Health, Environment, Negotiation

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 - the apex of the beauty of darkness in light.   
Full Moon: April 6, 2012 - Year 10, Issue 4
Table of Contents:

1. HEALTH: Moving from No to Yes!

There’s an exercise I do in some of my workshops that I learned from author Daniel Siegel. Dr. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine‘s Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center.
The exercise is to have people close their eyes and listen while the speaker says “NO!” – seven times (with a few second pauses between each).  Listeners are invited to notice their body while the speaker is saying the No’s again and again. 
Then, after a few seconds pause, the speaker says “YES!” seven times - same pattern with small pauses between and noticing any changes inside.
It’s one of the quickest ways to experience the powerful difference between a “NO!” state and a “YES!” state.  People’s responses while hearing NO have ranged from “Clenched jaw.” “Tight Chest.”  “Rapid heart-rate and breathing.” To thoughts like: “I wanted to tell you to GET LOST!”
What people have noticed in their YES state are things like “relaxed,” “calm,” “open” and “receptive.”
Bottom line: in the “NO” state, we are closed and defended; our brain is not functioning well; and our body is cascading a flood of toxic hormones inside.  Continuing to talk in this state is not particularly productive! 
In the YES state, we are more clear thinking and healthier!
Siegel works with people in conflict to train them to notice when they are in a NO state (and take a breath) or a YES state. It’s easy to notice when they are not talking with each other, but hard for them to notice their state when they are in the conversation. 
But through practice, they eventually can start to notice the obvious differences and start to self-correct.  There are easy ways to move from NO to YES.
You can:

  • Take a deep, mindful breath. 
  • You can feel your feet on the ground – tap them a few times.
  • You can put one hand on your heart and one on your abdomen. Hold them there for a while. Try switching hands to see if you prefer one over the other. Most people do.
These are all practices I’ve also invited students to try out when role-playing tough conversations.  We stop and they try some of these out.  Instant switch!

The good news is noticing and moving ourselves from a NO to a YES state is not only a great way to dissolve tensions in the moment and feed our bodies, minds, and souls – but it also creates richer relationships.
And, bonding, according to another brain expert, Dr. Daniel Amen, is also critical to brain function.  Dr. Amen offers another tip for how to nurture relationships and therefore health in ourselves (and others through mirror neurons)… and that is:

“Notice what you like about people a lot more than what you don’t like."  …Daniel Amen
Easier said than done – but a practice that can bring many feel-good hormones!

It’s not that we have to ignore “bad” behaviour – but – if we can make it a practice to notice what we do like – and perhaps might even want to emulate in that other person - we also move ourselves from NO to YES!

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being."  …Goethe   

2. ENVIRONMENT: Municipal Food Policy Councils

I’ve been involved in my neighbourhood’s politics for a few years now – helping start a neighbourhood-based urban farming group and sitting on our local community association board. 
When it comes to food security, there is still a fairly big opportunity and need to bring together more diverse perspectives (all at once) at the City Council level to  put our collective wisdom to use for our collective food system.
So, it was with interest that I read about the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC). The TFPC was established in 1991 as a subcommittee of the Toronto Board of Health to advise the City of Toronto on food policy issues.  From my own experience, I’ve seen the influence “advice” can have when it’s integrated into the municipal government infrastructure – from working with a City’s Corporate Communications department to getting referrals from within their by-law department.  It makes a difference.
Having a Food Policy Council at the municipal level enables people from the political, food, farming and community sectors to put their heads together to develop policies and projects that support a health-focused food system. For example, over the past two decades the TFPC has made significant contributions to the Toronto Food Strategy, Toronto Environmental Plan, Toronto Food Charter, the Official Plan, the Toronto Food and Hunger Action Plan, and facilitated City engagement with the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee.  
The membership of a Food Policy Council is vital.  The TFPC has membership from the Board of Health, two members of City Council, three members of farm and rural communities close to the Greater Toronto Area, two Toronto Youth Food Policy Council members and up to 22 citizen members representing diverse food sectors. 
Members are appointed annually by the Board of Health and Toronto Public Health provides staff support for the TFPC.
That sounds like the kind of organization that would benefit every city!
As Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the TFPC says:
“As city populations without direct access to food face speculators controlling food staples from afar, expect some four billion pressure points on city planners and others to find nearby and loyal sources of food.”
Cities are both locations of need and places of agency, according to Roberts.
People living in cities are now almost totally dependent on food that’s brought to them from outside.

