I’ll Have That Conversation Tomorrow

April 17, 2024

By Dave Bushy, PCC

One of the most recurring subjects that emerges in coaching is the human tendency of delaying a meaningful conversation with another person.

It’s a common theme with some clients as they speak about subjects ranging from subordinates who are challenging, bosses who treat them unfairly or vendors who might be unresponsive.  And ironically, it can be equally common when they speak about celebrating victories by the team or the joy of seeing a direct report achieve results that were totally unexpected.

I hear the words, “I’ll have that conversation tomorrow.”   And I get very curious about why.

What I have learned in my life is that there is something that gets in our way as human beings from the initial experience we have with another person to the leap of acting upon it – in particular the “conversation” about it.  That leap is just a small synapse in our brains and yet a major chasm related to moving into action.  Some call it being “stuck.”  It has happened to me and it helps inform my coaching for clients. 

I’ve held a lot of positions, worked for many people and have had thousands of interactions with others.  I “click” with some people.  With others I don’t.  The same could be said for the experiences other people have with me.  The unique aspects of our personalities and experience often resonate with another – and yet sometimes an immediate disconnect exists.  That’s the challenge and the beauty of human existence.

What we do with that challenge is where the magic of human interaction occurs.

Many books and articles exist and some provide “guidelines” that can help you explore relationships and conversations.  I often recommend Susan Scott’s book about meaningful interactions with others – she calls them “Fierce Conversations.”  It’s a beautiful book that provides perspective about how to approach a conversation.

But there is work to be done before we can move forward with the actual conversation.  It’s the internal work that helps us frame our own feelings and thoughts – connecting our minds and our hearts before moving into action.  Essentially, exploring the “why” of a conversation. 

What I am calling the “internal” work involves exploring our own motivations and feelings – a sort of internal awareness-building before we move forward with action.

Consider some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is motivating me?
  • What do I want to achieve with this interaction? 
  • Am I fearful of having the conversation? 
  • Or am I afraid of what I’m going to say and how I’ll say it? 
  • Perhaps I’m just scared of the person with whom I should interact?
  • Or maybe it’s best not to have the conversation today after all – if that’s the case, why?

When you say to yourself, “I’ll have that conversation tomorrow,” that’s the first clue that allows the exploration to begin, because something is causing you to have that feeling and you may indeed be “stuck.”

Curiosity is a powerful tool.  The questions we ask ourselves can inevitably lead to answers.  It is a type of “self-coaching,” which I encourage clients to use when they feel “stuck.”    Once you name what you are experiencing, you can then frame your conversation with intent and make clear choices that support a successful outcome. 

Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a an ICF-certified coach who was trained at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC).  Dave is a former U.S. Army officer and senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout the world.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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