I have a secret tool I use to help me navigate ongoing, courageous conversations, and I did not learn it from running my business or a workshop – I am learning it from parenting.
I am noticing in my current work with clients – leaders are working seriously to create brave, co-led, collaborative workplaces. (I believe this is because people expect and require this from their workplace, more leaders with the intent to create a healthy, equitable workplace are moving into positions of power, and there are more opportunities and resources to learn and become an inclusive, collaborative organization.)
Of course, healthy, inclusive, collaborative workplaces require more relationship-building, more navigation of ethical decision-making and processes, and more thoughtful conversations. And not just a single courageous conversation. Most moments require a series of honest, difficult conversations.
So what does this have to do with my current parenting learnings?
I am parenting an exuberant, loving, imaginative child who feels things quickly and with his whole body. It requires me to learn how to navigate accountability, boundaries, and big conversations with a level of calm and compassion – I honestly was never able to muster in grown-up spaces until now.
(Umm, partially because the child I am parenting is biologically mine, and he may have gotten his ability to have big feelings fast from my DNA.)
To show up calmly and not escalate the situation, I have had to increase my compassion and nervous system regulation practices.
Here is my not-so-secret secret. The more I support myself to feel compassion (toward others and myself) and calm (by taking good care of my own body and nervous system) – the better I am navigating highly charged situations with my son (oh, and with other family members, and with clients).
I may not be telling you anything new.
You probably know that when you can offer yourself and others a little compassion, your relationships and conversations improve. You also know when you’re rested and grounded – it is easier to enter into complex discussions.
Disrupt the idea that you don’t deserve rest.
Tricia Hersey, the founder of The Nap Ministry, says: “I’m divine. Rest is my birthright.
To disrupt that and push back is social justice.”
Read about the Nap Ministry here & her upcoming book.
Knowing this and applying it at the moment are two different things.
Here is my technique for increasing compassion & calm to support brave communication:
- FIND: Find out what practices work best to increase calm, groundedness, and compassion. (You could explore silent walks, meditation and mindfulness apps, yoga, tai chi, time outside, time off media, naps, trying different breathing techniques, breathwork*, or create rest and reflection in your day.)
- TRY: Try out explicit self-compassion or metta meditations.
- BUILD: Build in 5 to 10 minutes a day devoted to building a habit that increases your ability to tap into calm and compassion.
- CREATE SPACE: Before entering into a brave conversation, create time in your calendar to slow down (10-30 minutes) and use a practice that allows you to slow down, increase compassion, and get into a more grounded state.
- Bonus points if you try a metta meditation before your conversation.
- REVISIT: After your conversation, build in 10-20 minutes to revisit a practice that supports you feeling calm in your body.
- SEEK: Ensure you have a friend or colleague outside of work to call in for support before and after. (Remember that you want this person to hold you accountable to your values and not insert shame into the situation.)
Get this technique in a handout!
I am grateful for the learning required of me as a parent to show up with love, commitment, and accountability for my child. My continued learning is changing how I show up in my professional relationships daily. I still feel ALL the feels (the disappointment in myself, the frustrations in others, and being overwhelmed with the tasks at hand). However, at the same time as feeling everything, I can also tap into a well of calm inside my body that allows me to stay more present in my professional relationships and in my commitment to support the building of more inclusive, just, healthy workplaces.
May you find moments of calm and compassion as you show up bravely in your leadership, relationships, and conversations.
*A note on breathwork. Breathwork and nervous system practices can bring on trauma responses if not trauma-informed. It can be helpful to have the support of a mental health provider while exploring these techniques.
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