TGIF - Halloween in Paris

TGIF – Collective Intelligence on Halloween

Helloooooooo…..  How was your week and Halloween?  It inspired me for the TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

“What do you do when there is a relationship challenge at work?” It’s a question I often ask folk around me.

Many people respond with some kind of avoidance.  Either to avoid the issue  (“I pretend it’s OK.  It’s not worth making a fuss over it.”) or they try and create distance with the person (“I look for another job.”)

I have been helping professionals find alternative ways to handle these uncomfortable situations and to come out with win-win solutions.  We meet as a group with the specific purpose of identifying alternative ways to manage difficult and delicate situations.  The results are amazing.

I am trusting in the power of collective intelligence.

People feel heard.  They realize other people share similar issues.  When someone else experiences the problem, they are able to step back and find helpful solutions to get unstuck.  They also hear of alternative ways to overcome the problem, ideas they would not have come up with on their own!

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. – John Donne

Here is how it works: one person presents a challenging issue.  The others share what they would do if they were in that situation.  We address topics as varied as

  • How to manage the colleague who is trying to impress your boss when you are presenting a new project
  • How to get team members to meet their deadlines
  • For are a company with a kitchen for coffee and tea.  How to handle doing the dishes in a fair and just way?
  • How to better include the foreigner (or woman or the “different one”…) in decision-making
  • ….

I lead these groups within companies (where people know each other) and with groups that get together with the sole purpose of transforming “stuck-in-the-muck” into do-able inspiration.

Gratitude

I am reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Aldom.  It’s a collection of conversations between a previous student and his dying professor (he has ALS known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.   The body loses muscle control, starting from the feet and moving up.  There is no cure.)

Here is what Morrie Schwartz says about the window. (!!!!)  How often are you and I grateful for a window?!

He nodded towards the window with the sunshine straming in.  “You see that?  You can go out there, outside anytime.  You can run up and down the block and go crazy.  I can’t do that.  I can’t go out.  I can’t run. But I appreciate that window more than you do.

I look out that window every day.  I notice the change in the trees, how strong the wind is blowing. It’s as if I can see time actually passing through that window-pane.  Because I know my time is almost done.  I am drawn to nature like I’m seeing it for the first time.

Inspiration

Here are a few more inspiring nuggets from Morrie

“Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.

Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

It is inspiring to read about death without it being gory or dreary.  Death is a reality.  Maybe you too have aging parents.

Thank you Morrie for the inspiration to challenge me to live every day as PRECIOUS.

Fun

Collective intelligence and Halloween got me thinking.  Lots of eyeballs giving fresh perspectives and many brains all together.

eyeballs and brains

Yes, we did have Trick-or-Treaters come by our Parisian home.  I offered them eyeballs, brains, or toffee….eeeeehhhhhh!

“Can I taste an eyeball?” !!!!!

Cracked me up.  Lots of fun.

 

Wishing you a great week.  A bientôt (next week), Denise

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – The POWER of Vulnerability at Work

Hi folks,

Last week was intense as I led four days of training You get the insights through our TGIF:  Trust – Gratitude – Inspiration – and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in the power of vulnerability.  Yes, even at work.

I’m still on a “high” from the feedback of last week’s training groups.  Folk shared how much they learned about themselves and how this stimulates them to change attitudes and behaviors.  Wow!

It happened by creating an environment of trust which paved the way for authentic exchange over both strengths and weaknesses.  Vulnerability was given and received.

Team meeting

People realized they are not imposters; they have strengths that are recognized and visible to others!  They also learned that challenges present opportunities for learning.  Bye, bye to “I’m a failure.”  Hello to “I can grow.”

Here are some feedback highlights:

“I realized that I was not invisible.  It was empowering to learn how my example of doing my job with dedication and a goal of excellence has inspired others.”

“I learned that I am already brave and strong.”

“I don’t just want money.  I really want a LIFE.”

“I should stop telling myself that I’m not confident.  I discovered this is not what people think when they meet me.  It’s time for me to stop degrading myself.”

Gratitude

Thank you to my clients who trust me.  It is a real privilege to be welcomed into their offices and given the opportunity to challenge employees out of their comfort zone…and to come out stronger together 😊!

Inspiration

One of this past week’s clients is an up-and-coming startup, WeMaintain, and their daring talent strategy inspires me.

They hire for potential…which can differ from past achievement. 

Laughter at work

We met the expert on Internet of Things who learned his skill by making connected skateboards as a hobby.  A previous journalist joined them as a front-end coder.  The list goes on.

The team overflows with mutual respect.  Here is what they say about each other:

“I have such admiration for each person in this team who fully invests in the work and is ready to grow further together.”

“I feel a sense of fullness as I admire the richness of the team.  We can go far together.”

Fun

During my trainings, I use scenarios to stimulate aha-moments of learning.  The goal of one of these scenes is for participants to realize that they cannot change other people’s behavior.  They can change their own…. which then will produce a different response from the other person.

We change first.

In one of last week’s training, the role play ended up being particularly hilarious.  The principle I had hoped participants would grasp did not come through. ☹  And yet, the scene generated roaring laughter which woke us all up after lunch. 😊

Fun at work

To paraphrase the authors of Fail Fast, Fail Often (Ryan Babineaux, PhD and John Krumboltz, PhD),

Fail fast.  Tweak often. Laugh as you learn.

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt, Denise

Neat & New Stuff

Enjoy these posts inspired by my father’s wisdom:

“Aging isn’t for sissies!”

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!

As life passes, one realizes time is…limited.  That’s a focusing thought!  Read on…

 

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

Man reflecting in parkI wrote this post after a hearing a professor speak on leadership and reflexion at a Harvard Business School reunion.  My father had encouraged me to attend the school and the place holds a soft spot for us.   Read on…

Serenity.  To Accept the Things We Cannot Change

Serenity of lighthouseWe cannot change the passage of time and the impact it has on our bodies and our relationships.  But discover what we can do about it!  Read on…

Interview with Elizabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.Lenovo speaks of taking risks:  how she learned how to embrace risk-taking with confidence and thrive.  Read on…

TGIF - Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Thanks for saying, “Thank you”

Hello.  I just returned from a visit with my aging parents.  What a bittersweet time of memories and tenderness.  That’s why I am trusting in gratitude.  Read on for the entire TGIF rundown – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

Thankfulness is a game changer.  I’m trusting in gratitude.

This past week, I spent doing some pretty unpleasant, menial tasks as I cared for my parents.

Holding hand of aging parent
From Long Island Pulse online magazine.

Their genuine and heartfelt thanks made serving them easy and tender.  I experienced first-hand how gratitude transforms a chore into an opportunity to connect.  I am trusting in the transformational power of gratitude.

Image from Tinybop

Gratitude

I am grateful for the clear-headedness of my recent workshop participants.  I was leading a session on project management and one of the members fainted.  One second she was standing.  The next she lay inert on the floor.

The group of upcoming leaders rallied to her succor: two rushed off to secure medical assistance, others led stragglers out of the room to keep the place calm, others kept talking to her and rubbing her face, … Each person found a practical way to contribute to an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation.

Everyone survived…and as a group, we thrived.

Inspiration

On September 30, 2019 Jessye Norman died and left this earth.  What an inspiration of character, hard work, grit, as well as talent.

I love how she interpreted the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, at the 200th anniversary of the French revolution.

Jessye Norman’s dress à la French flag. Seen here with the designer, Azzedine Alaïa.

Here she is captivating the French audience with her talent.  Click on the image to enjoy the short video!

Jesse Norman sings La Marseillaise

Fun

Tomorrow I’m going apple picking!  Fun & Yummmm…

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

Enjoy these posts inspired by my father’s wisdom:

“Aging isn’t for sissies!”

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!

As life passes, one realizes time is…limited.  That’s a focusing thought!  Read on…

 

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

Man reflecting in parkI wrote this post after a hearing a professor speak on leadership and reflexion at a Harvard Business School reunion.  My father had encouraged me to attend the school and the place holds a soft spot for us.   Read on…

Serenity.  To Accept the Things We Cannot Change

Serenity of lighthouseWe cannot change the passage of time and the impact it has on our bodies and our relationships.  But discover what we can do about it!  Read on…

Interview with Elizabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.Lenovo speaks of taking risks:  how she learned how to embrace risk-taking with confidence and thrive.  Read on…

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Walk the Talk & Talk the Walk

Hello.  It is autumn.  TGIF.  Thank Goodness It’s Fall.  I love the brisk air and color still on the trees and skies still blue.  All of this turns grey in Paris in the wintertime.  Now, today, let’s be in the present.  It is the First Friday in Fall.  TGIFFF !!! 😊

We’ll settle for  Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

I am trusting in Walking the Talk.

