Get your goals in check and be ready for 2021. In this episode, Patrick Veroneau talks about what you need to avoid that can derail your success when setting your goals for 2021. Get a deeper understanding of this twist to Patrick’s model, SET, and understand what are the three ingredients for success as he explores each of them. Patrick also dives into the reptilian part of your brain and how this can make or break your success. Tune in and set yourself up for success in 2021.
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What Can Derail Your Success In 2021 And How To Avoid It
In this episode, I want to talk about what we need to avoid when setting our goals for 2021. This is a twist on an episode that I do every year around goal setting. There’s a specific model that I use called SET, which is an acronym for Specific, Emotional, and Time-bound. Those are the three ingredients that I have found to be the most important and vital in regards to being able to achieve our goals. For those that may be used to organizations that they work with using SMART goals, this is an offshoot of that. I am very familiar with SMART goals, and quite honestly, I found them to be more cumbersome at times than beneficial. What I did was tried to whittle that down into the components that are most important.
I came up with these three. One being specific, which is the S, the E is the emotional, and the T is the time-bound. The S and the T are familiar to SMART. With any of the goals that we’re going to set for 2021, we need to make sure that they’re specific. What do we want to achieve? Setting a financial number might be something that I do. It might be that I want to reach many individuals. I want X number of people to go through the programs that I offer. I want to be able to work with a certain number of new accounts, whatever that might be. What’s important is to be specific on it because once I have that piece, it allows me to back into it after I’ve figured out what my time-bound is.When you make decisions based on fear, you don't make the best decisions. Click To Tweet
In terms of goals, I could set out my yearly goals, but also I can back into it and say, “If this is what I want to accomplish by the end of the year, then this is what I need to do.” These are the milestones that I need to hit between now and the first quarter, or between now and the end of the month of January 2021. Whatever that might be. I need to back into this thing as much as I can so that I can figure out what my trajectory is. That’s specific and time-bound. The emotional part is something that you don’t see in the SMART goal. To me, it’s the most important part. That’s the why. Why do I want this goal? Why do I want to have 200 more people go through my program in 2021? Why do I want to work with ten new companies? Whatever those numbers are, what’s the reason? I can come and ask myself that question five times.
It might be, why do I want to work with 200 new customers? Because I know that the program I put in place has the ability to change not only in people’s lives in their work setting, but also in their personal lives as well. Why is that important to you? After experiencing and seeing what people experienced in 2020, I know how important that is for people to be able to navigate that situation so that they have a healthy home and work life. Why is that important? Because I’ve seen the damage that’s been done. I want to be able to do my part to contribute make a difference there. Why is that important? Because I feel like I’ve been given a gift in terms of an ability to identify different behaviors that will help people live better lives and rise above their best. I want that to be my legacy.
Now, I’ve gone from a legacy. I’m creating something for a legacy that came from I want to have 200 people go through my program. The why behind that is so much stronger when it’s now about a legacy that I’m trying to create based on what I put together. We can do that for anything. I could do that for losing weight. If you think about it, I could say, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” It’s specific, “I want to lose it by January 1, 2020.” There’s a timestamp to it too. I need to do it by that time. Now I can back into it. When we get to the emotional part, I could say, “Why do you want to lose 10 pounds?” Because my youngest son is getting ready to play a sport in the spring that I used to coach, and I want to be able to coach again. I don’t feel as though I’m active enough.
Why is it important for you to coach your son? Because he’s going to be going to high school, and this is the last opportunity I’ll have to coach him and spend more time with him. Why is it important to spend more time with him? Because once he’s in high school, our time together will continue to drift apart. I want to build those roots now or continue to foster that growth now in our relationship. Why is that important to me? Because I know that once he’s out of high school and after eighteen, that if you look statistically, as sad as this sounds, I probably spent 90% of the time that I will share with him on average is what they say. That motivates me even more.
Why is that important to you? As an adult, I want to have a relationship with him that continues to flourish and that we build a legacy. I’ve gone from 10 pounds to a legacy, so that when I walk in the house and there are Oreos and an orange sitting on the table. I might be more tempted to stick with the orange than I am to be tempted by the Oreos because I look at this and say, “This is a legacy. This is what I want.” That’s the goal-setting part. If you noticed in the title of this, I said, “Here’s the part you need to control.”
I’m going to go in a different direction here and talk about our brains. Specifically, I want to talk about the reptilian part of our brain, the amygdala, which is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze. The reason I am bringing this up in 2021 and I haven’t in the past is because if there’s one thing that I have seen in 2020 is so much decision-making that’s been based out of fear. When we make decisions based out of fear, we don’t make the best decisions. Our brain is naturally wired to try and protect us. That amygdala part sets up either fight, flight or freeze. I want us to think about our brain in this way when we think about the amygdala. Think about it like a smoke detector in your house. If there was food that was burning on the stove and the smoke detector went off, what would you normally do? You’d simply go over, you’d wave something in front of the smoke detector, or maybe you’d have to take the battery out to get it to stop.
I don’t think there’s anybody reading this that would say when there was burnt food on the stove, unless there was an actual fire, that they’d ran out of the house and called 911 because the smoke detector went off. You knew it wasn’t a real emergency. You did what needed to be done to stop the smoke detector, then you went to cooking a new meal. Our brain is wired in a similar way in terms of its setting off an alarm. When it feels a threat, and this threat looks different, it could be somebody says something to us that maybe we take as an offense. That’s a threat. Maybe we say we’re going to do something. We’re going to set a goal. We’re going to do something that’s above and beyond what we’ve ever done before. Maybe I’m going to take on a new job or I’m going to start my own business.
Your brain or that smoke detector is going off saying, “We got an emergency coming up here. We need to protect this individual.” It’s trying to protect ourselves from a perceived threat that’s going to come up. We have the ability like when it’s burnt food on the table to take a step back and say, “I understand what my brain is doing. It’s making me doubt my ability to do this. It’s trying to protect me, but I don’t need this right now. This is not life-threatening. This is not a real fire. My brain is perceiving it is, but I have the ability to override this.” We need to be able to do that. This is such a powerful system in our brain.
I’ll give you a quick example of that. In our old house, when we had first moved in, the whole house is hardwired with smoke detectors. One night, one of them went off. It was malfunctioning. I was convinced that I could see smoke banking up along the ceiling. I had to get my wife out of bed to say, “Do you see anything there?” I was even fooling myself to think there is smoke there. She had to say, “No. There’s nothing there. Everything is fine.” I say that because we will try and override ourselves, or other people wanting to protect us will be that smoke detector. They will tell us, “Don’t take the risk. You’ve got such a good thing going on right now. Why would you ever take a chance or risk what you have right now? Be happy with where you are.” That’s that same smoke detector. For us to succeed in 2021, we need to get a better handle on the reptilian part of our brain so that we start making decisions on opportunities and not out of fear. The best way that I have found to do that is to strengthen your level of faith because when you strengthen your level of faith, you starve your fears.When you strengthen your level of faith, you starve your fears. Click To Tweet
It’s the best vaccine I know that prevents people from getting overtaken by fear and limiting their abilities. I hope you have found this helpful. I hope that 2021 treats you incredibly well. I know that you have the potential to make that happen. We all do when we set our goals, and they’re specific, emotional, time-bound. Also, we control that one thing in our brain that has the ability to derail us. That’s our amygdala, that smoke detector that wants to protect us but doesn’t recognize that these aren’t real threats. I wish you all the best in 2021. I can’t wait to share many more episodes with you and help you and myself to rise above our best.
It’s the new year, and that means it’s time for us to set new goals and achieve bigger dreams. But what if you take a spin on this yearly tradition, and instead of making it just your year, you make it for others too? In this episode, Patrick Veroneau talks about how to help others set and achieve their goals in 2021. He goes deep into the two models that can guide you to be effective at supporting other people and influence them to follow through. Join in on this brief yet insightful conversation to make 2021 the best year yet.
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How To Help Others Set And Achieve Their Goals In 2021
In this episode, as we’re coming into 2021, and I know so many people are looking forward to 2021, and we always talk about goals. Setting goals, what are we going to do in 2021? Personally, I’d take a spin on this from the standpoint of what do we do to help other people in terms of setting their goals. Maybe it’s people that report to us. What are the things that we can do to help them in terms of setting their goals? There were two things that I wanted to talk about. Two different models. One is called the GROW model, and the other is a Coaching model called SCARF. I’m going to talk about an article that was published back in 2008. It’s an article that I love.
It’s a model that I love because it is based on how do you build trust. It was written by a gentleman named David Rock. What I’d like to do is first let’s talk about the GROW model what’s involved in that in terms of helping somebody to set goals, maybe it’s organizationally, it’s personal development that we’re trying to help them with, but how do we do that? What are the steps that we can take for that to happen? After we look at that model, what are the ingredients, or behaviors that I may need to demonstrate, or the other person that’s achieving this goal or set up for this goal may need to feel if they’re going to be fully motivated? Let’s get into it.
The GROOW Model
As I mentioned, the GROW model is an acronym for a coaching model around goal setting. First, in the GROW model, the G stands for Goal, and there’s a worksheet that you’ll be able to download for this, that allows you to go through these steps. As part of our goal, what do we want to accomplish? Secondly, how will I know when it’s achieved? From there, we’re going to move on to Reality. That’s the R in the GROW model. The first question we can ask is, “What’s happening now in terms of the goal so that we understand where are we?” Secondly, “How far away am I from the goal?” This is about getting a pulse on where we are and the process on this and the goal is realistic as well.
The next is the O and it’s one of two O’s in this GROW model. The first one is Obstacles. “What’s standing in my way. Is it me or other people? Is it a lack of skills, knowledge, expertise, physical environment?” Whatever that is. I will stress in this model that what standing in my way, as perceptions other people are not standing in my way unless I allow them to. It’s my perception of that like lack of skills, knowledge, expertise. Those are all perceptions and possibly their resources. I don’t have enough time or money that we may look at as obstacles. I will tell you that if we look at this in terms of resources, we will always be lacking in something. We need to focus more on resourcefulness because we all have equal access to resourcefulness. Nobody has any more than anybody else. Some use it better, but nobody has more.
That’s not the same with resources. My bank account could be bigger than somebody else’s and much smaller than somebody else’s, that’s a fact. Resourcefulness is not something that one of us gets more or less of unless we choose it for ourselves. The other O in this model is Options. “What options do I have to resolve the issues or obstacles? What am I going to do about this?” This is resourcefulness. There is a question that I love by a gentleman named Michael Bungay Stanier. He wrote a book called The Coaching Habit. It’s a great book. I would highly recommend reading it, but for this show, what I want to talk about is we’re talking about options is a question that he has termed the AWE question and it stands for, And What Else. To me, that’s resourcefulness, when we have the AWE question because the lazy answer is oftentimes the first thing that we think about.
If we take that and then say, “What else could we do?” We answer that and we say, “What else could we do?” What we find is that where we thought we were limited in terms of the options that we had available to us. When we practice this AWE question or challenge ourselves with the AWE question, we find that we’ve got a lot more options that are available to us in terms of solutions. Lastly, in this GROW model, we look at the W, which is the Will. “Which option will I commit to?” This provides an opportunity for the individual or myself to say, “What am I going to do now? What are my choices, or what is my choice that I’m going to move forward on this?” When we can follow this GROW model and help others, it helps them to refine where they want to go.
Now in the work that I do I use what is called SET goals, which are Specific, Emotional, and Time-bound, but what they’re doing is very much in line with what this GROW model is talking about. There is so much research that is out there in terms of providing us with the evidence that shows that we’re capable of making change. You may be thinking that GROW model seems basic or easy to follow in terms of helping other people to set their goals. I would agree. The challenge, if we’re going to be effective at helping other people to set their goals or our behaviors, how we approach them, especially if they’re people that maybe work for us or people that were incentivized in some way by their achieving their goals or improving or developing where they are.We all have equal access to resourcefulness. Nobody has any more than anybody else. Some use it better, but nobody has more. Click To Tweet
The SCARF Model
This could happen at home too if we think about it. My approach to my kids, if I am motivated or want to see them improve, helping them SET goals that can do that. My behaviors are going to be important in terms of how do I support them on that. That leads me to the second part of what we’re going to talk about. This model is called SCARF, and it’s an acronym again. The title of it is SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating with and Influencing Others. It was written by David Rock. He’s the CEO of Results Coaching Systems international out of Sydney, Australia. This is an older article. It’s 2008, but I will tell you, this model is one that I don’t use directly as it’s outlined here, but each of the pieces I use in my work and has seen the benefit of this.
The whole idea behind the SCARF model, and I’m going to read a few sections directly from his research paper. He talks about social neuroscience, exploring biological foundations and the way humans relate to each other and themselves. It talks about a diverse set of topics, which include the theory of mind, the self mindfulness, emotional regulation, attitudes, stereotyping, empathy, social pain, status, fairness, collaboration, connectedness, persuasion, morality, compassion, deception, trust, and goal pursuit, that’s a lot. What then goes on to say, “From this diversity, two themes are emerging from social neuroscience. Firstly, that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an overarching organizing principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward. Secondly, that several domains of social experience draw upon the same brain networks to maximize reward and minimize threat as the brain networks used for primary survival needs. In other words, social needs are treated in much the same way as the brain treats the need for food and water.”
When we talk about the SCARF model, it involves five domains of human social experience, Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. What happens is that in these five domains, they activate either a primary reward or a threat. Now, I talked about the importance of our behaviors. We’ve SET goals or help people identify how to set an effective goal through that framework. If we’re going to support people and influence them to follow through on this, then these five domains. The first domain that we talk about is around status and it is about relative importance, pecking order, and seniority. Humans hold a representation of status in relation to others, one in conversations. This affects us in many different ways.
When we feel there is either a perception or a real reduction in our status, it has a negative impact on our ability to perform. In ways that we might see this in terms of goal setting or somebody’s status is if we are micromanaging somebody or we’re questioning the way that they’re going to do something continually in a way that’s negative. We know that what this does is it has a negative impact on their ability to feel they’re going to be able to do this. I can’t tell you how many times I remember hearing organizations that I would work with that you would hear, “You’re the entrepreneur of your territory, treat it like it’s your own business.” That when people tried to do things that might be outside of what was standard practice, they were always questioned on it or told that idea wouldn’t work.
What you do is you diminish somebody’s ability to be able to make a change because I’m questioning. “I want you to run this as your own business, but I don’t believe that you can.” When relating this to the cables model that I talk about quite often in my work, there are two behaviors here that can help to activate status. One is around appreciation. It’s recognizing people for their contributions, that elevate status, but as well, we talk about belongingness creating a sense of inclusion. When people feel they’re part of the group, we also create status. From there, we create psychological safety. When we look at the power of these things, we know that when people feel as though they have psychological safety, their openness to maybe challenging directions in a positive way increases.
That generally benefits both the individual and the organization when that happens. Next, we move on to certainty. Our brains look for patterns or recognition. We don’t like uncertainty as much as people will say, “I love surprises.” We love surprises that work in our favor. We don’t like surprises that I don’t think anybody would say that if they went out to their vehicle and it wouldn’t start that they like that surprise doesn’t work in their favor, we need certainty. In relating it back to cables, we can talk about this in terms of specifics, which is the last behavior in cables. That is around creating clear expectations. What do we need? What’s expected of us?
The better we are in terms of helping other people recognize or understand clear expectations. It might be how I support you, or what you need to make sure that you do in terms of achieving this goal. The clearer that we can be in that, the better we’re going to be in terms of satisfying that need for certainty. Next in the SCARF model is Autonomy. When I see the word autonomy, I immediately think of work that was done by Dan Pink in his book Drive around what motivates individuals. There were three things that he speaks about in his research that he has identified as the three main characteristics or things that are needed. If we’re going to motivate people, one is the purpose, challenge, or the ability to be developed. The third is autonomy. It’s interesting that here. Autonomy is the perception of exerting control over one’s environment. A sense of having choices.
Now we can do this in terms of helping other people to feel that they have options, how are they going to achieve, what they want to achieve and how can they do it? I’ll go back again to what I said before of organizations that will say, “It’s your business run this territory it’s your own business.” Every time somebody tries to do something that is outside of what is normally done. I am not talking about things that are unethical or go against company policy. What you do is limit that ability for the person to feel they have real autonomy in terms of what’s going on. One of the easiest ways for us to help in terms of creating autonomy or the sense that an individual feels they have the autonomy, is to ask them their opinions on things, how they think they can do something.