"It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." …Charles Darwin

3. NEGOTIATION: Tonglen Mediation

“When things are painful, when things are difficult, usually that in and of itself will remind me to do tonglen meditation.” …Pema Chodron
I had the privilege recently of presenting my workshop
Making Tough Conversations Great again.  Every time I get to give this workshop, I am taken with the aha’s people get when we slow conversations down enough to start to understand the underlying dynamics of tough conversations and how to make them great.
I also really love to learn from the participants in the workshops and gather up the wisdom they share as well.
This time, one of the gems came when we started exploring how we get in our own way in tough conversations.  I have come to believe, as Byron Katie says,
“In my experience, it takes only one person to have a successful relationship.”
That’s been my experience as well.  In fact, I often joke at the workshops that: 
“It only takes one to tango!”  Given one of my close conflict resolution colleagues is a tango dancer, I doubt he would agree. I must make a note to ask him!

In the workshop, people have an opportunity to share some things that have worked for them to help manage themselves in the face of tough conversations.  After we are done, groups share their gems. 
In one group, there was a person I recognized from a Buddhist workshop I’d attended years ago put on by Mingyur Rinpoche.  Mingyur is the most enlightened being I have ever met, so I already knew this workshop participant was a practicing Buddhist with deep roots.
He told how he often does a Tibetan practice called “Tonglen” when faced with a painful situation. 
I watched as others in the group were inspired by his description – with a similar reaction from the whole class.
He connected the dots between this ancient Tibetan practice and the tough conversation sufferings of today.  He said if he is facing someone he is in conflict with, he will also use Tonglen. 

So what is Tonglen?
Firstly, the word itself is Tibetan for 'giving and taking'. The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us. 
Pema Chodron, a Western Buddhist nun, describes the practice of Tonglen as follows:
“This is the core of the practice: breathing in another's pain so they can be well and have more space to relax and open, and breathing out, sending them relaxation or whatever you feel would bring them relief and happiness... It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality.”
This practice reminds me of Ho’oponopono (ancient Hawaiian conflict resolution technique – article on my website).  What I like about Tonglen is it’s even simpler than Ho’oponopono – which has a 4 sentence structure.
Tonglen only requires you to notice your breath.  Breathe in the suffering: yours, the others.  Then breathe out compassion: for you, for the other, for the world. 
Given we are often quite tight with anger towards the other person in tough conversations, this is also an excellent recipe to follow as part of one’s preparation – before you even start the conversation!  If my heart is full of hatred, the other person will pick up on it and become defensive.  Even if it’s not as strong as hatred, but only mildly disapproving, the other person will feel it.
How can we recognize the common humanity, fraility, and desire for something better – in all of us? 

“Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.” …Pema Chodron

4. SERVICES: Making Tough Conversations Great!

1) WORKSHOP:  Making Tough Conversations Great!
Available for organizations in Victoria, B.C. in 1/2 day or full day formats.
  • Does conflict make you break out in a sweat?
  • When it doesn’t go well, can you feel a tension so thick you can cut it with a knife?
Most people loathe conflict.  I know - I used to be one of them!

But, through years of practice, and study, and working in the field as a professional mediator, trainer and conflict coach – I’ve seen the power in conflict – both to damage and enhance relationship.
It’s all in how you approach it!

This workshop offers a practical model for how to start and sustain a
collaborative conversation. It incorporates interpersonal communication concepts
from Interest-based Negotiation, Non-Violent Communication, and
Clear Leadership.

Topics include:

  • Getting Out of Your Own Way
  • Separating Fact from Fiction
  • Linking Feelings to Needs
2) E-COURSE: Tough Conversations Makeover
10 week self-study course with Facebook Group Community
COST: $95 (+HST)

If you are not located in Victoria and would still like to learn more about making tough conversations great, check out this e-course which is delivered directly to your in-box every week for 10 weeks.
If you’ve got some knowledge of how to make a tough conversation great and are looking for a refresher, this course is for you as well!
Just like the face-to-face workshops, the topics in this e-course include:
  • 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!)
  • Deferring 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!
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 email me 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
"Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”    … Samuel Pepys 

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