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! juliamenard.com
HEN arrives at the full moon -
because light transforms darkness.
Full Moon: September 27, 2015 - Year 13, Issue 10
Table of Contents:
1. Early Bird Registration for Your Tough Conversations!
If you have been enjoying reading about Tough Conversations and knowing how to apply the concepts, you have the opportunity to dive deeper into the topic as I will be launching my new webinar course on How to Have Tough Conversations for Leaders on Tuesday October 27 from 11am to noon PST.
The classes will be recorded for you, so if you can’t make the time, you can still attend and benefit!
This 6-week series will be over the phone or internet (a webinar) live. You will receive updated course material resources, office hours with me, and weekly attention to your questions as we go along. There will be worksheets to make it more applicable, practice or reflection between sessions, and an opportunity to connect with learning partners from the class. You will also have a dedicated Facebook group, to post questions or messages throughout your time in the course.
If you have any questions, I want to hear them – please let me know. Meantime, mark your calendars for Tuesday October 27 – 11 to noon PST. And watch for the early-bird registration information – it will open on September 29.
The early-bird price will be $397 from Tuesday September 29 till Tuesday October 6, and $497 after that date. That’s just $66 a class, plus resources and a weekly Q+A session included!
2. HEALTH - Repair for Healing and Strengthening
As some of you know, Judy Zehr and I have been working on an e-book together which we are calling “Hold Onto Yourself Through Difficult Conversations.” Each month, I have been including one excerpt per chapter – moving sequentially through the book. This month’s excerpt is from Chapter 9. We love hearing your feedback!
“The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts, but on how we respond to them.”
… Thomas Crum
We all are going to get triggered into stress in conversations, and the more engaged, active and vibrant our lives, chances are the more potential we have to get triggered.
We also will fall into the full-blown stress response at times when we are tired or hungry or already slightly stressed, when the stakes are high and our “schemas” (core survival beliefs) make us vulnerable, or when we are caught off guard. This is a fact of life, a part of the human condition, a reasonable expectation.
So one of the important things to learn and practice, in addition to having a tool belt to use during tough conversations, is how to repair relationship hurts, that is, how to strengthen and heal important connections following stressful, triggering events.
This chapter will present tools and techniques you can practice to help you repair important relationships after difficult, wounding conversations.
After a Melt Down
When a melt down happens, and you’ve fallen into full-blown stress, chances are elements of the conversation broke down and hurt, angry or upset feelings were triggered, both in you and the other person.
Studies suggest that it is not the stressful conversation itself that matters most. You will go into low brain states in all relationships and difficult, stressed-out conversations can and do happen. What’s most important, especially in your long-term, interdependent relationships, is the repair work following the upset. The repair work strengthens the relationship ties and supports restoring the relationship for the future.
So after a melt-down, if it’s reasonable to expect that repair can happen and it will be good for the relationship and the situation, it is wise and powerful to approach the other with the intention of healing and repair.
Ask yourself about Risks and Benefits
Once you feel more calm, here are some questions to consider in deciding whether you want to go forward and make a repair plan:
If the answers to any of these questions are YES, then it is most likely worth it to gather up your inner resources and approach the person.
- Is it important to you to repair?
- Does this relationship matter and does the subject area matter?
- Given this person, given the situation, is it reasonable to expect that something good can come out of repair?
Here’s one more question to ask:
The Key to Growth Lies in Repairing and Restoring
- What are the risks of having this repair conversation? What are the benefits? We tend to put a lot of effort into thinking about all the risks in bringing up a topic, but not much thought into what the benefits might be. Make time to list those benefits to offset the risks, which are often greater in our minds than in reality. What are the realistic benefits of risking this conversation?
Holding on to yourself means strengthening that ability to come back and clean up past upsets. It means trusting yourself and the other person enough, valuing yourself and the other person enough, to do the difficult job of repair.
We say difficult, because sometimes it feels risky to return to a conversation admitting one’s mistakes, taking responsibility for one’s own stress response, for owning up to not being perfect or right all the time. It takes courage to forgive, to admit weaknesses and mistakes, to open your heart and mind and listen again.