It’s a goal that we’re going to hit. This is a milestone. “How do you think that you can reach that effectively?” When we do that, we allow people to feel, “I’m in control of this.” It also has the benefit of being able to hold people accountable. When they’ve said that they’re going to do something, it’s easier for me to go back and say, “You mentioned to me that you were going to do this. This was the date you were going to have it by in terms of how you thought you could successfully do this, what happened?” That’s going to be a much more productive conversation than maybe somebody that I told them, “This is what you’re going to do and how it’s going to be done.” They could have resisted from the beginning thinking, “This is not the way that I want to do it, or I would do it if I had the opportunity.” Maybe their way is better. Oftentimes it probably is, if they’re closer to what the issues are.
Lastly, we talk about Relatedness and it in some way, goes back to belongingness. Deciding whether we’re part of the in, or the out-group, when we don’t feel we are part of the in-group that we have a connection there, then what we do is we become disengaged. I will often talk in terms of teams and what makes the most successful teams. There are three vital themes that tend to come up with in teams are that they support, challenge, and celebrate each other. In relatedness, this idea of inclusion hits on the support that we need to be there for each other. From a behavior standpoint, when we talk about cable, it’s about belongingness that we create belongingness, that we’re in this together.
If I’m trying to help somebody as they set their goals, then I need to make sure that they recognize that I’m invested in this with them, that I will support them on this. When I do that, I know that their ability to follow through and get things done is going to be much greater. Lastly, in this SCARF model, we talk about Fairness and it is an interesting one. If I look toward cables, it’s about congruence. “Do I walk the talk? Is what I say and I do the same?” If individuals feel they’re being held to separate standards from other people on the team, then they’re going to lack fairness. If you lack fairness, you’re going to see either disengagement or engagement in ways that are unproductive through disruptive behaviors or maybe other types of more serious aggression.
You’re certainly going to experience a negative effect when there’s a lack of fairness. From a cable standpoint, we’re right into congruence, “Is what I say and what I do the same thing. Am I consistent in terms of how I treat other people on the team?” When we’re not, there’s going to be a sense that there’s a lack of fairness. One person gets treated better than another one person gets held to different standards than another. They get away with stuff that another person doesn’t get away with. One person is held to higher standards which seems unfair when we don’t have fairness, we don’t have trust. When we don’t have trust, it’s very hard to influence people to follow in a direction that we’re asking them to go.When people feel as though they have psychological safety, their openness to challenging directions increases in a positive way. Click To Tweet
As you can see here in this model SCARF, Status is about relative importance to others. Certainty concerns, being able to predict the future. Autonomy provides a sense of control over events. Relatedness is a sense of safety with others of a friend rather than a foe inclusion and Fairness is a perception that there are as David Rock suggests their exchanges between people. When we’re able to activate all five of these domains, which is through our behaviors, then we activate a primary reward rather than a threat with individuals. People don’t feel threatened by us when we’re behaving these ways, they connect with us more. We build more trust and we’re able to challenge each other more to reach where we’re going to go. We support, challenge, and celebrate all three of those things that take place when we demonstrate the five domains of SCARF.
I hope you found this helpful as we come into 2021, you might be thinking, “This is the perfect opportunity for me to try and help this individual,” set the goals and then support them. This approach between GROW and SCARF allows us to do all three of these support, challenge, and celebrate for all the success that we’ll see in 2021. I hope you found this helpful. We have so much opportunity here in terms of helping one another to rise above our best. I look forward to sharing many more episodes through 2021 on how we can become better. Peace.
- The Coaching Habit
- SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating with and Influencing Others
- Results Coaching Systems
We can only ever be successful as our teams. That is why it is important to know how to take care of them. Are your behaviors as a leader conducive for your team to grow and love the work they do? In this episode, Patrick Veroneau goes even deeper into the C.A.B.L.E.S. model by sharing the twelve questions you need to be asking yourself to build the best teams and relationships. Learn and familiarize yourself with these questions in order to keep improving and developing yourself and your team. Pinpoint the behavior that you need to be addressing and start becoming the best leader you could be.
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12 Questions That Build The Best Teams And Relationships
In this episode, I thought I’d piggyback off of the last episode that was talking about what makes the most effective teams. We talked about three things. We talked about teams that provide support for each other teams that challenge each other and teams that celebrate each other. Those are what makes a winning team. I don’t care if it’s in a work setting or in a personal setting that when we’re able to do all three of those things, we find that we have the best relationships. I know in the last episode I went through and gave illustrations of certain behaviors based on that cable’s model that I use quite regularly on how these six behaviors addressed all three of those ingredients that were found in the best teams.When we create wellbeing around us, we create a better environment. Click To Tweet
What I thought I’d do from there is to give you two questions that you can ask yourself based on each of those behaviors. We’re going to call it the daily dozen. Twelve questions that you can ask yourself that will help to recognize where you are in regard to these behaviors. Especially we can look at this if we’re in a situation where we’re having a challenge with somebody or issues or a problem with somebody that we’re working with, or somebody that we live with, we can take a look and ask ourselves these questions based on these six behaviors. “How am I doing?” To me it’s almost like a troubleshooting guide that I can evaluate, if I’m honest with myself, “Where am I on this?” The quicker that I can come from a standpoint of trying to identify what role do I play in this disengagement or dysfunction, the faster it will be for me to find a solution that’s going to work to get us out of this, to repair this in terms of where we need to be.
Walking The Talk
I’m going to start off with the first one in terms of congruence. The two questions that you can ask yourself, one is, “Do my actions match my words?” We’re talking about integrity. “Is what I say and what I do is at the same thing?” The next question on that is, “Am I consistently modeling what I expect from others?” Plays into that first one, but it is. “What am I doing?” If I’m telling people that I want respect but I don’t demonstrate respect for anybody else or I want you to listen to what I have to say, but I don’t listen to you, you’re going to tune me out because you’re like, “You want these things but you’re not doing them yourself.”
The Power Of Recognition
When we move on to appreciation, there are two parts to this. One question that we ask ourselves is, “Am I consistently recognizing the positive contributions of others, those people around me?” I talk about it in the workshops that I do as RPMs, Recognizing Positive Moments, how often do I do that. We all like recognition on some level. Some need it more than others, but it’s always nice to feel as though you’re appreciated for what you’re doing.
Contributing To Belong
The other part of appreciation deals with biases. The question is, am I open to understanding and appreciating the diversity of others? Do we need that now in terms of appreciating other people’s perspectives? Too often right now, we’re in situations where if you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid, you’re a redneck, you’re illiterate, deplorable or whatever you’re labeled, elitist, that we do not appreciate that there can be different perspectives on things. We move on to belongingness. The first question is, “Am I positively contributing to the well-being of those around me?” We know the importance of belongingness and so many research studies that have been done in terms of we can almost think of this as though we’re pack animals, we need each other. When we create well-being around us, we create a better environment.
Understand, Not Undermine
Along those lines, the next question is, “Have my behavior supported a culture of inclusion?” We hear so much about diversity, equity and inclusion, these behaviors, these six cables address all of the concerns or desires for having diversity, equity and inclusion within an organization. People need to feel as though they belong, that they’re part of it, especially as a leader, how have I done? How am I about having other people feel as though they’re welcomed or they’re part of what’s going on? Next, we move on to listening. “Have I been practicing four-way listening?” We’ve talked about that before. I’ve got other episodes that I speak to this more in depth, but with our eyes, with our ears, with our mind and with our heart, and when we listen with all four of those approaches, we are listening to understand at that point as opposed to listening to either respond or listening to undermine.
In Their Shoes
The second question in there is, “Am I listening to understand or to undermine?” We’re only listening so that we can then make our counterargument or to insult the other person or demonstrate to them that they don’t know what they’re talking about. When we’re doing that, we’re not really listening to where they’re coming from. There’s a lack of appreciation. The next is empathy. “Have I made an effort to see things from another’s point of view?” Imagining what’s it like. “What if I were in their shoes, would I be frustrated too? What would be going on in my mind if I was where they are?” The second part of this empathy piece is, “Is my demonstration of empathy sincere?” The reason I put that in there is because I think too often right now the buzz word is you’ve got to be empathetic or especially in a workplace setting, we hear a lot around empathy and leadership, but people can tell when it’s sincere or not sincere.
Crystal Clear Expectations
We need to ask ourselves, “Is my demonstration of empathy sincere?” The next question one is around specifics, those clear expectations. To that point, “Have I set clear expectations that are understood and agreed by all involved?” There’s specific wording there in terms of the question, are they understood and are they agreed by all involved? They might be understood, but do we agree with them? We might think we agree, but they’re not understood. That oftentimes creates the window for conflict to come in. In organizations, I see this where there has been conflict or disagreement, and it oftentimes times comes back to the fact that there haven’t been clear expectations. We can see this in relationships too personally. What do we need from each other? How is this relationship going to thrive? What do I need from you and what do you need from me?
The next question in that is, “Have my behaviors created a culture of owners for what’s expected?” We can have the expectation be clear, but are we holding each other accountable to that? Is there ownership to what we both said we’re going to do. If there isn’t then we’re right back to the beginning of this. We lack congruence. Our actions don’t match our words. Those are the daily dozen. If you were to go down that list, if you’re having a challenge with an individual, you can ask yourself those questions. “Where is it? Is it congruence? Is it belongingness? Is it empathy that the challenge is coming from?” It’s in one of those areas, if not more than one. The faster you are being open to looking in the mirror and deciding, “Which of these do I own,” the faster you’re going to be to repairing whatever that relationship is or whatever the damage is that’s been created in that relationship.
I hope you found this valuable. This is a tool or a model that I regularly use with clients. Based on the research that I’ve done, on the testimonials that I’ve received, on what I’ve witnessed and observed myself, this works, and it works consistently when it’s modeled consistently. Which of these do you think might be beneficial for you to work on in that relationship that you’re trying to improve? Which one of those daily dozens do you need to address? I hope you found this valuable and helpful as this show is themed that leaders are learners. We’re all here to learn, to get better, and to improve. On that note, I hope you’re able to go out and rise above your best. Peace.
A company is only as strong as the team behind it. So how can you create the best team that will propel you to success? In this episode, Patrick Veroneau shares the three necessary ingredients that successful and effective teams share: support, challenge, and celebrate. He goes in-depth into all of these and reveals some crucial aspects that will help foster a great team environment and ultimately create a strong team that can navigate whatever comes their way.
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3 Ingredients All Successful Teams Share
You’re joining me for another episode. As you may have noticed, I took a little bit of a hiatus for a few weeks, in terms of putting out another episode. This is one that’s been turning for quite some time in me in terms of a lot of the work that I do around building better teams. How do we do that? We can look at teams, whether it is a team in an office setting or now a team remotely, or even in our personal lives. When we look at our family units, we can think of those as teams as well. Along those lines, what I want to talk about is what are three necessary ingredients that successful and effective teams share? Will those things revolve around a team that supports each other, they challenge each other and they celebrate each other?Appreciation is about recognizing people's diverse backgrounds, races, religions, points of view, and histories. Click To Tweet
Those are the three things that we’re going to focus on. How do you do that? How do you support, how do you challenge and how do you celebrate? If you think about this model or these three approaches, whether it’s in an office setting or now remotely, or whether it’s in a family unit or any type of environment that you’re in, it could be an organization that you volunteer for. These things are still vitally important to making sure that we’ve got strong, solid teams. Let’s get into it.
The three things that I have found all successful teams share is that they do those three things. They support, they challenge and they celebrate each other. When we talk about support, what does that mean? In the model that I use, this Cables model that I often talk about, this system, there are four behaviors out of that Cables model that directly addresses supporting. The first one is around appreciation and appreciation from the standpoint of understanding biases or differences. A lot of the work that I will do involves using personality tests around DiSC to help people understand what are our different personalities and how do they impact how we show up to each other. The better that we are at understanding that and appreciating that, the more effective we’re going to be in terms of supporting each other.
What I mean by that is, as a quick example, if I’m talking about DiSC, and I might ask somebody or ask the group, who in here would consider themselves fast–paced and outspoken, or who would consider themselves more cautious and reflective? I will ask people, “Raise your hands if you’re somebody that thinks you’re fast–paced and outspoken?” I will wait no more than a couple seconds and for those that don’t raise their hands, I will say, “You automatically, by not raising your hand, immediately, you default to the cautious and reflective space.”
The other questions that can be asked or the pairings is to say, let’s look at people in here that might be questioning and skeptical versus warm and accepting. There’s a difference there too in that those that are questioning and skeptical, they’re going to show up differently than somebody that is fast–paced and outspoken, but also warm and accepting. As an example, I am in the high category. I’m considered influenced by somebody that’s fast–paced and outspoken, but also warm and accepting, which means at times, I’m less interested in data or in process and in more about this feels right. My gut tells me we’re going in the right direction. Let’s get going and we’ll figure it out as we go.
Now, if I’m working with somebody that is more conscientious, that’s somebody that is questioning and skeptical, and they’re also cautious and reflective. If I don’t understand that and appreciate our differences, we’re going to have problems. I’m the one that comes in and says, “This is why we should do this. This is going to be a great opportunity.” If I don’t provide that person that is conscientious from a personality standpoint, with maybe the data or the points or the process that we’re going to take to go about achieving this, then they’re going to look at me as reckless and somebody that flies by the seat of their pants.
Realistically, that probably is what I do some of the times in terms of I feel an idea coming on or I feel an intuition on something, and I want to jump into it. There’s a balance there because I can learn from somebody that’s conscientious in terms of slowing things down and being more methodical. I would say a conscientious person can also look at somebody that’s in an influence category. At some point, we can’t keep evaluating this. We can’t keep setting up committees and subcommittees and now we’re going to do a survey on this. At some point, we’ve got to take action. There’s an appreciation there of our differences. On top of that, we’re in such a heightened state of looking at diversity and how important that is. That’s what appreciation does. It recognizes people’s diverse backgrounds, their races, their religions, their points of view, maybe their histories, where they’ve come from. When we’re able to do that, when we can appreciate people on that level, that creates this sense of support.
Next, we move on to belongingness. You’ve heard me talk about this before, in terms of the amount of research that is available for us in terms of belongingness research. We are pack animals. We need each other. We can’t survive without each other. It’s different than it was thousands of years ago. We couldn’t survive if we were pushed outside of a group literally because we’d be attacked by something or didn’t have the resources to be able to support ourselves. It’s the same thing but different. We can still be ostracized or isolated from a group, and it still is on some levels a death sentence for us or it creates that environment.
Being an in-group versus the out-group is very different. When we’re on the out-group, we don’t feel that support that we need. Along those lines, we know around psychological safety how important that is. I don’t care if you are in organized crime or you’re in a gang, or it’s in your family or in your work setting. We do all have a need for psychological safety, and to me that falls into belongingness. Next, when we talk about support as well, we have to talk about listening and how important it is to listen effectively. When I talk about listening effectively, I talk about listening to understand.
In this environment that we’re in, you’ll often hear people might say, “They listened to respond.” I would say that more often, what I’m experiencing is just about listening from a standpoint of waiting to respond. It’s listening from the perspective of how I can undermine you with what you say. I’m not listening at that point. We talk about listening in four different ways, listening with our eyes, body language that somebody else has, facial expressions, how they’re standing maybe. There are many different things that when we’re listening with our eyes, in terms of what people are doing, we can pick up on incongruence or inconsistencies, or maybe how they’re feeling and that’s important.You can’t lead in any aspect of your life if you are unable to demonstrate empathy for other people. Click To Tweet
We talk about listening with our ears and that’s listening to the tone of voice, the word choice that somebody uses as well can be important here. All of those things become important. We can probably give examples of situations where somebody maybe has said, “No, I’m not angry or I’m not upset.” You can tell by either their facial expressions or their body language, or maybe the tone that they’re using that something is wrong. There’s an incongruence there. The next two can be a little more challenging, but are probably even more important in this environment is one is listening with our mind. I will often reference Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about one of the habits as seeking first to understand and that’s what we do when we listen with our mind.
