A Critical Conversation
In the past months, a number of Autobiographies from some of footballs leading personalities hit the bookshelves, often followed by a degree of sensationalism in the tabloid press. Think Ferguson’s comments on Beckham and Keane or Redknapp’s views on the England job.
One that grabbed my attention was Northern Irish footballer Keith Gillespie’s aptly titled “How Not to be a Football Millionaire”.
Keith came through the ranks at Manchester United in the golden era of Beckham, Giggs and Scholes, making his debut in 1993 aged 17. Many predicted great things, Keith was put out on loan and eventually transferred to Newcastle United in 1995.
A memorable career followed. 86 International Caps and 300 first team performances in England’s top flight but Keith never fulfilled his early promise. During his most successful playing spell with Newcastle things went off the rails in his personal life. The occasional bet for Keith quickly escalated to problematic levels.
Gambling is nothing new to football but the enormity of Keith’s gambling problems are staggering. He estimates losing over 7 million pounds during his playing career. On 1st October 2010 Keith was declared bankrupt.
Keith writes about his feelings of isolation and the disappointment expressed by, then manager, Kevin Keegan when his problems became public. Keegan felt let down and asked why he hadn’t sought support sooner or trusted a colleague to confided in?
In an environment where the word “team” is lauded regularly, Keith felt unable to have a conversation, A Critical Conversation with a colleague. A conversation that may have resulted in earlier support and perhaps a different outcome.
The needs for Critical Conversations occur regularly in the workplace, the business world, the sporting world and in our personal lives. They happen when three aspects collide…
1. Emotions are high
2. The Stakes are high
3. Opinions differ
The above could represent any day in the boardroom, office, home or every time you step on to the field of play.
So how often do we have a Critical Conversation?
Our natural preference is to let issues or unresolved differences slide. We will avoid such issues until they reach a tipping point when they explode into a volatile confrontational situation, often triggered by an inconsequential event.
Colleagues, family or friends are left wondering, “ what just happened?”
Take some time to look around the workplace and honestly ask yourself - Is there someone I should be having a Critical Conversation with and do I have the confidence, ability and levels of trust to do so even if it's going to be uncomfortable?
If the answer is yes but no then the chances are many colleagues will feel the same in respect to you.
Just consider the longer term impact of this "avoidance behaviour" of unresolved issues on both individual and team performance?
Developing the skills confidence and ability to hold skilled positive and productive critical conversations, when they are required and at the earliest opportunity will improve communication, morale, harmony & trust, leading to improved teamwork and performance.
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