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Straight shooting Brené Brown: 4 steps for tough conversations

Renowned researcher Brené Brown offers up tips on tough talks

Brene Brown Square

“We all know what it’s like to stay silent and comfortable instead of voicing what we believe.” – Dr. Brené Brown.

There is no better person in the world than Dr. Brené Brown to talk about this subject.

Brené Brown is a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.

Here are four steps for tough conversations from Brown’s book Dare to Lead.
  • Ego says it wants an answer quickly. Curiosity says it loves a wild ride. Brené says your ego will want to race to an answer in a tough conversation, even if it doesn’t address the real issues. She adds that ego leads us to think “I don’t want to talk about this because I don’t know how people are going to react.”  Brené says curiosity loves a wild ride and is up for whatever goes. It will persist to get to the heart of a problem, and doesn’t need to know the answers or say the right thing. “’I just have to keep listening and keep questioning’ is the voice of curiosity”, she says.
  • Live your values. Brené is the first to admit that she’s imperfect and scared a lot. She shares stories of avoiding conversations as a result. But she challenges herself to think about how missing the opportunity to do or say something (uncomfortable) was a betrayal of her values.“Regardless of the values you pick, daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things,” she says.  
  •  Contribute more than you criticise. In Brené’s company, team members are not allowed to criticise without offering a point of view in return – if they tear something down, they have to offer a specific plan for how they would rebuild it to make it stronger, and more substantial.
  • When someone’s hurt or in pain, don’t try to “fix” them. Brené says that in the face of a difficult conversation, when we see someone in pain, it’s our instinct to try to make things better. We want to fix, we want to give advice. She says empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the braver choice to be with someone in their darkness – not to “race to turn on the light so we feel better.” Brené says a response can rarely make something better. Connection is what heals. 


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