But this is what our emotional and spiritual growth is all about, as well as the healthy development of our families, communities and organizations. This is what the evolution of our species and effective problem-solving require.
3. ENVIRONMENT - Improving Resilience to Extreme Events
On a train recently between Toronto and Montreal, I met a new friend. Cathy Rust is a climate change consultant, who’s been in the business for decades. I felt truly lucky to have the opportunity to talk with someone who’s studied this issue for so long.
One key take-away from our conversation was the importance of adaption. The climate is changing so what can we do to adapt?
In a quick look at this rich website on climate change the key phrase that jumped out at me was: “improve resilience to extreme events.”
As I think about the extreme weather we’ve all been subject to the last few years, I take some comfort in the thought that we need to respond. Responding gives us some sense of agency.
What is one small action you can do to respond to climate change?
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
… United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
4. NEGOTIATION - Collaborate Don't Debate - Syrian and Canadian Elections
For those of you not plugged-in to the news, there has been a recent mass exodus of refugees from Syria because of conflict and war.
As a Canadian, I am watching the multiple perspectives in my country conflict over the best strategy to address this global community problem.
From those in Canada who would characteristically be called the “left” (or “middle”) the calls are for bringing more refugees to Canada. As someone who worked in a refugee agency for several years, I understand this response from the ground up. People impacted by war directly or indirectly understand this response. As the child of a government-sponsored refugee (my mother fled her country, community, family and way of life, never to return, because of war), I grew up with the impact.
From those who would characteristically be called the “right” - the discourse is very different. After watching our Canadian Prime Minister respond to the crisis in a short speech to some supporters, I understood his perspective, reflected by some in Canada. I wouldn’t say I agree with it, but I think I understand it: Yes, we need to respond to the Syrian crisis. And, yes, we need to respond in a humanitarian way. Our strategy, the right would say, is more focused on sending more military arms to fight the cause of the war.
This second response is the response some nations took to the Second World War. If Canada and other countries didn’t respond by sending military aid, the outcome would be different today.
Am I a proponent of war? No.
What I am advocating is understanding as a starting point to influence. In my profession, there is a saying: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Understanding leads to more complexity of thinking and, ultimately, to wiser decisions.
My personal first response to the Syrian crisis would be to open our doors wide and bring more people in. This is the finest of who we are as human beings and as Canadians. We help each other in need and in pain. I would not be a Canadian if Canada had not taken my own mother in as a government refugee.
And yet, we are not united in our country and we need the thinking from the “right” and the “left” to govern and make decisions in complex ways.
Each side of this discussion wants to influence the other. Yet the attempts to influence are being done in ways that don’t work one to one. If I want to influence you, I’m not going to ridicule you, put your ideas (and you) down or dismiss your concerns as self-serving and ignorant.
Both sides of this emotional issue are doing just that. And even more so as our country gears up for a federal election on October 19.
What is needed is not vigorous debates putting each other’s perspectives down, but vigorous engagement about understanding each other’s ideas and building on them.
Where is that kind of discourse happening?
The recent televised political debates with some of the key federal leadership candidates were not leadership discourses to help each “side” understand the other. The debates seems to be public arenas to wield intellectual power over each other, as each leader fights for his or her group while painting others as the “out” groups.
What we know now about ourselves as a species is we identify with our own groups – we can easily start to see others as wrong and the “other” – as opposed to seeing us all as part of the same group (all one human family or one Canadian family). So in-groups starts the politics of division. Each side engages in it, we all do – we are human.
We are even divided on the left about whether we are divided on the left. Each election for the last decade, we’ve elected a government that is much more right of centre in its philosophical orientation than we have ever had in the history of this country. And I trace that back to this same dynamic: just like the “right” and “left” are debating not reaching for understanding, so too the left has been engaged in a conflict about what to do to bring about another style of government.
The challenge is to engage both our love and our power. This is the true definition of collaboration – a way forward that is both assertive and compassionate.
Collaborate - don’t debate!
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb inside of his skin and walk about in it.”
… Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training