Connect With Courage – Ep. 11: Having A Difficult Conversation

  • The reason why I’m so excited about this topic: This is one of the top skill you want to have in life. It will help you to turn around relationships, and it will put you in a position where other people will perceive you as a leader, it will help you to solve problems.
  • One of the three core skills: Knowing the process of courage, managing emotional reactivity, having crucial conversations
  • Just learning a little bit about this process, and applying a little bit goes a long way.
  • This process works. I’ve used it in my personal life and I’ve used it in my professional life. It helps us to gain the courage to go into difficult conversations in the first place and it helps us to make them a lot better.

Why is it important to have difficult conversations?

  • “Brave leaders are never silent about hard things.” Brené Brown
  • If we avoid the tough conversations: Issues get worse, and back-channeling might happen. So instead of being direct and upfront with someone, we talk about the person behind their back.
  • If we handle crucial conversations poorly, we can hurt each other and the relationship.
  • If we handle crucial conversations well, trust will increase, the relationship will improve and we get to better solutions.

What makes a crucial conversation crucial?

  1. Opposing Opinions
  2. Strong Emotions
  3. High Stakes

How to have the crucial conversations

  • prepare, sometimes a roleplay with a trusted person can be highly valuable
  • stay curious, crucial conversations are a learning experience

1. Start With the Heart & Focus on What You Truly Want

  • Getting clear about what we truly want helps us to steer the conversation, to communicate our intent and to fix problems in the conversation.
    These questions help:
  • What am I acting like I really want?
  • What do I really want?
    • For me?
    • For the other?
    • For the relationship?
  • How would I behave if I really did want this?
  • What do I NOT want?
  • How should I go about getting what I truly want and avoiding what I don’t want?

2. Making the conversation safe

It’s so important that we establish safety, because only when we feel safe, we can open up and listen.

Build A Safe Container

  • you establish some ground rules to make sure everyone gets what they need to feel safe in a conversation
  • Ask the other: What do you need to feel safe and respected in this conversation?
  • Ask yourself: What do I need to feel safe and to fully show up?

Learn to Look

Look for when the conversation becomes crucial.
Am I going to silence or violence?
Are others?

Make it Safe

Why is safety at risk?

  • Do others believe you care about their goals as well? Do they trust your motives?
  • Do others believe you respect them?
    Apologize When Appropriate
  • When you’ve clearly violated respect, apologize.
    Contrast to Fix Misunderstanding
  • When someone misunderstood your purpose or intent, it’s easy to start arguing over the misunderstanding, stop.
  • Others might experience your words as bigger or worse than you intend. Contrasting provides context and proportion.
  1. Start with what you DON’T intend or mean. Address others’ concerns that you don’t respect them or that you have a malicious purpose.
  2. Then explain what you DO intend or mean. Confirm your respect or clarify your real purpose.
  • Contrasting can also be useful as prevention for safety problems.

Create a Mutual Purpose
• When you sense that you are clearly pushing for different things, step out of the content and create a mutual purpose.
1. Declare that you are committed to stay in the conversation until you come up with something that serves everyone.
2. Ask people WHY they want what they’re pushing for. Separate the demand from the purpose it’s serving.
3. If you’re still going for different things, see if you can invent a higher or longer-term purpose.
4. With a clear mutual purpose you can brainstorm new strategies together.

3. Master My Stories

  • Path to action: See & hear > Tell a story > Feel > Act
  • What is my story? Retrace my path to action. Separate fact from story.
  • It’s good to do this before having the crucial conversation.
  • Watch for Victim, Villain & Helpless stories
  • Tell the rest of the story.
  • What am I pretending not to know about my role in the problem? (What’s my part?)
  • Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this?
  • What should I do right now to move toward what I really want?

4. STATE My Path

S hare your facts. These are the least controversial and most persuasive elements of your path to action.
T ell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.
A sk for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.
T alk tentatively. State your story as a story—don’t disguise it as a fact.
E ncourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views. One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears.

  • Am I really open to others’ views?
  • Am I talking about the real issue?
  • Am I confidently expressing my own views?

