The Women’s Leadership Podcast is now LIVE!

PODCAST (1) Big news here!

The Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership now has its own podcast!

The Women’s Leadership Podcast is hosted by Elizabeth, and features advice, information and interviews covering all aspects of women’s leadership.

The first three episodes are now available right here on iTunes.

If you love the podcast, please do review us on iTunes, subscribe to the podcast, and share it with anyone you know who might be interested!

And if you’d like to see a topic covered on a future podcast, just email us at podcast@emclaughlin.com.

We hope you enjoy The Women’s Leadership Podcast!

How to Resolve Workplace Conflict in Four Easy Steps

shutterstock_148465586Lately, I’ve been working with a number of clients who are struggling mightily with workplace conflict.

And as we all know, conflict in the workplace makes our jobs harder, ruins our morale and impacts our productivity dramatically.

If you’ve got conflict on the team you manage, or conflict with a co-worker, chances are good that you’ve got challenges in your communication style that are contributing to that conflict.

So how can you make your workplace more easeful by creating a conflict-free environment?

Read on.

In recent months, I’ve been exploring quite a bit with both my private and corporate clients something called Non-Violent Communication.

This communication style, pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg, has been everywhere from racially charged neighborhoods in conflicts with police to the highest levels of government as a means to resolve conflict, eliminate anger, and reach agreement and understanding.

So how does it work?

Rosenberg’s work suggests that there are four steps to resolving conflict and reaching a place of understanding in any conversation. They go like this:

1) Start with your observations.

In any conversation that is potentially conflicted, start by clearly expressing how “I am”– and do it without blaming or criticizing. For example, when dealing with a co-worker who belittles his assistant, one way to start might be to say the following:

“When I see you yelling at your assistant outside my office door . . . ”

I is the most important word in this sentence. Starting with “when you yell at your secretary . . .” is more confrontational.

2) Next, state your feelings.

Here, you must critically focus on your emotions or feelings rather than your thoughts. So continuing on with the above example, you might say:

“When I see you yelling at your assistant outside my office door, I feel anxious and stressed out . . .”

Note how different this is from, for instance, “You need to stop yelling at your assistant!”

3) Then, express your needs or values.

This is where it can get tricky, because the key to communicating effectively here is expressing what you need or value that you are not getting as a result of the conflict. It is important that rather than stating a preference, you instead state your needs and values explicitly.

So, again continuing with the above example:

“When I see you yelling at your assistant outside my office door, I feel anxious and stressed out, because I value a peaceful, respectful workplace.”

4) Lastly, state your request.

The final step in the non-violent communication process is clearing requesting something that would shift your experience, without demanding it.

So, our example would wind up as follows:

“When I see you yelling at your assistant outside my office door, I feel anxious and stressed out, because I value a peaceful, respectful workplace. Would you be willing to communicate with your assistant without yelling?”

As you might imagine, the results you would get from applying this process would be very different from something that went along these lines.

“You need to stop yelling at your assistant! You’re making everyone miserable! You need to cut it out, or I’m going to report you!”

Consider the different potential outcomes. Obviously, one is more likely to get a positive response than the other.

One last point on this style of communication: you can also use it when receiving information about how you are, without hearing blame or criticism. How might that work?

Let’s take another example: your co-worker is upset that you cut her off in a meeting. After the meeting, she storms into your office and says: “I can’t believe you did that! I had a really important point to make and you didn’t even let me finish! And now our boss thinks I didn’t have anything to contribute!”

Using the strategies of non-violent communication, you would respond as follows:

“So when you heard me interrupt you, you felt devalued and angry, because you value having your ideas heard in our meetings. Do I have that right?”

“Exactly!”

“Would you like me to be more patient and not interrupt you in the future?”

“Yes.” (exhale.) “That would be great. Thanks for understanding.”

As you can see, this is way better than responding to your colleague’s upset with something like “Stop being so sensitive!” (LOL.)

Bonus hint: these four steps apply not only at work, but not in life. Try them the next time you’re arguing with a partner. Defusing conflict through non-violent communication can benefit your work environment, your home life and even your parenting.

In the comments, I want to hear from you: how have strategies like these impacted your life for the better?

Wishing you a productive, conflict-free week!

All the best,

Elizabeth

PS. Do you struggle with workplace conflict? I can help. Click here to set up a free consultation and learn more about what private coaching can do for you.

 

 

How to Cure a Case of the “Shoulds”

shutterstock_218313466Over the past few weeks, I’ve been challenged to up my game on just about every level in just about every area of my life. I’m managing a series of personal and professional transitions that are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and it’s been an unbelievably stressful time.

It’s brought to the fore a number of old resentments, fears, and anger that I thought I’d mastered, or at least of which I thought I was aware enough that I didn’t need to worry about them much any more.

It’s also brought forward a painful case of the shoulds.

