I was given a lovely nature card for the holidays by a friend, entitled, Advice from a Glacier, created by Your True Nature company.
As my contribution to your peaceful and productive New Year, I’m passing along some glacial beauty, above, from Humantay Lake, Peru
(photographer: willian-justen-de-vasconcellos. On unsplash.com)…
and some glacial wisdom from my card:
I could just leave it at that, because each one is such great life wisdom, as is. But I just can’t resist tying it all into some of my favorite life changing Empathic Communication principles and skills.
Carve your own path.
Choose a new paradigm of speech, thought and relating. Yes it will feel foreign at first.
The Empathic Communication paradigm helps us drop away the disconnecting habits most of us have learned, passed down to us for thousands of years by our core institutions – governments, schools, religions, families, media, etc.
Like criticizing, blaming, threatening, demanding, and “deserve thinking”.
Instead try using the 4 R’s of Reconnection:
Respecting – others and self, knowing we all behave as we do in order to meet our common basic needs.
Responsibility taking – for our own actions, beliefs, feelings, assumptions, thoughts and needs!
Requesting – only wanting a “yes” if it is heart felt.
Remembering – that we are all interdependent and our well being is connected to everyone’s well being…even when you are really mad:)
This is especially important for advancing your EQ, or Emotional Intelligence. We spend most of our time racing at our “brain’s pace”. Yet to genuinely, emotionally tune into self and other, we must s-l-o-wwww down to, tick, tick, tick, “heart pace” and actually feel those feelings. Once you figure this one out it feels quite good. Natural. Right.
Channel your strengths.
Your strength comes from a clear mind and an open heart.
Clear Mind. Develop feeling and needs literacy – a path to clarity and understanding about why you and others do what you do all day long, and how to inspire new compassionate and resourceful choices to conflict areas.
Open Heart. Master the art of giving and receiving genuine empathy – a key ingredient to peace of mind, more love, meaningful presence with others, and deep, lasting human connections. There is no substitute for this kind of social wealth for your health and happiness.
Smooth the way for others.
Leadership and Culture Building. Yes, take the lead, with powerful Emotional Intelligence leadership skills, at work and at home. Create teams where people feel safe, cared about, and enjoy working and living together. With Empathic Communication training you’ve got The Map and know how to use it – a simple, reliable map through the otherwise complex and confusing terrain of human emotions and needs!
Keep moving forward.
You’ll find you really want to keep moving forward when you get all the positive feedback that comes from offering yourself and others genuine empathy, and when you are inspired to figure out how to get your core needs met every day and help others do the same.
Oh yes, oh yes! When you start to feel the heat, press that button: “Pause and Promise to Return”.
That’s the inevitable happy outcome of all of this:)
Peace and many blessings for the new year,
P.S. I’m offering convenient, fun and economical programs for acquiring everything these glaciers are trying to tell us about.
Family Communication Magic and Couple’s Communication Magic.
These are 8 week online video workshops with other like minded lovelies. You can set up a complimentary session with me here if you want more info – Breakthrough Conversation.
My heart has been working overtime and I want to share the harvest with you.
It started on Sunday when I sent a vulnerable, open-hearted email to my longtime community of friends, to honor and announce the ending of our 20 year tradition of monthly potlucks and council circles that began in our home in 1998.
I used my favorite coaching tool – Empathic Communication/ Nonviolent Communication – to organize and write my letter. So I did what I coach others to do (yay!) –
My letter “wrote itself” clearly, easily and in a very heartfelt way that inspired beautiful, caring heartfelt responses from my friends. I celebrate the ease and meaningful connections!
I may dive deeper into my social and spiritual lessons from that another time. Today I’d like to share my empty nest heartache.
On Tuesday I was taken by surprise by the depth of my sadness when my daughter Claire, 21, cleared out the last things in her room and moved out of our home. She had moved out before for a year when she was 18, and I thought I was done processing my grief back then. Plus I’ve known this was coming for a month and she only moved 20 minutes away! My mind just didn’t get it.
Nonetheless I was committed to following my heart, not my mind, in my grieving process. To feel my feelings, to not trying to ignore or distract myself from my sadness. I pulled back from work a bit to give it time to express. I noticed some things.
It’s About the Physical
The feelings hit hardest when the physical experience was upon me. I knew a month ago she was moving out, but didn’t cry at the news.
The biggest triggers were quite physical, like seeing her emptied bathroom shelf, or walking by her empty room – bringing me waves of sadness and many tears.
Like sitting down to my dinner, remembering the “last lunch” with her outside, earlier that day. How before we began, as is her practice, she looked skyward and opened her arms in a graceful gesture of gratitude and said a blessing. I love her commitment to her spiritual practices. They are so regular, true, generous and sweet. I love her so much. More waves of sadness and tears.
Hand. Flower. Basket. Death.
I first learned about the direct, intense connection of my heart to my physical experience when I attended my cousin’s public memorial in 2000. Coleen and her fiance were victims of the Alaskan Airlines flight 261 that crashed into the Pacific ocean near Port Hueneme, California, on their way back from a family vacation in Mexico.
