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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How to Manage Workplace Conflict

4 Keys to Manage Workplace Conflict: Curiosity, Kindness, Engagement, and Shared Purpose.

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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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Job Crafting

Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.

~ Aristotle, about 2,500 years ago.

But let’s be honest here: a lot of work does not feel like a vocation.

Is there a way to find more meaning in your work?

To feel that you use your talents every day and that doing so makes a difference in the world?

Yes! It’s called job-crafting. This comprehensive article from the Harvard Business Review archive goes over what it is, and two examples of how it has worked in two different industries; plus it was written by the researchers who pioneered the concept.

The concept of job-crafting is so simple, it’s brilliant. Job-crafting was created by researchers Jane Dutton, Amy Wrzesniewski, and Justin Berg. In this video you can hear Dr. Wrzesniewski describe a janitor in a hospital who had “crafted her job,” in terms of how she thought of her work, into something much more important, ambitious, and kind-hearted than what we typically...

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Purpose: A Unique-to-You Aspect of Workplace Happiness

happy workplace purpose Feb 11, 2020

Purpose is one of my favorite topics in the field of positive psychology as it applies to working and the workplace. I’ve always felt that whatever my occupation is, it should put some good into the world in addition to pay in my pocket. So it made intuitive sense when I learned that purpose is a key ingredient in happiness, generally, and specifically workplace happiness. 

Psychologists generally define happiness as the mix of positive feelings with a sense of purpose or meaning. Happiness at work, therefore, is not simply that someone tends to feel more positive than negative* emotions at work. Happiness at work is the mix of feeling positively at work while also finding a meaning in your work that has nothing to do with a paycheck or profits. 

What that meaning is can vary widely. Nonprofit or government jobs are often considered meaningful: profit is taken out of the equation (usually - revenue is actually really important for most), so we assume that these jobs...

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End Workplace Conflict with These 4 Steps

As a mediator, and a former community/political organizer, I’ve learned a lot about conflict. I founded Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation because Americans spend more time working than doing anything else - and we deserve to be happy at work. Conflict, while inevitable among humans, can be handled in ways that actually increase happiness.

There are four keys to building a happier workplace, and every one of them will help your employees deal with conflict more productively.

Red 4 Steps for a Happier Workplace Infographic.png
  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

  • Engagement

  • Shared Purpose

Curiosity

Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment or the person, start asking questions: Why did they behave that way? What might make them do that? What might they be thinking or feeling that would lead them to do or say that...

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Good Meetings: Purpose

You know this: When work meetings aren’t productive, you run the risk of wasting time and contributing to employee disengagement and unhappiness. The truth is, meetings can be productive; they can even contribute to enhancing employee engagement.

This is the third post in a series of four about how to run better meetings at work. The topics we’re covering are:

Most modern workers have to be in meetings at least some of the time; this series is in part inspired by this podcast that posits ways to turn meetings from sources of dread and drain into sources of productivity and energy.

When I started to study happiness back in 2015, I was struck by the definition used by researchers: Happiness is not just the subjective feeling of joy and/or well-being, it’s that mixed with a sense of purpose, meaning, or that you’re participating in something...

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Mediator Tips: Mitigate Conflict with Collaboration

I’m psyched to bring my Resolve Conflict Now training to BBG’s audience of HR professionals on September 18, 2019, in the comfort of their own offices - not BBG’s offices; this is a webinar anyone can join. It’s also free! Register here.

Part of the 101-level, one-hour webinar will focus on how to build a collaborative workforce. I sum it all up with four keys:

  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

  • Engagement

  • Shared purpose

Let’s take them, briefly, one by one.

Curiosity

Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment, choose to get curious - Why did they behave that way? What might be happening that’s motivating them to do that thing that’s completely awful, in your opinion? Why exactly do you think it is completely awful?

Have a conversation with...

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Make Your Meetings Useful

Ever hear someone complain that they can’t get anything done because “I’m in meetings all day!”

Hanging out with friends is one thing – no one really wants a plan or an agenda if you just want to spend time with people you like. But work is different. Everyone has the same goal (or complementary goals) – to do a good job, to make money, to provide a service, to sell to customers. Work meetings should move everyone closer to the goal, not farther from it.

So how do you make your meetings useful?

  • Know your purpose.

    Notice I did not say “topic.” Anyone can have a topic. That’s just the thing we’re talking about. In contrast, “purpose” implies a goal. There is a reason that people need to have an in-person conversation about, well, whatever the topic may be. What is everyone trying to accomplish together? How will this meeting make it happen? That’s your goal.

  • Only invite necessary people.

    I’m sure...

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