Good meetings: When Is an Online Meeting Better than In-person or Hybrid?

meetings online meetings Sep 12, 2021

Recently, I was part of a hybrid meeting where conversation incorporated looking back at covid challenges and looking forward to ways we might work in the future. Those of us who chose to be online mostly did so in order to avoid being in a crowded room. 

To some of us, it feels like “the end of covid” is nowhere in sight. 

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation, to me, was about adaptability and collaboration. Humans crave connection, and we seek ways to build it into our lives when it’s absent. 

Sometimes, my online work feels easier and more successful than work I used to do in the room with clients, and other times it feels like I’m comparing apples and oranges - our interactions and how I design them can be that different. One specific way in which my online facilitations are better is that it has become much easier for me to incorporate visuals into our work, using icons and images found online or within a given whiteboard...

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Why a Mediator Helps Leaders Build Happier Workforces

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2021

I posted on LinkedIn recently about how someone suggested I completely rebrand myself and my business if I'm going to do this "Happier Workforces" thing. 

In a way, it’s really very simple: I am trained in mediation, and happy to provide that service - and I also realize many clients would prefer to never have to hire a mediator - so, we work together to build the culture that emphasizes and embraces trust and happiness. Perhaps working myself out of a job, yes - but I’m cynical enough to believe that there will always be at least a small need for mediators! 

I have realized in the past that my services don't always seem to go together, at first glance, for a lot of people.

I've ignored business and sales coaches who tell new business owners and consultants to "niche down" and get super specific about what they do and who they serve. If you're talking to everyone, they say, you’re talking to no one - because no one hears you speaking to them.

(This just...

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The Happier Workforce Cohort

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2021

Applications are open! 

The Happier Workforce Cohort launches in September, and applications will be accepted now through August 23 at 5pm. (Applications received after that will be considered for the cohort starting in April, 2022.)

I used to work exclusively with nonprofits because making a difference in the world was the most important thing to me. In fact, I mostly worked with progressive social justice groups, because that's the kind of world I believe in.  

At this point in my life, it seemed that what mattered most about work was not happiness, but making an impact. I wanted to change the world. There were (are) so many big problems, and the solutions are hard to implement. Working directly on solutions felt like the right thing to do. So why, now, do I recruit small business owners as clients? Isn't that a bit of a switch? 

Yes and no. In my experience, it's the work-related stress that makes us lose sleep at night. In fact, one survey found...

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A Guide for Leaders to Workplace Happiness

Given the many changes our society has experienced since the start of 2020, a lot of people are thinking about the future of work.

To me, that means thinking about how to make workplaces happier.

This is work I love to do: Help leaders build happier workplaces, with lower levels of conflict, great meetings, and a sense of purpose at work. 

Why do I focus on happiness at work?

I have never liked being the person who stresses out over work to the point where I lose sleep over it. (And I have absolutely been that person!)

If that's ever been you, you understand how essential having a reason to feel happier at work is to your whole life. 

The thing is, happiness at work is not just about individual actions or stress management. Research points to many ways leaders can help their employees to achieve a happier outlook related to work. It's not just engagement or purpose; it's not just finding ways to be nice to each other; it's not just managing conflict well....

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10 Things to Know about Mediation at Work

mediation service Apr 05, 2021

1. What is mediation?

Mediation is a tool to resolve conflicts that involves a neutral third party. The third party, usually a trained mediator, helps the parties in a dispute find a mutually satisfying way forward. The “parties” are the two people in conflict (it can also be two companies, or informal groups that are larger than just a single person on each side). To say they find a “mutually satisfying” way forward simply means that the resolution is voluntary; the mediator does not tell the parties they have to do anything. 

 

2. Is mediation right for the workplace?

It may go without saying, but the workplace is full of opportunities for conflict - and thus for conflict resolution, too! Some cultures welcome disagreements and open discussions; other places may claim to welcome open discussions but really try to shut down disagreements early on. Sadly, this winds up causing conflicts and discomfort to fester. A trained mediator can help resolve...

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Conflict Approaches, Pictured & Explained

Picture a pie.*

Your favorite pie. 

