Welcome to HEN - encouraging compassion -
for self (Health), our Environment, and each other (Negotiation).
HEN is published each month by Menard Coaching, Mediating & Training:
Helping Leaders Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time!
HEN arrives at the full moon - when our darkness is most light.
Full Moon: February 7, 2012 - Year 10, Issue 2
Table of Contents:
1. HEALTH: The Art of Goodbye
Well, it's year 10 and it's time for a new look! Today we say goodbye to the old look of HEN and hello to the new! And, I'd like to share these stories about goodbyes in honour of the change. In the future, my newsletters will come from firstname.lastname@example.org, so please add my email to your address book to ensure that you continue receiving my newsletters.
A precious friend of mine died recently – she would have been 95 this year. Sophia Barber was full of life – I’d first met her when she was in her 60’s. We were in the same University course – though there was 40 years between us. The course was to study Russian – in Russia – so we both headed off to Leningrad together where we hung out for almost a month! She remained engaged and joyous to the end.
Saying goodbye to Sophia coincided with a workshop I was at recently where the facilitator asked us to think about the various goodbyes we’ve had to say in our lives. My own thinking about goodbye started to expand as people said things like:
goodbye to good health
goodbye to a loved one
goodbye to a job
goodbye to youth
This morning, I started to realize how common goodbyes really are. Then, I was overcome with a tender, small moment of a goodbye I hadn’t really recognized as so until I thought more of goodbyes:
My father had been in ill health for about two years at the time. He’d been suffering from cancer and, although he and my Mom were estranged, she invited him back “home” to live in the last year or so of his life.
This was their last goodbye, in a way. She was standing behind him in the bathroom mirror - he was combing his hair back (always important to him – Elvis Presley style). She was much smaller than he as she stood there adjusting the back of his shirt collar - in a way I’d seen her do time and again over the years..
That was the last time he stood upright in “day clothes.” He was getting ready to go back to hospital and maybe they both knew it was their last real goodbye. He never did come back and died in the hospital about a month later.
I wasn’t actually there for that particular little moment between them but know it well as my mother retold the story again and again in the 12 years since he’s died.
Come to think of it though, she actually doesn’t tell that story anymore. Her memory isn’t what it was used to – she’s mostly in the present these days. Another goodbye I suppose.
There are so many goodbyes in our lives and noticing them, I believe, makes us more open-hearted. More willing perhaps to hold the pain of those moments without breaking or shutting down. Just holding the moment of goodbye. For ourselves. And with others. Especially with others.
I don’t think many of us like to say goodbye. There is an inherent pain built into the act - whether it’s a smaller goodbye (saying goodbye to a friend you won’t see for a little while) or a bigger one (saying goodbye to another decade of life).
Maybe we tend to avoid goodbyes in our lives – the little ones especially – because we’ve built up a string of sad goodbyes and so saying one can bring them all on if we haven’t felt them before. Each one can be a sweet savour.
There is the exquisiteness in goodbye. It promises the possibility of feeling again. Feeling is good! There is much opportunity in our goodbyes.
What goodbyes are in your life lately and could recognizing them bring you
"Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending." ...Lazurus Long (Robert Hellein)
2. ENVIRONMENT: If the Land Could Speak
There is a moment in the new movie The Descendants where we see a beautiful nature scene looking over wilderness and onto the ocean. It’s quite breathtaking and, maybe because that piece of land is under threat in the movie, almost sentient.
What do I mean? Well, as I looked over the vista as the camera lens did, I felt like I was seeing from the vantage point of trees further up on the property. No other humans were in the scene – it was still and quiet. I could have been just one of the trees hanging around that day!
I felt my heart engage and move into the scene. It was like a heart connection – and from that place, it occurred to me:
What if that land could speak? What would it say?
It seemed to me, in that scene (the second time we see that scene) – the land wanted to speak.
As I pondered that thought over the next few days, a news story caught my attention. An American company (Brewster Travel) wants to build a 400-metre skywalk and glass-floored observation deck suspended from a cliff face in Jasper National Park - at the Tangle Ridge Viewpoint at the Columbia Icefields. Brewster would charge tourists to use the walkway.
Having been to Jasper many times, I have an immediate heart connection to that place.
Our National Parks Act outlaws private ownership of land in the park and businesses have operated in the park since its inception, so technically this project could go through. It is a departure from the usual and again brings up the question for me:
Who talks for the land?
Then again this afternoon – a beautiful sunny (though brisk) day in Victoria and I was walking along the Ocean Gorge that runs along the land near my house. There was a clearing in the trees, and the sun truly did dapple the ocean waves – like little lights dancing. I looked out at the ocean, the trees, the sky and sun. This combination has been here for a long, long time. Longer certainly than the houses and pavement, roads and cars now part of it. And again I heard the question:
Who talks for the land?