This week, in my coaching, I have tested conversing solely via text messaging.  Of course, there are the drawbacks of not seeing facial expressions and reading body language.

There are advantages too.

  • People keep a trace of their thoughts. Without realizing it, they are journaling.
  • People admit a weakness differently to a phone than to a person. It’s like the GPS that remains polite no matter how many wrong turns we take.  There is no judgement.  There is moving forward.

I keep noticing how people seek to resolve problems for which they are experts:  the marketing consultant seeks to market herself, the relationship expert feels isolated, the friend of many laments that he is the friend of none.

Not walking the talk

What I do is help to make a plan and stick to it.

Walking the talk comes down to making a plan to implement our own wisdom in our lives.  Without action steps, we are trusting in _______ (Que será, será) !  Is that REALLY what you and I want?

What’s Your Plan to Walk your Talk

Want some encouragement in putting resolutions into action?  Send me an email…and we’ll connect by text!

Gratitude

Throughout the coaching-by-text (see above), I ask questions.  Too many inquiries can make the receiver feel under interrogation.

So, from time to time, I explain the purpose of our discovery process.  I Talk my Walk (explain my actions)

“I’ll be asking you several questions because you can go deeper still.  Let’s get to the core of your motivation….”

This explanatory pause changes the dynamics of our exchange.  It reframes the questions from giving answers that could satisfy me to self-discovery for them.

Of course, I mention this purpose at the beginning of our exchange…and people forget.  I am thankful for the reminders I give and get to both “Walk the Talk” AND “Talk the Walk.”

Inspiration

Roger Federer is an inspiration to me.  His 20 Grand Slams are impressive enough.  Yet what really inspires me is how he speaks of his rival Rafael Nadal.  He said something like this on the French radio.

Image from the Wall Street Journal

 

“Rafael Nadal compelled me to reinvent my tennis game.  He played a different kind of game and made others change.  Because he was so good, he competed with many players and had a powerful impact on the evolution of tennis.”

When I change, I compel others to evolve too.  That’s inspiring!

Fun

Yesterday, while walking in Paris, I came across this cobblestone entrance to a classic apartment building.  The street was narrow with lots of traffic, so I did not get a great photo, but here you go!

Door in Paris

May love accompany you through the doors of your life.

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

TGIF - sooo much homemade jam

TGIF – 5-Minute Daily Preview. Sweet!

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

At the beginning of each day most days,  I take five minutes to think of the people with whom I will be connecting during that day.  I am trusting in how these few moments change me.

When I approach an encounter with fine-tuned expectations and a productive attitude, the exchange we have later in the day benefits.

Previewing the day

Here is what I review in those brief minutes:

  • How do I feel about meeting with them?
  • What might they be anticipating?
  • What result would I like from our exchange?

AND

  • What attitude do I need to have to make it a positive encounter?

These five minutes boost the pleasure and the efficiency of my time with these folks.

I might have taken a person’s work as a given and take time to recall and appreciate the effort they invested.  Or I realize that I need to clarify the desired outcome of a meeting.

These 5-Minute Previews also make me mindful of and grateful for the unplanned encounters during the day.  It’s a gift when

  • At the coffee machine, we meet the person we were trying to track down
  • We were able to connect with someone by text and get the needed information or support

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

It’s bee-thanking time again.  We harvested our hives and put the honey in jars.  And thanks to those buzzing beauties, the fruit trees were pollinated, and I was able to make a TON of jam.

The grocers at our local market must be thankful for me.  My “jamming” keeps them in business!

Honey and homemade jams

Inspiration

I am hoping to be inspired by Marie Kondi, the tidying specialist.  The first chapter into her book prepared me to be inspired.  She speaks of changing mindset which then, naturally, leads to altered behavior.

This is what I teach in my constructive communication classes!

And yet, I feel (fear?) that reading the book implicates work.  Effort.  Part of me prefers to take life easy AND not deal with the consequences!!!!!  Sooner than later, reality checks in.

That’s what my trainees must feel (fear?) too!

I’ll read the book…or watch the Netflix.

Tidy up and spark joy

Fun

The exchanges of our family WhatsApp group have been particularly fun-filled this week.

When used well, WhatsApp groups can create community and bring people close together despite long distances.