My family and I attended the large public memorial held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, for all 88 people who lost their lives. As we entered we were each handed a long-stemmed flower.
We filed past a long altar with photos, prayers, flowers and family messages for all of the people on board. We heard poignant and courageous expressions of grief and loss from officials and from family members.
But, it wasn’t until we were all leaving the building, as my hand was releasing my white flower into the large basket that would be flown that day to the crash location and dropped into the ocean where my cousin died, that the dam broke and I burst into tears. Hand. Flower. Basket. Plane. Ocean. Coleen’s Death. All connected in a heartbreaking moment. It still brings tears to me as I write this 18 years later.
Unique Liveliness and a Vibrant Heart-led Lifestyle
Back to my heartache for Claire. Claire brings a unique liveliness, warmth and sense of fun to our home that simply can’t be replaced. Plus some really great meals and homemade raw vegan chocolate that are crazy good.
She models a vibrant heart-led lifestyle – daily. Although our political and economic structure don’t support this, she is not chasing credentials, money or status. Instead she is tuning in daily to her community building, healing and artistic talents and passions – visual, dance, musical, performance, poetry – and following her inner spiritual guidance to allow her life to unfold in alignment with her heart, soul, intuition and core values.
She shows me where and when she sees that I might not doing that, and how I might want to adjust.
One of my crying spells, shared with my patient and compassionate husband Crisman one evening, shined light on the fact that Claire is one of the few people I know that has made time on her calendar to get together to spend frequent quality time with people. She genuinely wants to be with me and it is not a hassle for her to make it happen. With her I feel seen and wanted in an unusually fulfilling, heart nourishing way.
She beautifully meets my core needs for love, fun, surprise, unique understanding, personal and spiritual growth, spaciousness, guidance, sweet and cheerful feminine companionship, and many more.
I got to speak all this to Claire in person this morning when she dropped by after her gym workout to share a quick breakfast.
It was not just heartwarming for her to hear. It was healing for the young, still tender part of her that has suffered from the unusual harmony and alignment I have always had with her older sister, that she often translated as “less mother love” for herself.
I’m not trying to paint Claire and our mother-daughter relationship as perfect, because we also have our struggles. But my heart was not focusing on our shadow areas this week. It was beating to the rhythm of our unique, precious, nourishing love and interconnectedness.
Common Empathy Mistake to Avoid.
During one of my crying episodes this week my well meaning housemate offered me consolation, which I appreciated because she had caring intention and I needed and wanted connection.
But in my moments of sadness she partly missed the mark for me because she made a common mistake. She jumped into reasons and solutions – like I deserve to feel sad, since I was losing my daughter, but that it will be even more fun now when we do see each other, and other attempts to comfort me.
That was a good affirmation for me of the importance of the empathy work I do and the subtleties that can make a huge difference.
She missed the empathy piece of acceptance and spaciousness, allowing my feelings – giving my sadness time and space to just be. Like many of us, she wanted to rush by that part.
She also missed a lot of “what was alive in me”, which she could have accessed by tuning into my possible unmet needs, or in this case my imagined unmet needs in the future, that were triggering my sadness. Needs like those that I found later for myself, as I mentioned above, that Claire meets for me – love, fun, surprise, spiritual growth, sweet and cheerful feminine companionship, etc.
When I’m sad it is just nice to know I am cared about and perhaps understood. The ultimate, more precise understanding is for someone to see the unmet core needs behind my tears.
My housemate jumped into solutions mode too early – something most of us do until we are trained out of it.
My reward for allowing myself all this emotional processing time in my busy busy week? Like clouds in the sky, the heavy sadness dissipated. Now I walk by her old room and I feel fine or don’t even notice. My heart has delivered its messages, I heard and felt them, and the sky is blue again.
Thank you for sharing my heart’s harvest!
Peace and many blessings,
P.S. If you or a friend are struggling in an important workplace or family relationship, and you want to shed common disconnecting habits, and bring in safe, soulful heart connection, to meet your core needs with way more ease and grace, please connect with me here for a complimentary Breakthrough Conversation.
I’m putting my toes in the dangerous fray around the Kavanaugh nomination and its intersection with the Me Too movement.
Eve Ensler published a letter in Time magazine last week, to white women who are supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Ensler is a Tony-winning playwright activist and author of The Vagina Monologues. She founded both V-Day, a global movement dedicated to ending violence against women, and the One Billion Rising campaign.
I am not going to get into the politics here, thankfully, but instead am sharing some of Ensler’s insights about how violence towards women “destroys our souls”, why it is important for women to break their silence, plus some pointers and “rewrites” from my relationship repair work that bring more safety and clarity to the conversation.
Ensler’s open letter was inspired by her grief when her own childhood sexual assault trauma was triggered by seeing women in an audience laugh at President Trump while he was mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman that accused Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
As an empathic communication coach I appreciate that Ensler committed to “Not lecture them. Not denigrate them. Just simply to speak to them directly and to try to explain my feelings.” As her coach I would have encouraged her to go two steps further and identify her unmet core needs – perhaps for truth? Shared reality? Support? Emotional healing? The needs that are causing her upset. I’d suggest that she make a request(s) of the women that would inspire them to help her meet these needs.
