by Kali Goldstone, WFEA Senior Advisor
Women for Election Australia had the pleasure of welcoming Anne-Marie Cade to take a Masterclass on “Navigating Uncomfortable Conversations,” on October 13th.
The event aimed to provide women running for election with the opportunity to practice responding to negative talk and provided practical tips for having uncomfortable conversations with others during the campaign process.
Anne Marie is a Councillor at the City of Glen Eira serving her second term. She is a Lawyer, a Nationally Accredited Mediator, Certified Conflict Coach, Communication Specialist as well as an Adjunct Lecturer at the College of Law.
She is a recognised expert in her field and is a sought-after trainer and speaker on divorce and separation, relationship mediation, building effective communication skills, conflict management, resilience and wellbeing.
“It is important to have difficult conversations in daily life. We often don’t talk about things that annoy us, because we feel more comfortable avoiding difficult conversations.”
However, “not talking about things that need to be discussed leads to bigger problems & misunderstandings.”
Examples of difficult conversations include:
- Expressing a controversial opinion
- Making an apology
- Saying no to someone
- Confronting disrespectful behaviour
- Dealing with problematic behaviour.
The group agreed that we all prefer to avoid these types of conversations because we feel vulnerable, our self-esteem is implicated, the outcome is uncertain and in campaign mode, this is often about a topic that we care deeply about.
We may fear that conversation because it may lead to conflict, that conflict is a good thing – when done well it enables rigorous discussion, the birth of new ideas and leads to collaboration.
When communicating with people who disagree, for example, with your politics Anne-Marie explained that communication is:
To communicate effectively we need to build rapport & credibility. This is not about potential voters liking you but rather that they are open to what you are saying.
It is important to have the conversation instead of burying your head in the sand. A conversation can be a necessary opportunity to effect change or achieve resolution and build personal growth.
In order to manage our emotions during these difficult times, Anne-Marie suggested that we “focus on the issue and separate the person from the problem. This keeps the person from reacting.”
We need to “accept the other person’s point of view as their truth and be respectful” but also mindful of “our triggers and hot buttons.” While is important to stay curious and empathetic, we may need to step away to regroup, especially if the situation becomes abusive.
She reminded us that we shouldn’t view the conversation as a one off. Most of the time it requires a follow up conversation or email.
Women for Election Australia would like to thank Anne-Marie for so generously sharing her time and expertise with us. We all learnt so much and greatly benefited from her insights. Check out our upcoming events or sign up to our newsletter to don’t miss any masterclass.