Perhaps the shoulds are familiar to you. They sound like this:

“I should be at this point in my career by now, just like so-and-so.”

“I should be past this degree of family-of-origin drama by this age.”

“I should be able to handle this circumstance without medication/therapy/my coach/crying all the time.”

“I should have married someone more like x person, or with x qualities.”

“I should be more financially stable by now.”

“My team shouldn’t hate me so much. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

I’ve heard all of these from clients, and some of them from myself, over the past few weeks.

The shoulds are closely related to the “supposed tos.” Those go something like this.

“I’m supposed to be x kind of leader.”

“I’m supposed to make x amount of money, or I won’t be good enough for my dad.”

“I’m supposed to not be in debt, but I made stupid mistakes when I was younger and now I feel bad about myself every damn day.”

Any and all of these may be familiar to you.

My up close and personal interactions with the shoulds, the supposed-tos, and their friends fear, resentment and anger over the past few weeks have led me to a place of considering a novel mindset in recent days– one that I’ve avoided for a long time, but that has proven to be a powerful cure.

What is it?

It’s something called radical acceptance.

I’ve never been particularly good at radical acceptance. I’m more the type of person who has acted to beat her head against a wall in every effort to change circumstances that have made me unhappy in every single way, for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes (well, rarely), that strategy has worked. More often than not, however, it has led me instead to being more miserable than before, and to wondering what’s wrong with me that I can’t change other people/a workplace/a familial relationship into exactly what I think it “should” be.

Which leads to this interesting observation: most of the time, fighting so hard to change other people or environments actually leads to you only being harder on yourself.

Radical acceptance of what is, however, leads to another path.

Radical acceptance says “I can’t change this person or circumstance. I can only take them for who or what they are, and make my decisions from there.”

Radical acceptance says “I accept that I am responsible for my own emotions, not anyone else. If I stop blaming the other party, maybe I can investigate how my reactions are contributing to this relationship drama.”

Radical acceptance says “I can’t change that I’m under mountains of debt thanks to past decisions. What I can change is how fast I get out of it.”

Radical acceptance says “I am where I am in my career, and these are the demands of it right now. How do I negotiate with those, instead of wishing it was different?”

Radical acceptance gets you on the path to tackling what’s in front of you, instead of beating yourself up for the past, offloading your part in your present circumstances, or wishing that the present was something other than what it is.

And an added side benefit? It’s awfully hard to be angry, fearful or resentful if you radically accept your present circumstances.

In other words, “this is how it is” forces you to confront reality, and ACT.

This week, I invite you to consider how radical acceptance might play out in your life.

If you radically accept that your current job isn’t working for you and never will, what will you do next?

If you radically accept your spouse for who they are, faults and all, what choices will you be led to?

If you radically accept that your family members will not change no matter how much you want them to, what will that mean for how you interact with them?

Will you choose “shoulds” and “supposed-tos”? Or will you choose to take responsibility for your own life, to own your values and your choices and the kind of person you want to be, and act from that place?

Wishing you a great week of experimenting with radically accepting what is.

Best,
Elizabeth

What I Learned From My Digital Detox

shutterstock_220489903For years, I’ve been recommending that my clients take daily breaks from online activities– often for as long as three hours a day if they can swing it.

And indeed, daily breaks from the phone have been a practice of mine for as long as I can remember. I know and understand the benefits.

Until last week, however, I’d never done a full-on digital detox– meaning no social media whatsoever– of any serious and/or challenging length.

(And trust me, when you run a digital business (or two), it’s awfully hard to imagine unplugging from what often feels like your professional and financial lifeline by doing this. Fear is often a good justifier/excuse for not doing what you know needs to be done.)

Last week, however, I hit a breaking point.

A coach I’ve been working with– because even the best coaches need coaches themselves; this is the first one I’ve worked with for my own betterment in a while– saw that I was near a breaking point in terms of how hard I’d been pushing myself, the stress I was under, and the almost unbearable effects it was having on my physical and mental well-being.

(Not that my health care and personal wellness professionals hadn’t been pointing to the same thing for months. They had. I just didn’t listen).

By mid-last week, I was feeling truly awful in a number of very significant ways.

And so my coach ordered me, in no uncertain terms, on to a 48 hour digital detox.

“But what about x deadline, y newsletter, all this usual stuff I do all by myself, every week, with no help? Those things have to fire to social media, and if I don’t do them, I’ll be letting everyone down.”

“Nothing that you are doing,” she said to me, “can’t wait a few days.”

And so, at the instruction of my coach, in addition to 48 hours of digital detox, I also offloaded anything work-related, digital or not, that didn’t feel easeful or like an invitation, for the next three plus days.

Perhaps if I hadn’t been feeling so terrible, I would have ignored these instructions, as I had ignored others so many times before. But this time, I did not.

And let me tell you, after 48 full-on hours off digital, and three-plus full days not working, the things I learned were profound.

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