Blog

interstories


Courageous Communication


by Elizabeth Graff and Chris Batchelder

18 March 2019



Image

No assumptions. We’re completely tabula rasa. From the beginning, it’s understood that we’re all just going to find out together.

~ Dave Pasquesi, Improvisor


Dave Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski are two of the most famous improvisers in the world. They perform an improvised one-hour play together every week, as they have for the past decade and a half. When they step out onto the stage, they don’t know what characters they will play or what’s about to happen. They haven’t brainstormed beforehand. All they have is their trust in themselves, one another and their relationship. They have perfected the art of showing up and opening themselves to the moment, without manipulation.

Now, imagine that you’re an improviser like Dave or TJ, stepping out onto a stage with no script. Really picture it! You have no costume, no props, no clue as to the story you’re about to perform. The audience is clapping, expectantly. Anticipation is mounting. Is there a little pit starting to form in your stomach?

What does courage mean to you?

When asked to picture someone with courage, you might think of superheroes, firefighters or ancient warriors. People who put themselves in physical danger.

But at its core, courage is simply the ability to do something that frightens you, and often the thing that frightens us the most is communication.

Courage can be thought of as the ability to do something that makes you feel vulnerable, something that — in the beautiful words of Brené Brown — makes you feel “seen, really seen.” It’s the ability “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart” (double hat tip to Brené Brown). You don’t need to be in physical danger to use courage. Everyday situations require courage of us all.

When is the last time you used courage?

For many of us, communicating authentically at work (and outside of work) often takes courage. Meetings don’t go as planned. Conversations veer off track. Emails are misinterpreted. We sometimes stumble when expressing the things that matter most. Whether sharing gratitude, celebrating accomplishments, delivering important news, giving honest feedback, asking for help, addressing conflict or setting boundaries, communication is hard when there isn’t a script. Yet, these situations can also be a source of incredible power, creativity and excitement. Facing the unknown in everyday communication requires mindfulness, self-knowledge and courage.

At interstory, we use the term courageous communication to describe the skill of navigating these situations with confidence, grace and mastery. Courageous communication is what we use to push through the awkwardness and stress of difficult (or even amazingly positive) interactions to discover all of the potential that lies within them — and within ourselves.

Courageous communication is about standing at the edge of the unknown, moment to moment.

It’s about being aware of, open to and responsive to whatever is really, truly happening. Right now. In this very moment. Between you and the people you’re with. It’s about being present to what is, rather than what you desire, expect or think should be happening. It’s about getting in touch with your own needs and feelings, expressing your intentions openly and transparently and listening with your whole self to the people you’re with and the situation you’re in.

Easier said than done, admittedly. Yet, courageous communication is well worth the effort. With practice, you can learn to represent your true self in any situation, while at the same time respecting and understanding people who are very different than you. You can learn how to work collaboratively with a wider variety of people, become more creative, establish clear boundaries and respond effectively in crises. In short, you can gain the confidence required to handle any situation.

And when everyone on your team is practicing courageous communication with you, your team’s learning, growth and impact will reach new heights.

Our recipe for courageous communication has five parts. It includes the following:

  1. Commitment: What are you really committed to? Be honest with yourself.
  2. Curiosity: What’s going on for the other person? What’s going on for you?
  3. Clarity: What do you need? What does the other person need?
  4. Collaboration: How are you going to work together? Be intentional and specific!
  5. Creativity: How many different ideas and solutions can you find? Can you push yourselves beyond the most obvious solutions?

We’d like to leave you with the following questions for reflection.

  1. What’s the most courageous conversation you’ve ever had?
  2. What enabled you to draw on that courage?
  3. Where do you need more courageous communication in your life now?
  4. Which of the five Cs (i.e., commitment, curiosity, clarity, collaboration or creativity) would be most helpful to you now?



Read More Articles

ArticlesSummaryDate
How to Make Accountability Your Friend
How to Make Accountability Your FriendAccountability isn't about punishment. It's about bringing the truth out into the open where you can see it. Learn how to develop a healthy relationship with accountability, discover reliable accountability strategies and then apply them in your own life!July 3, 2019
Digital Wellness and Self-care: My Complicated Relationship with Tech
Digital Wellness and Self-care: My Complicated Relationship with TechDigital wellness is all about using tech mindfully to actualize what matters to you. Read our recommendations for the tech products our team uses for wellness, work and relationships.June 13, 2019
Shape Your Environment: 6 Science-Backed Strategies for Making Habits Stick
Shape Your Environment: 6 Science-Backed Strategies for Making Habits StickOur surroundings and schedules can make it easier (or harder) to develop healthy habits - and quit unhealthy ones. Learn how to design an environment that makes it easier.May 22, 2019
Mindset Matters: 5 Science-Backed Strategies for Making Habits Stick
Mindset Matters: 5 Science-Backed Strategies for Making Habits StickThe attitudes we adopt and the stories we tell ourselves have a big influence on our behavior. Learn how to choose mindsets that can help you develop healthy habits.May 22, 2019
Slow Networking
Slow NetworkingRead about slow networking, a more mindful, more human approach to building relationships online.April 19, 2019
Vision boards clarify goals and life direction
Vision Bored? 13 Ways to Breathe New Life into This Classic ActivityVision boards can take many forms. Define your vision for your future by making a vision garden, composing a vision song or baking a vision cake!April 19, 2019
3 Essential Visioning Skills
3 Essential Visioning SkillsVisioning is more than knowing where you want to go. Check out some practical tips on how to see possibilities, see reality accurately and see your goals through.April 19, 2019
Courageous Communication
Courageous CommunicationCommunicating with courage requires commitment, curiosity, clarity, collaboration and creativity. Use courageous communication to forge authentic relationships.April 19, 2019
The Powerful Questions Card Deck
The Powerful Questions Card DeckWe designed a deck of 50 powerful questions and came up with 17 creative ways to use it. Learn about why powerful questions are so important, and download a free copy of our deck.April 19, 2019
Mindsets
MindsetsYou have the power to rewire your outlook on the world -- and on your place in it. Learn what the science says about how to identify and grow empowering mindsets.April 18, 2019
4 Simple Steps to Align
4 Simple Steps to AlignAlignment is about having the conversations and putting the structures in place that enable you and the people in your life to operate as a team. Learn how to have those conversations.April 18, 2019
You Look Different: What Actually Changes Us
You Look Different: What Actually Changes UsLearn about the catalysts that lead to the types of changes that really matter: changes in how we see ourselves and others, how we behave and make choices and how we experience life.April 17, 2019

