Belonging is our birthright: Using Conversational Intelligence® to create radical inclusion

Over the last year, I have had an accelerated awakening of how to engage in the dismantling of the inequities in our society. As I write that statement, I feel a great sense of responsibility to move from learning to action.

As I mentioned in a recent blog, “How do we actually ‘Be the Change We want to See?’”, I recently completed certification in Conversational Intelligence®. This certification strengthened my understanding of the impact that words have in building or dismantling trust. One aspect of completion of the certification was a capstone project.

I challenged myself to explore how to use C-IQ tools and skills in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) context.  Many of the C-IQ skills have built my capacity to act when I experience or witness microaggressions.  The greatest challenge when experiencing or witnessing a microaggression is to regulate our reaction so that we can educate and raise visibility about bias and move toward establishing equity.

Within .07 seconds of being 10 feet of someone(1), our brain is determining if this person is a friend or foe. If there is any indication of how the person looks, acts, speaks that seems unfamiliar, the amygdala in our brain pumps cortisol to protect us and we go to the primitive section of our brain. The primitive brain saved us from the lions when we were in the earliest stages of human development. Cortisol has a shelf-life of 26 hours(2), leaving a lasting impact on our perceptions.  This is how bias begins to form. We have the capacity to deprogram and unlearn our bias and Conversational Intelligence® provides these tools by examining the neuroscience and the impact words have on our experience.

​I recently attended the Racial Justice Summit hosted by the YWCA Madison with more than 800 participants to deepen my learning through workshops and presentations from nationally-known speakers, Climbing PoeTree and Annahid Dashtgard.

Climbing PoeTree was a powerful duo sharing spoken word, rap and poetry “as a tool to expose injustice, channel hope into vision and make a better future visible, immediate and irresistible.”

Annahid Dashtgard, a Toronto-based educator, led a session highlighting the framework of her recently published book, Breaking The Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion and Reconciliation.  She approaches EDI work from a lens of belonging:

“Belonging is our birthright. It straddles the individual and systemic levels of existence, toggling between the psychological truth that we are all the same and the political truth that we are divided by access to power.”

Dashtgard believes that we have to regain our wholeness internally before we can work toward changing systems externally. When we experience belonging, we are activating oxytocin and the parasympathetic nervous system which allow us to calm ourselves and shift the external environment. When we feel exclusion, we are in a state of vigilance, activating cortisol and our reactive nervous system.

As I processed Dashtgard’s challenge to the conference participants, I could delineate the C-IQ skills that support the process of building bridges of inclusion and belonging:

Making the Invisible Visible:  Bringing attention to the unseen dynamics and patterns in conversations, and engage in dialogue to shift these patterns.

Deconstructing Conversations: Examine what was said, how it was said and the impact it had on the receiver, in relation to the intention of the sender.

Co-regulation: Partnering to down-regulate cortisol and fear, and up-regulate oxytocin and trust. This skill builds a foundation of co-creating a new reality.

How do we begin? We begin from the basis that we are all the same in wanting to belong. Start with self and understanding: When do I feel like I belong? When do I feel excluded? Once you are able to identify the micro-signals of belonging and exclusion, you are building your social-emotional literacy to give words to your experience.  This gives you the ability to use Conversational Intelligence® skills to move from the personal experience to the institutional and systemic levels to reduce the barriers that create inequity.

The journey of transformation of our global society requires that each of us individually take steps to restore our individual wholeness and collectively shift the external environment. Together we can co-create a culture of belonging.

Together we can co-create a culture of belonging.
Let’s connect to chart our path toward this new reality.

(1) “Within .07 seconds of being 10 feet of someone, our brain is determining if this person is a friend or foe. ” — Page 103 of Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser
(2) “Cortisol has a shelf-life of 26 hours, leaving a lasting impact on our perceptions.” — Page 104 of Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser

3 Ways that Defining your Talents Will Help Build your Personal Brand

I recently hosted a “sneak peek” webcast on the topic of personal values and strengths. This offered participants a window into the Vista Leadership Institute programs and the journey of crafting your next chapter.

We start with the broad question of “Who am I?” and “Where are my natural talents?” The CliftonStrengths assessment measures your natural talents from 34 themes and you arrive at the list of your “Top 5”. Continue reading “3 Ways that Defining your Talents Will Help Build your Personal Brand”

Designing Your Life is a Team Sport

Having played team sports since I was 9 years old, I have built the mindset that to be successful, I can’t do it alone.

Although I have built this mindset, I often see with coaching and consulting clients that many people want to do it all on their own.  Whether it is because they haven’t built trust with their colleagues or they feel pressure to bear the responsibility, they are driving with no co-pilot.

If you haven’t heard this African proverb yet, it speaks to the important lesson that I learned at age 9:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. - African Proverb

As we designed the Vista Leadership Institute Mastermind Program, we built the team into the program DNA.  Why? Because life design is a team sport.

Designing Your Life proposes that this concept of team-building is a profound and necessary part of any creative act.

