The One Behavior Change Leaders Need To Make At Work, According To Brené Brown

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Man talking to employees

Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation, where you needed to have a tough conversation with a coworker, boss, or employee? You know this conversation would be beneficial and yet the mere thought of having this conversation makes you want to tuck tail and turn the other way.

Trust me when I say, you’re not alone! Many of us have experienced this moment at some point in our lives. Further, many of us shy away from addressing difficult situations, because we’re afraid of coming off as unkind. You've probably said something like, “No, it’s okay you did a great job,” more than once when you knew there was room for improvement.

The reality is that when we choose to not address those small mistakes, we set the stage for them to transform into bigger issues over time.

This is why it is essential to be clear and honest in our communication — and perhaps no one understands this better than research professor and story-teller Brené Brown.

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Brené Brown, who has studied vulnerability and shame for two decades, says it's unkind to not be clear in your communication.

In a TikTok taken from an interview with CBS This Morning, Gayle King asks Brown, “What is one behavior change that you think all leaders need?” Brown responds, “It’s going to be simple. Clear is kind, unclear is unkind.”

She goes on to say, “Stop avoiding the tough conversations because you think you’re being polite or kind to people. That’s not kind.”



In the comment section of this TikTok, many people praised Brown, calling the video an “eye opener.” Yet some brought up excellent points about situations in which this may be more difficult. One person wrote, “This is what I think, but when I tell people that they get mad. Even my children and husband.”

In her book, Dare To Lead, she addresses this question head-on. Brown says, "When someone is hurt or in pain, don't try to 'fix' them."

Often times in tough conversations, especially when we have hurt someone, our instant reaction is to try and make them feel better. Yet, according to Brown, having empathy isn’t always about fixing the situation. Rather, sometimes you have to choose to be with someone in their darkness.



Sometimes a situation does not call for a response, but rather a connection.

In such cases, Brown urges people to not “race to turn on the light so we feel better.”

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Another commentor brought up an additional excellent point: How can you implement this in situations where the power dynamic is reversed and there is "potential retaliation"? Brown indirectly addresses the issue of power on her website using Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr.'s definition of power, which he said is “the ability to achieve purpose and effect change.”

“We often think of it (power) as a negative, strong-arm experience,” Brown states, arguing that what makes power dangerous is how it is used.

Just because someone else is in a position of power, it does not mean that you are powerless.

Do not let fear dictate your actions. Allow yourself to stand tall in your opinions. We all have the ability to effect change if only we use our voices. Embrace the art of tough conversations and don’t be afraid to use your voice. By doing so, you can create a more open, empathetic, and empowered world for yourself and those around you!

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer specializing in self-help, relationships, career, and family topics. Reyes has a bachelor's in psychology.