Vulnerable, right? To even think she can ask, let alone inspire “them, the other side” to help her meet her needs? So scary. Yet once she identifies her needs, articulates them, and formulates a positive request that would help get them met, she dramatically increases her chances of meeting them. Especially if she has made true empathic connection with her “opposition”.
At the end of her letter Ensler does in fact make a suggestion about what she’d like them to do, but it is more of a disconnecting demand than an inspiring request.
With my Empathic Communication lens I view Trump’s mockery as a strategy for meeting one or more of Trump’s core needs. Perhaps for discrediting Dr. Ford, which in turn is a strategy. How do I know? Because everything we do and say is to meet our core needs, though unfortunately we are usually unconscious about what needs we are trying to meet and why we have selected the strategy we are using. This is a life changing realization for my clients as they get conscious about their needs and strategies.
What were Trump’s core needs he was trying to meet by mocking Blasey Ford?
I can only guess. Perhaps power, and underlying that might be his need for personal security. It’s nice to think he might also have been experiencing a need for truth or shared reality. Empathic communication is about trying to connect to him in his world, with an open heart and an open mind – to “get” him, to understand his motivations, his feelings, the humanity behind the needs he is trying to meet.
Ensler points out the kind of thinking that disempowers women and gives permission for violence. Her mother, Chris Ensler, stayed silent or, worse yet, sided with Eve’s father, Arthur Ensler, about his sexual abuse and beating of Eve as a child.
“She sided with my father, just like these women sided with Donald Trump, and I understand why. She sided with him because he was the breadwinner. She sided with him because of her need to survive. She sided with him because the reality of what was happening in front of her was so terrible, it was easier not to see. She sided with him because she was brought up never to question a man. She was taught to serve men and make men happy. She was trained not to believe women.”
Had Eve’s mother Chris been trained in Empathic Communication she would have focused her attention on trying to meet her own needs alongside men’s and everyone else’s needs, such as needs for physical and emotional safety, self expression, trust, stability, respect etc. She would have learned to question men in order to better understand them and help them understand her world – how she is feeling about how her needs are being met or not being met.
If her questioning triggered anger blasts from Arthur, she would not be afraid or ashamed. Or at least she would know the pathway to shift out of those emotions when she regained composure and gave herself empathy. She would not be a deer in front of the anger headlights because she would know that his anger does not mean that she is a “bad or wrong” person, but instead means that he has core needs that are not being met yet.
She would remain emotionally stable inside as she considered best action, carefully considering, based on what her heart was telling her, how she might be inspired or not inspired to help him meet his needs, while keeping her and her daughter’s needs in sharp focus.
Need for Security and Comfort
“It was only much later, after my father died, that she was able to acknowledge the truth of my childhood and to ask for my forgiveness. It was only then, too late, that she was able to see how she had sacrificed her daughter for security and comfort. She used those words. I was her ‘sacrifice’.”
Here Eve sees some of the needs Chris was trying to meet with her behaviors – security and comfort. If Chris had Empathic Communication training she could have listened more deeply to her own heart, which was probably sending her strong signals of guilt, shame, fear, grief and anger – feelings signalling possible unmet needs for safety, respect, care, kindness, etc – for her and her daughter.
She would have realized that her strategy of silence or, worse yet, of supporting the perpetrator of violence was chosen in order to meet her own needs for security and comfort. She would have asked herself whether there might be better, far less damaging strategies for getting her needs met.
Tuned into her heart, she would have been able to tune into Eve’s heart. She would have seen that Eve’s core needs for safety, comfort, respect and peace were not being met.
She would have also inquired about what needs her husband Arthur was trying to meet by sexually assaulting and beating Eve. She would intuitively know that there had to be far better strategies for meeting these needs of his, whatever they were. From his perspective, something seemingly positive came out of his violence, or else he would not have done it. Was he trying to satisfy a need for power maybe, and underlying that a need for security? With tragic strategies of control and punishment – the inflicting of pain on his child?
Feelings – the Pain, Fear, Sorrow and Rage
Ensler provides a lot of insight in these passages. Many women are unaware they are in denial of their own violent pasts, and are paying a big price. We all are.
“Some people when they look at this video of women laughing at Dr. Ford, will see callousness. I see distancing. I see denial. I have worked on ending violence against women for 20 years. I have traveled this country many times. I have sat with women of all ages and political persuasions. I remember the first performances of my play The Vagina Monologues in Oklahoma City, when half the women in the audience came up to tell me they had been raped or battered. Most of them whispered it to me, and often I was the first and only person they had told. Until that moment, they had found a way to normalize it. Expect it. Accept it. Deny it.
I don’t believe you want to have to choose your sons and your husbands over your daughters. I don’t believe you want the pain that was inflicted on us inflicted on future generations.
I know the risk many of you take in coming out to say you believe a woman over a man. It means you might then have to recognize and believe your own experience. If one out of three women in the world have been raped or beaten, it must mean some of you have had this experience. To believe another woman means having to touch into the pain and fear and sorrow and rage of your own experience and that sometimes feels unbearable. I know because it took me years to come out of my own denial and to break with my perpetrator, my father. To speak the truth that risked upending the comfort of my very carefully constructed life. But I can tell you that living a lie is living half a life. It was only after telling my story that I knew happiness and freedom.
