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The Fresh Breeze of Visualization

True story 

I’m reading the newest issue of TD/Talent Development magazine and the editorial/Hot Topic is “Curtail Chaos in Digital Workplace Communication.“ I think to myself, I should give this a fast read, it’s an important topic… in fact, I have suffered the consequences of abrupt, incomplete, task-oriented missives that ignore the humanity of all involved (as I am sure you have too.)

I get into the article, and I say to myself, “Oh yes! This is exactly what I’ve been experiencing in a few of my work relationships.” The author Derrick Thompson, cites the white paper, Conversation Chaos in the Digital Age, by Fierce CEO Susan Scott. “It’s likely that remote team members have not had a single face-to-face encounter with coworkers during the past year. Scott explains that those spontaneous break room chats that many workers take for granted can help build trust and rapport.”

So the experience that most concerns me, at this moment, is working with folks I have never met face-to-face in person or only once or twice before the pandemic. In our work for the organization, we gather once a month for a group meeting and communicate primarily through Slack. In one relationship in particular, I have never had the opportunity to have other-than-work-related conversations. When this individual and I communicate, it’s always to address a problem or the (unsolicited) suggestion of an idea that feels like it has an edge to it. (Of course, that’s my perception of the communication, I do not know its intent, just its impact on me.) We’ve had little time to develop any relationship or to work together and celebrate successes. As you can imagine this is a situation ripe for misunderstanding… and it’s happened more than once. I am troubled by this situation because in general, we both appear to be nice folks. 

What is happening? 

What can I do differently? (As change begins with me.)

As luck would have it, serendipitously, we have recently been given a task to do together. 

Before the meeting, I worked to gain a larger perspective on the situations and us, and to consider this a fresh start (a bit of beginner’s mind/being present to just that moment, leaving history behind). I also remembered a similar situation, a disconnect with a colleague, and my response to that challenge. I picked up the book Dynamic Relationships, by Jaqueline M. Stavros and Cheri B. Torres, and gained new knowledge, skills, and practices. I can’t recommend the book highly enough!

Perhaps not surprisingly, the experience went really well. We were able to show up, in part because we had the time to interact just a little socially, and because we had to work together to achieve the task. I am heartened by this result!

In thinking more about the TD article though, I am troubled by the omission of what it means to bring our whole selves to work and relationships. “A more effective way to begin these conversations (giving feedback) is to provide a fact-based, objective example of what you observed and then ask the other person to share their experience.” 

While I am all about speaking of the facts, (though they are seen through our own lenses), I remain concerned that there is no acknowledgment of the role that emotions play in our thinking and behavior. Whether we recognize our feelings or not, they live within us all the time, influencing our thoughts and perceptions. My conviction around this belief has led to extensive reading, training, and practice in the field of Nonviolent Communication (compassionate communication). Awareness of ourselves and others, and working with our emotions to co-create relationships is the place where I begin… sometimes I begin again and again… and that’s a good practice!

In response to the impact of the pandemic on interpersonal work relationships, I am offering sessions for teams and groups in organizations who wish to experience the joy of virtual visual collaboration. Colleagues can come together to create team guidelines for collaboration, work on a joint project, generate a strategic plan, a roadmap, or… the sky’s the limit. I invite you to imagine how you want your work relationships to develop over the next few months, read through the short document* that describes the essence of the offering, and reach out to me for a conversation. 

* bikablo offering — The Fresh Breeze of Visualization

We’re more than our minds—Handling our feelings (gasp!)

When’s the last time you felt (out of the ordinary) nervous or anxious?

I had that experience just last week.

I was meeting with my lawyer to prepare for giving a deposition. (Long story short, I have a lawsuit against two companies.) I’ve never given a deposition before. As I learned throughout the process, though I might have guessed it from watching a bit of television, it’s not exactly like having a conversation. It’s not a comfortable back and forth, it’s more about being short and to the point, just answering the question that is being asked. Those of you that know me, know that I am a bit of a chatty person. While I am task-oriented, I do love to share details that make the conversation more full and interesting. In this instance, my focus needed to be laser-like (did I understand the question, was I using the correct language to convey my thoughts), and my answers had to be brief.