When somebody says something or they’re in a series of conversations, or I’m in a series of conversations with them, I’m listening for, “What does this mean?” I’m asking myself, “What are they trying to say to me? Is what I’m hearing and what I think I’m hearing the same thing? Am I maybe jumping to conclusions? Maybe this is somebody that I haven’t gotten along with in the past or maybe it’s somebody that I had heard can be difficult to deal with.” They make a remark on something and I immediately think that this is an attack on me. As opposed to maybe I didn’t understand what their point of view was. We need to flush that out and understand, what is it that you were saying? It might just be that simple as saying, “Jim or Sue, what I hear you say is this, is that what you mean?” Rather than walking away saying, “They were short with me or they were disrespectful in their response because maybe that wasn’t their intention.”
Lastly, we talk about listening from a standpoint of listening with our heart or compassion or empathy, but we’re listening from a standpoint of, “How would I want to be listened to if this were reversed?” When we can listen in those four ways with our eyes, with our ears, with our mind and our heart, we’re fully present at that point. This is truly listening to understand at this point. We‘re not listening to either just respond or to undermine. We ourselves can probably all think of those times where somebody has truly been listening to us. We know the difference when somebody is fully involved in us. They’re not looking at their phone or looking over your shoulder at who’s coming into the room, or they’re invested in your conversation.
When we listen in that way, we demonstrate a high level of support for the group, which in turn brings us back to this level of psychological safety within the group. Lastly, from a standpoint of behaviors, one of the Cables that we also talk about is empathy and how important empathy is. I don’t think you can lead in any aspect of your life if you are unable to demonstrate empathy for other people. Whether it’s in a family, setting, a social setting or a work setting of trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I was having this conversation in a workshop, and Dan Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind had come up in the conversation. He was talking about empathizers. One of the observations was that empathizers have the ability to imagine themselves in someone else’s position and understand what that person is feeling.
I took issue with that from the standpoint of we can’t understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. We can genuinely make an attempt to do that but we can’t. I will give you an example. I lost both of my parents to cancer about a year and a half apart when I was 17 and 18 years old. I could run into somebody else that also lost their parents at the same age as I did. There is some shared experience there that I can empathize on some level what they’re going through, but I‘m not them. I don’t know exactly what they were dealing with, and I think that’s important. Empathy is making an effort to try and imagine yourself as being where somebody is, but it’s not assuming that just because you imagine it to be a certain way that it is that way. That’s important for us to recognize.
When we move on to the next ingredient in strong teams or the most effective teams, we talk about the challenge. That strong teams challenge each other, but you’re only able to challenge each other effectively if you’ve built a level of trust. The behaviors that we talk about in regards to support that appreciation and belongingness, listening, and empathy, those are all building blocks that allow us to get to this place where we can challenge. If we haven’t demonstrated support for each other, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to effectively challenge people without them taking it personally and becoming defensive.
The two things that we talk about here from a standpoint of behaviors around challenge is, one is congruence, walking the talk. Is what we say and what we do in alignment? This is where personal values or organizational values become very important that if we say that integrity is one of our corporate values or collaboration is, or continuous improvement is., then now, we need to be congruent to that. We need to stay in alignment with that. That’s how we challenge each other is we say, “These are the values that we agree on as a team, as an organization, as a family and we need to walk the talk. We all need to hold each other accountable or take ownership for what these are.” Along those lines when we talk about congruence, the last behavior that we talk about in the Cables model is around specifics and that’s setting clear expectations.Empathizers have the ability to imagine themselves in another’s position and understand what that person is feeling. Click To Tweet
To challenge each other effectively, first, we need to be able to say, “What do we stand for? What do we need from each other? What’s going to make our relationship, our team, our organization be the best it can be? When we do that, when we set clear expectations, and then we are in alignment with those through congruence, then we truly are able to challenge each other to make ourselves better. One of the taglines that I will often use is rise above your best. It’s not somebody else’s best. It’s to rise above your best. We all have that ability to challenge ourselves and others to get better. We need to do that. There’s a quote by Eric Hoffer that says, “In times of change, the learners inherit the Earth while the learned find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” Unless you are living under a rock in 2020, we cannot say that we are not dealing with significant change. It is our ability to develop and learn how to navigate the challenges that we’re faced with and challenge each other on that that will allow us to become better because of this.
The last ingredient in this successful team model is around celebrating. It’s a thing that oftentimes get overlooked is that we’re back from a behavior standpoint in Cables, we talk about it from a standpoint of appreciation. If we don’t recognize others for their efforts, for what they’re doing for their growth, even in times when maybe we had to talk about them about something or talk with them about something they weren’t doing well, where are we on that? If we don’t recognize them, when they’ve made positive changes, then we’re missing opportunities for future growth. We’ll look at this as somebody that will become disengaged. This is the person that was asked to make certain changes, and if the leader looks to that individual to say, “Yeah, now they’re doing what they should’ve been doing all along.” That’s not effective. We need to be able to recognize when people do make the effort and follow through on change that we let them know that. To be able to celebrate and appreciate people for the things that are done in difficult situations or in day–to–day, it’s important at some point to recognize those things.
I will often talk about it in terms of RPMs, Recognizing Positive Moments. Just like in our vehicles, we have a tachometer that if the needle on that is too low, we know that the engine is not healthy. It’s probably going to stall out, something is wrong with the vehicle. That’s like disengagement in an organization or disengagement at home or in the community. If we don’t feel as though we’re being appreciated for what we’re doing, that at some point, we become disengaged or we engage in ways that are unproductive for the organization.
The other end of this is when people are appreciated in ways that are insincere. That’s the redlining of the tachometer in the vehicle and eventually it burns out. That’s the cynicism. It’s the employee of the day. It’s that everybody gets a trophy and nobody believes that it’s sincere. It’s like a manipulation tool, but there is that sweet spot that we all want to be recognized for or in. It’s different for all of us. That’s the important thing as leaders is to recognize how do other people like to be treated or recognized most effectively. There’s a model that I will often use or a set of guidelines that I will use in terms of how do you make sure that you don’t overdo it or create cynicism?Rise above your best. Click To Tweet
It’s not to say that it will be effective all of the time, but when we’re recognizing people, we want to make sure that it’s specific, not just telling somebody they do a good job, but what specifically did they do that you’re recognizing them for? Next is that it’s unexpected. It’s not every Thursday at noon time, somebody’s going to get recognized. Lastly, it’s meaningful to that individual, and back to this understanding, what is it that drives people? How do they like to be recognized on teams? When we know that, we can provide the right kind of recognition or appreciation that’s meaningful to that individual.
That’s it. We’ve got three different ingredients that create the strongest teams. Teams that develop an ability to support each other, teams that know how to challenge each other, and teams that also celebrate each other. When you have those three things, you will have teams that can navigate any issue that comes up, a team that is able to employ all three of those ingredients is the team that’s going to come out on top. I’d asked you in the teams that you’re on, how do you fare in regards to those behaviors? What can you do that you think will make your team stronger? Do you need to do more around supporting first? How do you challenge each other? Lastly, how do you celebrate each other? In these times, we probably need even more of that celebration. I hope you found this valuable. Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to reflect on this. Find a place that you can rise above your best. Go out there and make a difference. Peace.
The secret to building resilience is already within you; you just need to know how to activate it! In this conversation between Patrick Veroneau and Dr. Sherry Hamby, you will learn that developing the resilience to weather adversity doesn’t cost much if you are just willing to commit and do a few simple things consistently. A research professor of Psychology at the University of the South, Director of Life Paths Research Center, and the Founder of ResilienceCon, Dr. Sherry built her stellar academic career around her interest in developing strengths-based approaches to coping with adversity. In this episode, she talks about the three domains of the resilience portfolio and the simple things you can do to stimulate them. This conversation is packed with interesting and useful information grounded on solid research backing. You wouldn’t want to miss it.
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Building Resilience With Your Strengths With Dr. Sherry Hamby – Episode 114
Thank you for joining me on another episode. If you have any interest in learning how to develop resilience, improve your resilience, or maybe help somebody else that you feel like could use some help in regard to developing resilience, then this is the episode for you. My guest is Dr. Sherry Hamby. She is a Research Professor of Psychology at the University of the South. She’s the Director of Life Paths Research Center. She’s the Founder of the ResilienceCon. On top of that, she’s also the Founding Editor of the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Violence. She’s a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She spent many years on the problem of violence, including frontline crisis intervention for domestic, as well as other violence. Her work focuses on resilience and strengths-based approaches to coping with adversity.
She won numerous awards, including one in 2017, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Science of Trauma from the Trauma Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She’s also appeared in the New York Times, CBS News, Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, as well as hundreds of other media outlets. She also has a book that is titled, Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know. In this episode, Dr. Hamby is going to talk about some of the most current research in regard to developing resilience, what she’s been involved in, as well as giving a number of different recommendations in terms of how we can develop our own resilience. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s small and simple things that we can do, but we need to do them consistently. I know you’re going to enjoy this episode. Let’s get into it.
Dr. Hamby, I had the good fortune of reading one of your articles as I was doing some work around resilience and volunteering. I read some of your work and I thought you’d be a great person to talk about such an important topic around helping people to build resilience. Thank you for taking the opportunity to be on the show. I was hoping we could go from there and start talking about how do we help people?
That sounds great. Thank you for having me.
What are your thoughts on that? I’m sure you must be hearing more about this too. As I see it from a leadership perspective, there’s a misalignment or a challenge in regard to managers or leaders aligning their expectations and behaviors with what are the new realities. Many people that they are hoping will follow them. Those new realities have created a great deal of stress for individuals. What is your experience has been in that?
I was talking with some of my colleagues at the University of the South about this. It has been a hugely stressful time for everybody. It has also created opportunities to reprioritize and to rethink what’s important or essential about your business, your work, or whatever it is that you do. Looking at these things, taking that post-traumatic growth perspective is what they often call it in the literature is the key to taking incredibly stressful times like this pandemic. We’re trying to come out on the positive side of that.
We were talking about it before we went live around one in particular purpose and the importance on that can have on helping us develop resilience. Could you go a little deeper into that?
One of the key questions I’ve been trying to answer is, “What helps people the most when they are trying to overcome some adversity or trauma?” There’s a huge literature or dozens and dozens of things that help from emotion regulation or social support. In my own research program, we’ve looked at more than 35 different strengths. They’re all good things to have. It’s good to be emotionally regulated. It’s good to have social support. It is important to have what I call a large resilience portfolio so that you have a toolbox full of different types of strengths you can draw on when times are tough. What we have found even to a surprising extent is that a sense of purpose is by far the most important of the 35 that we’ve looked at so far. I didn’t expect that because there are people who are big or huge boosters for social support. Those things are all good too, but it does seem that having a sense of purpose is the most important strength that you can have. Connecting to something larger than yourself. This is what you could get out of bed in the morning.
In one of the articles that I had read, you talked about you being a parent. What’s your thing at that point that you realized that there’s a purpose there?
Parenting is one of the classic ways that people can develop a sense of purpose. You realize that you will do anything to make sure that those people are okay and thriving. I have a son and a daughter. One’s in high school and one’s in college. So much in my life is oriented around them and that helps give me a sense of purpose. There are lots of other ways that people can get a sense of purpose too. For many people, religion or faith and connecting to a higher power of some kind. A church community is a great way to connect to something larger than yourself. If you have a mission, for me as an example, I’m trying to reduce the burden of trauma on the world. That’s what all my work is oriented around. That is also a big motivating factor for me.
Along with that, would you categorize that with things like volunteering in terms of the mission end of it?
That’s another terrific example. There’s a psychological word called generativity. It’s an old word. It dates back to the work of Eric Erickson from the mid-20th century. His idea was that you keep on developing even after you are physically grown. Psychological development didn’t stop at the end of adolescence when you’re cultured and busy learning all these basic life skills. When you’re a child and an adolescent, this is basic relationship skills. He thought that one of the key things that adults did is to learn how to develop a sense of generativity.
Parenting would be one example for him, but also in terms of volunteering, teaching, coaching, if you’re a girl scout leader or the head of a youth group. That would be a way of helping to bring the next generation along. All of those activities are also terrific ways not only to help all of the young people that you’re trying to help but to do yourself an enormous favor too, in terms of boosting your wellbeing. There’s some emerging research that is fascinating, which shows that it can have physiological benefits, like reducing your inflammation, boosting your immune system, and important impacts like that.
Which would seem to make sense? The feeling that most people get when they do something for other people is you generally feel better. Is it a distraction from your own challenges when you’re helping somebody else through a situation? To me, it seems like it would be beneficial on a number of levels.
It can be a distraction. I know a lot of it probably comes down to trying to make it seem all worthwhile. Another important part of what has been coming out of this research on resilience is that people are more and more starting to realize how universally the experience of trauma and adversity is. We used to take this siloed approach. We would look at child abuse, bullying, or community violence. We realize that if you take a more holistic view, everybody gets exposed to some trauma sooner or later, if not for themselves then for a loved one. Going back to the experience of being a parent, it would be more difficult for me to know that my child had been exposed to some kind of victimization than it would for me to get exposed to it.
The paradoxical unexpected piece of that is if that’s all common than we realize, then resilience has to be so much more common than we realize too. I wouldn’t use the word distraction because what it helps to do is that it lets you take what you learned from coping with your own struggles and make it seem like it has some value that you went through all of that. You came out and you survived. You came out on the other side. You can help somebody else cope a little better or get through it a little bit more easily. That’s the meaning-making that helps people. That’s why volunteering, tutoring, and all those kinds of things can be such a powerful way to overcome your own adversity.
Something else that I’ve thought about is your thoughts around grief and people experiencing grief. From a number of different perspectives. I’ve thought about the number of people that may not even realize that they are grieving certain losses of everything from somebody that enjoyed going to Broadway shows that doesn’t have an outlet for them anymore, sporting events that were their thing or summer, or picnics that they used to do. Those things have gone away and they don’t recognize them as grieving in terms of like, “I lost a loved one.” Internally, does that weigh on people in terms of loss?
For me, it was travel. We used to travel quite a bit for work and pleasure. Sometimes I would get tired of it, but I realize how much I relied on that to break things up and give me something to look forward to. A Broadway show is a terrific example of that. It adds some variety, creates some anticipation, and we’ve all lost that. For most of us, our days are a lot more routine than they used to be. A lot more limited as we all try to practice social distancing. For sure, that is a form of loss. Making more space to grieve is going to be an important part of healing from this pandemic in the long run. A lot of people aren’t in a space where they have the ability to take the time to do that grieving. Hopefully, as we start to come out of it with the vaccine or better treatments and some of the advances that are coming down the line that will also free people up to process this event. We’re all still caught up in the middle of all the trauma that it’s hard to process.Just as trauma is a universal experience, resilience has to be much more common than we realize. Click To Tweet
We talked about purpose, about volunteering. Based on your research, what are other things that you think would be very beneficial for individuals to somehow put into practice?
One of the new constructs that we come up with from our qualitative work of talking with people is something we’re calling a recovering positive aspect. My work is based in rural Appalachia. One of the things that we were trying to do is often a community that gets treated in very stereotyped ways and often seeing through a very deficit-based lens. When you go out there and talk to them, they do such an amazing job of overcoming trauma and such a terrific sense of humor that they bring to it. One of the things we kept hearing about over and over again was how they would cheer themselves up. I realized that something that’s not bending the resilience literature is the role of humor and being able to get back into a positive mood like if you have a flat tire on your way to work then back when we were able to drive to work.
It’s going to ruin your morning, day and week. It’s how long does it take you to let that go and not end your bad mood, but to be able to get back in a positive mood? Most of the emotion regulation literature has focused more on getting rid of negative emotions. Getting rid of anger, sadness or distress. We realized that there was this missing piece about not being able to get back to neutral, but recover a positive mood, a good mood. That has turned out to be one of the powerful measures of strengths in our work that we’ve done. That’s an important one. That is something that we’ve neglected.
Recovery positive effect. That reminds me of a story about an individual that was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately after the diagnosis, they went to the video store when we used to have video stores and all they did was consume comedies and they were cured of cancer. This isn’t a clinical trial. They put a lot of the benefit of those movies and maintaining a sense of humor and positivity as they were going through this as critical to their process.
That’s another one that can have physiological effects too. Moving to the topic of like, “How do you get toward a resilient place where you’re achieving and thriving again after adversity?” Mindfulness also adds that emotion regulation component. That’s been around for thousands of years. It wasn’t taken seriously by mainstream Western medicine for a long time, but it finally has started to. We’re finding that mindfulness can work as well as a lot of other therapies or medications can in terms of helping people get rid of depression and anxiety after some traumatic event.