Warning:  Especially when the group is large, it’s good to set ground rules.  Twenty “😍” and “👍” get redundant.

Here is a glimpse of our family “discussion” when one son took his driving test…

Fun family conversation

What fun are you planning for this weekend?  We all benefit from some nice, clean (tidy) fun!
😀😀😀😀😀😀 ….

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Practice What You Preach

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

This week I’m trusting in what I preach.

I train in conflict resolution and constructive communication skills and carefully design curricula around neuroscience-inspired group activities.  These generate Aha! moments, (“Yikes.  I sound like THAT!  It’s demotivating!”) and participants then open to learning new ways to interact.

Not the group I led this week. Some of the participants were assigned (they did not choose) to attend and they tested the limits.

The two people that created havoc in work relationships were at it in our group too.  They were on the phone and then interrupted the group to catch up.  They crossed their arms and refrained from partaking in the group activities. Yes, these were adults!

Yet such resistance also creates the opportunity to practice what I preach.  All eyes were on me to see how I would handle the situationThrough this challenge, everyone realized that one can still respect people while correcting unhelpful behavior.

(Find out more about these trainings here.)

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

Calm reigned in France and the US this past September 11.  It remains a somber date.  It’s the day we remember what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers ablaze.

Even in a world with strife, we can still be thankful for the countries that are at peace.

Image from Landlopers, not your ordinary travel site

Inspiration

We welcome a gorgeous Swiss woman in one of my classes.  Here was her training take-away which is today’s inspiration.

“I feel like a Swiss cow.”

cow with bell in Alps

The men (who had been ogling her) and the women (who had been envying her beauty and charm) looked at her even more avidly.

“Yes, I need to chew on this stuff.  And then some more.  And afterwards, just as a cow produces creamy and delicious milk, I will help create a fruitful and engaging work environment.”

I have a new liking for cream!

Fun

Have you too heard that “great” parents spend one-on-one time with each child?

We have four boys.  Do the math.  More kids renders individual attention more challenging…and more rare.

We created the ritual of Two-on-One time.  For his 5 year birthdays (10, 15, 20 years…), Mom and Dad take the child out to dinner.  For one evening, each kid benefits from the full attention of BOTH parents.

“Every five years!  Can’t they do better?” you may wonder.

We created a ritual that we could fulfill with our finite energy, time, and budget.

Tonight, we are on our 16th Two-on-One dinner.  Looking forward to this opportunity to learning more about and from my grown and growing son…and having fun with a night on the town!

Check our birthday rituals below.

It is good to be back.  Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

TGIF - Less is more

TGIF – Less is More

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting that less is more.

Period.

Life is complicated
Is that it?! There is so much more….
Denise Dampierre smiling
Yup. All for now…

Gratitude

I am thankful for chance encounters.

Two weeks ago, at a networking event, I sat down next to a stranger and introduced myself.  It so happens we share a vision for an entrepreneurial project and come at the concept from different yet complementary angles. We decided to collaborate and are both growing through the contact.  It is invigorating to have one’s ideas both acknowledged and challenged simultaneously. 

One clients described this kind of exchange as the epitome of benevolence at work:  to be demanding of your team member because you want the best for them and therefore to kindly yet firmly push the limits to have them recognize how well they perform and that they can go further.

I am thankful for those people who see your and my potential and help us reach it.

Inspiration

This week’s inspiration is like a conversation between sages.

Someone confides,

“Hell is other people.”  – Jean Paul Sartre

Another answers,

“Ask not what your country (or company or friend…) can do for you—ask what you can do for your country (or company or friend…).
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy from his inaugural address.

A third concludes,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

And I am inspired by Brian Morton of the New York Times who verifies references and corrects us.

” The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: ‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.’ ”

Fun

Yesterday was July 4.  How did you celebrate the US Independence Day?

The funny thing is…I forgot! 

Amazingly, on the other side of the ocean, Happy Birthday USA is not top of mind.  It is a regular workday here.  I realized the date upon sending an email to an American company and receiving the automatic reply message:

“I shall be out of the office on July 4 due to a national holiday.”

Aghhh!

(FYI, I will be celebrating 14th of July, the French national holiday and ooh-ing and ah-ing over the fireworks.)

Eiffel Tower July 14
The magic of the Eiffel Tower on July 14. From Le Figaro

This is definitely a time when more is welcome!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!We are featuring this article again (did it last week too) because of the comments from several of you.  Glad you liked it.

