Lions and Tigers and Conversations, Oh My!

Lions and Tigers and Conversations, Oh My!

Oh yay, a Wizard of Oz reference! Showing my age ever so openly. 

I am hoping it might conjure up images of Dorothy and her pals braving a new and scary path. I thought of this because lately, I've been having some hard conversations, big dialogues, crucial conversations and they are hard if not scary. And you know what? I’m having these conversations because I want to. I believe they are the pathway to being clear, to being understood, to being loved, and to being productive at work, who knew (many of you did, but let me catch up😊)?

There are lions and tigers (i.e. stress) in conversations.  Our stress response gets activated when we don’t feel safe.  And that is sometimes in conversations because of big feelings, misunderstandings, not being seen and heard, feeling dismissed, engaging our triggers and more. 

Back to Dorothy going through those woods, facing her fears. She had her arms linked with an actual lion, and I think it was the Scarecrow and Tin Man at the time, cautiously chanting, "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" As they got a little more rhythm, they got faster and made it through that woods. When I think of having important conversations with the people I work with, live with, and care about, I feel like Dorothy walking through those woods with more and more security and vigour.

Any conversation has the potential to dip into being an important one, an emotionally charged one, so knowing and practicing skills is key to their success.  But these are very purposeful, potentially planned with the aim of enhancing your work life, personal life and relationships.  I see the yellow brick road! (enough of the wizard of oz Sherry!)

Here are some examples that you may recognize:

Wondering who ate your sandwich in the work fridge and needing to ask a few suspects. Curious about why your partner was so late at work and want to just ask without it all going to hell in a handbasket.  Describing to a colleague that you felt overlooked in a meeting.  Or you want to put up a boundary with an old friend about gossipy conversations. 

Building connection and trust, right now more than ever, is an essential skill set. So, engaging in dialogue, tough conversations, is crucial.

So, What Are the Steps?

Here is a helpful set of steps to having these life-changing conversations:


Step 1: Check In with Yourself

First, get a sense of your emotional and physical state. Are you in a regulated state, or are you engaged in a fight, flight, or freeze response? You need to start with you, which can be hard to do. Where are these intentions coming from?  If you feel this strong desire for them to change not for you to change, then it may be coming from an unhealed place. 

Checking in with yourself is a skill all on its own.


Step 2: Recognize Time, Place, and Space

When and where are you going to have that conversation? Both parties need to feel comfortable, available, and present. Is the other person ready to have this conversation? Is it the right time? 


Step 3: Engage in Dialogue with Word Tools and Crafted Statements

When you’re in the conversation, it’s important to use word tools and crafted elements or statements to guide the discussion towards clarity and understanding. Here are some examples:

Setting the Stage: “I would like to have a conversation with you about something I find important, is that something we can do?”

Reflective Statements: "I hear you saying [repeat what the other person said]. Is that correct?"

Clarifying Statements: "Could you help me understand more about [specific point or issue]?"

Empathetic Statements: "I can imagine this is challenging for you. How can I support you better in this?"

Ownership Statements: "I realize that [acknowledge your part or responsibility in the situation]."  Add apologies as applicable. 

Future-Oriented Statement: "Moving forward, does it make sense to [propose a constructive solution or action]?"

Using these statements and more can help navigate the conversation with empathy, clarity, and purpose, ensuring both parties feel heard and understood.

Safety is Always a Consideration

Physical and psychological safety are such important concepts and conditions and are a skillset on their own. For psychological safety we work on building trust. This can take time. Paying attention to your emotional temperature and the temperature of the person you are having the conversation takes a healthy dose of awareness and practice.  Sometimes these conversations need to pause to recreate safety, for you, for them. We cannot have these dialogues when safety is in jeopardy...I feel another blog post coming to dive into this more.

During the Conversation

Throughout the conversation, taking care of yourself is important so that you remain regulated in your emotions and body. Know that you’ll get better and better at having these tough conversations. The words and tools you choose and practice will be very helpful. Listening is part of that. Checking in and making sure there’s compassion and empathy is part of that.

Remember, like Dorothy and her friends, facing those “lions and tigers and bears” of conversations will become less daunting with practice. Each step you take through the woods of dialogue builds courage, clarity, and connection. So, gather your courage, link arms with your inner lion, and step forward. You’ve got this!


Glad you were here.



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.