You’re hungry, and in the mood for dessert. You want that pie. You even want to eat the WHOLE pie! 

But there are others present. You know they want some pie too. 

Do you:

  • Insist it’s YOUR pie?
  • Decide to just make a bigger pie, so there’s enough for all?
  • Offer to split the pie evenly?
  • Give away your pie and go without?
  • Or, decide that maybe, even though it’s your favorite, you’ll just go without pie and get yourself something else...

I LOVE this example! And this perfect image to go with it, created by my friend Lauren Green in collaboration with Lizard Brain for Kate Morse Gigax.

The various attitudes toward pie represent conflict styles - everyone has a preference on how to approach conflict (strangely, my preferences are accommodating and competing…).

The 5 styles outlined in this image and represented by pie decision-making are:

  • Competing
  • Collaborating
  • Compromising
  • Accommodating...
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International Women's Day Is Not for Shout-outs

Yesterday was March 8, 2021. I looked at my LinkedIn newsfeed and saw lots of posts thanking women - professionals who shared their gratitude for the women who have mentored them, who work with them, who work for them. 

And my reaction? 

Frustration.

Anger. 

Annoyance.

I remember when International Women's Day was for feminist policy wonks who cared about equitable development around the world, equal pay for all women, and human rights. The slogans heard at gatherings to recognize the day were not about gratitude but about human rights - and the deep, intense need to have all humans' rights recognized, no matter their sex or gender. 

It's not exactly a bad thing, of course, for International Women's Day to be a household phrase - if it even has achieved that. But we lose something when a day originally designed to bring together people fighting for human rights becomes "Thank a Woman!" day.

International Women's Day was a thing long...

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Top Tools For Virtual Facilitation and Meetings

Recently earning a Certified Virtual Facilitator™ credential, we have spent countless hours researching and test driving online tools to really wow our clients. Some work great; some had a learning curve before delivering; and some aren’t worth the time. 

When looking for new collaboration tools for facilitation, we evaluate them in the following areas:

  • How easy are they for everyone to use, even those who are less familiar with tech?
  • How well do they integrate with common tools, such as Zoom?
  • How do they help the whole team communicate, especially those who might be inclined not to participate, for any reason?
  • How many fun or intriguing features do they have, to get people excited about trying them out?

Here are a few standouts to explore. 

SessionLab*

SessionLab is a planning tool for group gatherings that includes a curated library of all kinds of facilitation activities. We love these because they help people get involved without the standard practice of...

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How Active Listening Can Change Us Vs. Them Thinking

Uncategorized Feb 01, 2021

How do you change someone’s mind, when asking them to change their mind means asking them to change what they believe about themself? 

This ethical dilemma is deeply familiar to me. 

Recently, I read two articles that touch on the concept of us-vs.-them - a basic phrase to summarize those interactions where you’re talking to someone whose mind you really want to change. Madeleine Albright writes about “Our destructive us-vs.-them thinking” in Time Magazine’s Feb. 1/Feb. 8, 2021 issue. And Adam Grant writes about “The Science of Reasoning with Unreasonable People” on January 31, 2021 in the NY Times. 

Albright wrote, 

However we conceive of “us,” we have ample grounds for humility. There is no question that we all have a right to quarrel with one another; that is the democratic way. But we also have a responsibility to talk frankly and to listen carefully, to recognize our own faults and to refrain from...

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We Now Have A Certified Virtual Facilitatorâ„¢

We are so proud to announce that our founder and president Gina is now a Certified Virtual Facilitator™, or a CVF™, credentialed through the International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC)

This reflects a deep and practical knowledge of productive virtual meetings. 

To receive this credential, Gina had to be evaluated against 22 competencies in the following areas: Presence, Assessment, Communication, Control, Consistency and Engagement. These competency areas are well-researched, international, and used for offline facilitation certification as well in-person meetings (remember those?). 

What does this mean for our clients? In an increasingly remote-working, technology-driven world, working with a facilitator who is not only comfortable and familiar with virtual spaces, but has certified competency means that you can relax knowing she can navigate that environment in effective and proactive ways. 

“My favorite part of the evaluation, and online...

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