In this edition, I would like to share my insights about “Courage”. There are several connotations to the meaning or definition of Courage. Whether you take it from Macmillan or Cambridge Dictionary, the meaning will always revolve around one’s ability to be in control of a dangerous, conflicting or difficult (overcoming the fear) situation. Alternatively, it is also about the ability to take action or do something that you believe is good or right despite the fact that it is frightening or complicated. The word courage is synonymous with “Bravery”.
Keeping these definitions in mind, it is obvious that there are moments in our lives when we have to muster or pluck up the courage to stand up for what we believe is the right thing to do. Some people have a natural tendency to be courageous whilst others need encouragement and lots of practice. In general, those who never have the courage to speak up for what they believe in, tend to be stuck with the “victim mentality”. You don’t want to be trapped in this state because the victim mode is counterproductive and can be demotivating. The victim mode is all about others’ fault when things do not go the way you want it to. This is the main reason why big organisations focus and invest in managing this concern, either by coaching and mentoring or sending staff to motivational or personal effectiveness training.
Courage should be coupled with respect. Simply being brave or courageous in stating one’s mind regardless of the approach can be misinterpreted as reckless behaviour because it may give rise to unintended consequences. Courage to speak up is an important part of your personal effectiveness toolkit. To put courage to express oneself into practice one needs to ensure a safe environment is present during the interactions and always remember the win-win outcome. In this scenario, it can create trust between the parties hence removing any defensive mechanism from the discussions.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.
How do we create the safe environment to broach a difficult topic? From the crucial conversation practitioner’s guide, it simply means that you need to be very clear on the intent of the conversation (ensure the content and outcome is very clear for all parties); make reference to factual evidence not hearsay; and lastly to safeguard the relationship aspect of the situation so as to avoid unintended consequences. It is also important to always find common ground to kick off the interactions because it can provide that safe launching pad for the rest of the session. Last but not least, it can become uncomfortable hence you need to be very clear in your mind about the outcome that you are after-post the discussion. Everyone has a right to be courageous, you owe it to yourself to do so in a respectful manner. The skill is in handling the conversations to ensure it remains factual throughout and minimise any direct attack on personality or individuals. More often than not, people can accept the direct challenges or expression of concerns when it is done in an amicable manner. At the end of the day, it is all about us working together to create a better environment for the organisation that we work for and creating that conducive space that continuous feedback and learning are seen as essential parts of development or maturity growth for the workforce. To me that is courage in action, always trying to make a difference in small steps to make an incremental change overall. Let us be courageous to do the right thing for the good of the many.
Hjh Zainab is a HR Professional & Mentor. She was active in the Oil & Gas Industry for the past 30+ years. She has significant business experiences gained in a multi cultural environment in Brunei (BSP, Brunei LNG), Oman, Qatar, and Europe in the areas of HR & Learning and Development. She is passionate about people development and upholds the mantra ‘don’t let others tell you what you can’t do, and show them what you can do.