This quote from Barry Lopez, a prodigious writer, traveler, photographer and philosopher, captures much of what the land might say:
"For a relationship with landscape to be lasting, it must be reciprocal. At the level at which the land supplies our food, this is not difficult to comprehend, and the mutuality is often recalled in a grace at meals. At the level at which landscape seems beautiful or frightening to us and leaves us affected, or at the level at which it furnishes us with the metaphors and symbols with which we pry into mystery, the nature of reciprocity is harder to define. In approaching the land with an attitude of obligation, willing to observe courtesies difficult to articulate - perhaps only a gesture of the hands - one establishes a regard from which dignity can emerge. From that dignified relationship with the land, it is possible to image an extension of dignified relationships throughout one's life. Each relationship is formed of the same integrity, which initially makes the mind say: the things in the land fit together perfectly, even though they are always changing. I with the order of my life to be arranged in the same way I find the light, the slight movement of the wind, the voice of a bird, the heading of a seed pod I see before me. This impeccable and indisputable integrity I want in myself." … Barry Lopez
If this quote speaks to you at all, check out the last interview Bill Moyers did. It was in 2010 and he chose Barry Lopez as the last person to interview: Bill Moyers Journal
3. NEGOTIATION: The Heart Field
Last week, I was coaching at the Justice Institute’s Centre for Conflict Resolution when I had my “best coaching day ever.”
That says a lot since I”ve been coaching since 1995.
What made it so great?
Firstly, the 4 people I got to hang out with for the day were part of the formula – they were open and ready to jump in with both feet to explore some tough conversations.
Yet many of the people I meet through these courses are special in some way. What else might have been going on that day?
My sense is that the 5 of us collectively discovered some key “truths” about shifting conversations from tough to great that day. With their open orientation, and my sense that we can go with what emerges, we explored new territory together.
Here are three key truths I caught glimpses of that day, as each of the 4 learners took their turn role playing their own tough conversations, one after the other, throughout the day:
1) Meet Any Resistance or “Flack” with a Pause to Get Curious
If you hit resistance, anger, or defensiveness with anyone – try pausing to get curious about what’s going on for the other person.
When one of the role players got stuck (repeating themselves and/or the other person repeating themselves – and/or increasing anger on either party’s part) – we’d stop the role play and check in.
How was this working for them? Not well. Familiar territory – things seemingly getting worse and worse or stalemating until one person walks away.
Okay. So we got to stop and ask:
“What is that other person trying to say to you – underneath the anger, or blaming words?”
I invited them to get curious about where the resistance was coming from. It was tough at first to really listen. There were half-hearted attempts that didn’t seem to work. The other was still stuck and hard-hearted.
So we added another step to this first one of pausing to get curious:
2) Connect with Your Own Heart
As the first role player was having trouble really getting curious and hearing what the other person was really trying to say, I suggested she put both feet on the floor (tap, tap, tap), and one hand on her heart, the other on her belly. To feel and connect with her own body and especially her own heart.
Try it right now just to see what it feels like:
One hand on your heart. The other on your belly. Both feet on the floor and tap a few times. Just hold it for a few seconds. Feel the gesture imprint on you.
Our feelings come from our limbic brain – that part of the brain that “resonates” with others. We are mammals first, and mammals need to connect emotionally.
And, our feelings are found in our bodies. So, it makes sense that connecting with our bodies would help us find our listening heart.
Guess what? Each and every person that got stuck trying to get curious, was able to do it – NO PROBLEM – after doing this little motion. It worked every time!
3) Mirror the Other 3 Times
The real magic happened however when the role player was able to stick with this heart-felt listening to the other person - for three times.
That is: listen (by “mirroring”) once to what the other person says. Then the other person gets a chance to go a bit deeper. Listen a second time to this new information and repeat that back. They go deeper yet. And listen for a third time to what they are saying and mirror that. They will share something else that is new – possibly for both of you!
Three seemed to be the magic number in all of the role plays. It got to the point where we all seemed to know I was going to say “Listen now.” Then “And again.” Then “One more time.”
The first time I said it, you could hear a pin drop. I stage whispered it to the role player – not sure myself what was going to happen. It just seemed right.
Would the role player snap at me? Would the role player call it quits? Was this not specific enough direction (we have different “types” of listening we teach at the Centre. I wasn’t suggesting an “empathic statement” or a “paraphrase”, etc. I just suggested pausing and connecting with their hearts).
What was going to happen?
The first role player picked up on it right away (when she was coached to connect with her body and heart first that is – she couldn’t do it before that!).
When she delivered the heart-felt “mirroring”- the “angry” person softened immediately. After the three mirrored responses, the person playing the angry person actually came up with a new solution to join forces and tackle the problem together. That was spontaneous and “heart-felt” on the other person’s part as well – and there was NO WAY she was going there in the previous role play (without the mirroring).
The second time the magic happened was in the very next role play. “Okay,” says Julia, “Listen to what she’s trying to say.” “One more time”…. “Ok again - see what happens!”.
