Chrisa Zindros Boyce On The Art of Difficult Conversations

As Chief Strategy Officer for Handel Group, Chrisa Zindros Boyce brings over a decade of management and executive-level leadership. Throughout her career, she has worked on building brands and creating business driving initiatives that have positively impacted sales, profit, and employee retention for large and small companies. In her role as an executive coach Chrisa leads Diversity and Inclusion Workshops, Culture Transformations, and High Potential Training Programs across the globe. She supports both growing companies and industry conglomerates in designing cultures and structures that lead to increased employee retention, engagement, and profitability. Her roster of individual clients includes an international group of serial entrepreneurs, perennial corporate executives, and established individual contributors that hail from a broad range of sectors including finance, entertainment, fashion, tech, non profit + government. She believes that authenticity breeds confidence and as such she supports her clients in staying true to their values and unapologetically honing their voices.

What are the key benefits of speaking up and having tough conversations?

We want a life that makes us happy and includes experiences and relationships that benefit us. That requires us to live in the concepts of clarity, intimacy, trust, connection, resolution, and freedom. When we live in those concepts we show up as people who can be trusted to be leaders and role models. When we are not speaking up, we're not creating the space in our relationships, for connection and intimacy.

Most of us will avoid having the difficult conversation because what's on the other side is something you have to contend with. And that can be really scary. But for all the things that you want in your life, you’ll need to learn how to have beautiful conversations with people and be able to sit on the other side, even if it doesn't go the way you want it to go. Regardless of the outcome, you will have clarity and the ability to feel empowered in your world because you're the one out there broaching the tricky topics.

What should we consider when approaching these conversations?

Consider what you want more of. Really sit with yourself for a moment and go what else would I want more of? Do I want more clarity or transparency or intimacy? Do I want more connection or freedom to just be myself and be accepted for who I am? Take a moment and just reflect on that because when we don't tell the truth to ourselves, we live in a facade that takes us out of being in integrity with ourselves.

What is the fear that gets in the way of having honest discourse?

There are voices in our heads that hold us back and the first voice is the chicken. It's the most common one because we want to stay a part of the pack and avoid rejection. When we talk about our fears, we talk about them on three different levels.

  1. Fight, flight or freeze: Fight you become argumentative. Flight you leave the situation. Freeze you shut down.

  2. Avoidance and manipulation: Avoidance is used to sidestep failing, looking bad or getting criticized. Manipulation can be used to either downplay or exaggerate situations.

  3. Lying: Lying involves saying what we need to say to get people to like us or keep them in our corner.

The second voice is the brat. It's the voice of resistance. The brat sounds like "I don't want to." "You can't make me." "I don't feel like it." For anybody who has kids. It is your children stomping their feet and refusing to go to bed or eat their vegetables. It also comes out as entitlement. "It's not my job." "Why do I have to do this?" As well as defiance. "I'm not going to do it and you can't make me."

The third voice is the weather reporter. The weather reporter is the voice of all your wonderful excuses and justifications. It puts you in a passive position. We read the report to give up our power. We relinquish control of having to design our life or create ideal relationships. We blame external circumstances even though internal challenges like fear and being a brat are the real dilemmas.

It usually takes about seven conversations to improve a performance issue with someone at work.

Often an inability to communicate openly results in micro-agressisions. How would you define a micro-aggression? How do you know when it's happening?