Welcome to HEN - Health, Environment, Negotiation
HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping Leaders Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time! juliamenard.com
HEN arrives at the full moon - a time to see clearly.
Full Moon: December 28, 2012 - Year 10, Issue 13
Table of Contents:
HEALTH - Saying Thank You
Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist, yoga teacher, and lecturer at Stanford University who studies mindfulness and neuroscience. Her twin sister, Jane McGonigal, is a game designer. Together they teamed up to create something they are calling the Thank you Game.
The intention of the Thank you Game is to help increase the practice of gratitude in a playful way (as a game!). Kelly’s research highlighted that the health benefits of gratitude increase exponentially when we express our gratitude and not just feel it.
Presumably, one would want to express gratitude for its own sake - not just because you can reduce stress, get a better sleep, and boost your immune function. Strengthening the habit of gratitude also opens our heart and nurtures more compassion. But the fringe benefits help!
Kelly and Jane put together a simple three-step process to help people express their gratitude with more authenticity, connection, and impact.
I’ve tried out their formula a few times this month. Although it’s felt a bit awkward at times, I believe that’s because it’s a new skill I’m practicing. What I didn’t expect was the flood of good feelings I had expressing my gratitude!
This simple recipe has given me a way to express what I already believed and felt, but didn’t know how to express. I hope it can be such a gift for you. It’s the holiday season – maybe you’ll have many opportunities even today to try it out!
Here it is:
Find the Benefit
- What good came to you as a result of the person you are thanking (how did that help you)?
Acknowledge the Effort
- What might have been hard for the person you are thanking?
Spot the Strength
- What good did you see in the person you were thanking?
Make this practice your own – a daily ritual!
"If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher."
… Pema Chodriin
ENVIRONMENT - Treating People Like Vegetables!
I came across this quote from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nat Hahn. It made me think of a client who’s been engaging in some tough conversations at work with a direct report. It occurred to me, as I read this quote, what if my client, me – all of us - thought of those challenging people in our lives as vegetables? Would that help us feel and act with more compassion? See what you think - read on!
"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."
… Thich Nhat Hanh
NEGOTIATION - The Slow Talk Movement
Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg are co-authors of a new book Words Can Change Your Brain. They both bring a lot of research and background into the fields of neuroscience, mindfulness, and interpersonal communication.
One tip they discovered that I’m curious to experiment with in mediations or in any tough conversation is the idea of speaking … very … slooooowly.
Slow speech rates, according to the authors, will increase the ability for the listener to comprehend what you are saying, and this is true for both young and older adults. A slow voice also has a calming effect on a person who is feeling anxious, whereas a loud, fast voice stimulates fear, excitement, or even anger.
And, we tend to be tense when we start into a tough conversation – so it seems, it’s a perfect set-up to increase the tensions. In fact, any form of stress is said to convey a message of distrust. One person’s stress tells the observing person’s brain that there may be something wrong, and that stimulates defensive posturing in the listener.
Even a one-minute relaxation exercise will increase activity in those parts of the brain that control language, communication, social awareness, mood-regulation, and decision-making – however – so that’s also another reason to speak more slowly. It will bring more calm to you and the other.
So the next time you need to start up a tough conversation, remember to take a deep breath and take it slowly. The authors recommend no more than 30 seconds at a time (before pausing and checking in with the other) maximum. They tell one story of a simulated tough conversation where the tensions ran high until they had each party talk for no more than 10 seconds at a time (taking turns). Immediate impact.
The slow talk movement is born!
“The time has come to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly.”
… Carl Honoré
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training