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  • Writer's pictureMargo & Jelyse Dawson

Bob & Weave: Surviving Difficult Conversations

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

Have you ever taken a punch to the gut in a work-related situation? What began as a civil conversation transitions into a boxing ring match headlining YOU VS THEM. Their voices are filled with tones of skepticism and criticism while you listen in disbelief.

Jelyse:  New hires, seasoned employees, and those in leadership positions experience this.  I remember as a new hire being verbally reprimanded for not arriving at a scheduled meeting on time.  The managers neglected to add the conference room number in the memo. Sometimes you are verbally disrespected because of favor you may have earned among other employees.  Regardless, verbal show-downs shouldn’t exist.

Margo:  I remember that incident when you called so upset. I remember asking key questions to learn if you did your part to follow through.  Later, I saw a pattern where you and many of your peers were being scrutinized. After years of teaching business owners, law enforcement, and educators how to diffuse conflict, I knew there had to be a way to harness civility in this new workplace submerged in technology.  If you have to “bob and weave” a strategy a boxer uses to make fast physical moves up and down and front to side to dodge a punch, you better be ready.

Jelyse:  Those basic moves were for me to first document everything not assuming that what was said in a verbal conversation would suffice. Second, clarify every request or virtual meeting to ensure accuracy. I began learning how most of the workers were stressed to the max doing the jobs of multiple people. Serving as a wellness instructor throughout my work life helps me to employ additional strategies of survival.  

1. When you feel threatened, stress hormones release to the body. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, and breath quickens. Instead of giving into fight or flight (and your co-worker), neutralize the situation. Stop the conversation and say 'let's take a second to breathe and collect our thoughts.' Take 3 deep breaths and speak your truth. If it remains toxic, end it and document everything via email.

2. Sometimes, it's not about you. When people lack kindness and truthfulness (Yamas of Yoga) it shows in their interactions. Likewise, if they don't spend time in self-reflection (Niyamas of Yoga) their behavior prevents them from being their best self. Take a moment to think about how YOU show up everyday.

If you do have to put on your armor to handle challenging conversations, make sure its full of truth, righteousness, peace, and faith (Ephesians 6:11-18).

Breathing Techniques

Benefits: Lowers heart rate/blood pressure, improves core muscle stability, calms the mind

Movement Techniques

Benefits of Plank: eases back pain, strengthens core, improves posture

Benefits of Downward Facing Dog: calms the brain, energizes the body, helps prevent osteoporosis

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