Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation

HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time!

HEN arrives at the full moon - 
because light transforms darkness.   

Full Moon: January 23, 2016 - Year 14, Issue 1
Table of Contents:

1. HEALTH - Are You Feeling Lucky?

I recently had a micro-moment experience that was a big aha moment.
It was a few weeks ago and I was making my way to my first class of the semester. I’ve decided to return to school and am doing my Masters. The first day of class was probably making me feel a bit flustered but it seemed as if “nothing was going right.”
At first, I went into the bookstore before class to buy some paper I needed for class. But the line up was too long and it turned out that the bookstore didn’t even have the kind of paper I was looking for!
So, I wandered over to the Student Union Building. As I was walking there, I then almost lost my University Student Identification card! It had dropped out of my pocket as I had reached into it, and I only knew as someone ran up to me just after it fell out and handed it back to me.
As I walked a few more feet, I found a photocopy store with no line up and, it turned out, just the paper I needed. Of course, finding it lifted my mood a bit and enabled me to relook at the whole situation.
I realized – wait a minute - this is a lucky day! I didn’t lose my student card and I could have if that person hadn’t seen my card just as it dropped out of my pocket! I also got the paper I needed, with no line up and at a cheaper price!  
As I told this story to a friend, he remarked how life might just be unfolding in better ways than we can imagine from the limited place we see it from. 
That small experience really highlighted for me how much we create our perceptions and our perceptions create our reality. If I had continued to think I was having a “bad day” – that’s how my day would have ended, me convinced of that. However, I was able to somehow jump out of that story and see these events from another angle – and suddenly they changed. Like looking down the tube of a kaleidoscope – one moment it looked one way, the next it was completely different.
That’s what I wish for you. Whatever situations might be causing you stress or grief or conflict right now ... is it possible that with the gentle hand of your heart turning on that kaleidoscope, that you too might find the hidden beauty inside?
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  
… W.B. Yeats

2. ENVIRONMENT - What to Grow in Your Garden - Agroecology

I live on an island off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. This island has one of the most, if not the most, temperate climates in the country. So it was with surprise a friend of mine asked, while visiting from Ontario recently: “With such great weather, why aren’t you growing more food here?”
She was surprised to see strawberries in our grocery stores for $8 and cauliflower for $10. So am I. 
The multitude of global and local crises and collapses are catching up. Food prices are rising faster than most of those in the middle and lower economic brackets can keep up with. And given most of us are in one of those two income brackets, this is a wide-spread problem!

What is one to do?

There has been a “back to the land” movement for decades, but this revolution needs to look a lot more integrated and a lot more practical.
Cuba has had a lot of experience converting their urban spaces into urban farms. In 1989, Russia stopped wanting Cuba’s key exports of sugar, rum and cigars. This caused an economic collapse in Cuba but was the instigator for the creation of over 380,000 urban farms. These farms produce an estimated 1.5 million tons of vegetables each year — roughly 70 percent of what city residents consume.
Part of the success of this organic, urban food movement has been the support of the government offering seeds, supplies, and knowledge.
We need to talk with our neighbours more and to our politicians more and keep the dialogue going: 
  • Do you know what percentage of food your city grows? 
  • If you don’t know, who in your city knows?
  • What do you need to grow? 
  • What do your neighbourhoods need to grow?
  • What is most important to grow? 
  • Who can grow what? 
  • Who can trade?  

This blend of growing food, coupled with organic methods, is part of a sustainable-agriculture approach known as agroecology. Cuba’s agroecology revolution propelled the island from the lowest per capita food producer in Latin America and the Caribbean to its most prolific (says Miguel Altieri, UC Berkeley Professor of Agroecology).
It can be done through cooperation – neighbours, neighbourhood associations, cities, provinces and countries working cooperatively together to create an agroecology revolution.
Key principles in this revolution include:
  • start slow, and start small
  • limit the introduction of technologies
  • develop a “multiplier effect” of farmer knowledge

“I'd love to see a new form of social security ... everyone taught how to grow their own; fruit and nut trees planted along every street, parks planted out to edibles, every high rise with a roof garden, every school with at least one fruit tree for every kid enrolled.” 
… Jackie French, New Plants from Old 

3. NEGOTIATION - Hire People Who Argue With You

Linda Hill is a Business Professor at Harvard and has spent over a decade studying exceptional leaders of innovation. 
The key, she found, was that innovation is about collective genius, not solo genius. An atmosphere of innovation encourages each person to contribute their own “slice of genius”. Leaders need to unleash these talents and channel them in a direction that is useful.
Her research found that innovative organizations were intentional communities that had three capacities:
  1. Creative Abrasion
  2. Creative Agility
  3. Creative Resolution 

Creative Abrasion involves amplifying differences, not minimizing them. Creative Abrasion is about having constructive dialogues which involve both listening and advocating for one’s own point of view.
Creative Agility is about adjusting to what presents itself to you. It is “design thinking” - running a series of experiments to discover and learn what works vs pilots – which are stopped if they don’t work.
Creative Resolution is about approaching solutions as if they could be combined. The decision-making process is about “both/and” solutions vs “either/or” solutions.
Hill also saw such innovative organizations mastered the skills of:
  • Collaborative problem-solving
  • Discovery-driven learning
  • Integrated decision-making 

She sees innovation as the responsibility of leadership – in the sense of leaders creating a space where people are encouraged to disrupt, speak up, be heard, share their ideas and where credit is bestowed generously. 
Given most people see conflict on teams and in organizations as negative, seeing conflict instead as the fodder for creativity and innovation can reframe the whole game!
To watch Linda Hill’s TedTalk, click here.
“Hire people who argue with you.”  
… Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar


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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training



Are you avoiding any conversations you know you should have?

3 ways to take action now:


Coaches are trained to listen to your situation, help you get clear on the action required, and hold you accountable to get your plan moving! I offer 3 easy coaching packages.


I’ll be starting new training soon. It's not location specific, so join up here.


Making Tough Conversations Great comes in 10 easy to read modules where you learn the Tough Conversations systems with actionable, practical steps. Click here to find out more.

Or check out "Stay Cool Through Hot Conversations", another e-course co-created by Judy Zehr and myself.


Marla Sloan and Clare Sprowell have crafted a beautiful looking and elegantly working process to help people engage conflict kinaesthetically! This “Mediator in a Box" is a tool people can use to practice having those difficult conversations. It was originally designed to help two people resolve their own conflicts together and has been tested to do just that.

If you are curious about what they are offering, you can check out Mediator in a Box

I’d love to hear if you buy it and what you think!

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”  
… William Blake

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