This afternoon, my focus phrase is “Make it to the school on time.”  Our youngest son is graduating from high school.  Read on..

Muslims in prayer

Being an Outsider in the Paris “No Go Zone”

Last week I was invited to lunch in the Paris “No Go Zone” and here is what I learned about being an outsider.

My Outsider Experience

There I was waiting in front of a low-income housing complex in the middle of St Denis, the Paris suburb where Jawad Bendaoud housed the terrorist attackers who stormed the Bataclan on November 13, 2015 and killed 130 music fans and wounded another 413 people.

Equiping Juvenile Delinquents to Contribute Positively

I was invited to lunch at the restaurant Taf & Maffé to join the seven youth in juvenile detention that I was training in social skills.  The town justice service hires me to give wayward youth tools to contribute positively to society.  I love these sessions of authentic exchange and where I grow as much or more as they do.  This lunch opened my eyes wide with discovery.

White Anglo-Saxon, Female, Red-Head Outsider

As a tall, white woman with spikey, bright red hair, I often stand out in a crowd.  Here, surrounded by men of African and Middle Eastern origin, some wearing tunics and prayer caps, I definitely looked out of place.

I felt displaced as well.  My bearings were off.  I consider myself open-minded and had thought I had no specific expectations.  Yet, standing alone in unknown territory, I realized I looked for familiar signs.  Specifically, I searched for the welcoming signboard of a restaurant and a clearly displayed menu to lure me in.  There was nothing of the sort.  Just a high rise and men.  (I saw two women in veils, both begging.)

welcoming restaurant from outsider view
My unrealistic expectation

A man in a tunic pointed me towards the inside of the housing complex and I went in.

Outdoor “Mosque”

Beyond the entrance, in the building’s courtyard, lay a patchwork of colorful rugs.  I had not integrated that we were Friday and that, for the Muslims in St Denis, prayer time began at 1:48 pm. There wasn’t enough space at the mosque, so the “inn” made room for the faithful.

The man pointed me further down a corridor and I walked into a large hall with tables and chairs and people serving out of industrial size cooking pots.  Questioning eyes observed me as I scrutinized the room, noticing the buzz of activity and the full chairs.  I was not expected here either, so I waited outside for my crowd.

The youth finally arrived AND our group kept waiting (!), huddled in the small segment of the sidewalk that basked in the sun.  My confusion grew, yet since the youth were calm-despite-hunger, I remained relaxed-enough too.

Our dining room was being prepared.

Lunch is Served

We were ushered into a 20m² room which served as the office of an association which integrates refugees into France.  They had moved the printers and photocopy machine to the side, stacked papers in piles, and moved the desks to form one large table.  Again, I had not come with set expectations yet discovered that this is not what I had anticipated!  In retrospect I realized I had expected a “Chez Samir,” something like an exotic version of “Chez Sylvie.”

We enjoyed a flavorful, filling, and exotic meal of bissap (hibiscus) juice, chicken maffé (like an African paella), HOT chili sauce, and dégué (millet grain pudding flavored with orange blossom).

Even when everyone had finished eating, we stayed put.  Since I was leading the afternoon training session for the youth, my eye was on the watch.  Yet, as a guest, I let the organizers set the rhythm and opted to let go of control and to enjoy the company and the moment.

Waiting.  Not my Schedule.  Theirs.

By now a group of ten or more of us were huddled in the doorway, with still no indication of movement and easy chit chat around.  Then one of the youths announced, “It’s time.”

While we were eating, the courtyard had filled with men for the mid-day prayer.  Prayer time was now completed; we could open the door.

We joined the crowd of worshipers as they flooded into the street and flowed on their way.

I grew from the experience of being an outsider.

My Take-Aways from being an Outsider

Open-Mindedness

I (re)learned that open-mind is not a state of being that one reaches.  It’s a journey…that goes deeper and deeper.

As a Protestant white American married to an atheist French man from West Indies descent, I think of myself as open-minded.   Our marriage would not have lasted twenty-seven years had we not each made considerable concessions to and for each other.

Yet an open-mind cannot be earned and worn as a Scout badge for public recognition.  As I acknowledged my surprised reactions to these unknown surroundings, I discovered untrod paths of open-mindedness and traveled further along the journey.

Unconscious Bias

A decade ago, few people were aware of unconscious biases.  Now, “unconscious bias” is an often-heard, sometimes-understood term.

