Change the Brain for Good: Being a Verb Instead of a Noun

This entry* on attention is the final one of a five-part series on what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. The second one investigates resilience; the third considers empathy and compassion; and the fourth investigates the impact of meditation on … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Resilience 

This entry on resilience is the second in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. Over forty years ago, I started dabbling with meditation because I … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Responding to Disturbances

This entry is the first in a five-part series. It will describe what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain, and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. For 15 years I’ve been tracking the impact of meditation on the human brain and its potential to help people be more constructive in meetings. In my work as a leader, consultant and facilitator it seems to me … Read more…

Tackling “…ist” Talk

To begin 2018 I offer two pieces on how to counter talk that undercuts and damages our ability to interact in constructive ways. The first one, Tackling Toxic Talk, considered how to stop toxic talk in the work place. This one explores how to handle talk that cuts close to people’s core: degrading comments about race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation. When faced with degrading comments about anyone’s race, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual … Read more…

“Duh’s” and “Aha’s”*

When do your best ideas come to you? Perhaps while you are walking, showering, or having a good conversation with people you trust? Or, do they come while you are studying an issue and trying to solve it based on your past experience with solving a similar problem? When faced with a difficult issue many of us try the latter and often come to an impasse or apply an ineffective solution. This happens for two … Read more…

Active Hope

“Active hope is a practice…it is something we do, rather than have.” Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone When I feel hopeful, I have some confidence that what I hope will happen is likely to happen. For example, I hope this meeting accomplishes what I want it to accomplish. Or, I hope people listen to one another’s perspectives. In this way, desire for a particular future is a part of hope. “Active hope,” according to Joanna Macy and Chis … Read more…

When Your Hair Is On Fire…

According to Stephen Covey, one of the seven habits of highly effective people is that they, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  It sounds so simple. Something you could embroider on a pillow. Or, make into a poster. Simple does not mean easy. When someone says something that sets your hair on fire, the temptation is to go tit for tat, tooth for tooth, measure for measure. We go round and round, getting … Read more…

Handling Hidden Emotions

A colleague was in a meeting recently with her counterparts from around the state trying to figure out how they might collaborate to improve each of their organizations’ individual performance. As they considered possibilities, one member of the group kept objecting to everything in a harsh tone. Basically the message was, this will never work, don’t even try it. So, on breaks and when the naysayer was not in the room, the group came up … Read more…

Remember: We Get to Choose

Remembering Choice

In a matter-of-fact manner my sister-in-law once said a surprising thing: “When people get angry, I don’t get angry back.” To her, this appeared to be her modus operandi. For many others it is not. When someone gets angry, we get angry back. (Is this true of you?) What if you remembered that you get to choose whether you want to respond or react? That you don’t have to be driven by the more primitive … 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…