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Raise your hand if you would rather avoid confrontation and addressing difficult conversations that make you uncomfortable at work? Not because you are slow and don’t know how to stand up for yourself. Instead, it just isn’t something that comes naturally to you. To some, this may seem like an absurd thing because, how hard can it be to articulate a fluent conversation that isn’t muffled by fear or anxiety?

All I can say from experience is these things happen. Long after the moment where you had the opportunity to speak up is gone, you find yourself considering all the smart things you should have said.

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If this sounds like you, rest assured that you are not alone. As big of an influencer Shonda Rhimes is, she had to fight her way through uncomfortable situations at work in as graceful of a manner as possible. She had to learn how to stop avoiding conversations she did not want to have. Chapter 8 of her book, Year of Yes details the struggle and importance of putting your fear aside and voicing your concerns.

If you have ever doubted yourself in the workplace or let fear get the best of you from saying the crucial things you really needed to, it’s time to take charge girl. Below are some useful tips from Shonda’s book to get you started on that journey.

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No is a complete sentence

Every now and again, you might be plagued by the constant need to explain yourself when you disagree with someone or when you simply can’t do something.

So much time and in some cases (money) is wasted beating around the bush when all you can do is just say no. No is a complete sentence and you don’t owe anybody an explanation.

Ask questions

Petty and nasty things will be said. A strategic way of dealing with this is asking “what did you mean by that?” Shonda explains that asking this question can be effective because too often, people are used to being spoken about not spoken TO.

Most people would rather bottle everything inside or worse off rant about what upset them to someone else. Next time you feel offended, always clarify by asking questions.

“When something wasn’t going well, when there was a conflict or someone was upset or being difficult, the more introverted me would flee and hope it all went away. The new me wades right into the deep end as asks, “What’s wrong?”
–Shonda Rhimes

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Say yes to difficult conversations

There is no easy fix or supplement you can take to make hard conversations any less daunting. The fear will always be there if you are not used to having them. With practice, it does get better and you will find your voice.

So if you take nothing else from this post, just remember to just say yes to difficult conversations. The more open you are to the idea; there more willing you’ll be to seek help and find ways to tackle those hard discussions and thrive in your career.

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