“Designers believe in radical collaboration because true genius is a collaborative process. We design our lives in collaboration and connection with others, because WE is always stronger than I- it is as simple as that.  When you design your life, you are engaging in an act of co-creation.” — Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

The Vista Leadership Mastermind Program embraces this “true genius” idea and begins with the formation of your design team. Throughout the 7-month program, you will work in pairs and triads, offering and receiving insight. Your team will help push you, asking “what if?” as you create your action plan for the next chapter of life.

You will also have three individual coaching calls with me throughout the program to create an even stronger accountability framework to move along your life’s journey.

Because when things get tough, you need someone to have your back, to help you get up when you get knocked down, AND to do flip flops and cheer you on when you hit it out of the park!

So if you are at a crossroads, asking yourself “what do I want to do next?” and you don’t know where to start… Join the Vista Leadership Mastermind team. We are saving a spot for you so we can co-create your game plan to hit the next 5 years out of the park!

Early bird discount deadline is September 15th.
Payment plans are available! (Email for details)

Your Mastermind Program Starts Now! Apply Today!

How do we actually “Be the Change We Want to See”?

If you have been following my blog over the last few years, you may recall that I wrote a blog series on a course I was taking on Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) for coaches regarding the impact that neuroscience has on the quality of conversations. The blog series can be found at the bottom of the post titled, Courageous Conversations: The Future is Now.

Skills that I learned in the course were: Being Open to Influence, Priming for Trust, Asking Questions for Which We Have No Answers, Listen to Connect, Conversational Agility and Double-Clicking.

Over the last two years I have been using these skills with coaching and consulting clients to close gaps between intention and impact and to elevate awareness of the power of conversation to transform the world.

This year, I decided to certify as a C-IQ coach. The certification program was an additional six months of course work and a capstone project to demonstrate how I embody conversational intelligence.

During the first few months, it was very challenging to grasp what “embodying C-IQ” really meant.  The dictionary.com definition is “to give concrete form to; express, personify, or exemplify in concrete form.”  

To embody conversational intelligence, we were asked to explore our level of competence along the four stages of competence.

The highest level of competence is “unconscious competence”, which is the level at which we are in flow, when things come so easily that you don’t even think about what you are doing. It becomes second nature.

In C-IQ certification, as coaches we were challenged to go deeper with our learning, adding new conversational essentials, to stretch ourselves to move through the four stages of competence.

New conversational essentials presented were: Making the Invisible Visible, Deconstructing Conversations and Co-Regulating our Conversations — up-regulating oxytocin and down-regulating cortisol. Oxytocin and cortisol are the neurotransmitters triggered when we have either positive or negative conversations.

As I mentioned, I was really struggling with the notion of embodying and then one day, I realized I was TRYING too hard. I wasn’t getting to the flow because I was too much in my head, not in my heart.  When I “loosened up the grip” on learning and leaned back, I started to notice that I was now using these skills not only in my work but in all aspects of my life.

I can see how many of the conversational essentials I learned in 2017 have now become second nature.

I am deconstructing conversations with family and friends. I am raising visibility of conversational patterns that are unproductive in all aspects of my life. I am starting to build the unconscious competence…embodying conversational intelligence.

Conversational Intelligence essentials have helped guide me in all aspects of my life, to be the change I want to see in the world.

Are you experiencing challenging conversations in any area of your life and don’t know how to shift from the patterns that keep you stuck? Are you THINKING about it too much?

To get a sneak peek of how C-IQ can help you transform your conversations, we are offering a free 30-minute webcast and live chat on Conversational Intelligence next week, August 21 @ 12:30pm CDT.  We will offer it again in September, if you can’t make it live.

Join us to begin the journey of transforming your conversations!

 

Transforming Paradigms for 21st Century Leadership

The world is changing more rapidly, in more contexts, than ever before. Technology seems redundant or obsolete just as soon as we understand how to use it. Restaurants open and close, trends change – so often to our surprise, and who knows what television show we should be watching on what streaming service and when? There are viral challenges, new social media platforms, photo apps to age us and others to turn us into rabbits. 

As trends and new apps come and go, we are welcoming more of the world into our smartphone and encountering more diversity, more ideas, more complexity in our workplace. This requires a change in leadership that rejects many paradigms that warn us “but that’s how it’s always done!”  

Leadership strategist Dov Baron writes, “For many in ‘old school’ leadership positions who are unfamiliar with allowing people to really see them, this can, of course, be scary and may even seem threatening.” Some of it might seem daunting, but so much of it is exciting when viewed through the lens of social impact and resources for a more just and sustainable world. But how do we transition from the “old school” to a 21st-century leadership model? Baron can summarize it succinctly: “In a word—by learning.”

Continue reading “Transforming Paradigms for 21st Century Leadership”

Every great nonprofit begins with a great board

This post originally published on June 8, 2016 has been updated.

My experience with nonprofit board governance began in college when I was President of U.C. Berkeley’s Sports Club Council, comprised of 30 different clubs on campus. I had no experience with nonprofit governance. I didn’t realize that my role as Council president was broader than just running meetings. I didn’t have any understanding that the individual club members could and should play a role in strengthening the overall mission of the Council.  Over the course of the past few decades, I have learned a lot about what contributes to a bad, good and great board and why that is important for nonprofit success. If only I knew then, what I know now. 

Continue reading “Every great nonprofit begins with a great board”