We all like to share our stories. One of the most difficult aspects of leadership revolves around being open with your employees and others.
Not every experience is a positive one. These conversations can dredge up bad memories, foul emotions, and may come off as bitter to your listeners. Being honest about the darkest moments of our careers can feel like a slippery slope to drag us back to that place. With the right techniques, we can embrace and share our previous setbacks with grace and humility.
Keep your tone light/neutral. People quickly take notice of tone of voice. Speaking in a light or neutral tone will undercut any tension others might take away from your story. Laugh it off even. People will be more inspired by the ability to recognize the situation for what it was, and success may have been delayed, but never completely hindered.
Be sensitive of directly using names. Unless you are endorsing the other party in the story, try to avoid using names. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Directly using names of the people, places, or organizations can sound like an attack. That should not be the intention of telling one’s story. You made it through those rough times and that should be the main focus.
Take responsibility for your end. There are three sides to every story: your side, the other persons, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Address where you fell short. Where there may have been miscommunication. Simply putting the blame on others without recognizing your part comes across as playing the blame-game. Taking responsibility for your side exhibits humility and a growth mindset.
Express gratitude for the learning opportunity. It is important to note the lessons you took away from the experience, as well as for the other parties. Even if there is no more communication between parties, it does not mean that anyone’s journey stopped there. Reenforcing the mutual growth from the situation will showcase continued respect and support from having the opportunity.
Try not to spend too much time harping on past mistakes and struggles. Convey these moments as speedbumps along the way that needed to be managed, then move on. People will always have their own, natural reaction and oftentimes this will lead to further questions. Be receptive. The tough times do not define us, they help use become stronger and wiser along the way.
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