I’ve seen some of that research as well, where they talk about it even in cancer research. The impact that it can have in terms of a state change. I do believe in the whole piece of mindfulness. In 5 or 10 years, we’re going to look back and the research is going to be strong on this. It will be one of those. You just, “How could you not apply this? The benefits of it.”
The great thing about it is that it is so accessible to everybody. You can live in rural Appalachia and you could still do mindfulness meditation. You don’t have to have access to a specialist or be able to afford therapy. It’s practically a wonder cure.
Anything else that hits your radar in terms of the work that you’re doing?
We have our resilience portfolio breaks strengths down into three different domains. We’ve talked about two of them. The first is the meaning-making domain, where having some of the purposes turns out to be the biggest piece of that, although also mattering to other people is an important element of that as well. We’ve talked a little bit about the regulatory domains. Learning different kinds of self-regulation, where being able to cheer yourself up and recover that positive aspect or positive emotion after trauma is the key thing. The third domain is the interpersonal one. This is the whole social ecology. The help that you get from family, friends, broader community, or even your social and cultural values, that can sustain us during tough times.
Social support is the one that we have found is the most helpful. That domain turns out to be a little bit trickier than the other two. For example, in one of our studies, we found that the adolescent boys who were reporting the highest levels of social support were also reporting the highest levels of delinquency. You have to be careful about what they’re getting socially supported to do. Having a safe person for someone to talk to and someone who will offer tangible help if you need a ride to the doctor or someone to look after your kids. We’ve found that what we’ve had to do is get a lot more specific about what kinds of social support we’re talking about. We’re not talking about encouragement to go shoplift or something like that. That’s probably one that’s important there. We are still trying to figure out what other pieces of that one might be helpful. That one has turned out to be the trickiest and there’s often this double-edged sword about it like, “What example is giving you social support?”
Another one is that investment in family, which was turned out to be trickier than I expected because this important to me. I put a lot of energy, like a lot of people do, into celebrating holidays and family traditions. On the one hand, you can see the benefits of that. That gives people a lot of joy and even stability in their lives. In our work, you can see that there’s a little bit of a burden to that too. Many people have talked about it can get quite stressful around the holidays, trying to live up to your own expectations or other expectations. Having those interpersonal relationships is important, but it’s a little bit trickier there to strike the right balance about me in. It doesn’t end up being more of stress or a burden than it is something that you’re also deriving sustenance from.
You mentioned the interpersonal domain to have researched around belongingness and how important that is for us. In the work that I do with organizations, we’re certainly building teams. It seems that we’re pack animals by design that we need each other. There’s a sense of power that we gain from the inclusiveness of being inside a group or that supported by a group as long as it’s positive.
We are social animals by nature. The flip side of that is also true that there’s research on loneliness that shows that is one of the best predictors of mortality among older adults. It’s like a better predictor of whether they’re going to die in the next 5 or 10 years. Things like hypertension, diabetes and all these other things that you would think sound much more serious. We can’t truly thrive without having that sense of belongingness to some groups somewhere.
If you’re isolated or you identified yourself as being lonely, your life expectancy is short. Is that correct?
That’s right. There’s quite a large literature on that.
That isn’t interesting because it does speak to that thousands of years ago. We were voted outside of the tribe. That was a death sentence. We couldn’t survive on our own. I would argue that it’s the same thing today. It looks different, but it is the same.
Back at one point in time, that was the worst punishment you can impose on somebody. In some ways that still is true and we haven’t fully appreciated what some of the psychological ramifications are. There have been huge demographic factors with that. It changed a little bit because of the pandemic. I was reading an article in The Atlantic by the social psychologist, Jean Twenge. She said that it’s been hard on adults that adolescents are doing well as they were before, or maybe even a little better during the pandemic. She thinks it’s because they’re all reporting, spending a lot more time with family, and things like that.
It has changed. My kids are around a lot more because they can’t cope anywhere. I’ve seen more of them in the previous months. They’ve got old enough to go run around on their own and jump. That’s very important. Demographically, we’ve had such huge changes with that. The most common household in the United States is one person living by themselves, which has never been true in all of recorded history. We’re beginning to understand the impacts that are going to be on people in terms of psychology.We are social animals by nature. Isolation is one of the worst punishments you can impose on somebody. Click To Tweet
One that we haven’t touched on is your thoughts on this, two parts, practicing gratitude and journaling and where those might fit.
Practicing gratitude can fit into that work about volunteering and teaching. Anything that you do that strengthens your relationships, it gets you to have more positive or pro-social relationships with other people is a good thing. It depends on whether or not you’re expressing gratitude to somebody else or if you’re doing some of those things where you write down three things a day that you’re grateful for. There are some benefits to that too. None of this stuff is bad for you, but in terms of what’s better, you’ll get a lot more boost out of writing that teacher that made a difference in your life and saying, “I never told you how much it mattered to me, that you encouraged me in my interest in medicine or whatever it was.”
For journaling, that is right up there with mindfulness. One of my favorite interventions. It goes under a lot of different names. It goes under a narrative or expressive writing. A lot of people more in the violence, trauma fields, or in psychotherapy have missed that. There’s been a huge amount of work going on, on these different types of narrative, social psychology, developmental psychology, and positive psychology. It turns out that light mindfulness is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. You don’t have to. When you say journaling, a lot of times people come up with this idea that you have to write down what’s going on in your life every day for the rest of your lives.
I’ve tried to start a journal several times and I never get more than a few weeks into it. The good news about that is that it turns out from all this research that you don’t have to do that. Sometimes people will use instructions to write down the most traumatic or upsetting thing that’s happening to you. That’s the centerpiece of a lot of emerging narrative forms of therapy like trauma-focused, CBT, or narrative exposure therapy. In positive psychology, they ask you to write about things that are meaningful to you like somebody who meant a lot to you as a child, what you think your values are, or to write about a turning point in your life when you realized what you wanted to do or who you wanted to marry.
You can write those. There are tons of research about writing for an hour that shows that it has long-lasting psychological impacts and also physiological ones. That’s another great intervention that will boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and other physiological benefits like that. Laura King, the Positive Psychologist, did one study where she only had students write for two minutes a day for three consecutive days. After a six-minute intervention, they still weeks later were scoring better on psychological measures than the control group who was down a list of things they had to do. If you write about anything that’s psychologically meaningful to you, it helps you process it and helps you gain perspective on it. It helps you appreciate what you might have learned or what your real priorities in life are. It’s an amazing intervention. It’s accessible to anybody who has paper and a pencil.
You bring up such a great point that it doesn’t have to be exhaustive. This was for two minutes. Who can’t find two minutes to write down something? I know for me trying to end the day where I will write down 2 to 3 sentences of what went well for the day. Oftentimes I find myself, “What do I still have to do tomorrow? What didn’t I get done today?” Whereas if I put myself in that place of forcing myself to think about, “What didn’t go well?” There are things that went well as difficult as it might be. If I can go in that route, it’s not to be a Pollyanna, but it’s trying to get myself into a place of not focusing on what didn’t go well.
Anything that you’re writing about as long as it’s meaningful to you. That has been the great thing about this narrative research. People do many different variations of it and the control group in most of these studies is writing down a to-do list, or if they’re college students like writing down your study plans for this semester. They’re still writing to create better comparable control, but they’re not writing about something meaningful, or personal to them like what you need from the grocery store. That seems to be the key to it. If that’s meaningful to you if that helps you to focus on acknowledging that you did do some constructive things during the day, and that gives you a sense of closure and accomplishment. That would be a great strategy.
The last thing I’ll ask you is around exercise as a tool. What are your thoughts research-wise on that?
The exercise we’re learning more and more about these mind-body lengths. It goes along with the research on mindfulness in that way. This impressive evidence-based showing that you don’t need to become an Olympian that even any regular moderate exercise can do. I’m not a big sports person myself, but I have dogs. I make sure that I get out and walk my dogs. Take a brisk walk with my dogs for 30 or 40 minutes every day. Even something like that is enough to have a strong impact on depression symptoms or anxiety symptoms. They’ll reduce them if you already have them. They’ll protect you from developing them.
A bunch of research has shown that this is about as effective as psychotherapy or antidepressant medication. Some people are talking about that being practically a miracle cure. In the United Kingdom, they’re prescribing exercise as the first line of treatment for depression before they give them anything else. They give them maps to all the walking paths that are all over England and Scotland. Some of the other benefits that go along with that are also being in the outdoor spaces. There’s some emerging research that shows that you’ll get better psychological benefits if you walk in a park or the woods than you will on city blocks, although they both help. Getting sunshine and adequate amounts of vitamin D. These are all folding in there but exercise too. Another one that is free and accessible or nearly free, if you decide to go for something that requires a little bit of equipment. A wonderful way to sustain wellbeing and throwing across the lifespan.
It’s not something that takes a lot of time to do it. It doesn’t need to. If you want to work out for 60 minutes, you can. I’ve seen research that as little as ten minutes of walking can activate a lot of those neurochemicals. That was a self-serving setup in regard to that question around exercise because it’s something that I promote so often in terms of something easy for us to do. There’s research that you can site that exercise compared to pharmacotherapy in terms of the benefit that it does better than some of the treatments. That’s not to say, “You stop taking medication and work out for 30 minutes.” It speaks to the power that exercise provides in helping us out.
Exercise has a bunch of other side effects, but it will also lower your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. It will have all these other benefits instead of being something that can have potentially risky side effects. There are some risks too, especially if you’re going to take up skiing or things like that, be careful not to injure yourself. In terms of thinking about the pieces of what good life are, the three that have the biggest evidence-based behind them are mindfulness, expressive writing, and exercise.
What a great way to end this. I can’t thank you enough, Dr. Hamby, for your input on this and for helping other people. There are so many different options for people and different perspectives. Different people can do different things, but they don’t take a lot of time. Try things out and see what works for you.
That’s the basic idea behind the portfolio model. The same combination is not going to work for everybody, but anybody can put together a combination that will help them thrive and achieve well-being. Thank you for inviting me to talk with you. I enjoyed it.
Thank you. I’m wishing you all the best.
The same with you.
- Life Paths Research Center
- Psychology of Violence
- Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know
About Dr. Sherry Hamby
She is also founding editor of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Violence.
A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Hamby has worked for more than 20 years on the problem of violence, including front-line crisis intervention for domestic and other violence, involvement in grassroots domestic violence organizations, therapy with trauma survivors, and research on many forms of violence. Her current work focuses on resilience and strengths-based approaches to coping with adversity.
Her awards include the 2017 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Science of Trauma Psychology from the Trauma Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Hamby has appeared in the New York Times, CBS News, Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, and hundreds of other media outlets.
Her most recent book is Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know (Oxford University Press, 2014). She lives in Tennessee with her husband and two children.
In this time of pandemic, we don’t just need to cope; we need to build resilience. From a health perspective, this resilience starts at the cellular level. Built within each cell is a tremendous capacity to weather environmental stressors such as pathogens and toxins, but it can only do so much on its own. What do we need to do to unleash our cells’ full protective potential and become proactive about our health? Joining Patrick Veroneau for a chat, pathologist and wellness advocate Dr. Sveta Silverman helps us get to the root of unhealth by taking a deep dive into the basics of cellular health. These are stressful times, and that stress can cause your immune system to go haywire. Tap into this conversation for some incredibly easy tips that, when done consistently, can help you take control of your own health journey during these challenging times.
Listen to the podcast here:
Building Health And Resilience At The Cellular Level With Dr. Sveta Silverman – Episode 113
On this episode we’re going to talk about health and our immune system. We’re going to get down to the cell level. My guest is Dr. Sveta Silverman. She’s a conventional doctor with a passion for education of disease prevention and health promotion. She’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine at the University of Alberta. She is a surgical pathologist and her expertise is in breast pathology. What I love about one of the bios that I had read is it stated that she’s on a mission to help others improve their health. That’s how we were connected. While she is a surgical pathologist by degree, she is a teacher by calling. I would agree with that 100%. I loved her enthusiasm and her passion for this topic. Let’s get into it.
Svet, I want to thank you for taking the time to be on the show. We had the opportunity to speak and our conversation specifically went around resilience, health of individuals, and how that plays into resilience. I thought it’s such an important time for us to talk about that. One of the things that I’ve been experiencing is the difference between coping and resilience. I’ve seen it and this is the best I can come up with when I think about that transition. When I think of coping, if I’m on a boat that’s leaking, I can bail it out and that’s coping. Eventually, either I’m overcome by water or I’m too tired to bail anymore and the boat sinks.
To me, resilience is the opportunity to fix the outside of the boat so that the water is all around me, but it doesn’t get inside. A lot of people have been able to cope up until now but have lacked the ability to build resilience where now it needs to take over, “I can’t bail the boat anymore. This is too much.” I’d love your perspective on things especially as it relates to health and the cellular level of individuals because that’s a piece that we’re missing.
First of all, Patrick, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to teach health. I’m blessed to get to know you. We’re connecting on many levels in terms of health, energy and positivity. It’s interesting, I am perceived as the doctor of cells. By degree, I diagnose cancers. I look in the microscope and diagnose cells. By the virtue of my mission, I teach health. Everything is connected to coping and resilience. Let’s talk a little bit from the perspective of cells.
As you said, you can patch the boat and it’s coping and because that’s what we do, we patch ourselves, “I have a headache, I will take a pill,” or “I have heartburn, I will take a pill.” That’s coping. At a certain degree, you get, “I cannot take care of this headache anymore.” However, resilience is how do I get to the root cause of this? How do I fix it? To begin with, our cells are incredibly resilient and forgiving because there is an ingenious mechanism of cellular defense or cellular cleanliness.
There are cellular vacuum cleaners in every cell, however, they are coping. Initially, they’re very resilient because those vacuum cleaners, the cellular cleansers are cleaning the cell from all the garbage that we’re getting from the environment, electromagnetic fields, this charge that we’re putting on us, everything that is around us, the food that we eat, and not paying attention to what we eat. Those vacuum cleaners are initially so strong, they are Dysons, and then they started to cope.
It’s a little patch and then the cell gives up. I cannot clean myself anymore. I’m done coping. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. The cellular machinery switches, goes haywire, and starts making atypical or malignant cells. In this day and age and this situation, we’re coping and then I’m done. The thing is how do I get strong? How do I get healthy? With this said, how do I get resilient? That is the resilience of positivity because healthy equals happy equals positive. How do I address cellular resiliency? Switching back, who are we as a body, as a human being? We are a lump of cells. Some say 30 trillion, 35 trillion, or 52 trillion. Let’s say the average is 35 to 37 trillion cells. I have to be resilient with resiliency of every cell. I need to build every cell as my fortress of health and that is my responsibility.Healthy equals happy equals positive. Click To Tweet
This is my resiliency to the outside world and my resiliency to stand up and say, “I am making the best of me. My responsibility to stay resilient is not the responsibility of my doctor, my pastor or my rabbi.” They are my leaders, spiritual leaders, consultants, guiding apparatus, support, emotional, physical body. My resiliency is entirely upon my responsibility to be the best I am. It’s my responsibility to make 35 or 37 trillion cells the best they are. How do I do this? There are lots of simple things. They do not require any money but require the resiliency of commitment. I am committing to myself. I am committing to my health.
That is one of the challenges for a lot of people. How do you create the habits? You build these habits where we have become a society at times where if it doesn’t work the first time, we move on. We don’t stick with things. I totally hear you. You’re talking about developing on many different levels, whether it’s physically what do we put in ourselves? Intellectually, what do we put in ourselves in terms of our thoughts? Emotionally and spiritually as well. I would agree with you in terms of, what do we consume that helps build those 35 trillion or however many cells it is?
When do we start commitments? The 1st of January, we have the New Year’s resolutions. The 1st of January is a holiday. Let’s say, 2nd or 3rd of January, you hit the gym if the gyms are going to be open. The gyms are full of people because everybody makes a resolution. How many of them make it as a commitment? You can count them.
I’ve heard it’s 15% or something like that.
The commitment relies on consistency. Consistency is going to turn into habit because when you do every day the similar thing, one day you wake up and say, “I’m going to skip it. It doesn’t feel right.” When it doesn’t feel right, it’s your habit. When you start committing to the good foods, inadvertently you become consistent and habitual. What happens is your body is going to clock or moderate, not modify, your consistency.
