Learning to have those challenging conversations with Annie Simpson

Annie Simpson – Co-founder Modern People 

As part of our NCI funding ACTION4YOUTH provides 21st century skills training to our Young Farming Champion (YFC) mentors, careers advisors, students (the next generation employees) and our prospective employers.

Following her successful workshop on Values at Work, Annie Simpson has delivered another masterclass teaching our ACTION4YOUTH stakeholders how to have challenging conversations in the workplace.

“Challenging conversations are a part of business, and it is in the best interest of employees to empower their people with impactful tools and frameworks to promote more positive outcomes,” Annie says.

$4.45 billion is the cost of recruiting for the people who resign every year because of challenging conversations going wrong so this workshop was an important step in rectifying this problem.

The workshop began by introducing the concept of mattering, which is the belief that we are all a significant part of the world around us and that we are noticed, affirmed and needed right now.

It then taught participants to recognise what form a challenging conversation could take  before giving tools and frameworks to best address these issues.

“Challenging conversations come in many shapes and forms, including giving and receiving feedback, discussing ‘failures’, sharing personal challenges, and calling out the elephant in the room,” Annie says.

The difference between ego-based (defensive, armoured, fear-based, fixed, transactional) and heart-based (authentic, open, others focused, situational and adaptive, personal/human) conversations was also explored, as was using emotionally intelligent practices to realise objectives while being considerate of the person at the other end of the conversation.

“Recognising your own bias or ‘monkey brain’ helps you approach the situation with emotional intelligence and great self-awareness, but when we cannot control the behaviours and attitudes of others, how can we set ourselves up for success during these often uncomfortable moments?” Annie asked the participants before giving them time to reflect on or prepare for their own challenging conversations.

The Challenging Conversations workshop proved popular with YFC

“Annie Simpson’s workshop on Challenging Conversations was an excellent opportunity to reflect on how we communicate and engage with others in our professional and personal lives. Annie asked us to consider times when we have had to express difficult or sometimes conflicting emotions, the ways we succeeded, and the places we could improve. In particular, I found the conversation on the difference between ego and heart a welcome reminder to reflect on the intentions behind our actions and how we ensure they lead us towards positive behaviours. I was grateful to participate in the workshop breakout sessions with Dylan Male, a fellow YFC peer and PhD candidate. I enjoyed reflecting on times in my PhD candidature journey when I had to have challenging conversations and was inspired by Dylan’s positivity and thoughtfulness in his own reflections.” says Francesca Earp

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