6. Explore Others’ Paths

“Listen with same passion, with which you want to be heard.” – Harriet Lerner

  • explore other’s path to action, this creates the free flow of meaning
  • be curious and patient, this increases safety
    1. Ask. Express interest in the other person’s views.
    2.  Mirror. Respectfully acknowledging the emotions people appear to be feeling.
    3. Paraphrase. Restate what you’ve heard. It shows them that you understand, but also that it’s safe for them to share what they’re thinking.
    4. Prime. If others continue to hold back, prime. Take your best guess at what they may be thinking and feeling.
  • “Tell me more”, “Say more”

7. The ABC Of Building Mutual Understanding

As you begin to share your views, remember:
* Agree. Agree when you share views.
* Build. If others leave something out, agree where you share views, then build.
* Compare. When you do differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong. Compare your two views.

  • Am I avoiding unneccessary disagreement?

8. Move to action

  • avoid violated expectations and inaction and get to great decisions and united action instead
  • How will we make decisions? (Command, Consult, Vote, Consensus)
  • record the commitments and then follow up
  • WHO will do WHAT by WHEN? (Make it crystal clear)
  • How will we follow up? (time)

Connect With Courage – Ep. 10: Building A Great Team

Why build a Loyalist team?

  • Reason #1: It’s working.
    • high sustainable performance, inspires people to give and be their best
    • respond quickly to outside challenges and keep moving forward
    • intelligent risk-taking, innovation and creativity
    • Stakeholders perceive the team as effective.
  • Reason #2: It’s rewarding.
    • Work is highly engaging and you’re having fun.
    • You can be your authentic self and do your best work every day.
  • Reason #3: Because you can.
    • While only 15 percent of teams are Loyalist Teams, every team can become and stay one. The choice is yours.
    • If you want to enjoy the results that only the highest-performing teams get, you have to do what it takes to get there and continue to do it to stay there. That is hard work. But: Why settle for anything less?
  • So without further ado, let’s dig into the tools you need to build the team of your dreams.

Where to begin: Relationships

  • Extraordinary teams are built on extraordinary relationships.
  • Each person can only control one side of any relationship. (Henry Cloud: 3 rules in life, cannot control other people)
  • No matter what your formal role is, you can start right now. Your biggest lever: Review the relationships you have with your teammates and focus on the ones that need repair. Are you doing your part?

Practice number 1: Extend Trust

  • Great teams work hard to build and maintain trust.
  • High trust makes it possible to freely debate ideas, openly discuss problems, come to a solution and make a decision that sticks. Also, trust gives people the space and safety to ask for help.
  • Assume positive intent. Team members give each other the benefit of the doubt. If a team member can’t understand another member’s behavior, they talk with that person directly instead of making assumptions or grousing to someone else.

Practice #2: Have Direct Conversations

  • In the next episode, we’re having a detailed look into how to have crucial conversations. Here are some of the ground rules:
    • Talk to each other, not about each other.
    • Discuss the toughest issues in the room and leave aligned.
    • Give each other feedback, even when it’s hard.

Practice #3: Be Responsible to each other

  • Care about each other’s success as they do about their own.
  • Put the team’s agenda ahead of their own.
  • Push each other to do their best work.

Connect With Courage – Ep. 9: Living Into Our Values

We are going to talk about three things, #1 why it’s important to know your values, #2 how to find out what is really important to you, #3 how to make them specific and live them out

Why do values matter?

Clarity of values helps us shape our decisions in a way that gives us the life that we want.
1. Being clear about our values gets us going. It gives us a reason to be courageous in the first place, give us motivation and energy to do something.
2. Getting specific about how to live our values keeps us going. Make pre-decisions that work for you, that keep you in line with what you stand for. Even when you’re tired, exhausted and prone to distraction.
3. Our values help us make the tough choices. When it’s dark, you’re face to face with fear, when it feels like you’re a ship on a rough ocean on a dark night, your values serve as a lighthouse that gives you strength and guides your way.
4. Practicing our values makes us stronger. Living into our values is like a pushup. Every time we do it, we get stronger.

Getting Clear About Your Values

Do you know what is truly important to you?
If not, this is how to get clear:

  1. Pick a list of values. Link:
  2. Circle what you think is important to you.
  3. Narrow it down to two values. In the tough times we need it to be simple and clear.
  • Two ways to do it:
    1. Looking backwards to who you were at your best.
    2. Looking forward to who you want to be at your best.
  • Questions that help to narrow it down:
  • Does this define me?
  • Is this who I am at my best?
  • Is this a filter that I use to make hard decisions?