My example, I am committed to drink healthy water. I don’t drink tap water and I do it day-after-day, then the trouble happens. I go somewhere like a restaurant or something and they serve me tea. I can drink that tea because my body tells me, “What kind of garbage are you putting in? It is yucky.” My commitment and my consistency to pour healthy water and make my own beverage leads to the habit. When I break that habit, my body tells me, “No.” The same habit you build with good foods.
Let’s say Joe Doe. Joe Doe is on SAD diet, and the SAD stands for Standard American Diet. Is it sad? It’s sad but that’s the acronym. Joe Doe is eating SAD diet meaning that there are plenty of processed carbohydrates and that is Joe’s habit. Joe is harming his cells and breaking the cellular health by putting refined processed carbohydrates, which fastly convert into sugar. That triggers the reactions. When we have sugar in our bloodstream, it stimulates the hormone insulin. Insulin grows abnormal cells, but what insulin does is it shoves the glucose into the cells or something.
The problem is when there’s too much of glucose, it doesn’t go into the cells because the cells are saturated, but insulin keeps coming and keeps sending the signals to the brain, “Give me more.” This is the habit of people who eat refined foods more often. They’re not making it up because they feel hungry. They’re extremely saturated. There’s a time when their cells are screaming of over abuse of carbohydrates but their brain is also screaming, “Give me more because I’m starved.” This is your habit. Living in Maine by the ocean, awesome stuff, eat pizza.
It’s like telling you, “I can’t stop.”
You can’t, that’s the thing. This is your resilience to you. What you do is you create a pattern. It’s like, “Pizza. I do know. What do I substitute with pizza?” You can make a commitment. You can eat healthy pizza and I will teach you how to make healthy pizzas, but you can let me try. This is my resilience. This is my pizza. This is my salad. Whatever on top of pizza, let’s say basil, arugula, even some cheese, I put it in a salad bowl minus crust. That’s what I’m eating. I’m eating deconstructed minus crust pizza. I’m committing myself to seven days of deconstructed minus crust pizza. In seven days, all of a sudden, your cells are like, “I’m happy. What happened?”
I’m feeling vibrant. I’ve got more energy. My wife noticed me, I’m like a young chick again. My kids are asking me, “Dad, what happened to you? Why you were active?” I’m like, “I feel great. I feel young. I feel positive in a week.” Why do I go back to something that is going to make me feel low other than satisfying my brain for three minutes? That’s how you start creating and building the pattern. You go seven days and start analyzing, is it working? This is just one way. It’s the same thing with exercise. You start walking every day, 5 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, but you keep doing it regularly. You’re creating a pattern. One day, you catch yourself, “I haven’t done my walking. Something is not right in my routine.” It’s your consistency, your routine and your habit.
I did a workshop on this in regards to some work that was done by Anders Ericsson around 10,000 hours and deliberate practice. I’m all for what you’re talking about. I exercise it myself, no pun intended. I work out in the morning and I know that when I don’t work out, I don’t feel as good.
The same applies to foods, meditation, prayer in some instances, and whatever you do because our health doesn’t necessarily reside on good food only, supplements only or exercise only. Number one, what’s the problem with the society now? We are angry, stressed and confused. We’re not happy and not emotionally stable. That is number one of unhealth because cell is a computer. It’s a programming device but you program it positively or negatively. When you program it positively, even if you start initially faking it and you start working on it, your computer doesn’t know. If it’s a positive input, it’s going to be positive output. When you do it consistently and stuff like that, the positivity of mind creates a positivity of health and healthy cells. Mental, emotional and spiritual comes number one.
You mentioned such an important part too in how our mental state impacts our immune system. We had a conversation around Bruce Lipton. I told you I had read The Biology Of Belief with him. One of the things that stood out to me, and I’d love your thoughts on this, is you said when we’re stressed, it’s fight, flight or freeze for our system. We take away from our immune system because the body thousands of years ago, if it was a saber-tooth tiger coming toward me, it said, “We’re going to take all the blood and put it in your extremities and areas that you can get out of this situation. If you survive this, then we’ll come back and we’ll continue working on the bacterial infection you have, but we’re not going to do it until then.” It’s all stress.Commitment relies on consistency, and consistency turns to habit. Click To Tweet
You’re entirely correct. A friend of mine who is a psychologist brought a concept and I lit up. She’s learning, teaching, studying and presenting the psychology of immune system. Have you heard of the psychology of immune system? As you said, it’s all stress. Thousands or hundreds of years ago, saber-tooth tiger runs after you. What do you do? It’s a fight, flight or freeze response. Your cortisol or stress hormone goes extremely high and the blood rushes to the extremities and you’re fine.
The problem is it was a solitary event. What happens right now is we have saber-tooth tigers running after us. We allow them to run after us imaginative 24/7 because we’re not sleeping. It’s almost like 24/7. What does it do? For example, we were talking about the blood recirculation, what happens is we exhaust our stress hormones which are connected to every other hormone and every system including immune system. If your stress hormones like cortisol is not in the right state which is entirely affected by stress. You are inadvertently depressing and down-regulating your immune system. There are no ways around it.
When we think about it especially in this era of the pandemic and this virus, people getting worked up and stressed out about it, their stress and their worry is counterproductive.
In this day and age of pandemic, this is our wake-up call to get healthy. It is about social distancing, that’s fine, but it doesn’t matter whether you social distance or not if you’re not healthy, you’re at risk. Who are at the utmost risks? Elderly, obese, and people with chronicity like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The thing is when you have diabetes, every system of your body is affected. It’s your gut, your microbiome, and your immune system. I take pandemic with a stride. I love washing hands, not obsessively.
I don’t have obsessive-compulsive thing on washing hands. I’ve got it on other things, but I love washing hands with soap because it gives me a hand massage. When I finally stop for twenty seconds, I’m connecting with myself. The thing to me about the pandemic is how do I optimize my lifestyle now to health? How do I optimize my diet to health? How do I optimize my hydration, my supplementation, my cellular up-regulation? Everything in that pattern leads to cellular health. Immune system is immune cells. Everything is extremely simple, but everything resides on my resilience and commitment to health.
It starts with us. It’s less worry, more work on ourselves on getting better.
Do I want to get up at 5:15 to have yogurt at 6:00? Not exactly. Do I push myself out of bed? Absolutely because being a Type-A personality, spending an hour of hot yoga in the morning gives me an hour of me. Whether I like it or not, I am in the closed room for an hour. I’m doing walking or moving meditation. I love hot because of what it does. In a burden apparatus of cleansing. Sweating means detoxification whether I like it or not and I love it.
What I find interesting and I always felt guilty that I hate running. I run regularly. There’s not a time that I have left to go out for a run that I’m like, “This is awesome. I love this.” Within an hour of getting back, there is not a time that I finished a run that I’m like, “I’m glad I did it. I feel better.”
Thank you for saying that because I do not like to work out. However, I’m in yoga. I’m learning because it is needed for my health. I’m not immune to stress in life. My stress level is high so how do I deal with this? For me, it’s yoga. For you, it’s an exercise, it’s your running because after running, you find so much accomplishment and positivity. Your endorphin level is high. From running, what did you do? You boost your immune system, whether you like it or not, because you upregulated some cellular pathways that are going to boost your immune system. You reduced your free radical damage. You reduce your oxidative stress, which is the culprit of cellular unhealth.
I do think that there are a lot of people out there thinking, “I can’t do it. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t like it. Therefore, I’m not made to do this.” It’s encouraging to hear other people that say, “I don’t like either doing it but the payback on the other end is incredible.”
That’s the whole thing. For example, exercise is versatile. You don’t want to run, walk. You don’t want to walk and you love swimming, swim. You don’t like swimming, go to the gym, pump some iron. You don’t want to pump some iron, go to the yoga studio. You don’t want yoga studio, do Qigong. The physical exercise routine is endless and no excuses. It’s interesting how we start exercising sometimes. When we commit, we commit out of necessity. It’s like I watch smokers. Sometimes, you bang on their head. It’s like, “You’ve got to quit. It’s not going to end all right,” then heart attack.
The next day, smoke-free, done, cold turkey. Something hits you. This is like, “I can die doing this.” Why don’t you think prospectively? Why do you act on your health? The best cure of the disease is the prevention of the disease. Why don’t you be proactive? We’re getting older. Whether you like it or not, this is the mechanism. If we’re getting older, it’s in our cellular apparatus to get more stale, to work slower and stuff. I need to look at it proactively and prospectively. What do I do? If every cell starts working slow and the functions are decreased, it’s not going to skip the immune system, if we’re thinking immune system.
What do I do to boost my immune system? How? I’m thinking, what is my gut doing? How is my GI system functioning? Why? Because my GI system is the home of my microgut and my probiotics. My probiotics are some say 80%-plus or 70%-plus of my immune system. My immune system lives in my gut. What do I do with my microgut? How do I boost myself? I don’t live in Hawaii. I don’t have the sun the whole year. Do I need vitamin D? Yes. What about fish oils? Yes. What about good food? There’s something that sometimes you don’t like doing but you need to do it because, am I going to be around in twenty years? That’s why I’m doing it. Do I have children? Yes. Do I want to dance on their weddings? Yes. Do I want to take my grandkids to school? Yes. Do I want to be in a wheelchair? No. Do I want to suffer from Alzheimer’s? No. There you go. There should be some commitments.
As we’re coming to the end of this, if we’re talking about an employee or a leader that says, “I’m stressed out. I’m having a difficult time coping. I don’t have the energy level. I’m not feeling great about myself.” Without overwhelming somebody to say, “You need to change all of these things,” what are some simple things that somebody can realistically start to implement? They start to get those quick wins. You start getting those and all of a sudden you’re like, “If I can do that, then I can jump up to this,” but people just need a window.This time of pandemic is a wake-up call for us to get healthy. Click To Tweet
Let’s commit to eight hours of sleep minus cell phones. No cell phones in the room. Turn it off. You turn off the lights, you sleep. Let’s try and do this, number one. Number two, breathing. When you are stressed and overwhelmed at work, stop and take a huge deep inhale, and huge deep exhale. When you do that, don’t think of the bad things that happened. When you breathe, you only concentrate on breath and you can count it. You do four times. You count to four while inhaling then hold it for four, then exhale for four. Do it 5, 6, 10 times, and then you immediately find yourself that you are less stressed.
These are two simple solutions. Number three, you take water to work. You have a bottle, preferably not plastic with clean water at home and you drink. You stay hydrated. Sometimes, when you want your pizza and stuff, you take a few sips of water and it will take away your drink. This is simple. We’re not spending money. We’re not going to see a specialist or a therapist. That’s simple. That’s solution number one. Hopefully, when we reconvene and have another talk and stuff, we’ll elaborate on more solutions and get into foods and simple solutions. What are we going to bring? What are we going to eliminate in foods?
Those three that you mentioned are huge, sleep and our breath.
If you’re stressed, stop and breathe.
It’s hard at times in terms of your breath. I remember a few times that I was taking yoga and the instructor would come up and say, “You need to breathe.”
That’s where you concentrate. There’s one thing that is of the utmost importance to me in yoga. There’s nothing more important. It’s called prana, breathing. That’s a whole thing. People say, “I can’t afford it,” but you don’t have to afford it. You need to be committed to yourself. You don’t need to afford it.
This has been great. I love the conversation that we’ve had. The focus that you have is important. It’s one that many of us have missed for a long time. It took me a while to catch on to this and how important this stuff is. It is in our control. We have control over this. I do look forward to this because I do think the food is a whole additional piece that you could bring much to this.
We need to break it up. Money is a big deal. We need to break it down and help people realize that it’s not that bad. There are a few changes we’re going to make in cupboards, the fridge and on the stove, it’s going to work.
We’ll segue that in episode number two that you and I do together. Thank you.
Patrick, I’m grateful. Thank you.
I am as well. Wishing you all the best. Peace.
Peace and love. Thank you.
About Dr. Sveta Silverman
I began my medical career as a pediatric surgeon in the former Soviet Union. After I made Canada my home in 1991, I broadened my studies and work into the field of pathology. As a pathologist, I’m really good at finding the root causes of medical problems. I’m also good at finding ways to heal medical conditions. I have a passion for eating well, living a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease.
I am a lifelong learner and as such, I am widely published and I am a Fellow in the Royal College of Physicians in Canada. As a Royal College Fellow, I am always enhancing my learning and skills through my commitment to continuing professional development through the Royal College’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program.
As well, I have enjoyed teaching over the years and I have been honoured with multiple awards for outstanding teaching. The connection I make between the material and the student is satisfying and motivating to me.
At this point in life, I desire to integrate my knowledge, experience and passion as I make myself available to answer people’s medical questions. I am developing askdrsilverman.com so that I can make a difference in individuals’ quality of life. I have worked very hard to become an expert in detecting the root causes of illnesses. I have also made strides in finding ways to help people heal their bodies. I am looking forward to helping thousands of people through askdrsilverman.com.
On a personal note, I really enjoy music, animals, tennis and kind people. Most of all, I love and appreciate my wonderful husband, Harry. The first 25 years have been marvelous and I’m looking forward to the next 25 years!
There is a reason why the adage “one bad apple spoils the bunch” has lived so well. In the workplace, even one person with poor behavior can disrupt an entire team, which then stretches out to the organization. If this situation sounds familiar to you, then maybe it’s time to create interventions before it becomes too tough to manage. Patrick Veroneau brings a study that looks at the effectiveness of gratitude interventions on reducing workplace mistreatment. He goes deep into the power gratitude holds to turn an entire organization around. Follow along to this episode to learn more.
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How Gratitude Improves Workplace Behaviors
In this episode, I’m going to focus on a research paper that was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The purpose of this research was to examine the effectiveness of what they called Gratitude Interventions on Reducing Interpersonal Workplace Mistreatment. That is such an important topic in terms of a lot of the work that I do. When I work with groups and organizations, I see the negative impact that poor behaviors have within a team. That stretches out to within the organization, whether it’s creating silos or other unproductive, disruptive behaviors that diminish the effectiveness of groups. To me, this caught my eye because it’s something that I talk a lot about. From a leadership perspective, gratitude or practicing gratitude has such an important impact on us internally. If we’re not good within ourselves, we cannot externally be good or as good as we need to be for those around us.
As I mentioned, I’m going to focus on one piece of research here but I’ll bring in other examples or observations that I have in regards to this. The title of the article is, How a Gratitude Intervention Influences Workplace Mistreatment: A Multiple Mediation Model. It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The lead author on it was Lauren Locklear. What I found interesting about this is that I put out a journal called the Power Journal. One of the things that I stressed there is the first behavior I talked about. Praise is about the importance of demonstrating gratitude, practicing gratitude on an irregular basis, how that impacts our own happiness and well–being, and our ability to be resilient or to create resilience. I don’t think anybody would disagree. If we’re looking for developing resilience or the need for resilience, it certainly is in the environment that we’re in right now.If we're not good within ourselves, we cannot externally be good or as good as we need to be for those around us. Click To Tweet
They conducted two different studies in this piece of research. In the first study, they had participants over a two–week period. They got notified every day at 3:00 in the afternoon. They were asked to journal about their workday. They could do it at any time up until midnight of that night. What they did was there was a control group in here. The first group, the group that they’re watching in terms of gratitude, prompted them by asking, “Try to think about as many things in your job/work, both large and small, which you‘re grateful for. Give some examples. Try to think of new ideas that you have not focused on in the past.“ It’s forcing people to think about different things that they’re grateful for. That’s important.
It goes back to work done by Shawn Achor in his 21-Day Happiness Challenge. It’s certainly something that I have promoted in the Power Journal that I created. When we can challenge ourselves to think about different things that we’re grateful for, what it allows us to do is to recognize, “I didn’t think there were these many things that I could be grateful for.” The reason being is because, as a society, we become so focused on the negative and what isn’t going well. We need to frameshift here. This is what this provides us the opportunity to do. What’s interesting is the second group in this first study. What they did was the only thing they were prompted and asked to do was, “Try to think about as many things in your job/work, both large and small, that affected you now.“ It’s very different.
The first one is focused very much on things that you’re grateful for. The other is, “Tell me about things that affected you now.” Most might go in the direction of what didn’t go well now and what things did impact me now. I didn’t have the right resources. I didn’t have enough time to do what I needed to get done. I didn’t have the Wi-Fi connection I needed, whatever it is. We can see where the difference there can take place. What happened at the end of the two weeks is that, in both groups, they asked those filling out the journaling exercise to also identify the name and contact of one of their coworkers. The following week, they would invite these coworkers to complete a survey, which they were asked to report on this person’s behavior over the last two weeks.
In the second study, they followed this same format, but they delayed that request by another two weeks, in terms of asking the coworkers to rate them. A few areas where employees or coworkers were questioned might have been around gossip. The question could have gone something like, “How often in the last two weeks has your coworker criticized a coworker while talking to another work colleague?” That was around gossip. To me, what’s interesting about that is I do a lot of work around The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. We do a series of workshops that are called The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. In that, the individuals on the team will fill out an assessment on the team’s level of trust, how they enter conflict with each other, how they gain commitment with each other, how they hold each other accountable, and how they are focused on the results that the team or the organization is focused on.
What’s interesting is there are drop-downs there. Employees can pick, “If we were to improve trust, what would need to happen?” One of those areas is people can check that box saying, “If we were to increase trust within this team, then we would need to address gossip. There would need to be less gossip.” You’d be surprised how many times that comes up. This speaks specifically to that. The other thing is around ostracism. That was one of the other things they looked at. One of the questions that they would ask is, “How often in the last two weeks has your coworker shut others out of the conversation?” What’s interesting about this is, in the Cables Model that we will work from, to be in that model is around belongingness. A lot of the research shows how important inclusion is. When people feel ostracized, pushed outside of the group, it has extremely negative effects. Not only on that individual but on the effectiveness of the team, organization, and engagement overall. We know that. The research is so strong there in terms of the impact that has.
Even more so in the environment that we’re in right now, we think about ostracism. In some ways, we’re somewhat ostracized already or isolated, at least. Many are not working in an office setting anymore that they used to prior to March of 2020, at least in the US. That creates its own set of inefficiencies and challenges for individuals. That’s what this spoke about. They found out that those individuals who focused on writing down things that they were grateful for each day has a positive impact. Not only on themselves and how they felt but also on the surveys that went to the coworkers. The coworkers noticed a difference in terms of their behavior. The results of this are from the researchers’ perspectives. The efforts to enhance employee’s feelings of gratitude, this gratitude intervention, was effective in reducing incivility, gossip, and ostracism when those employees practice this gratitude. Also, the impact was felt by their coworkers. It was observed by their coworkers. Others could see that this made a difference.
This is so important in terms of one small thing that we can do. If we’re able to find ways for individuals to practice gratitude or to discuss the importance and the impact that it has the ability to change how people show up in the workplace. As I’ve often said, when I initiate a lot of my work in terms of leadership development, the place that I start first is, internally, with the leader. If they are not happy with who they are and they feel good about themselves, happiness, well–being, resilience then externally, they can’t be there for somebody else. It’s the same thing with a coworker. I have seen that consistently. Those people who are unkind toward others speak more about themselves about their unhappiness with who they are. This is impacted a great deal by not feeling as though there are many things for them to be grateful for. They’re focused on how things are not going well for them. They’re unhappy with who they are. If that’s the case, how can you be there for other people if you are not even able to be there for yourself? That’s where this needs to start.
I know many may be thinking, “How do I do this? This seems like a lot of work.” There are a number of things. In this study, they focused on looking or asking individuals to talk about, “What were they grateful for during their day in terms of work?” Individuals can practice gratitude outside of a workplace setting. There are different things that we can focus on to be grateful for. In the Power Journal that I’ve put together, there were suggestions that I make in terms of things like, “Identify three things that you appreciate about yourself. Are you a good listener? Are you compassionate? Are you good with details?” There are things that when we focus on, “What are we good at?” We probably too often can be difficult on ourselves, and we look at all of our deficiencies. “What am I good at? What things am I grateful for in terms of who I am?”
Another powerful one when we talk about resilience is finding ways to be grateful for the challenges that we’re faced with. When we can find a way to be grateful for our challenges, what it provides us an opportunity to do is to have control over them to realize that this challenge, “I’m going to benefit from this. Somehow I’m going to grow from this to become stronger.” Let’s think about that in an office setting or I can be grateful for the challenges that I’ve had to deal with in terms of relationships with other people. It’s allowed me to focus on how my behaviors impact that individual, what things I’ve been able to do myself to grow, and build better relationships. Another thing that you could do is, maybe it’s involving writing a letter or a note to somebody else to tell them how grateful you are for them, for what they’ve provided to you.
Another way that we can build on our ability to not only demonstrate gratitude but also, it’s like a ripple effect. We pay it forward. I guarantee you, when somebody receives a note from you that expresses your appreciation for what they’ve done for you, they may be thinking about how somebody did that for them, too. It may be prompt them to then send a letter to somebody else to do that. There are so many different ways that we can be grateful. One other thing that was not in this study but could be very helpful as well for individuals is, if we look at bookending our day, we start our day out in a place of gratitude where we’re waking up and thinking about, “What are the things that I’m grateful for? What are the things at work that I’m grateful for? What are the things that I’m grateful for about this current situation that we’re in? How can I grow from this?”
At the end of the day, journaling for a few minutes provides a great opportunity for us to redirect. We started our day out thinking about gratitude. We end our day journaling and writing down what went well for the day. Our nature might be to think about what didn’t go well now, what didn’t get done, or what’s challenging that I’m going to have to face tomorrow. If we can leave the day and go into restorative sleep, we know the importance of that, in a place of reflecting on what did go well now, it forces us to remain positive. This is not about being a Pollyanna. This is simply saying that there are things that go well during the day. Why not focus on those? That’s where our positive energy and well–being come from when we focus on those things. It impacts every aspect of our lives, whether it’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. When we’re in a place of gratitude, the research will back up that those things are important.
I’ll leave one last piece in terms of the conclusion of this study. The authors of this study recognized how little evidence there is out there or focus has been on looking at, “We might know that there are problems within organizations, but what do we do about it? How can we break this cycle of gossip, uncivil behaviors, things like ostracism, or other disruptive behaviors? We can identify the problems but what are some of the treatments that we can use to address this?” This one focused on gratitude. Something that’s very simple for all of us to put into practice. It doesn’t take a lot of time for us to do that. If we do it over time, the results can be extremely beneficial. I hope you found value in this episode now. I’m grateful that you’ve stayed with me until the end to explore this. My challenge is to find ways on a daily basis to practice gratitude. Do it for a month and see where you end up. I promise you’ll be in a better place. Until our next episode, go out and rise above your best. Peace.
- Lauren Locklear
- 21-Day Happiness Challenge
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team
Join Patrick Veroneau in this episode as he tackles some of the most controversial issues in organizations directed towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. He explains and defines each one individually and talks about how they intertwine and overlap with each other. Addressing each one, Patrick talks about the C.A.B.L.E.S. model, a model he personally uses, to explain the different behaviors that an individual or organization can implement. Learn all about the importance of creating an environment of belongingness and the power of setting clear expectations when promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness through your procedures and processes.
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How To Live Diversity, Equity And Inclusion With C.A.B.L.E.S.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s something that gets so much attention, rightfully so, within organizations. What I want to talk about aside from diversity, equity, inclusion, which I’ll give a definition that I came across for all three of those, but more importantly, to talk about what are the behaviors that allow us to address each one of those. Specifically, I’m going to talk about a model that I use called CABLES, and it’s an acronym for six behaviors. It’s based on a lot of research in the areas of emotional intelligence, influence, personality, belongingness, unconscious biases, and irrationality to name a few of them. There were others in there, but those ones are most pivotal, provide a lot of the strength and invalidation behind the CABLES model.
Before I get into how the CABLES model addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’d be nice to level set, and try and get an idea of what do we mean by those things. We hear them thrown around a lot, but do people know, what is the difference? What are they? I pulled from one website. It’s Dei.Extension.org. One of the sponsors on it is the Cooperative Extension. They define diversity as the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, disability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective. That is a mouthful.
They go on to say, “Populations that have been and remain underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.” We move on to equity. Equity is defined as the promotion of justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.Congruence is about walking the talk and integrity. What you say and do should be the same thing. Click To Tweet
Lastly, the definition of inclusion states, “Inclusion is an outcome to ensure those that are diverse feel and/or are welcome. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, and your program are truly inviting to all. To the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes and development opportunities within an organization or a group.” You can see, there is so much there when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but I’m going to talk about it in a way that when we behave in certain ways, we address all of those. I don’t need to remember all of those things within that definition. If I behave in certain ways, they take care of themselves when I do that consistently. I don’t mean to make light of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Again, I believe strongly in that. I’m simply saying that there may be many individuals out there that are like, “This is great, but what do we do?”
That’s why we see companies set up committees and champions for this. Other companies will say, “We don’t even have policies and procedures for this.” Some companies are small that they don’t have the resources to be able to define policies and procedures on this but they do know how to behave. We all have that ability to us, and that’s what CABLES provides. When we talk about diversity, the presence of differences, populations, we talk about reference them in ways that they’re underappreciated or marginalized. We can start off with congruence.
In the CABLES model, Congruence is that first CABLE, that’s C. When we think about that, what it does is congruence is about walking the talk. It’s about integrity. It’s what I say and what I do the same thing. This may require companies to dust off their value statements or individuals to take a look at themselves in terms of saying, “How do I treat other people? What do I expect from them? Do I give the same type of respect that I am expecting from others?”
The talk next is belongingness. There’s so much research around belongingness as it relates to physical, spiritual, mental, and intellectual health. When we are included, when we feel a sense of belongingness, all of those things improve. When it comes right down to it, we are pack animals. We rely on each other. We need each other for survival. Thousands of years ago, if we were voted outside of the tribe, that was a death sentence. Belongingness is important nowadays. It might look different in the type of death that we experienced when we don’t have it. At its core, it’s the same. It’s our need to be included.
The next is around appreciation, which also deals with diversity. That allows us the opportunity when we talk about appreciation to look at things like unconscious biases and recognize that we come from different backgrounds, we have different histories, and those can all be valuable to us. When we think of them, or we act on our biases of those things, then they stifled diversity or what diversity can offer us as a society. We move on to equity. Equity is about promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness in procedures, processes, and distribution. Dusting off the values, we can look at that, but if we want to understand root causes, that’s going to require listening on our part to understand what is going on. Too much is we’re listening to undermine somebody where we need to be focused on listening to understand, not to undermine.
When we talk about understanding the root causes, the disparities that cause other people, we can behave with empathy. That’s the E in that model of CABLES. What is it like to be that other person to experience those disparities? How would I feel if that was me? Lastly, it’s around specifics. Clear expectations. Do we have clear expectations as it relates to promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness through our procedures, processes, and distribution of resources? If we have clear expectations, then it’s easy for us to go back to this and then hold each other accountable for that. It’s right here. It’s part of our policies and procedures. It’s part of our value system, where we say these things are important. I’ve seen some value statements that spell out diversity in them, the need to celebrate that or individuality.
All of those things become important here in regards to setting clear expectations. When we move down to inclusion, it’s an outcome to ensure that all feel in or are welcome. We’re back to an appreciation for me. In belongingness, this sense of when we create an environment of belonging. Again, there was so much research. I talk about all of these in different shows that I’ve already done in regards to how important these are. Lastly, what we can look to is in the last sentence of inclusion, it talks about individuals feeling as though they have fully participated in decision-making processes and development opportunities within an organization or a group that requires listening, other people to listen to them, to understand what are their issues. If I’m part of the decision–making process, that means you would’ve had to have listened to my input to be able to make that happen.
We can see here on each one of these areas, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve taken the CABLES model, overlaid it over the top of that, and demonstrated how these behaviors address each one of the areas powerfully when they’re modeled. In the work that I do with organizations, there’s a one–sheet, a diagram that I put together to help people to be able to continue to practice this because that’s how we get better at this. It’s by reminding and challenging ourselves to look at each of these.
When we talk about congruence, two of the questions that you can ask yourself is, “Do my actions match my words? Am I consistently modeling what I expect from others? Do I want to be included? Do I want my diversity, my viewpoints, and my uniqueness to be respected? Do I want to feel like there’s equity in terms of my position here?” I’m guessing we’re going to say yes. If that’s the case, then that means we need to walk the talk. We need to provide it for other people as well. When we move on to appreciation, the two questions we can ask are, “Am I consistently recognizing the positive contributions of others? The diversity of others around me?” Secondly, “Am I open to understanding and appreciating the diversity of others?” The keyword in there is, “Am I open to it?” Open to understanding. We need to be in that place where we’re curious and we’re open to this. We all have different backgrounds. We come from different places and different histories that can be beneficial to us if we look at it that way, and it’s not looked at in the way of a bias toward an individual.We need to be focused on listening to understand, not to undermine. Click To Tweet
The next is belongingness, “Am I positively contributing to the well-being of those around me, and have my behaviors supported a culture of inclusion?” Here we are. The word inclusion is right in there, like in appreciation. We talk about appreciating diversity. We hit on those in two of the behaviors directly. Next, we move on to listening. If I’ve been practicing four-way listening and that’s eyes, ears, mind, and heart, or with compassion. We go deeper into that in the work that we do in terms of helping people understand that is a muscle. To me, it’s more like a superpower. When you understand how to listen on all four levels with all four of those senses, we elevate our ability to create connections with people.
We ask, “Am I listening to understand and not to undermine?” If there’s one thing that I’ve witnessed is a lot of people that are listening to undermine somebody else, not listening to understand. They’re listening only until the person finishes talking because they’ve already got their response ready. This is about being curious. This is truly about listening to try and understand. Much more difficult, much more important, though. Next, we talk about empathy. “Have I made an effort to see things from someone else’s point of view?” It’s important to try and see where somebody else is standing. What’s it like from where they are? As importantly, “Is my demonstration of empathy sincere?”
That will be sniffed out when people consent, when you’re not sincere, where your level of empathy is more grandstanding, or you’re patronizing somebody else. There are some organizations or individuals that are talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it’s not sincere. They’re doing it to look good to other people and to check a box but not focusing on, “How do we do this? Why is this important?” Lastly, we’ll talk about it from the standpoint of specifics. “Have I set clear expectations that are understood and agreed upon by all involved? Have my behaviors created a culture of ownership for what’s expected?”
That part of ownership is important. I’ve worked with organizations that had individuals on a team that were contagions. They brought the entire team down by their disruptive behaviors by how they treated other people, holding people outside of the group, ostracizing people, not respecting diversity, taking equity away from individuals, and denying them that. What happened is that over a very short period of time, when the group decided to behave in a certain way and to hold themselves to certain standards, they suffocated out those bad actors.
Those people decided to leave the organizations that they went because they realized that there wasn’t a place for that type of behavior anymore. That’s the power that this can provide. As we wrap things up here, I’ll challenge you. You’re the architect, engineer, and builder to your environment around diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is your behaviors that will determine the strength of this and your support of this. I challenge you. Think about those behaviors. What’s 1 or 2 that you think would be helpful in terms of your relationships with other people or to support or promote diversity, equity, and inclusion where you are? What can you put into play? As I close this out, I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best. Peace.
Due to the 2019 pandemic, the entire world had to face a new reality and a new normal. This also meant that leaders need to find a way to align this new reality in relation to their followers. In this episode, Patrick Veroneau talks about how leaders need to align their behaviors and expectations with the new realities that everyone is facing. This is especially in relation to the new trend of working from home. How do we deal with this? As leaders, how do we become empathetic to the needs of our followers while driving productivity all the same? Find out more in this episode.
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The Danger Of Not Being Aligned With The Realities Facing Your Followers
In this episode, we’re going to talk about alignment as it relates to followers and leaders. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how leaders need to align their behaviors and expectations with the new realities that are facing those that they want to follow them. Let’s get into it. A lot of the work that I’ve done in terms of organizations, I’ve seen this in ramping up, especially where organizations are trying to get people back into a more normalized work environment. What we’re starting to see is there can be some real tension that is starting to build up. That’s because I believe that there are many leaders that are unaware of how their behaviors and expectations are not aligned with the new realities that are facing those that they need to follow them.
