Monday, July 26, 2021

Five Keys to Navigating Awkward Conversations

By Christopher Green

The awkward conversation has to be one of the most challenging scenarios in our lives. Most people don’t like confrontation or conflict anyway. It doesn’t matter if the issue is a difference of opinion, the need to bring up an embarrassing matter, or to give bad news, most of us struggle with the basic uncomfortable nature of this type of conversation. Some people have no filter between their thoughts and their mouth, so there’s no such thing as an awkward conversation, at least to them. They don’t usually concern themselves with how they are abrasively impacting others. 

On the other end of the spectrum, others have a hard time being assertive in the best of times, and when it comes to an awkward conversation, it creates a near impossible wall for them to scale. From our many years of personal and professional experience with awkward conversations that have ranged from family members to clients, we offer these five keys. 

1. Pause: Whether you find yourself in a sudden and unexpected moment of awkwardness or if you’re anticipating a conversation, it’s important to first pause, step back and consider your thoughts and feelings. Awkward conversations are filled with feelings and multiple reactions. Those feelings can include embarrassment, anger, anxiety or frustration. Responses can include shock, defensiveness, denial, retaliation, or indifference.  Taking a pause is about self-awareness. It’s about recognizing and regulating your own feelings so you’re not swept away in the tide of awkwardness. 

2. Enlightened engagement: This is all about having the presence of mind to not only prepare yourself, but to also give some type of notification to the other person that the conversation is coming. Offer a simple text, email or quick comment like, “There’s something I’d like to talk with you about today.” 

With your self-awareness elevated, confront the unknown of the awkward with confidence. When you engage the person, be clear, be concise, be cautious, and be conclusive. Engage the person with CARE (compassionate awareness with respect and empathy). When your engagement is from this higher perspective, you can be mindful to determine where the conversation should take place, as well as when. 

However, if the awkward conversation is a spontaneous moment that breaks out in front of customers, in the office, or in the living room, you can diffuse a potential disaster by saying, “Let’s talk about this over here,” or “Can we step outside for a minute?” 

Enlightened engagement will cause you to be so self-aware and socially aware that you won’t be easily driven by your own fear of the unknown within the awkward. Instead you’ll be guided from a perspective of wisdom and concern for the person with whom you must speak. This can still hold true, even if the person is hostile and responding in a very negative manner. 

3. Ask Questions:  Do not assume that you know the answers, even when it seems obvious. Depending upon your relationship, ask questions like, “Are you aware that….?” or “Please help me understand why….” 

After you hear their response, be prepared to ask the second question. Sometimes we ask one question. The person answers, and then we react. However, we suggest that you ask a second question just to make sure that you are clear and understand their perspective.  It’s not about asking questions until you get the response that you desire. You don’t ask until they say something that you agree with. If you do that, you’ll turn it into an interrogation instead of a conversation. You are asking questions until you are sure that you understand their point of view. If you feel they are being untruthful or omitting some part of their story, please know that you’re not a judge and this is not a hearing. You’re simply giving them an opportunity to present their view. 

4. Listen to Learn: If you’re going to ask questions, then you must actually listen. We humans do not listen very well. We pretend to listen, we selectively listen, or we listen for pauses and breaks in the dialogue in order to state our opinions. Active, empathetic and facilitative listening is absolutely essential for navigating the awkward conversation. If you can provide reflective listening feedback during an awkward conversation, you can take away the power of the awkward and empower yourself and the other person to actually have a healthy, mutually-beneficial conversation. Your listening and feedback will communicate that you’re making a sincere effort to understand them and the situation surrounding the conversation. 

5. Respond: Instead of being reactionary, you can make a thoughtful response rooted in compassion, concern, and curiosity (a genuine desire to understand). Most people tend to merely react to the revelations that come out of an awkward conversation with a criticism or an immediate correction of the other person. We’re not saying that these won’t be part of your conversation, but they should not be your first responses. The punitive reaction will yield limited, if any change. However if a critique (without criticizing), correction or advice comes from a position of compassion, concern, and curiosity, you have a better chance of building bridges rather than erecting more walls in the relationship. 

Chris and Carol Green are the founders of C and C Connections, LLC and creators of the CARE-Ready Life Coaching model.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Chris and Carol Green Publish a Legacy of Lyrics and Poems

In the 1990’s, when we became the youth leaders in our local church, our writing exploded through the expression of songs. 

Chris would have dreams that he was listening to songs on the radio. He heard all the music and lyrics. He would wake up and record himself on a portable tape recorder so that he wouldn’t forget what he dreamed. Eventually, we kept a portable recorder on the nightstand. We used many of those songs, with their Biblically-principled lyrics, to reinforce the lessons in our weekly sessions with teenagers.

During those years, we also began writing songs that were embraced by our larger church community as our pastor recognized that our tunes contained lyrics that could impact more people beyond the youth in the congregation. We were given one Sunday each month to lead the entire congregation in songs of praise and worship, and we taught them the songs God was giving us.

We also brought the songs to the neighborhood in which our church resided. Every week our ministry had a food outreach. The neighbors were allowed to gather in the fellowship hall. While their groceries were being bagged, we assembled some of the teenagers as a small ensemble to sing to the people while they waited for their food. We literally taught the attendees our simple little tunes, and then prayed for everyone.

This outreach grew to the point where we had 50 families, (not just 50 people), yes, 50 families attending every week. They completely filled the hall. It was as if though we had another church meeting in the building. They were an incredible mix of black, white, old and young. Some said that they no longer came for the food. They were coming for the worship and the prayer. One such attendee was a young white girl who happened to be pregnant. Then, for several weeks, we didn’t see her.

Suddenly she returned with a little bundle of joy. Our volunteers and teenagers surrounded her as she kept saying, “Come see my miracle baby! See my little miracle!”

Of course, we wanted to know why she kept referring to her baby as a miracle. Then she shared her testimony and it forever changed our view of songwriting and worship.

She revealed that when the baby was born, the child died immediately afterwards. The baby was dead; gone. She said, “All I knew to do was just to sing the songs you guys taught me. So I just started singing those songs over my baby, and she came back to life. So here she is; my little miracle.”

Of course we all rejoiced with her.

From that moment to this one right now, we have not cared about trying to make it ‘big’ in the music industry. We don’t care if we are ever well-known, famous worship artists, worship writers, or any of those titles.  Our songs may never receive any awards or accolades in the Christian music industry or any other music industry. 

The highest level has already been reached and that was for them to be used by God in a powerful way. God had given us songs, and those songs of praise and worship had been instrumental in imparting faith into a new mother; in resurrecting her baby from the dead.

When it comes to writing songs, poetry, books, or anything else that we put down on paper or type into a computer, we realize God has allowed us to experience His purpose for our writing gifts. 

Only a small elite group of songwriters in this world will receive earthly awards and recognition, but this miracle was the highest honor. Our focus was set: We’re writing for God alone.

---Chris and Carol Green

Order Our Lyrical Life from Amazon Books