It is an inevitable fact of life, often met with apprehension, reluctance and even tactical avoidance but awkward or difficult conversations are something we will have recurring experience of during our lifetime. Be it in our personal lives, or the workplace, as the recipient or the initiator, navigating how to handle these conversations can be a complex and intimidating affair.
The issue with awkward conversations is that they are often needed to be had, and when done right they can be informative, lead to a greater understanding, expanded perspectives…and dare I say it, even a resolution. When done right, they can move us forward.
But there are often a lot of variables at play – differing ideas and opinions, negative attitudes, defensiveness and fear of judgement are just a few of the causations that mean we approach these conversations with trepidation, and can all too often result in heads butting, voices not being heard and communication breaking down. The question is then, how do we handle these conversations? If there are so many potential benefits that can be reaped from an awkward or challenging conversation gone well, what can we do to make this a reality?
On the 24th January, the Health and Social Care Academy, in partnership with COPE Scotland will explore how to hold challenging conversations without them breaking down. As part of Workforce Scotland’s Firestarter Festival, a weeklong festival aimed to shake up and transform the way we work through a series of creative, disruptive and innovative collaborative learning events, Awkward Conversations will tackle the proverbial elephant in the room and explore how to create a psychologically safe space that will facilitate the opportunity for people to share some challenging issues without fear of being mocked or judged.
In health and social care, especially in the pursuit of transformational change in health and social care, awkward conversations will be an unavoidable part of the process. But if we can create the space to have these conversations in a purposeful, open and respectful way, then perhaps awkward won’t be something to be feared.