This is based on behaviors. If we think about all the different things that are going on within the life of an employee and not to say that this isn’t within the life of a leader as well, somebody that’s leading a team, but there were many different things. We talk about work, home, and the line being blurred. I would suggest that it’s not even a blurred line anymore. That line has been blown up. It doesn’t exist. In most people now working remotely, there is no line anymore. Work and home are the same place which can add their own stress. Financially, many individuals might be challenged with the security of their job. How secure is their current situation, their spouses, or their significant other? Maybe they’re with a company that is challenged themselves in regards to how the new realities of the economy we’re in has impacted their business, and they’re now needing to look to reducing overhead?Being able to recognize other people for what they're doing is important. Click To Tweet
I’ve worked with several organizations where I’ve been asked to come in because they’re going to be reducing their employee size and working with individuals to help them transition out of that, as well as working with those that are left behind managing. How do you help them to help those that are still around to have a sense of security and navigate this? I know one of the episodes that I spoke to before was around resilience. That is something that we’re going to see more of the need for understanding how do you develop resilience? Some other areas though that we’re challenged and we can think of individuals or people that have children at home. Their bandwidth has been stretched in terms of Wi-Fi. I know it has at our house, but also some of these individuals now are almost substitute teachers as well for their kids because they’re working remotely.
If you throw that into the mix, it adds another level of stress for individuals. Also, one of the things that we don’t hear much about is grief, that individuals are grieving right now. This isn’t about being weak and thinking, “You only grieve if you lose a loved one.” From an outside appearance, you can be the most rugged individual, but I guarantee you, they’re still grieving. That’s going on. It looks different in what we’re grieving could be different. It might not have been able to go to sporting events. That was a huge outlet for some people, and not having that ability to go to a sporting event has had a significant impact on them. Whether they know it or not, it certainly has.
Social events over the summer. People that have not had an opportunity to socialize, do cookouts, and outings with friends on larger scales. Those things play into it. People that love musicals, plays, or concerts, not being able to go to those impacts us. Not being able to travel, not being able to go to restaurants like you used to before because of all of these concerns, wearing masks, and separation that even when you go in there, there’s a different feel to it than you might normally have in terms of casually deciding you want to go out for dinner at the last minute. If we go back to work for a minute, we can think of new hires and how difficult that is.
If you think of trying to onboard as a new hire, how difficult that can be in terms of understanding the culture, what’s expected of me. That provides a lot of stress in regards to a new employee coming onboard and an organization that doesn’t have that same connection or ability to onboard the way they would have before the pandemic. All of these things play into the new realities that are facing all of us. If we don’t recognize those, align our behaviors and our expectations on those that are experiencing those things, we’re going to run into problems. Either disengagement or engagement that I’ve seen where it’s unproductive. It’s disruptive engagement, but both are challenging.
The question is, how do we deal with this? From an alignment standpoint, there were a number of behaviors that we can start to look at. Congruence is one. Am I in alignment? Is our company in alignment with our values? This is a great time to dust off the values and take a look at them and say, “On the decisions that we’re making, how we’re treating our employees, how I’m interacting with employees, how is it in alignment with our values?”
If we’re saying our employees are our most valuable asset, what are we doing? How are we supporting them if it’s around collaboration or integrity? Those are in our values. How are those playing out right now? It is an important time to take a look at our values, like if you’re out in the ocean and you’re in rough seas, you’re looking at your GPS to find out where your coordinates are, to get you to where you need to go. This is the same thing. Your values and your mission in this environment allow us to get back on track. We can use those as an opportunity to say, “How am I behaving? How are the decisions that I’m making and the interactions that I’m having? Are they in line with what our values are?”
Next is around appreciation and recognition. I did a workshop with a healthcare provider with a team. One of the individuals was talking about how another person on this team that at the end of every day, this person was going out of their way to thank this individual for the prep work that they were doing on the rooms that they had to go into. This individual said, “This is the first time that I’ve been with a group that there’s been that type of appreciation.” We overlook the little things and how important that can be because this took ten seconds for this person to say this. It was sincere. That mattered to this individual. In this time, the realities that we’re in, being able to recognize other people for what they’re doing is so important.
We need that. Next, we can think about connections and creating a sense of belongingness, even from a distance remotely, and how important that is for people to feel as though they are still part of a team. I had a question and it was talking about, “How do we maintain our culture remotely?” I say, “It’s very difficult to do that because you need to be in connection with people.” We need to be with people and it’s about behaviors that create the culture, not the words that we say our culture stands for. We need to get a hold of that. How do we create belongingness? Reaching out to people periodically, not on a specific schedule, but reaching out and asking people how are they doing? What do they need? That creates belongingness and an in-group.What somebody says and what they really might mean might not be the same thing. Click To Tweet
We need more of that nowadays. You’ll hear through many of the presentations and podcasts that I’ve done where I talk about the research around belongingness and how important that is. Listening is extremely important. I was in a workshop around conflict with a large organization where we are talking about how do we listen, especially when we’re challenged that it’s about listening for understanding, as opposed to listening to undermine.
There are a number of different ways that we can demonstrate our listening. Through Zoom with our eyes, it’s watching what other people were doing if we’re seeing them on the screen. It’s also important to listen with our ears. What are people saying? The tone of voice, the words that they’re using, and then facial expressions. What are they doing on the screen that we might be able to pick up on that it’s out of alignment? What they’re saying and what they’re feeling is not the same thing.
Two that I think are even more important in this environment where we have less face–to–face is listening with our mind, what somebody says and what they might mean might not be the same thing. A lot of people are dealing with a lot of stress and tension. If somebody is saying something out of frustration that they don’t mean, there’s something behind that. This is about pausing and rather than we react or we respond. We take a moment to think about, “What else is going on here?” It leads to the fourth type of listening that we can do.
This is about listening with our heart or listening with compassion. This is about listening to other people the way that we would want them to listen to us when they’re talking to us that, “I’m truly trying to understand where you’re coming from.” There was so much need for this now and the importance of it because people are facing a whole different set of realities. If we truly are listening to what’s going on, we’re going to make a greater connection with people and better communication.
Empathy stands by itself here. Demonstrating empathy to other people of thinking about the things that are going on. We’re all facing things that we’ve lost. Maybe it was a graduation that we didn’t get to go to, a birthday we didn’t get to celebrate, grandparents that aren’t able to see their grandkids, a trip that was canceled, and we don’t know when that’s going to happen. We all have these things going on. I was talking to one of the organizations that I was working with. She was talking about a nurse within the group that she had made plans with her to go on vacation to a Caribbean Island.
The director was struggling with this yet also was challenged with the idea that she said, “I know that this person is struggling right now because this person had two cruises that had already been canceled and had a wedding that had been postponed all because of this. This person was at their wit’s end and was struggling so much emotionally.” You need to step back and realize that somebody is going to act out in the way of like, “I’m going on vacation and you can write me up if you want,” but it speaks to the need for people to have some sanity in their lives or diversion when many things have knocked on their way, and we need to be empathetic to that.
Lastly, it is around clear expectations. What do we need from them each other? How are we going to navigate this situation? If there’s ever a time where we need to be even more clear in regards to what the expectations are, it’s in this environment where people are torn in different directions to have the ability to understand exactly how we’re going to navigate this new reality successfully. It’s important. “What do I need from you? What can you expect from me?” Even down to the meetings that we have. Oftentimes, we will see if those meetings are not organized well in terms of the time that the meeting is going to start. When it’s going to end that we stick to that timeline? That, “Here are the agenda items for this meeting, so we all know what we’re going to talk about.”
These are our little things but very important things in terms of setting clear expectations. We need to do that. If we’re going to align ourselves back with the new realities that are facing those people that we are expecting to follow us. This is about inspiring, empowering, and compelling those to follow us. That happens through our actions. When we look at inspiration, it’s about the, “I want to. I’ve behaved in ways that you say I want to follow where you’re going.” You get what’s going on right now. The empowered part is the employee that says, “I can do this. I have the support, direction, materials, and the resources that I need to do this.”
Lastly, the compelling part is that, “I want to do this. I will do this. I’m committed to this that’s because of the way you’ve treated me throughout this whole process. You have influenced me in a way that I’m committed to what we’re about here. I’m going to follow through on what I said. Not because I’m afraid that I’m going to be punished or penalized for not doing it, but internally, it’s because I want to do this for you, for the team, for this organization, I’m going to do this.”
I hope this has been helpful to you and valuable. It’s something that I continue to see as a theme here around a challenge to become aligned with how I behave and what I expect as it relates to the new realities that we’re all facing. Those things need to come into alignment. Things have changed. As I continue to say on the posts and on social media outlets that I present to, “We can do better. We need to do better.” I hope you were able to go out there and take a look at your own behaviors and expectations of those that are around you. You can ask yourself, “Are they in alignment with the new situation and new realities that we’re in?” Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best. Peace.
- Resilience – Previous episode
In our world today, emotional intelligence has become more and more important in how we perceive, understand, and manage our emotions. Joining Patrick Veroneau on today’s show is Dr. Ben Palmer, the Chief Executive Officer of Genos International, a business that specializes in the assessment and development of emotional intelligence, employee engagement, and motivation. Dr. Palmer talks about the impact of EI, particularly in the workplace, and the powerful leadership approaches they have identified and developed, which are vital for leading in today’s challenging times.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Impact Of EI With Dr. Ben Palmer – Episode 109
On our episode, I’m going to interview Dr. Ben Palmer, who is the CEO of Genos International. He is the Developer and Creator of a Genos model of Emotional Intelligence. It’s a model that I’ve used for over a decade now. In terms of some of the companies that have utilized this model, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, Genentech, Pfizer, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, and many more. I was reading a feed of an organization that put out projections as to emotional intelligence being utilized in the workplace. They suggested that there will be a huge increase in its utilization between now and 2026. I’m not sure why 2026 was the date, but I would agree with the headline of that. Emotional intelligence becomes more and more important in our world around perceiving, understanding and managing emotions, either mine or someone else’s. You’ll hear many pearls that you can draw off from the conversation that I have with Dr. Ben Palmer of how important developing this skill of emotional intelligence is and we all have the ability to do it. With that said, let’s get into it.
Ben, I want to thank you for being on the show. I have been looking forward to this as somebody that practices the Genos model of Emotional Intelligence to be able to get you on the show and talk about it especially in this time that we’re in. Could you give us a little background in terms of how your interesting emotional intelligence first started to form, why this model, and then go into how does this impact us now and going forward?
Firstly, thank you for having me on. It’s a real pleasure to be here. All your readers will enjoy this segment on emotional intelligence. My interest and work began with me as a PhD student not knowing what I wanted to do, and this was 1996. Dan Goleman’s book lands of my table, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, which incidentally is the most widely read social science book in the world and I fell in love with the concept. I was also doing my PhD in a neuropsychology laboratory with Professor Con Stough, who had an assessment background.
He encouraged me to start looking at the different models and measures of emotional intelligence that were around at that time. The book had become popular and there had been a bit of an explosion of different models and measures. I became interested in doing analysis inside of the market. I’ve looked at all these different instruments and which one I think is the best. That led to my own model. I was not impressed to say the least with what was available at that time both from an academic point of view in terms of the instruments not doing what they should have been doing at that time from a psychometric point of view, but also from a model point of view.
I always wanted to do applied work post my PhD. I was interested in helping people be more emotionally intelligent at work. A lot of the models at that time were in my opinion to be 15, 16 different variables in them. Imagine an emotional intelligence model that has self-awareness, self-actualization, optimism, happiness and the list goes on. If you’re looking to the history of psychology, models that are sticky, accessible, and practically useful. They’re usually four quadrant, small number of things and that’s what gives people the language of what it is you’re trying to help them improve. That was the past of the Genos model.
In regards to doing the assessment, it’s a quick assessment, relatively speaking to do that you don’t get fatigued when you do it. I remember that always being one of the things that interest me or that I enjoyed in the feedback that I was getting from people that have taken it. It’s not this exhaustive process.
If you look into the history of Organizational Psychology and instruments that organizations pick up and use, they’re often short, not long because people don’t have the time to fill out a 150-item survey. It’s a questionnaire. Ours is 42. As you point, it’s relatively quick to do, but quick doesn’t mean poor quality. Quick means some ways mean better quality because people can see. Particularly when they’re doing it online, they can see the length of the instrument. They can see how they’re progressing through it. That helps people slow down and consider their instance.
In looking at your history, you mentioned something as you looked at emotional intelligence and found it interesting. I did the same thing when I was going through my training as a coach through iPEC back in 2008. That’s when I was first introduced to the Genos model. I hadn’t heard of emotional intelligence. I didn’t know about Dan Goleman at that point. My background was in the biotech industry in sales and training. As I read this brochure around the Genos model, I thought, “This is a sales model. This is perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions or reading people and myself.”
This seems like common sense. That’s what drew me to it. What was interesting about that is after I had gone off on my own, I had been in the industry, I went to a large biotech company that I had worked for. I went to the sales director to go back in and do some training for them. The first thing he said to me at that point was, “You can come in here and do trainings on all the things that you want except for that emotional intelligence BS.” It’s what he said. That point was the resistance that I was running into with emotional intelligence that seemed weak, fluffy, and there wasn’t a lot to it but those that understood it realize that it’s the opposite and the strongest.Our feelings are so fundamental to who we are. Click To Tweet
It’s bringing strength and compassion together and using the pathway. The New Zealand Prime Minister does this exceptionally well. She’s an exceptional role model at doing it. Her popularity is through the roof. She has banished Coronavirus from her country. Emotional intelligence is about being angry but it’s about being angry in the right way, to the right degree, at the right time, in the right context, in a way that gets engagement not defensiveness.
Emotional intelligence is not just being angry, it’s being happy, optimistic, smart with feelings. If you think about feelings, they are fundamental to who we are. The first thing that happens biologically when something in our environment occurs is an emotion. That emotion starts to prevail and influence the way we think, behave, and perform. Being smart with feelings is an incredible skillset to have. It’s the difference between stimulus and reaction to stimulus-response, considered intelligent response. We need that in this environment that we’re in it at the moment.
I love those three things that you mentioned. The emotions are in the center of this but the behaviors, decisions, and performance. We can all think of, “If I’m angry, how do I perform? How do I behave? What choices will I make are not going to be generally the same as I’m in a place where I’m content, happy or satisfied?” Understanding that is important.
We’re not using emotional intelligence in the workplace to create some type of utopian environment where all everyone ever feels is happy, optimistic, satisfied, and valued. What we’re creating is a workplace that intelligently responds and uses emotion to make sure that the decisions, the behavior and the performance of the organization is optimized.
Ben, as we think about that now, we’re in this world where there’s much more of a remote setting in terms of the work that’s being done. How does developing this skillset play into that where you have more people working remotely? It impacts it.
We have more loneliness, anxiety, fear, and concern about job loss. As Josh Bronson said, quoting the CEO of Disney, “Leaders need to be the Chief Wellbeing Officers of organizations.” Now more than ever, we need emotionally-intelligent leadership because we’re having to firstly lead through a medium like you and I are discovering and talking with each other. Secondly, we’ve not only got to do that. We’ve got to lead through this medium of remote working where there is heightened anxiety, fear, concern, job insecurity, and that feeds into people’s decisions. Think about the way you think when you feel overly-stressed or concerned versus how you tend to think when you feel relaxed, content, and engaged for work. It’s a no-brainer.
In this environment, there’s an enormous need for leaders to be self-aware, empathetic, aware of others, and not only purposefully invest in their own wellbeing so that they show up, being able to project calm and confidence by way of example. Also, be able to see that a staff member is stressed or is concerned and help to best up whatever maybe the right intelligent choices around that stress and concern. It’s not about making them go from concerned to happy, although that might be one of the things that comes as an outcome, it’s about helping them make the right intelligent responses for that concern.
It takes much more effort if it’s through Zoom or over the phone where I’m not in-person with that person to try and do that.
One of the research studies that struck me in 2019 was on the extent to which emotional intelligence may be heritable or indeed developed with the environment. This research study looked at gene analysis and so on and came up with a conclusion. There were 46,000 people that they had in this study. It’s a massive sample. Ninety percent of our emotional intelligence is developed and about 10% of it is heritable. I am saying this to you and your audience in the context of think about that in terms of the opportunity it presents for you to develop your own emotional intelligence. It’s huge. Think about what it might mean even to be 2% or 3% more emotionally-intelligent. What would it mean to you to have a 2% or 3% uplift in your mood? What would it mean to you to get up out of bed in the morning and feel 2% or 3% better at jumping into work?
