Boone County Emerging Leaders Hosts Second of Four Sessions on Improving Communication

Last week, Boone County Emerging Leaders offered the second of four sessions focused on improving communication among the young adults living or working in Boone County. The session, titled Difficult Conversations: How to Give Feedback with Candor and Kindness, explored strategies for approaching uncomfortable or challenging conversations with professionalism. 

Molly Brummond, assistant dean of student development at the University of Nebraska College of Law led the session and offered specific recommendations based on each attendee’s most critical scenario. These included working with board members, employees, customers, and family.

“Leaders who are able to communicate even when the message is difficult to both deliver and hear are able to create a culture of growth mindset and resilience.”

Where Do Difficult Conversations Happen Most?

Eleven leaders from Albion, Cedar Rapids, Petersburg and Primrose participated in the event, which was hosted by Black Hills Energy. Brummond opened the session by asking participants to think about the area of their life where the most difficult conversations are occurring. 

Throughout the workshop, these scenarios were used to better understand the strategies and tools for achieving the greatest result. First, participants discussed the primary barriers to providing feedback effectively. From there, they were encouraged to reckon with emotion and the story they’ve created in their own head about how the conversation will likely go. 

Brummond stressed the importance of exploring emotion as a way to become more logical and clear about what is making the conversation so difficult to begin with.

The four strategies for approaching difficult conversations with candor and kindness

  1. Plan for the conversation. This includes identifying the when, where, and who of the dialogue, and what communication needs to occur prior to the conversation.
  2. Don’t pretend you don’t have a hypothesis. This strategy encourages you to be honest with the other person about what you believe to be true. Language was offered to help communicate the hypothesis in a professional way.
  3. Be an amazing listener. All too often we listen to answer instead of truly taking the time and space to listen to what the other person is saying. This strategy encourages you to listen fully and write down what you heard after. By writing this down and sharing it with the other person, you can make sure there is clarity on both sides.
  4. Recognize this is their “face down” moment. During the final strategy, attendees learned that being clear and direct is the kindest thing they can do. From there, work to identify where the other person is at that moment. This could include getting an understanding of the other factors that are causing them to react or feel a certain way. Finally, being solution-oriented throughout the interaction with the other person is the only way a problem will be resolved.

Attend Session 3 - Public Speaking 101: I Can Do This

Session three of the Emerging Leaders program is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., May 25th at Highway 14 Brewing Company in Albion. This session is titled: Public Speaking 101: I Can Do This. Participants will receive advice on how to manage anxiety leading up to and during public speaking. Each session is free and anyone interested in participating in the second session is encouraged to register at: