Living in Full Authenticity

The following is a guest post I wrote for the Art of Living Center in North Carolina, where I’ll be leading an immersive training on Nonviolent Communication for Better Living, August 11 – August 13, 2017!)

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Most people value authenticity in their lives—being honest, genuine and real—true to their values and their vision. If we want love and depth of connection in our lives—and most people want this too— we want that love and connection based on who we “really” are–our authentic selves.

Authenticity in the Workplace

We may see authenticity as important in intimate relationships at home but it also plays a key role in the workplace. Often, when coaching executives, I am coaching them on being more authentic—turning up more fully in their work lives and encouraging their reports to do the same. Why?

…”the more authentic you are, the more effective you are. …Authenticity is really nothing more than making sure that people are fully expressing what they think and feel. … if people are not expressing themselves fully in what they think and feel within the context of the work they are accountable to produce then the enterprise or organization is editing out data. This impairs good decision making and follow-through…and ultimately undermines success. … When you have a group that is authentic and rigorous in their dialogues, you will have a high performing team.” –from The Yoga of Leadership, Kripalu Magazine, 2009

Authenticity in Relationships

What is interesting to me is how that last line also applies to couples and families. When you have a couple that is authentic– or a family that is authentic-and rigorous in their dialogues–you will find the greatest trust, connection, and intimacy: a “high performing” relationship or family.

The practice of Nonviolent Communication is all about authenticity. What is my genuine experience-what I am seeing or hearing (rather than my story or interpretation about what’s happening)? What is my genuine response–my feelings and needs? This is our true aliveness

And authenticity is key within ourselves. We all long for our essence— to know who we truly are, and to live true to that being. When we are triggered or acting habitually we have, in effect, in that moment, lost our authenticity.

In effect, NVC gives us practical tools to be authentic—and to live with rigor around our authenticity.

Bring Your Full Power into the World

I have three questions I’d love for you to consider:

  • How are you connecting authentically with yourself?
  • How are you connecting authentically with others?
  • And how are you bringing your full power and authenticity into the world?

In asking the last question, I think of that old Bible verse—about not putting your light under a bushel. Each of us is an authentic being. That authenticity can be shrouded or lost via fear. By being true to our authenticity, we can illuminate situations that otherwise can be clouded or disconnecting. By being our authentic ourselves—discovering– who am I really? What do I value? What brings me most alive? What matters to me? —we bring our full power into the world.

I hope you will sit with the questions above and if you value greater authenticity in your life see what do-able request you can make. What will support greater authenticity with yourself—and with others? What does greater authenticity look like for you, in the world? What is one step you can take this week, this month?

 

(If you like this post, I invite you to join me in North Carolina for a weekend immersed in Nonviolent Communication for Better Living, August 11 – August 13, 2017!)

Why is Giving Feedback SO Hard?

A few years ago, I developed a course for DailyBitsOf.com on giving effective feedback. Thousands of people have tried it, and they said the course changed how they give and receive feedback.

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Recently, DailyBitsOf interviewed me on this topic and, in particular, on what makes giving feedback so hard? Here are some of my thoughts, from that interview. I hope it gives you further ease in giving and receiving requests! (And at the end, there’s a fun question about what I’m reading this summer!)

 

DailyBits:   Why do so many have a hard time giving feedback?

Dian: We’re afraid about how our words will be received.  Will we be heard? Will we get pushback? Will there be some judgment or disconnection? We basically want to protect ourselves, and the relationship.

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In coaching managers and working with organizations, I find that often the most crucial conversations simply never happen. People feel there is too much at stake. Or there is a history of previous conversations not going well (where they were not heard). So they are hesitant to try, or try again. But of course the danger is that frustration and disconnect simply builds up and accumulates—and crucial information (for working together effectively, or intimacy and connection) simply never happens. That erodes trust and communication in the long run.

DailyBits: If you could give one advice to people reading this that will get them to give some feedback today, what would that be?

Dian: If you don’t speak up about your needs, who will? And if this is an intimate relationship, or any relationship important to you, how will it impact your trust and connection with this person not to tell them what’s on your mind, and be heard?

woman.with.hands_.on_.heart_Before going into the conversation, get clear about your needs, on a core level. What’s your main objective? Is it to be heard, to get on the same page, or create shared reality? Do you want understanding—to restore trust?  There are just a few examples. But if you can go into the conversation focused on your core objectives—on a meta level, that can help you stay grounded and focused.  To see a longer list of core, universal values, check out this link.

DailyBits:    So you must be a master at giving feedback, right? Have you always been like that?

Dian: No, I’m not a master. I’m not sure anyone is! But I know a lot more than I knew five years ago, or one year ago. Giving effective feedback, and communication in general, is like most things in life: it takes practice and the more you practice, the more confidence and skill you develop. As in any sport, I learn mostly from my mistakes. And luckily, this is one thing you can practice everyday. Practice first in more neutral situations (where you don’t have a history of pent up conflict or frustration with the person). Practice giving “positive” feedback too, about needs met. And start with small things that have less consequence or weight for you. Once you start developing that muscle—to speak up in a connected way—it will become easier to speak up about more difficult things and the things that matter most to you.

DailyBits: What will you read during the summer?

Dian: I’m usually reading several books at once! I have broad interests and I rarely get to finish one book before I dive into another. Right now I’m in the middle of a very interesting book on the unconscious, Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. It actually gives a lot of insight on communication blind spots.  And I read a lot of articles too. There’s a feature article in The Atlantic this month on psychopaths that’s fascinating. I know it sounds like a dark subject, but it’s actually about empathy—how 99% of the population is born neurologically hard wired for empathy. Scientists have even identified the part of the brain where this function is located.  The 1% of the population missing this gray matter usually develops empathy skills in the process of growing up with other humans. Neurology is now documenting much of what I teach and is so effective—now there’s hard science to back it up.  Beyond the unconscious and neurology,  I also want to do some light, fun reading this summer too, so hope to get to Patti Smith’s more recent book, My Train. I loved Just Kids, so want to read this one too. I am a proud New Yorker and a musician, so reading about the downtown music scene that Patti Smyth was part of in the 70s of is pretty engrossing for me! 

Connecting Across Differences (Episode 10): 1000 Ways to Say “I Love You”

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Connecting Across Differences is a new podcast by Dian Killian, PhD of Work Collaboratively about having greater empathy for yourself and others, and how to hear others more deeply and make sure that you’ve been heard. Episodes are available on iTunes.

Listen to Episode 10 below:

 

Valentine’s Day is coming up and Dian wanted to take a moment to honor the wonderful feeling that is actually a need. What does it mean when you tell someone “I love you”? What are you really trying to say? What is it that you are appreciating about that person in that moment? The more we can better communicate what we mean when we say this phrase, the stronger connection we can make with those we love.

We’d love to hear what you’ve discovered! Feel free to post to the Work Collaboratively Facebook page.

You can also subscribe to the Connecting Across Differences podcast on iTunes. Please be sure to leave a review if you enjoyed the episode!

Thanks for listening– and be sure to tune in for our next episode in two weeks. If you’re enjoying our podcasts, please share them with your friends and family. The more people in your life who know how to connect with their feelings and needs, the easier you’ll find it to connect with them and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved.

First published February 7, 2017. 

Connecting Across Differences (Episode 9): Celebrating Learning Curves

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Connecting Across Differences is a new podcast by Dian Killian, PhD of Work Collaboratively about having greater empathy for yourself and others, and how to hear others more deeply and make sure that you’ve been heard. Episodes are available on iTunes.

Listen to Episode 9 below:

On this episode, Dian shares tips on celebrating your learning curves so that you can stick with your new year’s resolutions.

We’d love to hear what you’ve discovered! Feel free to post to the Work Collaboratively Facebook page.

You can also subscribe to the Connecting Across Differences podcast on iTunes. Please be sure to leave a review if you enjoyed the episode!

Thanks for listening– and be sure to tune in for our next episode in two weeks. If you’re enjoying our podcasts, please share them with your friends and family. The more people in your life who know how to connect with their feelings and needs, the easier you’ll find it to connect with them and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved.

First published January 24, 2017. 

Connecting Across Differences (Episode 8): Transforming Your Inner Critic

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Connecting Across Differences is a new podcast by Dian Killian, PhD of Work Collaboratively about having greater empathy for yourself and others, and how to hear others more deeply and make sure that you’ve been heard. Episodes are available on iTunes.

Listen to Episode 8 below:

On this episode, Dian shares tips on making peace with your inner critic and transforming self-judgement into self-knowledge.

We’d love to hear what you’ve discovered! Feel free to post to the Work Collaboratively Facebook page.

You can also subscribe to the Connecting Across Differences podcast on iTunes. Please be sure to leave a review if you enjoyed the episode!

Thanks for listening– and be sure to tune in for our next episode in two weeks. If you’re enjoying our podcasts, please share them with your friends and family. The more people in your life who know how to connect with their feelings and needs, the easier you’ll find it to connect with them and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved.

First published January 11, 2017. 

Enjoying Difficult People, Including Yourself: Special Holiday Edition!

I know that “enjoying” sounds like a high bar. If someone’s difficult I find often we don’t want anything to do with them we want them out of our hair and out of our lives. What’s amazing to me and impressive, over and over again, when I practice NVC and I practice self-empathy I get insight that’s transformative and I actually enjoy the other person.

So, what makes people difficult?

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One thing that often leads to categorizing someone as difficult that I’ve heard over and over again is: when someone might seem to be critical or judgemental, especially when it’s unsolicited. Another thing that I’ve heard from friends: when someone might be stubborn or unwilling to hear someone else’s opinion. If you experience that the other person doesn’t hear you — you’ll tell them something and they’ll disagree, or it seems that they’ve heard you and they do something different than what they agreed to–that can be really difficult. Sometimes they won’t respond to you at all — I’ve heard of this especially in the work setting.  I’m sure we can think of examples.

I invite you to consider:

What do you consider difficult?

Do you have someone in your life that you consider challenging?

I encourage you to notice that and identify what the behavior is.

Empathy for Self and Others: An Exercise in 4 Steps

STEP 1: Think of a really specific thing that you heard someone say or do that was difficult or challenging in your experience. Write down the specific words that were difficult for you.

Example: A friend heard my cell phone ring, and completely unsolicited and out of context (I thought), said “Wow, that’s a ditzy phone ring!”

STEP 2: Notice how you are feeling.

When I am talking about a feeling, what I mean is a response internally that you are having that is free of judgement.

Example: I could say, “Wow, I feel like that was really obnoxious! I feel like I was judged. That was mean!” Those are not actually feelings. My feelings might be: irritated, frustrated, annoyed, and confused. 

STEP 3: Connect with your needs.

worried-woman-hand-on-heart-150Once you’re aware of what you’re feeling, the next step is to notice what needs are. The feelings often bring up the needs. If you’re feeling impatient, maybe you’re wanting patience. If you’re irritated or frustrated, maybe you’re wanting understanding.

Example: My critical mind is thinking “Why did you have to comment on my cell phone?” I’m really trying to understand what’s going on with the other person. I’m needing understanding.

Click here to download a list of feeling words and need words. You can find more resources like this by going to workcollaboratively.com.

In my example about the cell phone ring, I mostly wanted understanding and connection. And when I connected with that, I actually decided to let it go. I realized that, knowing that this person is really into theater, music, and performance, she’s used to just hearing stuff and commenting on it because that’s her world and how she thinks about things. Once I connected to my needs, I could understand what was going on for her. In this instance, it didn’t really appeal to me to say something. I didn’t actually think it would change her behavior in the long run.

In making these choices, I think it also depends on the kind of relationship you have with someone. The next time she says something like that, maybe I will say something and I’ll be more prepared. Something like, “Hey, I just heard you say that’s a ditzy phone ring, and I guess this is obvious but I chose that ring and I’m just wanting to understand why you would say something like that? What was motivating it?”

I find asking a question like that (when you can ask it neutrally) goes along way when dealing with people we might consider to be difficult.

 

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When I practice self-empathy in this situation with this friend, when I connected with, “Oh yeah, this is just the world she moves in, this is how she thinks about things,” it actually allowed me to appreciate other aspects of her personality that I can actually depend on. If she has seen a movie or a play, for example, I can ask her, “What did you think about that?” I know I’m going to get some qualitative insight about that before I decide to see it. So once I could connect with my own needs and also guess what her needs were I also had a shift and was actually able to enjoy what she says and remember it’s not about me in the end it’s about her hearing something and responding to it.

STEP 4:

Guess what the other person might be feeling and needing.

You may have noticed, once I practiced self-empathy, I was able to have more curiosity about what was going on for her. I’m guessing when she heard the ring she was maybe irritated or surprised. Maybe she had a need for understanding, or she just wasn’t enjoying it and has a need to enjoy things she hears. By guessing what she’s feeling and needing — probably for understanding and enjoyment — then I can recalibrate a little bit and not take it personally.

To recap:

  • What are your feelings and needs? (Steps 1 – 3)
  • What are the feelings and needs of other people? (Step 4)

“Favorite Difficult People” & Other Helpful Tips

ebac75b1e67d98c98fad872999497e3c.jpgThe four steps above are core practices when using Nonviolent Communication. They are really helpful when you’re triggered. I also want to give you some general tips, especially as we move through all the winter holidays right now where a lot of people might be spending time with their families. And families are often where we might some of our favorite difficult people.

There are also some things you can do pro-actively, especially if you are going into a situation where you know you will be seeing one of your “favorite difficult people.”

  1. Simply ask questions. One of the things I find really helpful is to simply ask questions – in a way that’s connected and coming out a place of curiosity.
  2. Set your intention. Before you go into that holiday event or someone you consider difficult: set your intention. Look over the needs list (like this one, or your own) — which might include words like choice, community, understanding, autonomy. What needs are you trying to meet when you see this person? Are you wanting patience? Connection Understanding? To be heard? Go into that encounter focused on your need or needs. Whenever they say something that might be upsetting, you can bring your attention back to that need. It will help inform what you decide to say and do next in the conversation.
  3. Take time out. If you are getting triggered, and you want to practice the four-step exercise that I shared above, I encourage you to take time out. There’s a lot of ways to do that. For example, if you are at a party, it can be as simple as going to use the restroom. You might use that time just to do a little self-empathy before going back out to the conversation. You can also take time out by saying, “You know, we’ve been talking about this for ten or fifteen minutes and I’m wanting a break and to enjoy our time together. I’d like to switch to another topic if you don’t object. We can come back to it the next time we see each other.”
  4. Focus on the present moment. The other thing I find really helpful is focusing on the present moment. In the above example for taking time out, I’m hoping you hear the four steps: observation, feeling, need, and request. These four steps of NVC supports us in staying connected to the present moment.

The Four Steps of Nonviolent Communication:

Observation: What did I see and hear?

Feelings: What am I feeling right now — not then or in the future, but right this moment.

Needs: What needs are coming up right now? What needs does this moment bring to my attention right now?

Request: What’s best going to meet my needs in this moment?

When triggered, I find we tend to globalize. One of my favorite globalizations is when I’m riding my bicycle in New York City and someone does something I consider dangerous. My thought can be, “No one cares about cyclists.” I know cognitively that’s not true. I’ve had plenty of experiences when someone will slow down or pause for me to pass. When globalizing, I like to go into the present moment again. What exactly happened right now ?Whatever that is: someone opened their car door without looking, someone pulled over in front of me, my brother told me he voted for so-and-so, my friend said that’s a ditzy phone ring. My globalizing could be: “She’s always judging things so much.” The globalizing doesn’t help me. The globalizing actually encourages me to further judge the person and get more frustrated. If I can bring it down to a specific thing — this is what the person said — that can really help me to avoid judgement.

I hope you found these tips helpful.

Review:

  1. Self-empathy
  2. Empathic guessing for the other
  3. Asking questions
  4. Setting your intention
  5. Taking a break (which can also involve pacing the conversation)
  6. Keeping your focus on the present moment

I hope you might join me for my next workshop in New York City on January 24, 2017 “Make Peace with Your Inner Critic.” You can also check out my other upcoming workshops coming up a little sooner in other areas here.

Either way I wish everyone Happy Holidays, and that you enjoy your favorite difficult people.

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Connecting Across Differences (Episode 7): Enjoying Difficult People

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Connecting Across Differences is a new podcast by Dian Killian, PhD of Work Collaboratively about having greater empathy for yourself and others, and how to hear others more deeply and make sure that you’ve been heard. Episodes are available on iTunes.

Listen to Episode 7 below:

On episode 7, Dian shares tips on how to enjoy being around difficult people, especially as the holidays come up.

To learn more about dealing with difficult people, join Dian in NYC on Tuesday, November 15th at the 92nd St Y, for an interactive workshop where you’ll learn how to navigate challenging conversations by practicing the four steps of Nonviolent Communication.

Click here to register!

We’d love to hear what you’ve discovered! Feel free to post to the Work Collaboratively Facebook page.

You can also subscribe to the Connecting Across Differences podcast on iTunes. Please be sure to leave a review if you enjoyed the episode!

Thanks for listening– and be sure to tune in for our next episode in two weeks. If you’re enjoying our podcasts, please share them with your friends and family. The more people in your life who know how to connect with their feelings and needs, the easier you’ll find it to connect with them and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved!

What’s Love Got To Do With It? A Thousand Ways to Say, “I Love You” – in Giraffe.

“I love you.”

Ah, that warm and fuzzy feeling! I can see hear birds singing. Little cupids with their bows and arrows, and rainbows! Every song and poem about romantic love floats into my head… as the Beatles croon, “All you need is love!”

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Love is a universal need. We all need it. In fact, some NVC trainers say that all needs come down to this one primal need: a desire for love.  For most people, experiencing “love” in some form  is a crucial human experience. It’s literally linked to our survival (children without love, care or attention do not thrive or, in extreme cases, survive).  Love is  linked to larger desires for meaning, purpose, caring, intimacy, happiness, and belonging. I personally believe our desire for love goes back to a root, pre-cognitive memory as infants of being held and fed—moments where we experienced warmth, nurturing, tenderness, safety, and mattering in the deepest way.  Most of us (if we’re lucky) experience this kind of love deeply and consistently when young, with some caring adult. We then seek to find this experience of love again the rest of our lives.

Yet while “love” is a primal, universal need, it is not a feeling.

This was surprising and even confusing at first when I was first learning NVC.  Aren’t these magic words, “I love you,”  some of the most connecting, universal, heart-opening and intimate words we can speak as human beings? And isn’t NVC about vulnerability and connection–and heart-felt communication? Sharing with someone that you love them can be a profound moment of risk and vulnerability—and tenderness.

Yet, the words,  “I love you,” can in fact be easy to say and sometimes even a throw-away phrase— at times rote, formulaic, automatic. For many, at least where I live in the U.S., “love you” has become interchangeable with “good-bye” when closing a phone call with family or friends.  Saying “I love you” in such moments is as devoid of meaningful connection as someone saying by rote “thank you,” or “I’m sorry.” What does it really mean?

And these words can be used to cloak a whole range of other experiences. I’ve noticed that sometimes when someone is unhappy with something they’ve said or done, they can say, “I love you,” as a way of trying to fix things with a verbal band-aid.

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It’s a shorthand way I’ve saying,  “I’m heavy-hearted about what I’ve said—so I want to remind you despite my actions, I care about you. And I’d like some trust around that—and reassurance that you believe me and forgive me.” We’re longing for connection in moments such as these–and restoration, and don’t know how to ask for it or to find out if we have it.  So we just say, “I love you.” It’s almost like saying, “I’m sorry.” Neither expression tells us much about what the person is feeling or needing. Neither in fact has much authenticity or honesty, or vulnerability, or connection.

Inversely, we can use “I love you” for a treasure trove of riches. It’s like saying, “thank you” when we could say so much more about how someone has made a difference for us and contributed to our well being.

So what happens when we take “love” out of the equation—at least as a verb?

What if instead of using a formula or holding place for how we feel, we actually share our authentic feelings and needs? And observations?

This, in my experience, fosters much more intimacy, trust and connection–and yes, “love” (that warm, glowing, open-hearted, connected, yummy, relaxed feeling).  Similar in NVC to sharing authentic gratitude, we can notice what’s happening in the moment—what we are seeing or hearing, feeling (and sensing), and the needs met for us. We can then make a connection request, if wanting to check, to discover how what we’ve shared has been heard and received. In this way, “love” becomes a form of gratitude and empathy—a celebration of needs met (and life)—and a true form of intimacy that further deepens trust and connection.

Practicing NVC in this way leads to a thousand ways to say “I love you.” For the last year or so, I’ve been lucky to be experiencing this abundance of love regularly with my sweetheart. And it’s greatly contributed to the quality of our connection and yes, our love—sometimes in surprising ways.

One of the first times I shared those sweet words, “I love you,” she asked me, “What does that mean right now?”  That jolted me awake. To respond to her in a meaningful way meant I actually needed to check in with myself! What do those words mean to me? And not in general–what do they really mean to me, right now, in this moment?

I was invited to start noticing: her reaching over when still asleep to put her arm around me, a momentary expression on her face, the way she would articulate a thought, talks with my cat, or simply the quality of her presence. So many ways to say, “I love you.” So many ways to receive and take in love! And what a gift to notice how I actually am feeling… be it warm, tickled, relaxed,  amused, relaxed, energized, or surprised.

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Sharing in this way, I’ve learned much more about what matters to her—-what she sees/notices, what enriches her life, what stirs aliveness in me. And this brings us closer. When she shares how she’s feeling, I also can take in her appreciation differently—really take it in. Each “I love you” becomes a moment of insight and authenticity. This is the “love juice” (of genuine intimacy) that sustains relationships.

Ultimately, I remember through all this that love is not a feeling. It’s about our presence, our actions:  Love made manifest.  The small details of life. The fleeting moment.  It reminds me of those lines in the Bible, that points to love as a need and choice/ action (rather simply a mood or feeling):

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. … It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  (Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)

Thinking of love in this way, as a need made manifest, keeps me grounded about choices I make each day in relationships.

The Quakers have a line that speaks directly to this: “What would love do?” If I am wanting to criticize or am feeling impatient, what would love do—right now? And what’s getting in the way of my acting on that love? This leads to many opportunities for self-empathy (and sometimes too for honest expression). Again, it acts to deepen awareness, authenticity and connection…. And helps me live in alignment with my own values for care and integrity—and yes, love.

When we are connected to another living being in this way—empathically connected, sometimes the words “I love you” can be enough, or presence, and silence. As with all practices in NVC, there are no “rules.” Yet if any moment I hear the words “I love you” and am not sure what those words mean right now, if I am not fully empathically clear or connected, or acting in a way that to me is outside integrity for “love,” it’s consistently a surprising and abundant gift of deeper insight and connection to ask and empathically listen.  

When you speak Giraffe, there truly is a thousand ways to say, “I love you.”

Self-Management = More Joy at Work

This article is a reprint from a recently-published article in Empathische Zeit.

Most people I know set a fairly low bar in terms of their expectations for their work experience.

If you “like” your work that’s considered good. How many would say their work gives them joy—or empowerment, inspiration, creativity or energy? I believe every workplace can have that kind of satisfaction and joy: the en-joyment of working with colleagues in a collaborative and respectful way, achieving results that are meaningful, connecting, and with life-work balance.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve supported dozens of organizations—-from small nonprofits and large NGOs, to multi-national and Fortune 100 companies. While each has varied in what they deliver—from Montessori education, catering,  pharmaceuticals, to film production and organic farming, the concerns are fairly consistent. Be it a sole-proprietor or a CEO, managers ask me,  how do I manage better, and more effectively? No one has asked me about upping the joy. But don’t we all want to enjoy our lives—including our work lives, where we spend a considerable amount of time each week? In the end, I think managers are in effect asking me about joy—-since they ultimately want greater ease and harmony at work, for others and themselves.

In particular, managers ask me, how do I get my staff to:

  • Better understand tasks, roles and responsibilities?
  • Break down silos and better communicate and collaborate with other team members?
  • Increase responsiveness, accountability and follow through?
  • Work effectively and respectfully with colleagues and reports?
  • Get shared reality and on the same page about what matters?
  • Speak up candidly?
  • Resolve differences—without escalating or stepping back/giving up?

Intrinsic in these question is a belief that managers want (and should want) to change or impact the behavior of others. How do I get X person to do Y, with Z, or  V more effectively? People aren’t fully listening, or following instructions, or completing tasks–or working well with others. How do I change that and get everyone to do what they’re supposed to be doing—on deadline–and budget?

Inherent in this belief system is that the issue or behavior to be changed lies with the other person, the report. While it can be a mild form of judgment, judgment is often lurking there, since the issue is about how others are acting or interacting. They’re not enjoying what others are doing–or not doing.

And here’s the rub. What I tell these managers consistently is this:  Want to manage more effectively with more ease and joy and get your staff to make changes?   The first, crucial step is this:  learn how to better manage yourself. (By the way, this is core to NVC practice. NVC is about ultimate responsibility. Response-ability about what we’re seeing or hearing, what our feeling/somatic response is, what matters to us on a core level—our needs—and what requests can we make to support connection, clarity, collaboration and movement? It’s all about our experience, and what changes we can make.)

Here are some of the questions I explore with managers:

  • When giving feedback, are you giving clear observations, free of evaluation? Are you focused on the behavior, rather than the person?
  • In seeking buy-in and engagement, are you sharing with others the needs it would meet for you, the company and the team, by their completing a task or contributing to it?
  • If there’s confusion or repetition, are you offering or requesting recaps about what’s been said, to get everyone on the same page?
  • When wanting greater responsibility, accountability and change, how are you asking questions to generate input, creativity and collaboration?
  • If a situation is escalating, how do you support the team in finding their own internal resources to resolve the issues and restore trust?
  • How are you developing leadership overall via empowering questions that you’re asking you team? (Questions that invite their involvement and resourcefulness)
  • Are you acting in ways—consistently—that meet your own needs for integrity?

Nonviolent Communication—or Collaborative Communication, as I call it in a business setting, offers numerous, game-changing solutions for managers and companies. All of these solutions—as seen in the sample questions above, can be learned and integrated in everyday interactions, such as: recapping, making clear requests, giving concrete feedback, etc.

All of these skills and the mindset (the desire or intention to support using these skills) involve a certain kind of self-management, since the manager is taking the lead in changing his or her behavior to impact what’s happening.

Yet all this “self-management” is dependent on what I really mean by self-management:   self-empathy (or self-connection).  How connected and discerning are you in each moment, with yourself and others? How attuned are you to your own needs, and what will best serve staff, clients, the company and the situation?  

This “meta” self-management is true self- management. All other NVC practices depend on it. You can know how to use “OFNR” (the four NVC steps of Observation, Feelings, Needs, Requests) but these powerful steps can be clumsy at best or disconnecting at worst if practiced without discernment, self-connection or presence. That’s where self-empathy (ie self-connection) or self- management (as I call it) comes in. How can you make clear requests if you’re not sure what you want yourself? How do you discern when more clarity might be needed, or shared reality, or pacing/space if you’re not noticing your own visceral response (using yourself like a tuning fork) and your needs?

Self-management is not just about applying different tools in the NVC toolbox.  It’s about noticing and paying attention: What’s happening in the present moment?

What am I seeing and experiencing? How is this impacting me—and others–and what will move things forward? All of this involves self-connection and discernment, which comes from self-empathy.

So when I coach executives this is what we focus on. Once managers have mastered this “self-management,” all other “management” skills fall into place and can be practiced with more ease. And once there are new, empowering management skills, managers (and their companies) can generate the changes they’re wanting to see on their teams, and company-wide. Over time, their reports and their teams start to learn self-management skills too—transforming how the organization communicates and achieves their goals. The end result is greater connection, openness, trust, collaboration and creativity. And more joy at work!

Self Management means More Joy at Work

From a recently-published article in Empathische Zeit

Most people I know set a fairly low bar in terms of their expectations for their work experience. If you “like” your work that’s considered good. How many would say their work gives them joy—or empowerment, inspiration, creativity or energy? I believe every workplace can have that kind of satisfaction and joy: the en-joymentof working with colleagues in a collaborative and respectful way, achieving results that are meaningful, connecting, and with life-work balance.

Here are some of the questions I explore with managers:

  • When giving feedback, are you giving clear observations, free of evaluation? Are you focused on the behavior, rather than the person?
  • In seeking buy-in and engagement, are you sharing with others the needs it would meet for you, the company and the team, by their completing a task or contributing to it?
  • If there’s confusion or repetition, are you offering or requesting recaps about what’s been said, to get everyone on the same page?
  • When wanting greater responsibility, accountability and change, how are you asking questions to generate input, creativity and collaboration?
  • If a situation is escalating, how do you support the team in finding their own internal resources to resolve the issues and restore trust?
  • How are you developing leadership overall via empowering questions that you’re asking you team? (Questions that invite their involvement and resourcefulness)
  • Are you acting in ways—consistently—that meet your own needs for integrity?

Read more here: http://www.empathischezeit.com/?p=168