Unconscious bias. Lots of outsiders
Growth in awareness of unconscious bias over 15 years

Here is how the University of California, San Francisco defines it.  

“Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.”

I confess, I had thought I was addressing and uncovering (a.k.a. eliminating) my unconscious biases fairly well.   Yet during my visit to Saint Denis, a neighborhood physically close to my home and yet culturally far removed from my norm, I kept bumping into my assumptions.

I expected restaurants to have outdoor signs and buildings to welcome residents, not worshipers.

Mostly, I realized that we (you and I included) have an uncanny bias towards thinking that we might be unbiased!  LOL

Empathy

The best way to grow in empathy is to get out of our comfort zone.

Authentic empathy comes from the heart.  It is experienced.  It is not an intellectual thought.

Alone on that sidewalk I felt insecure, with a loss of bearings.  Taking initiatives required effort and felt risky.  Instead of my usual proactive self, I waited for others to make the first move.

I caught a glimpse of what it feels like to be excluded.

In the past, I responded to other people’s slowness, reactivity, and lack of self-confidence with critique.  “C’mon.  Get over it.”  Thanks to my work in constructive collaboration, I have learned to replace judgement with encouragement.

I did not need advice on that street corner.  I needed courage poured into me and the strength that comes from a benevolent presence.

Transformative Trainings

In St Denis, I was hired to open these youths’ eyes, minds, and even hearts.  Through soft skills training and building their self-awareness and other-awareness, we connected constructively.  Here were their parting thoughts:

  • Hope
  • Motivation to look for a job
  • Confidence in myself

These youth also opened my eyes, mind, and heart.  That’s what I love about our workshops on constructive collaboration tools.  Through role plays and team activities we create a safe space for learners to step outside of their comfort zone.  They are free to laugh at themselves, to discover new insights, and to choose how and how much to grow.

For YOUR Team Too

Find out more about these trainings to bring out the best performance and collaboration from your teams.  We define our training program according to your organization’s needs.

Are you seeking to build a more inclusive culture?  We help build self-awareness, empathy, and trust which are pillars to developing a sense of belonging and contribution.

Your success depends upon negotiation skills?  We help you and your team understand other people’s perspectives and balance short- and long-term benefits so that you can negotiate creative outcomes where all parties gain.

You want to give your team a motivational boost?  We help you break down communication barriers and build relationship bridges so that expectations are clear, progress gets recognized, and success is achievable.

Be in touch.  It’s what we do:  transform difficulties into opportunities for growth.

SoSooper = from blooper to sooooo super!

Cover photo from The Great Courses Daily website
Restaurant photo is Chez Sylvain & Sylvie in Bordeaux region

Notre Dame cathedral easter 2019

Precious or Perfect? Wisdom from Notre Dame

Do we have to be perfect to be precious?

On Monday evening, the fire at Notre Dame cathedral decimated the roof and the burning spire (called the “arrow” in French) crashed from the sky to the ground.

Memories disappear in minutes.

The recently cleaned stone, usually brilliant in the sunlight, is now 50 shades darker.

What lies ahead for this most visited site in Europe?  As of Monday evening, donations flowed in to contribute to Notre Dame’s renovations.  She lost her perfection.  She remains precious.

Are you convinced of that in yourself?  Each of us knows that we are not perfect.  Are you and I also convinced that we are precious?

This mindset determines our future.  What we think about ourselves influences how we invest in ourselves to grow.  It also impacts how other people invest in us.

Perfection Perverts Relationships

It took me decades to come to truly know that I am enough.  Period.  I have value as a human being.  Not because of what I do or who I know.  Because I am.

I don’t need to be perfect to be precious.

When I am convinced of that in me, then I can be convinced of that in other people too.

Beforehand, I fixated on being “good enough” by being “better than.”

Comparison focuses one towards critique and reinforces unconscious biases: to find what is “wrong” with the other person and to highlight what is “right” in me.

We find what we seek.

If you and I are looking for weaknesses in others, we will find them.

At the same time, when we seek qualities, we find them too.

The same behavior could even be viewed as either a liability or as a potential strength! It depends upon our mindset.

  • Is your colleague dissipated or highly curious?
  • Is your boss arrogant or focused?
  • Is your child stubborn or a person with convictions?