This time, the learner playing the angry person got all red in the face and then burst into tears! She was so moved by the heart connection she was feeling, that the hard wall she had erected burst – and all the tears came flooding out.
Magic of course, because each time there was a heart-oriented emotional connection between the role players, the original problem was easily and creatively solved.
There was an overall thing, I believe, happening in that room which was palpable but difficult to put into words:
There was a “slowing down” of the tempo for all of us in the room. We were united in what we were “feeling” – our hearts were coherent. The closest we could akin it to was “waves” – like sound waves.
I realized at the end of the day, that slowing the conversation down – by connecting with our bodies and by mirroring the other three times - was a way to slow things down. And, when we slow down, the electromagnetic waves we send out have a better chance of landing more gently and deeply on the shores of the other. And vice versa.
For those of you who might think this is a bit vague, I invite you to explore the idea of “heart resonance” or the research the HeartMath Institute has done or the emerging field of neurocardiology.
The heart, researchers are discovering, has its own brain and is the most powerful generator of electromagnetic energy waves in the human body. The heart produces the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body's organs. The heart's electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain in our skulls.
As relevant to what happened in our room that day, the cardiac field can be measured several feet away from the body by sensitive devices. And, most interesting, when two people are at a conversational distance, the electromagnetic signal generated by one person's heart can influence the other person's brain rhythms. When an individual is generating a coherent heart rhythm, synchronization between that individual's brainwaves and another person's heartbeat is more likely to occur.
A compassionate heart can actually bring peace to the room. The key to developing this power is to learn how to create a coherent heart rate.
It starts with pausing and connecting physically with our hearts!
"We are one big family of people, trying to make our way through the unfolding puzzle of life. We are all connected to one another in the heart. Connecting with the ultimate source of love is possible through discovering the hidden power in your heart." ...Sara Paddison
4. SERVICES: Making Tough Conversations Great!
1) WORKSHOP: Making Tough Conversations Great!
Victoria, B.C. - my home office space
Friday, February 24, 2012
9:30 - noon
Cost for the Workshop: $95/person (+HST)
This workshop offers a practical model to follow for how to start and sustain a collaborative conversation. Incorporates interpersonal communication concepts from Interest-based Negotiation, Non-Violent Communication, and Clear Leadership. The workshop is limited to 6 participants, so if this is of interest, please register asap!
2) FOLLOW UP / PRACTICE / SUPPORT: Making Tough Conversations Great!
Victoria, B.C. - my home office space
Friday, March 2 and March 9, 2012
9:30 - noon
Cost for the 2 part Follow Up: $150/person (+HST)
NB: Attendance at the WORKSHOP (or a Justice Institute Course, or Clear Leadership or NVC training) is a pre-requisite to attending the Follow Up.
Join me for two Fridays in March dedicated to improve your relationships at work.
Like any skill, communicating with both empathy and assertion takes practice. And if you are in an environment that doesn't use many of these skills, all the more reason to pay attention to keeping yours sharp.
This Practice Group provides a structure to survey your present work relationships and give some attention to the areas that need it – whether it’s with your boss, a colleague, or your direct reports.
Bring your challenging situations and let's make breakthroughs together in a supportive community!
This 2 part Follow Up gives you a chance to practice the model in more depth:
Getting Out of Your Own Way
Separating Fact from Fiction
Linking Feelings to Needs
"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching." ...Mohandas Gandhi
The Follow Up group is also limited to 6 people. To register just hit reply and let me know - asap.
3) E-COURSE: Making Tough Conversations Great!
A unique self-guided coaching program designed to bring you more peace, less stress, and more ideas on how to engage tough conversations!
COST: $95 (+HST)
Like the face-to-face workshops, the topics in this e-course over the 10 weeks include topics such as:
Focusing on your Best Intentions for your Tough Conversation
Leading with Observations (Separating Fact from Fiction)
Linking feelings to Needs
Converting resistance (Winning Yourself a Hearing!)
Defering solutions to the end
Each week, you will receive a new lesson via email. Each lesson is short and to the point - with reflective questions and meaningful actions each week.
There is also a private online coaching group, where you can ask me questions, engage in discussions, share your struggles, and celebrate your successes!
To get going on this course, just email me and ask!
4) INDIVIDUALIZED TRAINING (TELE-COACHING) - TOUGH CONVERSATIONS
Some of my favourite clients are managers and other people-oriented leaders who value relationships highly and have figured out if they put attention into their
relationships, they will get big dividends out!
In fact, managers spend 25 percent to 40 percent of their time attempting to resolve conflict (Washington Business Journal) - yet most leaders receive minimal - or no - training on how to resolve conflicts collaboratively.
If you'd like to enrich some of your relationships at work - whether with peers, clients, or your own boss, consider coaching. I would love to support you in strengthening your key relationships at work.
If you would like to set up a time to talk about your needs in this area, just reply to this email with "Coaching" in the subject line.
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training
"It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense." ...Aldo Leopold