I know the risk others of you face who have witnessed those you love suffer the traumatic after-effects of violence and those who worry for both your sons and daughters that may someday face this violence
I write to you because we need you, the way I once needed my mother. We need you to stand with women who are breaking the silence in spite of their terror and shame. I believe inside the bodies of some of those women who laughed at that rally were other impulses and feelings they weren’t expressing.
Here is why I believe you should take this stand with me. Violence against women destroys our souls. It annihilates our sense of self. It numbs us. It separates us from our bodies. It is the tool used to keep us second-class citizens. And if we don’t address it, it can lead to depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating and suicide. It makes us believe we are not worthy of happiness.”
Stop Laughing and Start Fighting
“Stop the ascension of a man who is angry, aggressive, and vengeful and could very well be a sexual assaulter. Time is short. Call your senators. Stop laughing and start fighting.”
A possible Empathic Communication rewrite of this plea…
Please help to stop the ascension of a man who appears to be angry, aggressive, and vengeful, given that he said or did….., and could very well be a sexual assaulter, and therefore unable to provide safety, wisdom and respect as a Supreme Court Justice. Time is short. Please call your senators. Please stop laughing at people who are mocking others, and instead support victims of sexual assault by speaking truth and protesting violence.
I know my version is not as catchy, but I’m willing to sacrifice that for emotional safety and clarity. I’ve added “please” to convert her demands into requests. I’ve removed the static label that Kavanaugh “is” angry, aggressive and vengeful, and instead claim these as appearances or as my own judgements, providing my related observations.
By transforming our demands into requests, we honor people’s choice and autonomy. We want people to do things only from inspiration, and not from guilt, shame or “have to” thinking, because that is too expensive psychologically and emotionally, for everyone involved.
Since Dr. Ford testified, she is unable to return home because of multiple death threats to her and her family. Death threats are also tragic strategies, attempts to meet core needs. I know that we human beings are capable of far safer, kinder, smarter strategies.
I long to fill our media airwaves with slowed down, respectful, creative needs-based conversations, scrubbed clean from diagnosing, criticizing, “guilting”, demanding, threatening and focusing on who is right or wrong and what they deserve. These “clean room” conversations will bring us our best strategies for moving forward with getting our needs met!
Step by step to peace,
P.S. If you are struggling in an important relationship and you need a “rewrite”, you can set up a complimentary session here to find out what that can sound like!
I re-learned an important lesson last week while on my morning jog. I was listening to Dave Stochowiak’s podcast, Coaching for Leaders – his interview with John Sanei, author of What’s Your Moonshot? https://coachingforleaders.com/podcast/366/
I shared the podcast with my family right away in hopes they’d be up for taking on the practice of coming from a place of “interiority” with people, vs. inferiority or superiority, which can slide into victim or perpetrator. We can all up our game by serving as mirrors and as compassionate “thought watch dogs” for each other. But it’s a moonshot, because changing our thinking is a huge feat.
I have done some inner work over the years on my “victim” identity, but this conversation with John Sanei has inspired me to do some more.
For those of you who put faith and practice in the new age concept of manifestation, through monitoring the positivity of your thoughts and intentions, you might find John’s insights helpful for this too.
John had great business success, then lost all he had earned in his late 20’s, early 30’s, and fell into a depression. His big aha was learning how his depression was a result of his victim mentality.
John shared examples of his own and others’ “arrogant inferior” victim responses. One example would be someone seeing a Ferrari drive by and whispering to themselves, “thief”.
Another example could be – someone got a promotion at work, and I judge that she slept her way to the top. These negative thoughts will then prevent or slow me down from ever having a Ferrari or getting promoted, because to do so would mean me becoming a thief or a prostitute.
John suggests re-programming the Ferrari example by transforming the “thief” thought to, “Well done! I’m looking forward to having a Ferrari soon too!.”
I was able to put this into practice moments after hearing it. My husband and I lost our house of 15 years to foreclosure in 2012. Ever since then, though I have enjoyed and learned a lot from my new rental and work exchange “living situations”, I have also been quite challenged by them and have truly missed having my own home – the convenience, autonomy, freedom, security, etc.
I realized in a clear moment that morning that at subtle levels I have had judgemental and resentful thoughts about the homeowners in our neighborhood.
The next neighbor I saw after hearing John’s Ferrari example was a man in his 50’s relaxing quietly on a bench in his front yard, slowly watering his lawn with the hose.
So when wisps of my old, quiet negative thoughts came up (they can be hard to catch!):
“what a lot of life energy it must take to maintain your home – feels kind of heavy” and
“why you, not me? Where’s mine?”
I re-programmed them into…
“Well done! I’m ease-fully creating my next beautiful home.”
Does this feel vulnerable? Yes! It’s so easy to then have negative thoughts about myself generating “foolish” positive thoughts! “Oh yeah, right. Keep wishing. That’s not how things happen…”
The funny thing is that my neighbor responded as if he had heard my “what a lot of life energy it must take to maintain your home – feels kind of heavy” thought. He looked up from his watering, laughed, and told me that he had just heard that “creatures who are lazy have an evolutionary advantage”.