Coaching, Personal Develoment and Professional Development in Community


Join interstory today.

Find Your Community


Blog


interstories



Courageous Communication


by Elizabeth Graff and Chris Batchelder

18 March 2019



Image

No assumptions. We’re completely tabula rasa. From the beginning, it’s understood that we’re all just going to find out together. 

~ Dave Pasquesi, Improvisor




Dave Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski are two of the most famous improvisers in the world. They perform an improvised one-hour play together every week, as they have for the past decade and a half. When they step out onto the stage, they don’t know what characters they will play or what’s about to happen. They haven’t brainstormed beforehand. All they have is their trust in themselves, one another and their relationship. They have perfected the art of showing up and opening themselves to the moment, without manipulation.

Now, imagine that you’re an improviser like Dave or TJ, stepping out onto a stage with no script. Really picture it! You have no costume, no props, no clue as to the story you’re about to perform. The audience is clapping, expectantly. Anticipation is mounting. Is there a little pit starting to form in your stomach?

What does courage mean to you?

When asked to picture someone with courage, you might think of superheroes, firefighters or ancient warriors. People who put themselves in physical danger.

But at its core, courage is simply the ability to do something that frightens you, and often the thing that frightens us the most is communication.

Courage can be thought of as the ability to do something that makes you feel vulnerable, something that — in the beautiful words of Brené Brown — makes you feel “seen, really seen.” It’s the ability “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart” (double hat tip to Brené Brown). You don’t need to be in physical danger to use courage. Everyday situations require courage of us all.

When is the last time you used courage?

For many of us, communicating authentically at work (and outside of work) often takes courage. Meetings don’t go as planned. Conversations veer off track. Emails are misinterpreted. We sometimes stumble when expressing the things that matter most. Whether sharing gratitude, celebrating accomplishments, delivering important news, giving honest feedback, asking for help, addressing conflict or setting boundaries, communication is hard when there isn’t a script. Yet, these situations can also be a source of incredible power, creativity and excitement. Facing the unknown in everyday communication requires mindfulness, self-knowledge and courage.

At Bon for Work, we use the term courageous communication to describe the skill of navigating these situations with confidence, grace and mastery. Courageous communication is what we use to push through the awkwardness and stress of difficult (or even amazingly positive) interactions to discover all of the potential that lies within them — and within ourselves.

Courageous communication is about standing at the edge of the unknown, moment to moment.

It’s about being aware of, open to and responsive to whatever is really, truly happening. Right now. In this very moment. Between you and the people you’re with. It’s about being present to what is, rather than what you desire, expect or think should be happening. It’s about getting in touch with your own needs and feelings, expressing your intentions openly and transparently and listening with your whole self to the people you’re with and the situation you’re in.

Easier said than done, admittedly. Yet, courageous communication is well worth the effort. With practice, you can learn to represent your true self in any situation, while at the same time respecting and understanding people who are very different than you. You can learn how to work collaboratively with a wider variety of people, become more creative, establish clear boundaries and respond effectively in crises. In short, you can gain the confidence required to handle any situation.

And when everyone on your team is practicing courageous communication with you, your team’s learning, growth and impact will reach new heights.

At Bon for Work, our recipe for courageous communication has five parts. It includes the following:

  1. Commitment: What are you really committed to? Be honest with yourself.
  2. Curiosity: What’s going on for the other person? What’s going on for you?
  3. Clarity: What do you need? What does the other person need?
  4. Collaboration: How are you going to work together? Be intentional and specific!
  5. Creativity: How many different ideas and solutions can you find? Can you push yourselves beyond the most obvious solutions?

We’d like to leave you with the following questions for reflection.

  1. What’s the most courageous conversation you’ve ever had?
  2. What enabled you to draw on that courage?
  3. Where do you need more courageous communication in your life now?
  4. Which of the five Cs (i.e., commitment, curiosity, clarity, collaboration or creativity) would be most helpful to you now?