Before even thinking about the struggle to get into that rhythm, I needed to manage my nerves. Even hearing myself talking about being nervous was new and different for me. That’s not to say don’t get nervous, I absolutely do, and can feel it in my body, but I just don’t talk about it much.

What about you? When’s the last time you were feeling anxious or nervous?

In 2015, I studied breathwork with Drs. Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg. It was another resource in my repertoire for working with my coaching clients. I became certified in their technique, using it not only with my coaching clients but also as part of the self-care program that I brought to Tasmania in partnership with my colleague Julia Curtis.

In learning the breathwork methodology, I started doing “body scans” of myself. In my practice, and in centers across Tasmania, I taught others the same skill. My training (and ongoing practice over the years) served me well last week when I needed to discover more about how I was feeling, locating tension in my body, and then working to calm my nerves through breath work and tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

What’s your process for discovering how you’re feeling?

Perhaps my question sounds unusual though in my work I have found that many people do not know how they feel. They know how they think, up in their minds, yet they don’t easily locate their feelings in their bodies—joy, happiness, contentment, worry, frustration, anger, surprise. (There’s great information available to learn more about these areas. Let me know if you’re interested in the resources.)

Once you’ve discovered your answers about how you’re feeling, how do you support and care for yourself?

I found, that in this nerve-jangling experience,

  • maintaining my awareness of my internal state and working with it,
  • getting congratulatory and constructive feedback from my lawyer as we practiced my testimony, and
  • seeing myself on Zoom—regulating my appearance and demeanor

left me tired and yet generally pleased with my performance.

I also credit my extensive work in Nonviolent Communication with being able to discern my emotional state, to put labels, and assign meaning to my feelings so that I choose how to work with them as opposed to them “running” me.

If you’re curious about breathwork (and the science behind it), I’d suggest Drs. Brown & Gerbarg’s book, Breath, Body, Mind. It’s an easy-to-learn process and always available for our use.

If you’re interested in gaining some of these skills, breathwork, and EFT or perhaps shifting to an appreciative perspective on your life and the world, I hope you’ll be in touch. I coach individuals in all of these areas and use all of them myself.

Summer is waning, what are your reflections?

Memories of long ago…

At the beginning of the summer, with the possibility of carefree days of vacation—camp, friends, sometimes a bit of travel—the idea of having to complete a summer project for high school felt like a burden. By the time the summer was over, with the project completed, I had a sense of accomplishment. As it was a time filled with fun and a bit of work, which was usually (mostly) of my own design… it was really not so bad after all.

What was your project this summer?

Was it making it through every day endeavoring to stay afloat —mentally, emotionally, and maybe financially too?  I hear you, these remain trying times.

Were you, your family, or friends touched by sickness? Members of my family and my circle of friends have been affected. Most have recovered but not all. 

Did it include thinking in new ways or maybe taking on new work? My work has changed in many ways—I miss being in the room with my participants and yet love the connections I am making across the continents too.

How are you feeling about what has changed and what remains the same? I am curious to know.

My summer project has blossomed into a coaching circle for women. 

Roots of Resilience grew out of my desire to synthesize my academic background, training in coaching, and experience across the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, Appreciative Inquiry, Compassion, communication, and NVC/compassionate communication.

I started this project after listening to many of my women colleagues around the world talk about feeling tired, depleted, and sometimes pessimistic. I designed this circle for the folks like them and like me—women whose strengths feel buried by a combination of unforeseeable circumstances.

These have been trying times and I believe they will continue to be so for the near future. I believe it is a time to come together, share our knowledge and skills, and build them together so that we all emerge stronger, more resilient. Would being a member of a circle with women provide the foundation and the impetus to regain your resilience— to tap into your perhaps dormant knowledge and skills, and build on them?

If this work interests you, as a member of the circle, or individually, please learn more about it here. And if you are one of my colleagues who is an IFVP member, I made the offer at our annual conference this year and I will provide a discount for you. As a field, we have been hit hard by this pandemic. Scholarships are also available to those desiring to join the circle.

Please contact me with your questions. I am offering this experience in one-to-one coaching sessions too—for anyone who feels drawn to this inner work (and play).