Welcome to HEN - promoting compassion
for self (Health), nature (Environment), and each other (Negotiation).
HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping Leaders Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time!
HEN arrives at the full moon - because in the light.....there's no darkness.
Full Moon: September 29, 2012 - Year 10, Issue 10
Table of Contents:
HEALTH - Social Animals
Given my work helping people in the workplace get along better, it was with sadness that I read a recent study out of the University of Tel Aviv which followed 820 men and women in the workplace over a 20 year reporting period. What they found was that social support (and the lack thereof) actually had a traceable connection to mortality rates!
They focused on this definition of social support: “overall levels of helpful social interaction available on the job from coworkers.” Click here for a copy of the full study.
In some ways, this might be surprising – but in others, not so much. If you have ever had a conflict at work, you might have an idea of what I mean.
Now, I do meet a disproportionate number of people who are really unhappy in the workplace and wish it were different. However, we also live in an individualistic culture – where independence, achievement, and competition are valued. Those qualities can be in direct tension to asking for help, making mistakes and helping others succeed.
These values can also be dehumanizing. As David Brooks, the author of Social Animals, has observed:
“Emotions are not separate from reason but the foundation of reason because they tell us what to value. So reading and educating your emotions is one of the central activities of wisdom. It is the central organizing process of our life. We are social animals, not rational animals. We emerge out of relationships.”
In our professional lives, we often seem split off from our need for each other. And yet, social support is not only what we need to survive, but to thrive.
So, remember to express your appreciation for a co-worker or two every day!
And if there are one or two “pesky” people who you don’t trust at work – remember your life could depend on you facing and turning it around!
“Every conflict we face in life is rich with positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning, transformation, and growth – or rage, fear, shame, entrapment, and resistance. The choice is not up to our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them.”
… Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith
ENVIRONMENT - Bring the Environment to Work!
If you’ve never been to Victoria, British Columbia (off the West Coast of Canada) in September, please do put it on your bucket list! This whole month of September has been gloriously sunny, not too warm, and not too cool. Just right. This part of the world in sunshine is achingly beautiful.
There are days – like this morning – when I go for my walk along the Gorge ocean inlet that runs by my street and feel like I’m walking in pure joy!
Yet, it occurred to me this morning, why don’t our workplaces ever feel like that?
I got a little hint of some of what could be missing when talking with a fellow walking his dog. He said he used to bring his previous dog in to work with him every day and people would say “There goes Toby!” (the dog).
That reminded me of seeing a dog a few years back in the hallway of a school. It was the school guidance counsellor’s. It seemed out of place there – and yet also so right. She said there were so many people who’d come visit her dog – that she needed to leave the dog outside in the hall as it was just too many visits!
A friend and colleague of mine has had his guide dog present in some of his work. I’ve witnessed first hand the way people change when they have had the chance to coo and physically interact with Simon! Different parts of us!
Now not all of you may be dog lovers, but if you have connected with any kind of animal in the past – think of that feeling.
We truly are social animals – so why wouldn’t their joy and presence impact us?
Let’s start a “Bring a Pet to Work Daily” movement! I’ll bet it’ll be a big step forward in bringing our environment to work!
“I wonder whether there is such a thing as a sense of inidivudality. Is it all a facade, covering a deep need to belong? Are we simply pack animals desperately trying to pretend we are not?” ... Rabih Alameddine
NEGOTIATION - Labeling Emotions
I was running late to pick my daughter up from school the other day when I realized the gas tank was also low (perfect metaphor), so I needed to stop to refuel - internal pressure mounting.
When I got there, I told the gas attendant that I was feeling a bit stressed because of my predicament. I also said I’d try not to let it impact my sense of urgency in driving!
He said to me calmly: “Just remember to breathe. Take a few deep breaths!”
That small momentary exchange encapsulates 3 key parts to keeping cool that has become more clear to me as I work through the first of three tele-classes with my colleague, Judy Zehr. In our work, we have captured key ways to Stay Cool in Tough Conversations - and although I wasn’t in a tough conversation, I was stressing up.
Here are those 3 things that help us cool down:
“The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.” … Garth Brooks
* And if you want to take that tele-course with Judy and I – it's not too late! We’ve kept the registration going throughout the next few weeks as there are still 2 live sessions, and all of the classes are recorded and available to listen to at your leisure. Click here to register.
The fact that I was even able to notice that I was escalating from a calm to an agitated state is a skill – verifiable by MRI’s of people’s brains. When someone is taught to become more mindful, the brain actually changes! So, this self-awareness is not just something that happens, but comes as a by-product of practices like a daily mindfulness routine, meditation, yoga.
My own practice was there for me that day, helping me pause, step back, and notice what was going on for me.
If you are interested in an easy daily mindfulness routine, check out this article on my website: Daily Check In Practice, or take the tele-class with Judy and I – we break down a simple mindfulness tool so it can be integrated into practice.
David Rock, in his book Your Brain at Work, describes a 2005 study where 30 people were asked to look at pictures of emotional faces. The task was to either match the face to another face or to match the face to a word that correctly labeled the subject’s emotion.
FMRI scans showed that when the participants labeled the emotional faces using words, less activity occurred in the whole limbic system (including the amygdala) – and more activity occurred in a region of the brain linked to inhibition.
So, when I not only noticed that I was getting stressed, but I said so to the gas attendant – that was an example of labeling. The simple act of me naming what I was feeling makes all that cool stuff happen in our brains!
Taking a few deep breaths many times a day, and especially when we are losing connection with ourselves because of stress, is such a foundational practice. And here I was – someone who “should know better” – forgetting to breathe!
That exchange with the gas attendant also speaks to how vitally we are all connected as social animals. That little reminder was such a gift to get me back on the “road” again – a refueled, satisfied customer (sorry about the puns). I needed that other person – beyond me. We truly need each other!
So the next time you are starting to lose your way, see if you can notice it (yeah!), label it, and breathe!
Local WORKSHOPS in Victoria on Tough Conversations:
Available for organizations in Victoria, BC
Most people loathe conflict. I know - I used to be one of them!
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?
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!
I pride myself on creating a learning experience that is relaxed, safe, and relevant. Whether it's sharing self-management tips, discussing hot button issues or describing how to bring up a tough topic, there's no shortage of conversation topics.
Most importantly, 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.
Getting Out of Your Own Way
Separating Fact from Fiction
Linking Feelings to Needs
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 email me with "Coaching" in the subject line.
“Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven." … Tyron Edwards