You can do the exercise for yourself, with your family (kids are really good at keeping us accountable), and your organization.

Getting Specific About Your Values

  • Making pre-decisions ahead of time when you’re clear and calm, helps you stay true to your values when it gets difficult. If you don’t do that, when face with a difficult decions we can easily become paralyzed or too impulsive. Making pre-decisions helps you to be thoughtful and decisive.
  • Take your values for each value answer three questions:
  1. What are behaviors that support your value?
  2. What are behaviors that are outside your value?
  3. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into this value?

Example Courage & Connection


  1. What are behaviors that support your value?
    • I ask the “dumb” question that I do not know the answer to.
    • I am aware of the process of courage and where I am at the moment.
    • I ask for help.
  2. What are behaviors that are outside your value?
    • I avoid asking a difficult question, and try to figure the answer out alone.
    • I distract myself with YouTube and online games.
    • I retreat when I feel fear.
  3. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into this value?
    • Launching my podcast.
  4. What are behaviors that support your value?
    • I reach out to my friends when I’m not feeling well.
    • I respond to incoming messages within 48 hours.
    • I communicate my needs.
  5. What are behaviors that are outside your value?
    • I withdraw from friends when I’m not feeling well.
    • Messages pile up.
    • I try to please everyone and loose touch with myself.
  6. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into this value?
    • Reaching out to my closest friends, when I was at a total low point.

Support system. Specific people who will support you living into that value.

  • Who is someone who might support your efforts to live into your values? Talk to them about it.
  • What is one way they can support you?
  • Keep your values visible, put them on your wall & screen. Talk about your values, others might see earlier when we’re living outside your values. They can also remind us to be kind to ourselves when we are doing this hard work.

Connect With Courage – Ep. 8: The Six-Stage Process Of Facing ANY Fear.

Being clear about the six-stage process of facing any fear gives you enormous awareness and can help you to move through fear 10x faster.

“It doesn’t matter how many fears you face—we all go through the same process over and over again.” – Michele Poler

The Basic Psychology Behind It

  • When it comes to making decision we have two systems, just like in a car, you have an accelerator & a brake on a car
  • Accelerator aka Behavioral Activation System: triggered by reward, encourages us to take action, leads to growth
  • Brake aka Behavioral Inhibition System: triggered by risk, keeps us from taking action, keeps us in our comfort zone

1. Discovery Stage

  • You see someone do something, you’ve never considered doing before. Or you envision a bigger future for yourself.
  • Almost automatically and instantly the next stage is triggered

2. Denial Stage

  • Our mind comes up with reasons, why what we want to do is impossible, improbable and dangerous.
  • In an attempt to keep us safe, our behavioral inhibition system is trying to keep us out of situations that are unknown, uncertain and expose us emotionally.
  • It’s easy to get stuck in this stage.

3. Determination Stage

  • We need to realize that our subconscious is trying to talk us out of a new experience.
  • Ask: What if I do it and things go right? (activates the behavioral activation syste):
  • Then make a simple plan, gather your support network and tools.
  • You are 100 percent determined to making it happen.

4. WTF Am I Doing?! Stage

  • Right before you are going to do something, your subconscious is trying to keep you safe again.
  • Feeling: The sinking feeling in our stomach: What did I get myself into?
  • Thoughts: Our mind is considering all the worst-case scenarios. “You won’t be able to do this!” “You are not good enough for this!” “Who do you think you are?”

5. Action Stage

  • You tune down the fear by asking:
    “What’s the best that can happen?”
  • You are out side your comfort zone, you are uncomfortable and take action.

6. The Celebration Stage

  • After going through all of this, for something we really want, we feel proud – regardless of the outcome.
  • Stop for a moment to celebrate – let it sink in.
  • Then go back to stage one.

Connect With Courage – Ep. 2: The 4 Ways Others Can Expand Your Courage

I want to make this the best resource that helps you to connect with courage, so it would mean the world to me, if you could answer the following question:

When it comes to asking for help, what is the single biggest obstacle you’re facing? Please be as specific and detailed as possible.


The 4 Ways How Others Can Expand Your Courage

  1. Someone gives you a bigger vision of what’s possible.
  2. Someone with more experience gives you a hand and takes you a long.
  3. Someone comes along with you.
  4. Someone gives you belief and perspective.

Listen to the podcast at (you can also leave a voice message there, which is supercool.)