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Notre Dame has been with Paris for centuries.  Even without her roof, she remains precious.  Maybe even more so.  She “needs” us now.

Perfection Perverts Perception

We all make judgements about people, and our predisposition is to believe that we are right. 🙂

Psychologists warn us of several ingrained biases.  The correspondence bias is when someone makes conclusions about another person’s character based on a behavior.  Context is insignificant.

  • When Samira leaves a large tip at a restaurant, she is considered generous. We overlook the specifics of the situation.
  • When Sydney arrives late to work, he is unorganized or uncommitted. No excuses.

On top of the correspondence bias we add the actor-observer bias where a person undervalues the situational influence in other people’s behavior and over-values it in his own.

  • When you or I just landed a lucrative contract and leave a large tip at the restaurant, we might feel generous.  It is our mood, not who we are.
  • When you or I arrive late, the traffic was terrible. We are not making excuses; we are relating a fact!

The perfectionist mindset limits someone’s ability to accept these research-proven biases.  Divergent viewpoints would call our analysis into question and destabilize our sense of value and entire being!

For the perfectionist to “be right,” other people are wrong.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Among the statues of Notre Dame (and they still stand), we find both saints and goblins.  Grotesque gargoils don’t make her beastly.  Gorgeous handiwork does not make her divine.

Reframing Empowers
Reframing Frees from Perfectionism

True or False: “I see it, therefore it is real.”

I have learned we see what others choose to show.

Few of us expose our dark sides.  In fact, we go to great extents to hide them, sometimes even to ourselves.  We readily display confidence and results-orientation at work and keep out of sight the fear of not measuring up or lack of motivation.  These represent the underwater portion of the iceberg,

Fear drives many of us to invest time and energy to hide our imperfections.

Fear of what?  Fear of whom?

Naming our emotions initiates our ability to tame them.  

I have also learned that facing our emotions is an effective way to live life with few regrets.  That is what I wish for you and for me.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

I arrived in Paris after my MBA to work in marketing at l’Oréal.  Our training included six months in the field meeting customers.  My work week began early on Tuesday mornings as I headed by train to a provincial French town to arrive in time for store opening at 10 o’clock.  I returned to Paris well into Saturday evening, where my friends were already galivanting around town.  Not surprisingly, they did not want to go out on Sunday night.

I was lonely.

On top of that, my boss believed in motivation by critique.

I was demoralized.

That’s when I regularly walked the streets of Paris on my own and frequently rested on the Pont de la Tournelle which has a view on the back of Notre Dame.

I marveled at how, from the front, the cathedral’s towers emanated strength and majesty.  The buttressed rear view exposed another angle: architectural ingenuity and graceful stone.  The slim buttresses are essential to hold up the imposing towers and the elegant spire.

There is more than one viewpoint.

The same applies to my life and yours too.

I stand in awe before Notre Dame’s regal facade.  It’s her “imperfect” side that encouraged me.   In those solitary months, she helped me learn to like being with myself.

Perfect to Grow

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

Wisdom set in stone.

You and I have a task: to embrace our limitations so that we can learn.

Did you know there is a bell named Denis at Notre Dame?!

Bells of Notre Dame
The new bells on display in February 2013. My namesake, the Denis bell.

 

 

 

 

Denise Dampierre in workshop

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Complements?

Today, on the Day of Compliments, we may hear a few more, “Great Job!”

It’s like candy to the soul.

Question: Should we be feeding compliments and candy to our employees?! 

Answer: YES and NO!!

Yes, Encourage Team Members!

People succeed better when they feel better.

This principle motivates many corporate happiness initiatives.  Research asserts that a positive mindset

  • increases creativity (easier to find solutions to challenges),
  • communication (better listening), and
  • productivity (more energy).

Employees, like every human being, thrive when their needs for belonging and contribution to a meaningful purpose are met.

Research demonstrates that there is a positive and a destructive way of encouraging people.

Encourage by Noticing Progress

The research of Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School indicates that progress ranks among the highest motivating factors for employees, whether it be advancement on small tasks or passing thresholds on major projects.

It’s easy to mark the moment when we sign on a new client.  What kept the team motivated throughout the months preceding the closing of the deal?  Noticing progress throughout the modest stages of the sales cycle feeds motivation too.

The “small” progress steps often go unnoticed.  There is work ahead!  Baby steps can seem insignificant.

And yet, Amabile asserts the positive impact on motivation that comes from recognizing progress.

