Say What You Mean—Do What You Say

We are receiving more requests to facilitate “difficult conversations” this year than in previous ones. We don’t know the cause. Perhaps it’s the national political climate that has people more on edge. One common denominator in many of these conflicts is people NOT saying what they mean or doing what they said they would do. According to Angeles Arrien, these are two major sources of conflict. In her bestselling book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the … Read more…

Giving Away Power

Recently, I was talking with a small group of women about difficult situations and the impact they have on us. By “difficult” we meant anything that triggers us emotionally and diminishes our ability to handle circumstances effectively and constructively. One aspect that we had in common is that in these situations, we tended to give our power away and lose access to our equanimity and skills. By “power” I mean the ability to stay grounded, … Read more…

Asking Questions of Genuine Curiosity

Asking great questions is an important partner skill to good listening skills.  In this season of political upheaval paired with many opportunities to gather socially, questions of genuine interest will be a valuable tool.  To elaborate we are re-posting our original blog on this topic from November 4th of last year. Listening (“Go-To” Skill #1) and asking questions of genuine curiosity (“Go-To” Skill # 2) are the keys to the kingdom of understanding and working … Read more…

Focus on Listening with Responsive Behavior

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to productively address complex problems we face in our lives.  Just over a year ago, I wrote about listening and its value in problem solving.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that last week and over the next few weeks I am giving attention to four characteristics of good listening. In addition to quieting oneself to … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Choosing Appropriate Behaviors

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to tackle the complex problems we face in our lives at work and in our communities.  A year ago, I spent time exploring specific skills that support those practices.  One of those skills is listening.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that over the next four weeks I want to give attention again to four characteristics … Read more…

“Go-To” Skill #2: Asking Questions of Genuine Curiosity

Listening (“Go-To” Skill #1) and asking questions of genuine curiosity (“Go-To” Skill # 2) are the keys to the kingdom of understanding and working well with others to solve tough issues. Without these two, we are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day, recreating the same conversation over and over again until we get it right. In “Change Your Questions Change Your Life” Marilee Adams makes a distinction between “learner questions” and “judger questions.” Questions of genuine … Read more…

“Go-To” Skill #1: Listening

Listening is the most underutilized and essential element there is for meaningful conversation. It is good for whatever ails any meeting. Although it does not cure a common cold, it does prevent misunderstandings, strengthen relationships, and help people clarify their thinking. So, why don’t we listen more deeply and more often? Among many possible reasons, three stand out: tit for tat behavior, fear, and lack of skill. “Tit for tat” or “you aren’t listening to … Read more…