Listen Better to Be a Better Leader

2020 has been quite the year - and it ain’t over yet!

But one wonderful thing I’ve experienced is my love of partnering with others to deliver great content to people.

First, I partnered with Dr. Melissa Bird, the Natural Born Rebel, to bring you the Graceful Revolution for Managers.

Now, I’m partnering with Lisa Wilson, of LMW Consulting, to bring you Listen, Talk, Lead.

Both of these rock star women entrepreneurs let me do what I do best: talk about empathy, active listening, and communication, while they do what they do best - share stories, encourage you to trust your intuition, and learn to be the best version of you no matter where you are in your leadership journey.

2020 is teaching us a lot about good leadership, if we’re interested in paying attention. Countries where political leaders trust the scientific experts, and admit when things are going to difficult, got to flatten the COVID-19 curve more quickly. Countries where leaders feel they have...

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Strengthsfinder? Empathy vs. Not-Empathy

I recently revisited my Clifton Strengthsfinder results. If you’re not familiar with this assessment, here’s a quick overview:

  • A psychologist named Don Clifton decided it made more sense to focus on developing people’s strengths than their faults. Clifton is considered the father of strengths-based psychology.

  • The Strengthsfinder is a set of 34 strengths present to different degrees in every human being.

  • The assessment gives you a deeper understanding of which of these strengths are strongest for you.

One of the interesting, yet difficult, things about Strengthsfinder is that they use their own language. For example, one of my top five strengths is Intellection. This is not a common word. The dictionary will tell you that Intellection simply means, “an act of intellect, thought, reason.” According to Strengthsfinder, someone with the Intellection strength is introspective and appreciates intellectual discussions. Spot on for me, but,...

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Why I Teach About Active Listening

If you follow me on LinkedIn, you know I write and think and teach a lot about active listening.

Yet it can STILL be really hard to do!

There are so many reasons I love the concept and theory of active listening, and reasons I love to teach about active listening:

  • When you actively listen to someone, you connect more deeply with them.

  • It’s the ONLY way to concentrate to truly understanding another person’s perspective.

  • It demonstrates humility because it involves asking them if you understand them correctly, and if you do get it wrong, you just roll with it and try to actively listen again and ask them again - like a listening/asking cycle!

  • It’s applicable to SO many situations:

    • Client/customer work

    • Managing a direct report

    • Managing up

    • Working or volunteering with a team

    • Getting closer to a loved one

    • Learning what the heck your teenager is thinking

    • Trying to understand the point of view of someone whose beliefs are a polar opposite to you...

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You manage people? Don't be the reason they leave!

Managing with Empathy

Think for a moment about your favorite manager or leader. Someone who was in charge in the organization you worked for, or work for today. What is it about them that makes them your favorite?

Odds are, what you love about them has far more to do with interpersonal skills than anything else. They listen to you. They care about you. They invest in you. They help you.

Managers who understand how to be human at work - how to empathize with fellow employees and direct reports - are far superior to managers who ignore or tamp down emotional connections.

There is little reason to trust a manager who refuses to become vulnerable and share something about themselves, and there is little reason to trust a manager who, when you’re feeling vulnerable, keeps their response business-like - or, let’s face it, robotic.

Managing with empathy can mean a lot of simple things; it comes down to being human.

How to Manage with Empathy

  • Ask someone how they’re...

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Black Lives Matter

I believe kindness, happiness, and empathy can change the world.

For too long, white Americans have lived in a bubble of privilege. The privilege is always mitigated by other factors - gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, income, health, and more. Yet our race always gives us privileges.

It seems like we may be in a time where more white Americans are waking up to this privilege than ever before. This gives me hope for the future. No one is free and equal until all are free and empowered.

As a white person, I’ve long had a desire to not behave in racist ways, and it seems like every year of my life I learn a little bit more about what that means. I’ve made mistakes and been insensitive. And I learn, and try never to make the same mistake twice.

I do the work I do because I believe that what we experience at work has ripple effects throughout our lives; if work is stress, we are stressed. And stressed people make bad decisions - sometimes, hurtful decisions;...

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Compassion in a Time of Pandemic

Hi friends,

I created this business in June 2018, after being trained as a mediator here in Virginia. I knew a few things about myself:

  • Helping and serving people who are struggling is important to me.

  • I felt passionately enough about bringing mediation services to workplaces that I wanted to, metaphorically, hang out my shingle (start a real business, not just freelance).

  • I seemed to have a higher level of empathy and listening skills than the average person.

Today, less than two years into running this business, I have learned so much - still have so much to do to get to the thriving business in my vision.

And I am at home with two kids, my husband, and our dog, indefinitely, because of the first global pandemic in my lifetime.

Here’s what I know:

  • Emotions are running high for all of us right now, and they’re the emotions that are more difficult to deal with - fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, confusion, disappointment, boredom, anger… the list goes on....

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New Active Listening Resource!

At Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation, we are all about helping leaders create happier workplaces. Every day, I train managers and leaders on how to resolve conflict, build a happier workforce, and use emotional intelligence at work.

There are several keys to this work, but one of the most basic skills that can serve you well with coworkers, clients, and in your personal life, is active listening.

Active Listening

It’s hard to overstate the importance of an active listening practice at work! Get the guide here .

It’s hard to overstate the importance of an active listening practice at work! Get the guide here.

When I train on active listening, I do a fun exercise where I pair people up, one person gets to tell a story, and the other one has to summarize the story and guess at an emotion expressed during the story - it’s been a hit every time! (So far.)

Active listening because is key to building your empathy muscle, which is key to increasing emotional intelligence, which is basically all about our social interactions as humans. And, yes,...

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Emotions At Work!

I’ve been talking to people a lot recently about empathy – what it is, what our reactions are to it, how can it be helpful – or not.

Many people believe empathy is a good thing, but do not generally give it a lot of thought, particularly when it comes to professional relationships. Whether you work primarily in an office as part of a team, primarily with clients, or primarily on your own, acknowledging that emotions are a part of life and being open to sharing compassion can be hugely beneficial. Even at work!

Compassion & Empathy – What’s the Connection?

Empathy is when we feel, or understand, someone else’s emotion. Compassion is one of the possible responses to empathy; in fact, it’s the goal. When we can see that someone else is in any type of distress – dealing with an emotion we typically think of as “negative” like anger, sadness, grief, disappointment, etc. – compassion is what we’re feeling if...

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What's my EQ?

….Um, I have no idea!

But I can tell you about emotional intelligence, and recommend a few starting places if you want to learn to use emotions wisely with all your relationships.

First, a word about sources

There are SO many! What I’ve learned has come from a great edX.org course called “Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work.” UC Berkeley professors Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas provide an overview of empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence, drawing from pioneers in the field like Daniel Goleman, who so many have heard of, as well as Peter Salovey and John Mayer and others. If this is a topic you’re interested in, there are PLENTY of opportunities to learn from masters. Seriously. An an example - look up Daniel Goleman on LinkedIn!

By the way, emotional intelligence and EQ are technically different things, like, to a researcher - but it’s easier to use them interchangeably, as I will here. EQ is simply the measure of...

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