I laughed, “Thank you – I love it!”
I wouldn’t feel complete and transparent without inserting a caveat here about the Ferrari and the American single family home.
As an environmentalist and as a “needs” specialist, needs literacy being the heart of my practice of Empathic Communication – I believe that we will all be more happy and peaceful by learning to reduce and simplify our material needs. As my stepmother and wise friend, BettyDear, used to request, “Live simply, so others may simply live.”
The evening before my jog I watched a documentary about rare mountain gorillas in Zaire that are dying off, due to rapidly losing their forest home to thousands of poverty stricken Rwandan war refugees who pillage and poach the forests for firewood and food.
I couldn’t help but see and feel the big resource incongruence between the tattered Rwandan refugee shelters I saw in the film, and my neighbors’ beautiful, large, siloed homes – the kind I long for:)
A belief system tied to our unsustainable housing habit was recently used against me. A neighbor complained to a third party about us having too many cars in front of our house. In other words, too many people are sharing one “house” resource. We have 5 cars in a household that includes 4 working adults and one retired adult, in a community with poor public transportation. I have empathy for my neighbor – I also prefer the look of a neighborhood with few cars.
I am processing his complaint through my newly strengthened “I am a victor” filter. I’m recommitting myself to another moonshot – the inquiry of how we can peacefully, sustainably, cooperatively, and respectfully help each other meet our core needs, so people and mountain gorillas can all be healthy and happy here!
Peace, positivity and prosperity,
P.S. If you are struggling in an important relationship and you think you need a moonshot to repair it, set up a complimentary session here to find out how you can! Breakthrough Conversation.
Recently, I was having lunch with a client at Renaud’s, a local French cafe with the best croissants in Santa Barbara. At the next table a young teen was holding her baby sister. Suddenly, the baby bumped a plate, which fell and shattered on the tile floor so loudly that everyone in the cafe looked. From the cashier line, the girls' mother looked back in horror, reacting in anger and embarrassment.
"Oh god!" she said in the direction of her teen daughter. In her words, I could hear implied judgment and the force of her own humiliation. Then, she looked towards the counter for help, upset about the unwanted attention and being at cause for the broken plate.
I glanced at the teen. She held her head down as far as it could go in obvious shame and embarrassment. The baby, meanwhile, was fine with all of this, smiling and happy--completely unaware of the turmoil it had caused.
Was there anything I could do to make this young girl a little happier? While the waiter was helping to relieve the mom’s tension, I wanted to bring relief to the teen. So I offered her eye contact. I said to her: “That must have felt so shocking for you when the plate fell and broke.”
“Yes it did,” she said, with a small relieved smile, returning my eye contact. In that instant, she took a breath and I could see her whole body relax.
Wow, that felt so nice to bring her a little ease, and it was so easy to do. Someone should teach this! 🙂
I like that it happened in a croissant shop too. I recently heard an empathy expert say that life is like a croissant. To make croissants you alternate many layers of dough and butter. The dough is all of our direct experiences of life, and empathy - people reflecting these experiences to us compassionately - is the butter. Yes, more butter please!
Recipe for an Daily Empathy Croissant: 1) Roll out life. 2) Add empathy. 3) Chill. Repeat 5x. (More often = better croissant.) Then bake for 10 minutes at 350º F. For an extra treat, drizzle chocolate on top and garnish with fresh strawberries and whipped butter cream ganache. Next day, repeat.
Don't forget to give yourself an empathy croissant. Some of the most potent healing comes from empathy you can give to yourself. AND, when you're needing empathy, you can't really give anyone else empathy until you've given it to yourself first. So, be generous with your empathy croissants!
Peace and prosperity,
Have you ever been bummed and stressed about work, for a day? A week? A month? A year?Did you ever resent being “managed”? Did you ever feel afraid that if people at work really knew who you are, they’d probably fire you? Did you ever feel like your job was meaningless? That, in the larger scheme of things, the whole company’s mission was trivial? Was your self talk something like, well that’s just how it is in business?
That's how I saw it. And you know, I was right. Up until now!
Turns out, there’s a quiet “Teal Revolution” going on. It’s made up of people like you, me and billionaire Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. The next evolutionary leap of business beginning. Frederic Laloux’s laid it out in his book, Reinventing Organizations...A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. The color teal refers to this level of consciousness, as described by Integral theory and its cousin, spiral dynamics. (NOTE: The Spiral Dynamics Synergy Yellow level is EQUAL to the Integral Teal level. Turquoise follows one level up in both systems.)
Sometimes when I’m reading about the new workplace practices in Reinventing Organizations, I pinch myself and wonder: Is this really happening? It feels just too good to be true!
Maybe because I have been challenged all of my adult working life when it comes to feeling good about my contributions, the feeling of the teamwork, and how I fit in with the company culture and purpose. Apart from my precious years as a stay at home mom, I never really hit my fulfillment stride in my jobs, which was one reason I started my own company. Not that running Peaceabl is easier than doing my old jobs, as you entrepreneurs probably well know, but it is more fulfilling, affirming and peaceful in many ways. More soulful. And it opens the path to way more profit.
And that is the bright teal future that Laloux is predicting for those of us in the Teal Revolution, as we transform the way we collaborate with each other and with other organizations. His work pulls from a field called “developmental theory” and Integral theory, and maintains that organizations are moving forward along an evolutionary spectrum, toward self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose.
Did you catch that? We are moving toward self-management, wholeness and a deeper sense of purpose!
This is to replace what many of us struggle with. As Laloux puts it:
“Many people sense that the way organizations are run today has been stretched to its limits. In survey after survey, business people make it clear that in their view, companies are places of dread and drudgery, not passion or purpose. Organizational disillusionment afflicts government agencies, nonprofits, schools, and hospitals just as much. Further, it applies not just to the powerless at the bottom of the hierarchy. Behind a facade of success, many top leaders are tired of the power games and infighting; despite their desperately overloaded schedules, they feel a vague sense of emptiness. All of us yearn for better ways to work together — for more soulful workplaces where our talents are nurtured and our deepest aspirations are honored.”
Organizational disillusionment might be a sign that we are outgrowing the current model of organization and getting ready for the next. Laloux has studied 12 companies who have developed this “teal” level of consciousness and compared their practices.
It turns out the 12 companies came to their structure and practices independently and for the most part didn’t know about each other, yet there is so much similarity that it seems that a coherent new organizational model is emerging.
Having a clear, regularly used conflict resolution practice that everyone is trained in is core to being Teal! Not surprisingly, that’s a big part of my excitement about this movement.
I had an opportunity this week to interview Manfred Friedrich, an Organizational Development consultant and Executive Coach for Palaestra. He works closely with top leaders of large international organizations and has been amazed at how many cannot deliver or receive feedback in a clear, honest, safe way. Nor can they really listen to anyone without becoming reactive.
If you sometimes ride in this same stressful boat, please take note! These important, basic communication skills are all learnable in a simple 4 step process that cleans up your relationships as you go! Too good to be true? Not at all - it’s what I love to do!
If you are having a conflict at home or at work, I’d like to invite you to make a teal move and step right up this week for a Free Breakthrough Conversation.
We’ll take a look at what you need and want to happen in your relationship, where you are experiencing obstacles and explore new possibilities for you.
As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and questions about this topic or anything else about conflict, communication and relationships.
Peace and hope for a world blooming Teal,
Check out this summary article by Laloux: The Future of Management Is Teal.
Happy Valentine’s Day! We're celebrating the power, beauty and possibility of love at Peaceabl today with a story from our Chocolate Game winner that offers sweet connection, insight and intimacy, all from taking a step back and surrendering the need to be right. Here's the story...
Peace, love and many blessings to you and your Valentine,
Harvard’s Robert Waldinger asks: “If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy?” Take a second to answer the professor’s question… Get a pencil or pen and write it down on a piece of paper. Doing this will help you anchor the learning. Don’t read on until you’ve written it down. Okay? Got it? In a second, we’ll see if your answer is congruent with findings of his research on happiness.
What? There’s research on Happiness? Yes...
Waldinger’s inquiry may be one of the most important questions you or I ever ask ourselves and our friends and family. We all have our own working theory about what the best way to invest in our future selves. But are we right? The problem is, our answers are likely just opinions. There is little research-based guidance with science that can actually show what works to produce desirable results.
For 80 years, the Harvard Study of Adult Development—the study that Waldinger directs—researchers have followed and documented the lives of 724 men. (More recently, they added their wives and children). The data include detailed questionnaires each participant fills out every two years, as well as data from medical exams, blood tests, brain scans, records of interim medical exams and videotaped conversations with spouses and families.
All this data gives Waldinger and his colleagues insights into human needs we’ve never had before: They know why some people live long healthy and happy lives and why others die early after a shorter life of pain, depression and dementia.
The reason for the discrepancy between the two groups will surprise you. Refer now to what you wrote down at the beginning, the Secret to Happiness.
Research shows that the secret to happiness isn’t genetics or economic status or food or fitness regimens. Those things may influence, but they aren’t the driver. Waldinger says: “The clearest message that we get from this [80-year] study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Good relationships are the key!
Three Key Elements of Relationships
Waldinger cites three elements of relationships that emerge from the mass of data from the study. First, social connections are what support us. And conversely, loneliness is a killer.
Having friends or a marriage can cut both ways. That is, high levels of conflict and low levels of support from friends and spouse can be as bad as—or even worse than—no relationship at all. Second point: What matters is a high-quality, low-conflict relationship. Living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.
Protective against what?, you might ask. Here again, the data sheds new light on human life and happiness. As people age, we tend to experience pain from various breakdowns in the body: joint replacements, arthritis, back pain, muscular and nervous conditions—on and on. It turns out that a happy person has a much easier time facing pain. People who are alone, on the other hand, feel the pain more acutely. It’s almost as if their mental suffering amplifies their physical pain, and vice-versa.
That leads to the third point: “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.” Waldinger says the data shows that people who are in relationship with others whose loyalty they trust keep sharper faculties of memory for a longer time. Those who are not in trusting relationships suffer early decline in brain function.
If you have read this far, congratulations! May I ask you, how do you feel knowing the secret to happiness?
If you’re like most people, you might be feeling a bit disappointed. It’s like learning that the key to life is at the top of El Capitan in Yosemite, and all you have to do is to scale the cliff without ropes to get it!
But this where the Harvard study leaves off. It shows that some people found the key to life—good relationships—and others didn’t. Those who managed to find the key (whether by skill, luck or some mysterious combination of the two) had long healthy happy lives. Those who didn’t find it experienced more more suffering, more physical pain, reduced brain and body function, earlier death.
But what about you? What about any person who knows her relationships could be better? How does she get off the sinking ship and step onto the one that will carry her through her life? How do you go about changing your lot?
How can you create good relationships in your life?
Remember the second thing researchers learned from this study: high levels of conflict on an ongoing basis are destructive and dangerous. Let’s start there!
Changing a relationship in your own life where conflict has become habitual is never easy. You’ve got some bad habits to break. Where do you begin? Well, conflicts may be protracted by silence, but they erupt in conversations. So let’s start with the conversation.
The essence of my training for business women is conversation training. It’s a very precise and disciplined way of talking about emotions and needs. Many people shirk the model because they prefer to “wing it.” Basically that means that they want to give vent freely to their judgments. But that’s exactly why the Empathic Communication model is structured: to prevent hurting someone (or yourself) by shooting from the hip.
So even though its discipline and precise, that doesn’t mean it’s rational or unfeeling. Quite the contrary. It requires discipline because it gives both parties a chance to speak exactly what the feel.
Marshall Rosenberg, the inventor of the genius core technology of Empathic Communication (usually called Nonviolent Communication or NVC), called this process of feeling communication “sharing what’s alive in you.” Usually, that doesn’t mean what was alive in you yesterday or last year--but really what is going on for you right now. And it’s about first giving the other person space to say what’s alive in them. And listening with empathy.
But I’m leaving out a step - Step Zero.
Usually when you get upset in a situation, you need to take yourself out of it for a while to give yourself empathy. To really listen to the part of you that’s hurting and to give supportive words of love and caring to yourself. Only when you feel whole and complete, calm and restored do you return to the conflict you were in.
Here is a schematic of the conversations that you’ll want to have to resolve your conflict:
The Most Soothing Sentence in the English Language
The three conversations, at their core, are identical. They involve a sentence that goes like this: When I see/hear_______, I feel __________ because I need ___________ and my request is for you/myself to _________.
There’s actually some real work you’ll need to do before you can fill in those four blanks. The following four steps…
STEP 1. OBSERVE. Remember exactly what happened that triggered you, like a video camera would recall it: no judgment. The first time through the steps, you will recall for yourself what you observed. Remember that your observation may be inaccurate or incomplete and that the information you received may be inaccurate or incomplete.
STEP 2. FEEL & NAME YOUR FEELINGS. (Use Feelings List on the next page to name your feelings.) Name your emotions. You can begin with the big categories: Glad, Mad, Sad, Bad, and Afraid. Then get more specific. Often feelings come in clusters. Try to tease them out. “I feel upset. I feel afraid. I feel angry. I feel nervous about feeling this way.” Note that these feelings are pointing, like a compass, to your core needs.
STEP 3. FIND YOUR NEED AND PREPARE TO FILL IT. (Use Needs List on the next page to name your needs.) Identify your needs. Begin with your feelings and follow where they point—to your needs. Needs are universal, shared by all human beings, key to being healthy and happy. They represent what you value in life and what you need to survive and thrive, to feel happiness, joy and fulfillment. Painful emotions point to needs that are unmet. Begin with the category: Security, Autonomy, Community, Possibility. Then get more specific. Go from each individual feeling you’ve identified to each need you have. Get clear on each and write
them down so you can remember.
STEP 4. MAKE A REQUEST. The request is your chance to get your needs met and to find out what the other person wants in order to get his or her needs met. Make sure your request is not a demand in disguise—you only want a “yes” if it’s heartfelt. And you’ll only give a “yes” to someone else’s request when it’s heartfelt in you. This is a radical break from unconscious and codependent unwritten “YOU SHOULD” agreements people often make and break with each other.
Transforming Relationships with the People Who Are Most Important to You
Getting through the four steps may be more difficult than you expect. If you are trying to do it and struggling, let’s talk. Here and there when I have a free time block, I’m offering a free 50-minute Breakthrough Conversation. You can schedule one by simply clicking this link. You’ll be taken to my updated schedule. Take these three steps:
Please let me know if you have questions. Thanks!
A man known to neighbors as “the Squirrel Guy” was just sentenced to twelve years in prison. Why? It has to do with his love of squirrels. And his reverence for his parents, who are deceased.
This story is just weird enough that if we can untangle it, we will glimpse a flaw in human nature that, if we can understand it, could decrease suffering and increase joy for practically everyone.
Lets start with a question: What is the cause of all of your conflicts with the people in your life? Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, clinical psychologist who created Nonviolent Communication, or NVC, says conflict is:
Unmet Needs, Tragically Expressed.
To understand this phrase, you need to know what Rosenberg meant by “unmet needs” and what he is referring to as “tragic”.
First, what are Needs? These are universal things we need to be healthy and happy. Basic things like physical sustenance and security, energy, movement, freedom, autonomy, creativity, honesty, belonging, compassion, intimacy, support, appreciation, play, beauty, meaning, purpose.
You have “unmet needs” in any conversation or relationship where one or more of these basic, core needs are not being met–like security, honesty etc. The way you know you are experiencing unmet needs is that you are feeling negative emotions, such as anger, fear, shame and sadness.
Here we are in conflict with someone, but our needs aren’t being expressed with words, clearly and accurately. Most people don’t have needs awareness and literacy, so we are not clearly telling each other what we need and want – because we don’t really know ourselves. At best we talk to each other about the strategies we have for filling our needs.
The other part of the tragedy here is that most people have destructive communication habits that disconnect them from others, and greatly lessen their chances of getting their needs met. These habits may sound familiar – diagnosing, analyzing, criticizing, judging others or self as good or bad, denying choice, blaming, threatening, bribing, demanding.
As an example of unmet needs tragically expressed, I offer you “the Squirrel Guy.” But first, I’d like you to call up one of your own examples, in your mind’s eye–so you can make this real for you. Remember the last really hot-headed argument you had with someone. How did you attempt to explain to the other person what was going on for you and what you wanted?
Now, we return to our poster child of unmet needs tragically expressed, the Squirrel Guy. Jon is a 60-year-old man who lives in Colorado. Last year Jon’s neighbor, Jeffrey, was unhappy about Jon feeding the squirrels, so he took down the signs Jon had posted in the neighborhood to explain that he feeds squirrels to commune with the spirits of his deceased parents. The signs also expressed Jon’s dismay about being harassed by neighbors, who were apparently creating problems for him with the Police and Animal Control.
The situation continued to escalate until Jon’s solution became drastic. He loaded his gun. When Jeffrey came over to talk, they argued. Afterwards, as Jeffrey was walking away, Jon shot him in the back. Now he’s in prison for murder.
Yes, it’s an extreme case. And yet, isn’t it true that we often “shoot each other” psychologically when we are in conflict?
Lets rewind the video for Jon and Jeffrey. Had Jon been trained in NVC or had called me for help – instead of shooting Jeffrey he would have said something like this.
At the first sign of trouble about the squirrels he would have had a conversation with himself, to understand his feelings and needs (also known as self empathy):
“I am feeling so angry. I want respect and consideration from the people around here. I want the freedom to feed squirrels without getting bothered, so I can stay connected to mom and dad. I am afraid of having problems with the police (safety).”
Then he would have had a silent conversation with himself about Jeffrey’s feelings and needs. This is empathy for other.
“I think Jeffrey is feeling angry too, though I don’t understand why it is such a big deal for him. Maybe he really buys into this thing about squirrels spreading diseases, so he is wanting to protect his health (safety). I can see how he could be angry or afraid if he really believes these squirrels could make him sick.”
What he might have spoken out loud, to Jeffrey, when he came over:
“Are you open for having a conversation about this squirrel thing Jeffrey? I’m guessing, since I think I saw you/heard about you taking down my signs, that you are feeling upset that there are too many squirrels in the neighborhood and I’m adding to the problem. Is that right?
“Can you tell me more about why the squirrels are upsetting for you?”
He would continue with this dialog until he really understood what Jeffrey was needing, and felt genuine empathy for his experience. Then he might say:
“Jeffrey, are you willing to hear what I’m experiencing about the squirrel issue? Well, I’ve been missing my parents a lot, but I notice that I feel really connected with them when I see the squirrels, since they were such animal lovers. So I’d like to have the freedom to continue feeding them.
“I’ve also been feeling upset because people have complained to the police and Animal Control, and I would like to stay out of trouble and also feel safe and welcome in my own neighborhood.
“Would you be willing to take some time to talk about how we can manage this situation so that you know that you are not going to catch a disease from the squirrels, and so that I can still enjoy living here?”
Hopefully, we can all learn from the Squirrel Guy. During conflict, needs don’t have to be tragically expressed, and instead you can give yourself and the other person some empathy and some clarity around the needs that are not yet met.
Hey, you made it all the way to the end of this article! Congrats! I’d like to give you this reward. If you have a conflict that’s bothering you, I’d like to offer you a chance to take this conflict apart so you can get some space and clarity with it.
If you are having some challenge in an important work or personal relationship, I’m offering you a free Breakthrough Conversations next week.
Here is what you can look forward to receiving from our time together.
I’ll leave you with a quote today by entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken: “When we listen to people, our language softens. Listening may be the cardinal act of giving… it is the source of peace.”
Recent praise from a C-level executive about me:
“The value of working with you is the subtlety of your mind and your distinctions. I was exposed to NVC years ago – and got nothing out of it. I thought it was silly. But you make Marshall’s work real. If it is a valuable relationship and you’re struggling, you just don’t figure it out with a book.”