Be Aware of Polarization

Different Points of View

No doubt about it. Many have been shocked by the election results.  While there was a call for change, many are uncertain about what will evolve.  Whether you are happy with the election choice or not, we know that disruption also breeds possibilities. When there is disruption—whether an acquisition, a change in the marketplace, a change in health or another challenge—there is an opening for doing things differently.  Amidst the fear and concern with change, people are more willing to take risks and do things differently, especially when they experience the disruption as real.  Strong leaders see the opening and make significant changes during difficult times. Continue reading

Check Your Blind Spot

I don’t know what I don’t know

The election has heightened our awareness that we are seeing the world differently. Many have expressed their shock at how they were blind sighted by the number of people with different views.

Just as we can’t see cars that are in our blind spot when driving, we always have a blind spot in our interactions with others.  We each have different life experiences that influence how we view the world and make interpretations. Continue reading

Disruption Breeds New Possibilities

Positive Change

No doubt about it. Many have been shocked by the election results.  While there was a call for change, many are uncertain about what will evolve.  Whether you are happy with the election choice or not, we know that disruption also breeds possibilities. When there is disruption—whether an acquisition, a change in the marketplace, a change in health or another challenge—there is an opening for doing things differently.  Amidst the fear and concern with change, people are more willing to take risks and do things differently, especially when they experience the disruption as real.  Strong leaders see the opening and make significant changes during difficult times. Continue reading

How Do You Respond to the Election?

OpennessThe presidential election has made us more aware than ever that we are seeing the world very differently than neighbors, family members and colleagues.  Many are reflecting on how to proceed next.  One option is to believe that people with opposing views “just don’t get it” or worse are not intelligent or capable.  We may go so far as to polarize the others and see them as less than human.  Name-calling and even violence may evolve. While having negative views of the other may be a natural first option, it has costs. Continue reading

Self-Awareness is Paramount

Self AwarenessExamine your assumptions, emotions, and background before choosing what to share with others. Internally, we process what we observe, making sense of it, and then select an action or response. Sometimes, this process happens very quickly. We may feel we don’t have a lot of choice about our actions, particularly when we have a strong emotional reaction.

The ability to observe ourselves and become self-aware is one of the key characteristics that makes us human. We have the capacity simultaneously to make assumptions about an observation, experience emotions, and also become aware of what is going on. It is as if we are in a theatre, shining a light on the actors and noticing their thoughts and feelings. When we notice our excitement, some part of us is feeling excited and another part is noticing this emotion. Becoming aware is a critical tool for managing and supporting ourselves to engage in valuable conversations. When we are aware, we are more free to make a choice about how we will respond and what we will share with others. Continue reading

Be Calm

calm-openIt is easy to feel off center given the turbulent environment. In addition, emotions are contagious and we pick up the anxiety of others. It is easy to feel helpless.

One way to make a difference is to start with you.  Notice your emotions and give yourself empathy.  You might say to yourself, “Something in me is feeling sad, angry, worried, etc.”  By naming and acknowledging your emotion, you can begin to be released from the grip of the emotion and see that you are more than the emotion.  Continue reading

Are Your Judgments Facts?

JudgementWhen you start a conversation with assumptions and judgments and act like they are facts, it causes defensiveness. If my family member had said, “You were rude and ruined my evening” without sharing his observable data first, I could have been defensive. I might have verbally attacked him for not being clear about his expectations or for his unjustified outburst.

In the workplace, if I observed that Marla, a staff member, did not volunteer to join a project committee, I might assume that she was not committed to the team. Marla might become defensive if I stated that. Then, she probably would be focused on protecting herself rather than being open to solving my concern and coming to an agreement. However, if I start the conversation in a non-judgmental tone by saying, “I notice that you did not volunteer to join the committee,” Marla might offer that she is working on some other aspects of the project or give other evidence of her commitment. Continue reading

Five Reasons to Identify Your Observations

observing[Excerpted from OASIS Conversations: Leading with an Open Mindset to Maximize Your Potential]

Observing is one of the key skills of being self-aware. Years ago, I was just like a “bobbing head.” In my focus on being efficient, I was moving so fast that I was not aware of my sensations. I quickly made and acted on my assumptions. Many of the executives and others I work with currently are experiencing life the same way.

By becoming aware of what you observe, you are more likely to remember that others notice different things and interpret situations differently. This is an important first step to communicating effectively with people who have different experiences than you do— which is everybody! I encourage you to notice and practice sharing your observations with your family members. I am forever amazed by how what appears obvious to me is not the same, for instance, as what my daughter is observing. Continue reading

What Is Respect?

What Is Respect?

[Excerpted from OASIS Conversations: Leading with an Open Mindset to Maximize Your Potential]

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield always complained, “I don’t get no respect.” We may laugh at this statement because we’d rather laugh than cry. We crave respect. However, the challenge is that we each have a different definition of respect.

For most Americans, respect is looking others in the eye when talking. Others, for example, some Asians and Africans, believe it is more respectful not to look elders or other highly respected people directly in the eyes. Some think it is respectful to use e-mail rather than call someone, so as not to disturb the person. Another feels disrespected when someone doesn’t call. We each tend to think that our idea of respect is the “right” way while another way is “wrong.”
Continue reading

Observation or Assumption?

OASIS ConversationsIn workshops, I ask participants to observe what I do for two minutes. Without further explanation, I walk out of the room, then back in. Then I look under participants’ workbooks, I look behind doors, I clap, and I put my hands on my hips. I take off my shoe and put it back on. I throw a ball up in the air and take the caps off two markers and smell them. Then I ask participants, “What did you observe?”

Participants say: “You were unorganized.” “You lost something.” “You were frustrated.” “You were nervous.” “You were confused,” or “You were rude.” Some say, “You didn’t know what you were doing.” “You were upset.” “Your behavior bothered me— it was irritating.” These kinds of statements come quickly from participants. When I keep asking, “What did you observe?” they continue to state a wide range of their assumptions based on my behavior. Finally, a participant will state, “You left the room.” Another might say, “You came in the back door,” or “You threw the ball in the air.” Continue reading