Home Bookstore The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs by Dr. Marcia Reynolds – A Sample Chapter

The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs by Dr. Marcia Reynolds – A Sample Chapter

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profound understanding that gave you no choice but to change your mind most likely came as a result of a disruptive question and deep reflection initiated by someone else.

For the same reason you can’t tickle yourself, you can’t fully explore your own thoughts. Your brain will block and desensitize you to self-imposed exploration. When someone you trust adeptly challenges your reasoning and asks you the powerful question that breaks down your protective frame, your brain is forced to reorder data in your long-term memory. For a moment, the breakdown feels awkward. You might feel a pinch of anger or sadness, but then you are just as likely to laugh at what you see…after you gasp. There must be an emotional stake in the game for restructuring to occur.

This book first shows how you set the foundation. There must be a level of trust and safety so the person will not think you are being manipulative. Then it will show how to use positive confrontation, honest feedback, and frame-shattering questions to spark activity in the brain causing changes in perception, self-image, and behavior. The reward goes beyond getting good results to experiencing deep fulfillment when you witness the human before you make this mind-altering shift.

The Best Times to Have a Discomfort Zone Conversation

Picture yourself sitting in a conversation with a woman you know is smart and committed to her work, but she is complaining about a situation and feels stuck with no solution and she is resisting the changes others have told her to make. Maybe you are wondering why she can’t see what’s best for her. You want her to quit focusing on the problem. You want her to try something new. You want her to move on. You’ve given her feedback. She discounts your view. You’ve suggested solutions but the conversation just circles back to what is not working. This is a perfect time for a Discomfort Zone conversation!

You can also use these skills to engage and retain your top talent. A bad economy can mask employee dissatisfaction. As soon as the economy shows some stability, people begin to look elsewhere for jobs, especially the high achievers. They spend a good portion of their attention and time looking for their next opportunity, maybe with a competitor.

When economies thrive, employee engagement is critical to retain top talent and meet increasing demand for production and innovation. I remember how successful headhunters were in the booming 90s when we were losing our top engineers to the better paying companies down the street. Fortunately, many returned when they realized the culture down the street was not as caring and inspiring as we were working to create.

A good way of retaining top talent is to listen to them, trust they can figure things out, and provide development opportunities, which include expanding their minds as well as their skills. A survey published in Harvard Business Review found that although young high achievers were given high-visibility jobs and increasing responsibilities, they were dissatisfied with the lack of mentoring and coaching they received. There seems to be a gap in what management thinks and what employees want, indicating that leaders aren’t listening.

Clearly, leaders need to spend more time with their top talent, helping them think through problems, see situations more strategically, and grow beyond their limitations. The Discomfort Zone will give you these skills.

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