There is an aspect of every job that we don’t like, some task or responsibility that we always push off because it seems pointless or worse, causes us stress. In the case of those stress-inducing items, there is a really good chance that is something you should do because, if handled properly, then it will improve things.

One thing I notice with people leaders is they tend put the difficult conversations on the side of the desk.  They are messy, unpredictable, and require time and energy (if you are going to do it right).

Let’s be clear, no one likes holding difficult conversations.  No one.  Some people may do better at it, some may understand the value of them more, and others may just have so little emotional connection to the people they are speaking to that they can just get to it.

I put myself firmly on Team Conflict Avoidance, which means that while difficult conversations may not come easy, it is actually the physical and mental impact that these have on me could make eligible for team captain. I know…and I am in HR.

On a personal note, I have dubbed the past 12 months as the “Year that has aged me horribly”.  Conflict – check, difficult conversations – check, emotional and physical toll – check, check.

And things just keep steamrolling…

Following a 2-week trip to Europe, which was a reprieve, I arrived home and things seem to be settling in.  In fact, I was just commenting to my husband that last November, the peak of our challenges, seems so far away…

And then this week that peace started to crumble a bit and today I ended up having an unplanned, ill-timed, yet long overdue difficult conversation with my son that has left me absolutely gutted.   It is a conversation that should have happened months ago, but I procrastinated.  And if I am being completely honest, it is a variation on conversations that I should have been having for quite some time.

It is terrible feeling to realize that avoiding conflict has only delayed the inevitable and maybe even made it more complex.  Almost as terrible a feeling as putting yourself out there for judgement as a person and, it would seem more easily targeted, as a parent.

So tonight, as I sit here with my wounds still raw, with my body revolting against the level of stress and my mind numb – the underlying feeling I have is that I let my son down and not because of what I had to tell him, but because I only got to telling him now.

It is with this in mind that I will be able to sit across the desk (or screen) from a people leader and insist, nay demand, that they have that conversation they have been putting off.  If necessary, I will show them my war wounds to prove my point.


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