Why not redefine complex projects into a series of quick wins?

Don’t Compliment.  Use Encouragement.

Encourage by Focusing on Growth

Carol Dweck of Stanford University unearthed the notions of fixed and growth mindset.  The way we interact with our team members can orient them towards the fixed or the growth mindset.

What are these mindsets?

Tall fixed mindset
Strong growth mindset
  1. The fixed mindset asserts that people have innate capabilities. Either you are good in math or you are not.  Either you are creative or too bad.
    Liken it to growing to a certain height.  Once we have reached our adult height, we don’t get taller.
  2. The growth mindset asserts that people can learn. All the time. No matter how much we already know.
    Think of building muscle.  We can always get stronger.  Strength builds through regular exercise of multiple muscles in various ways.

What’s your mindset?

Try this quiz.  For the six statements below, what mindset do they encourage?  (Scroll to the end for results)

  • I’m so proud of you!
  • You really put a lot of effort into that!
  • I trust your judgement.
  • You did it the right way!
  • You are so talented!
  • You must be proud of yourself!

All of the above may sound positive.  What’s the difference?

The fixed mindset comments provide extrinsic motivation (dependence upon an outside push).

On the other hand, the growth mindset ones generate intrinsic motivation (self-impulse).

Compliments vs. Encouragement

Jane Nelsen, doctor in education and founder of Positive Discipline, differentiates these as compliments (extrinsic motivation) vs. encouragement (intrinsic motivation). Nelsen likens compliments to candy.

  • Delightful as a treat. Unhealthy as a meal.
  • Addictive like sugar. Gives a quick rush…followed by need for more.

These semantics resonate with me in that compliments are given to people for having reached a result.  Encouragement applies for people in work-in-progress…folk like ME!!!!

Our choice of words matters.  Carol Dweck shares tips to encourage (vs. compliment) students.  They apply to learners of all ages throughout life.  Enjoy 😊

Encouragement that Works

One of my most memorable encouraging situations was during a training for ex-prisoners to gain emotional intelligent skills to take responsibility for their life.

At the close of our seven-week training (we met weekly for ½ day), my colleague and I wrote encouragement notes to each of the participants.

We carved out time to generate progress-centered, growth-focused encouragements.  What does one say to someone who sits through each session with arms folded and barely speaks?  How to respond to someone who repeats, “Everything is fine.  Nothing to change.” when he is wearing an electronic bracelet and involved in a recovery program?

To be honest, the easiest response is critique: “Get real.” “Do something.”

These men (and you and I to a lesser extent) have been judged all their lives.  Further criticism merely reinforces the status quo.  We wanted to help them take one (or more) step forward.

Below are some of the encouragements we gave them.  These life-roughened men were so to touched; they insisted on reading them all out loud.  One man responded for the entire group, ”No one has ever spoken to us in this way!”

We noticed your ambition to start your own business and we encourage you in that goal. You can choose what kind of boss to be … and if you want it, you have the capabilities to be both firm and humane simultaneously.

We noticed your courage and your desire to change your life and we encourage you to take a first step towards professional training in preparation for your return to your family.

We noticed and appreciated your growing contribution to the group and hope you become aware of what you bring to others through your personality and ideas.

We appreciate your sense of responsibility that you demonstrated through your attentiveness to our groups’ comfort, your regular attendance, and the job you held in prison. We are confident you can put this skill to use as you embark on your job search.

We noticed your ability to assimilate the concepts and tools of Positive Discipline and constructive communication. We have every confidence that you will be able to implement them and be a good example for the people around you.

You have demonstrated a strong sense of belonging through your family life, your trade and your company. This gives us great confidence in you since a sense of belonging is a fundamental sign of a healthy life.

How do you speak to your employees?  Especially those whose motivation you want to boost.

Click here to discover workshops to communicate constructively in your team.

Experts’ Research on Encouragement

Quiz Results

Compliments

Extrinsic motivation that points towards fixed mindset

  • I’m so proud of you! (Have to please the other person)
  • You did it the right way! (Only one correct way.  Where is room for experimentation?)
  • You are so talented! (An inate quality)

Encouragements

Intrinsic motivaton that stimulates the growth mindset

  • You really put a lot of effort into that! (Focus on effort)
  • I trust your judgement. (Allows room for error and exploration)
  • You must be proud of yourself! (Focus on self-motivation)