What would it mean to a basketball team, to an NRL team, to a football team to be 2% or 3% better at managing their anxiety in a close match? It’s the difference between finishing somewhere in the middle of the latitude, winning the grand final or finishing on top. The fact that it’s malleable and influenceable that we can develop that within our self. Research suggests on average at the moment in good emotional intelligence programs and improving it by 17% points, not 2% or 3% which I’m talking about. I wanted to put that figure into perspective. That’s what that could mean for people. It’s an incredible life journey.
There’s one study that I’ve used often. I had an affinity to it because it was from the pharmaceutical industry. It was done with Sanofi-Aventis that you were part of with Sue Jennings. I remember that study was around teaching these behaviors and these skills to managers who then had to teach it to those people that reported to them. The impact that they saw in regards to increase in sales was about 12%.
It was at that time when Sanofi had acquired Aventis. They were integrating. Sales were on the downward slope a little bit because of that integration. We focused on developing the sales manager’s emotional intelligence and got them also focused on developing their own people’s emotional intelligence. It improved revenue by 13%. I want to pick up on something you said that when you were showing or looking at the model, you thought it was a sales model. It is in some ways and it’s not in others.
When Sanofi were looking for a provider, they went through a procurement process and we were one of many people who applied to work with them. I’ll never forget sitting across from Sue Jennings and saying, “What we have to bring to your RFQ is not a sales program. It’s a personal development program based on emotional intelligence. My hypothesis is if we make people more personally effective, more self-aware, more empathetic, better at managing their emotions that their sales will improve as a result.”
She took a leap of faith and saw the sense in that. We improved revenue by 13%. Not only did we do it though, we improved it in comparison to a control group to make sure that it wasn’t the market or it wasn’t the fact that the integration was going better. In fact, if you asked her at the time of the integration, it was making things worse. The control group not only stayed flat but rebounded and Abbott came up. That was a groundbreaking study. That’s the thing about emotional intelligence. It’s role level and function diagnostic. What I mean by that is it’s relevant to any particular job that has an interpersonal component to it.
Having been in that industry for so long with many challenges that industry faces in regards to access with offices and healthcare providers. If I look back to my success in being able to navigate all those changes, it was because of this skillset of being able to navigate that environment. Being able to perceive what was going on around me. It’s not just in myself, but being able to see what was going on, and pick up on the cues around me. That is huge especially in this environment.
You were talking about this person that you were showing the model to. You can come in and do any training but not this emotional intelligence set. We don’t come up against that as much but we still do every now and then, although the world’s understanding of it has dramatically shifted. The World Economic Forum lists it as number 6 out of their top 10 job skills for 2020 and beyond. The big consulting firm, Capgemini, did a scan of the market, and 1,500 leaders at Fortune 500 companies asked them, “How relevant do you see emotional intelligence for the next few years?” They came to the conclusion through that research study that they did. They see demand for emotional intelligence increasing six-fold on average across industries. In some industries, eight-fold over the next eight years and this is what industry leaders are saying.
They’re seeing the world of artificial intelligence and automation are starting to take over a lot of the thinking component of jobs. What’s going to be left if is the human element, social persuasion, understanding how to engage in a motivated team. People are not going to be replaced. We’re always going to be there, but the people side of leadership is going to improve and increase so dramatically. They’re going to become the prize skills. What I do find in some organizations, not necessarily Sanofi per se, but there are a lot of organizations like Sanofi, BMW, Walmart, the list goes on, that did a lot of work with emotional intelligence in what I call its infancy in 2000s, by way of example. Let’s say from 2000 up until the global financial crisis of 2008.
The new pushback that I see is that BS, “We’ve done emotional intelligence. We did that in the 2000s.” I’m saying to organizations, “Have you replaced your car since the 2000s? If you haven’t, what would it be like to drive?” I use that as a metaphor to say, if you did emotional intelligence years ago, think about where it is now in comparison. The concept now has been around and it’s in its 3rd or 4th decade. Every 4 or 5 years, how we develop it, how we assess it, what we do with it is improving exponentially. Inside the organizations, if you’ve tried it a few years ago, come back and try it again because the efficacy of it, how is it sensed, developed, and brought into organizations now is much better than what it was back in those days.Being smart with feelings is an incredible skill set to have. Click To Tweet
That’s such a great point along those lines. When I do the workshops on it, not just on emotional intelligence, but most of the things I talk about is like reading about pushups and doing pushups. Intellectually, people say, “I get it. It makes perfect sense.” You’re not going to get any stronger intellectually knowing about this. It’s doing the work that you need to do this and practice this continually.
This is the essence of a good developmental program whether it be one-on-one coaching or a group workshop. There should be some content that should be about 10% of your program. There should be some discussion that should be about 20%. Seventy percent of what you’re doing should be the actual practicing of stuff. In my own coaching work, which I don’t get the chance to do as much as I’d like to anymore, but I do a lot of role plays. We’re going to talk to that person about such and such. I’m going to be that person now, let’s have the discussion. I’d encourage coaches to do a lot of roleplaying and reduce the coaching conversation down a bit and make it. Let’s have a conversation, let’s practice it out, let’s think about how you go out.
When you say that, I immediately think too of what’s coming with AI. That’s the perfect scenario of how to strengthen this muscle through AI. If we’re in scenarios roleplaying where we have to respond to a situation that has happened, that helps to build that muscle. It seems like a perfect environment for us when we talk about evolution of this. How do we get stronger at it?
AI is going to have an increasingly large role in helping to assess and develop our emotional intelligence. However, the thing about feelings is a lot of them are neurochemistry-based. That comes from interacting with other human beings or indeed other animals, like a lot of nursing homes have cats and dogs and things like that because they make people feel better. It’s a chemical interaction. While we might be able to go into a virtual world and interact, there may be some feelings that come with that. I don’t think it’s ever going to be the same as roleplaying with a real person, practicing with your colleagues. I don’t think that will ever be replaced. I see this lovely complementary world coming together in that sense.
There’s an enormous amount of money and research being poured into at the moment. Our understanding of discrete emotions, deep-diving down on specific feelings. Let’s take the feeling of concern by way of example. What does it sound like? What does it look like? What does it do in the body? How does it express itself? The reason for that is business wants to teach machines how to read feelings. Once machines can read feelings, there’s a whole range of different things they can do in terms of feedback, coaching, and so on.
At the moment already, there are listening devices in contact centers who are listening to a call between a customer service representative, let’s say at American Airlines, and a customer who’s rang up about an issue with their airline ticket or whatever. What that machine is doing is it’s listening to the emotional tone of the conversation. When that emotional tone starts to go the wrong way, it’s flashing up messages to the customer service rep to let them know the customer is getting frustrated.
Their frustration is elevated, we needed to change the script. It’s bringing up on-screen different options that the customer service rep can call on to change the tact of the conversation and de-escalate the situation. Some customer service reps don’t need that technology at all. They’re good at reading it and picking up on it but we’ve all been at the receiving end of one who hasn’t. Imagine the benefits that technology is bringing in terms of helping that particular person pick up on the emotional and change track a little bit. This is this lovely integration and what this world that we’re going to be going into is going to look like.
The extension of this is in the future and it’s already been written up and talked about. We say expanse of what technology in cars now that can read the emotional tone of the passengers. If you’re an Uber driver and you’re in a Mercedes Benz, it can tell you on your dashboard, “Your customer is not feeling comfortable with you driving. You need to pull it down a little bit and slow down or ask the customer if they’re okay.” This is an enormously wonderful world that’s coming in terms of this stuff. I don’t know about the ethics of it. I hope it catches up and we have the right policies around it. It’s an interesting world ahead of us.
I read a few different articles around the elevation of oxytocin around empathy. Do you have any thoughts in that in particular? The only time I had heard about oxytocin before was when my wife was pregnant. Her levels of oxytocin went up and it seemed interesting. This looked at how to artificially raise somebody’s level of empathy through a nasal spray of oxytocin.
There are things like that coming out. There’s a great Facebook post going around about all sorts of hacks that you can do more naturally to bring out the different neurochemicals of wellbeing, contentment, satisfaction, empathy and so on. There are two points that I would make here. Firstly, we’ve all got the biology for empathy. We’ve all got the mirror neurons and all the bits and pieces we need to be empathetic. What gets in the way of empathy a lot of the time is the context where in, time pressure, concern, being in a rush, overworked, and underpaid, the list goes on. All those things that are going around in our environment reduce our natural empathetic response.
If people want to be more empathetic, you can go grab the nasal spray or you can practice mindful listening. You can take six deep breaths before you meet with someone. If you sit there and take six deep breaths one minute before you meet with the person you’re about to meet with, you will be more empathetic, but there’s a real method to the breathing. You’ve got to exhale for twice as long as you inhale. It’s like yoga. Purse your lips, imagine yourself blowing through a straw, if you suck in for 2, you’ve got to blow out for 4 seconds and some version thereof. A minute of nice, big breathing like that engages your parasympathetic nervous system, biology for empathy, and sets you up to be empathetic.
Once you’re having a conversation with someone, if you remind yourself to steal your own thoughts and judgments, to be mindful, and to be focused on what’s being said. To be thinking about the next question, how you’re going to add to the conversation, or which parts of it you don’t like. Steal that a little bit and focusing on the listening. Your natural empathy will come out. One thing I would like people to do. Go into YouTube and put into Google four-minute eye experiment Amnesty International and watch that five-minute clip. Amnesty International did this wonderful experiment of bringing people together to sit opposite each other. They said, “We don’t want you to do anything other than sit opposite of each other.”
If you watch it, what you will see is what I’m talking about in action that when you bring a couple of people together who are complete strangers with different backgrounds. Ask them to sit opposite each other for four minutes, look at each other, and be there, their natural empathetic response immediately starts to come out. You will find it hard not to watch that without a dry eye. It will move you emotionally. It’s a great illustration of our natural biology for empathy and use it as a metaphor to think about how can you put yourself into the context for empathy because your empathy is already there, you just need to bring the right context in.
I will say the breathing is something that I’m familiar with, but not the 2:1 ratio.
Imagine blowing out through a straw. That helps with that 2:1 ratio.
Four-minute eye experiment?
Amnesty International, it goes for about five minutes. It’s an experiment that Amnesty did in Europe during the time when a lot of the conflict was happening in Syria and some of those countries. There was a flood of refugees across borders. They did it to help people connect with refugees and their situation. Not through talking but through empathy. Empathy is not something you say, empathy is something you feel and do naturally and unconsciously. That’s what that experiment shows.
Along those lines, Ben, is there a piece of research that excites you or helps to advance where this is going that you see?To develop emotional intelligence, you need to engage in activities that bring about emotions. Click To Tweet
The heritability is one. Secondly, now that AI can be developed, there are good analytical studies on that. The piece of research that’s struck me is not contemporary. It’s one of the first articles on emotional intelligence. In Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer’s seminal article on emotional intelligence, they did talk briefly about how you can develop it. One of the things that they talked about is you need to engage in activities that bring about emotions. They talked about how physical education in schools, arts, and dramas with these classes that gave that to people. You talked a little bit before when we were talking about artificial intelligence about your emotional muscle. I’d like you to think about if you want to develop your ability to perceive, understand, and regulate your emotions, then what they were saying is you need to engage in activities that make you emotional and engage your emotional system.
I am a bit of a fanatic of talent shows like America’s Got Talent because they move me emotionally. There’s something about young and old people getting up on stage and having to go. Sometimes, the authenticity of those stories is moving. In the 2020 AGT, Archie Williams, the person who was incarcerated for some 30 years incorrectly, a DNA analysis helped him get out of prison. If you haven’t, Archie Williams go and watch that particular performance. It was by no means technically the best performance of the season. It wasn’t a great technical performance from a singing point of view but from an emotional point of view and perspective in terms of how he connected with the crowd, not only on the night. It’s gone viral so it had 8 million or 9 million views on YouTube. Emotions serve to connect us.
That’s what you get in that particular example. Ask yourself the question, what moves you emotionally? I encourage people not only to engage in things that might move them in a positive direction like America’s Got Talent does for me, but that also moves you in a negative or an unpleasant direction as well. We’ve got to go through those range of things like I’m quite progressive in my politics but I don’t hide that to anyone. I love to listen to right-wing shock jocks and right-wing commentators. Steve Bannon comes to mind as a way of getting frustrated, moving my emotional muscle. That helps me. I like having that perspective, for one. It helps me appreciate the other side of the fence better. I don’t agree with it but I liked method, perspective, and having those emotional responses that are both good, the bad, and the ugly. All of those are important. That’s what moving that emotional muscle is all about.
That seems to be a mindful approach to two different viewpoints as you embrace it.
Perspective is one of the things that we’ve lost through our politics and we need it. Let’s take the news by way of example. Even if you watch a fairly reputable news channel, 80% of it is negative, anxiety-provoking, fear-creating, and stressful. To get a balance of perspective, I recommended people tune into the good news network. It’s a news channel totally devoted to good news. Why? To have that perspective as a reminder of all the wonderful things that are also going on in our world all the time. It’s a way of also going, “The world is not as bad as the news would have us believe.” There’s a lot of good going on as well. That helps to bring down that fear, anxiety and stress. It’s important to have balance, perspective, to be moving, and working your emotional muscles as a way of developing your emotional intelligence.
I’d love to get the citation on that heritability one because that helps us all to be able to suffocate that excuse that we can’t do it.
I like to be a realist. We all have limitations. I am never going to be the sooner I’ve learned so to speak with my emotional intelligence, that New Zealand prime minister I was talking about. I have developed my emotional intelligence out considerably but I also know my limits. I’m not going to be the next star performer from an AI perspective. The point is that as I was making it the outset almost of our conversation, that 2% or 3% off with, it’s life-changing for people and it can be game-changing for business. That’s the tagline of our business. A tagline is real. I love this work. I love it when I’m working with business leaders who I say, “How’s it going?” The morale of the team is better and the sales are up and good.
My relationship with my fifteen-year-old daughter or son, my wife and I are getting along better. That’s when I get people think. When you hear that life-changing for people part coming to life. For business, it’s such a holistic thing to do. You’re not only helping people be their best self at work, you’re helping them be more of their best self socially, romantically, and with their family more broadly. It’s a holistic thing to do. People who are better at home are better at work. People who are better on medically are better at work. It’s no doubt about that because you’re not bringing that baggage in with you as you come into work in the morning.
I love the way you say that because it is something that when I’m out there with organizations especially with the individuals in those organizations saying that this set of skills that you can develop is not something that benefits you while you’re here. This goes everywhere with you. It impacts every part of your life if you embrace it. That helps to get people to buy-in because what’s in it for me, I could say, I’m fine at work but my home life is horrible. If this is a way to improve that then I’m interested.
I like to get people to draw a circle or a pie that represents 100% of themselves and then get them to think about what percentage of that pie would you say is when you’re being your best self in life? Is that 50% of the time? Is it 100% of the time? Ask people to think about what do they like when they’re in their worst-self and to define that a bit. At what percentage of the pie would you say in a week you’ve turned up as your worst-self? For a lot of people, sometimes that ratio, their worst self is 50/50. Sometimes it’s 90/10 or 99/1. Even for those people who say 99/1, they’ll also say it’s the 1% of the time that brings you undone.
I was with the school principal and their school leader who was saying to me they had a perfect year. The school was going well. On one day of the year when they were a bit stressed and tired, they had a bit of an altercation with a parent. That one day, that one 10-minute interaction brought the whole year undone for them. That’s the point I like to make for this that there’s no end to finessing up your emotional intelligence. If it saves you from that one day, that one hour, that 110 minutes that you’re in your worst self is enormous in terms of its potential impact for you in that year.
I have appreciated this conversation. There are many different things here that are valued that readers can draw from. I can’t say enough of how honored and thankful I am that you were able to do this. With that said, what’s the best way for people to hear more about the Genos model and in the work that you’re doing?
We have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn group. We have our own webpage and we have a YouTube channel. Google and search Genos International, look at our LinkedIn group, webpage and so on. That’s the best way for people to connect and know more.
Thank you for your time.
It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me. I’m humbled to be invited on your show. Thank you.
- Genos International
- Emotional Intelligence Model
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
- Four-minute eye experiment Amnesty International – YouTube
- Facebook – Genos International
- LinkedIn – Genos International
- YouTube – Genos International
About Dr. Ben Palmer
Dr. Ben Palmer, OD is a Optometrist in Nipomo, CA and has over 11 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from Pacific University College Of Optometry medical school in 2009.
He is accepting new patients. Be sure to call ahead with Dr. Palmer to book an appointment.