Funny thing about Tough Conversations. Sometimes they can have unexpected — even positive — outcomes.
Take my friend Jan. Her 85 year old mother, Florence, has been in the hospital for the past 3 weeks. She’s miserable. Her doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of her illness which has been a frustrating and debilitating experience.
Florence is usually pleasant to everyone she comes in contact with and has treated her doctors and other senior staff with respect. Not so with lower ranking hospital employees. Jan told me that her Mom has been downright rude to the orderlies and night staff who care for her and was shocked when she heard Florence ordering them around and even calling them names like ‘jerk’ and ‘dumb’.
After talking with family members about the situation, Jan decided to have a Tough Conversation with her mother. It wasn’t easy. Jan is the youngest of three and is often intimated by her mother. But things had gone too far.
After hearing her mother chew out an orderly, Jan told her how inappropriate her language had been. Despite Jan’s remarks, Florence denied ever talking rudely to anyone on the hospital staff. It was as if Jan and her mother were in two different realities. Jan had little hope that her mother’s disrespectful behavior would change.
Several days later when Jan visited with her mother, things had changed. Florence was super polite to everyone. No more disrespectful language or harsh tone of voice.
The lesson for me was this: despite whatever doubts you may have about the outcome of a Tough Conversation, go for it. Be prepared for anything – even a positive result.