready.

There are straightforward ways to deal with anxiety that I have personally practiced and taught for over ten years.

6 simple strategies to deal with presentation nerves - how to feel more calm and confident about presenting.

Not just tips, but also more profound ways of handling anxiety, there's definitely going to be something here that resonates with you.

Looking forward to introducing you to some new strategies which just might turn this around for you!

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Unpick unhelpful feelings about meetings, presentations, projects, conversations (and life in general)

Feelings, eh?

Much as we talk a good game about professionalism and rational decision-making and culture change and visibility and business models, those darn feelings get in the way.

In fact, pretty much everyone who comes to me for help at least partially needs support to feel different feelings than they're feeling.

We feel intimidated by a massive project.
We feel anxious about a meeting coming up.
We feel annoyed about the behaviour of a colleague and then less than capable of having the conversation we want to have.
We feel like an imposter when we're asked to talk on a topic, even if we are qualified on paper to do so.
We feel overwhelmed at the size of change needed in the system.
We feel ashamed about how behind we are with our to-do list and how little we get done in a day.

And those feelings, whilst not 'negative' are often unhelpful.

There are many ways to deal with 'stuff', all of which work for some people some of the time. I'm certainly not denying that the help of a a qualified mental health professional is vital at times.

In this class, I share with you a tool that's free, self-facilitated, non-dogmatic, non-New-Age-y and that has given me some profound freedom at difficult points in my life. It's the work of a woman called Byron Katie (who everyone calls 'Katie). It has often helped me to unpick the thoughts that lead to unhelpful feelings, sometimes in a matter of seconds.

In 30 minutes, I share the four questions that make up the process, and then what I've learned about how to make them work faster. I dived into Katie's work about 8 years ago, and have some experience about how to avoid the pitfalls of implementing it.

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