12. Reset Your Energy through Self-Care with Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley



In today’s episode, Elizabeth-Leigh shares valuable ways to avoid stress & burnout with simple daily self-care practice.

In this episode:

Elizabeth-Leigh and I talk about a topic that’s especially relevant today, as we all grapple through this pandemic, and the emotional turmoil this has created.

Hear more about:

  • Taking the edge off for leaders and caregivers who are used to being ‘the voice of calm’
  • How self-care includes building your support system outside your immediate family
  • Ways to bring joy back into your life (that fits in your schedule) and how to break down mental barriers

Guest Info:

Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley, Motivational Speaker, Creator of The Balanced Care System, and Chief Motivational Caregiver, is the founder of Every Day Caregivers, a company built exclusively to support the psychological health and wellness needs of caregivers.

As a result of her own long-distance and long-term family caregiving experience, Elizabeth-Leigh has poured her 20(+) years as a family therapist, chief clinical officer, educator, and national trainer into the creation of The Balanced Care System. She is committed to ensuring no other caregiver, whether one is a family member or a professional caregiver, has to go through an experience like the one that nearly ended her life. Learn more about Every Day Caregivers at https://everydaycaregivers.com/.

 

Resources:

You can connect with Elizabeth-Leigh here:

EverydayCaregivers.com

LinkedIn

Instagram (@everydaycaregivers)

Facebook (@elizabeth.leigh.bradley.edc)

Want to support us? Love this podcast?

Please tell your friends and colleagues, share our posts, or take a moment to review us and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or where you listen to the podcast!  We are extremely grateful for your support. 

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new podcast episodes!

http://eepurl.com/gmA_JX

Transcript:

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now, here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): I had the pleasure of being on a panel for the Pioneer Network with other family members who have had, or currently have loved ones living in a seniors’ care home. And this is where I met today’s guest, Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley. First, I’m going to share her bio info with you. Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley is a motivational speaker, creator of the balanced care system, chief motivational caregiver and founder of everyday caregivers- a company built exclusively to support the psychological health and wellness needs of caregivers. As a result of her own long distance and longterm family caregiving experience, Elizabeth-Leigh has poured her 20 plus years as a family therapist, chief clinical officer, educator, and national trainer into the creation of the balanced care system. She is committed to ensuring no other caregiver, whether one is a family member or a professional caregiver, has to go through an experience like the one that nearly ended her life. I’ll have a link to her website in the show notes, Elizabeth-Leigh works to support caregivers, both unpaid family caregivers, as well as people like you, who are caregiving in your professional roles and seniors care.

Deb (01:48): And I think there’s one thing that both types of caregivers share, as an opportunity for expansion. And that is self care. I remember when I was in the midst of caregiving with my husband Ty, while he was receiving home care and then moved into long term care and people would say, “you really need to practice better self-care.” And it would make me nuts because I was hanging on doing my best to white knuckle through it all. And I had absolutely no idea what they meant or where to even start. And I also hear from my clients about the overwhelm and the burnout symptoms that are being experienced. Caregivers need self care, and here’s the good news. Elizabeth-Leigh shares some really easy, practical ways to sneak these into your days. It kind of makes me think about how some parents sneak vegetables into the spaghetti sauce, kind of like that.

Deb (02:49): Take it from someone who’s learned the hard way, and from a therapist who also knew better from her practice and learned the hard way through experiencing the emotional exhaustion and figuring out a way to save herself and support her caregiving clients, both the family members and the professional caregivers. Sometimes breakthroughs come in baby steps and taking just one idea and playing with it can help you to breathe a little lighter and lessen the load that you may be carrying just a bit. So you can build your bandwidth… one baby step at a time. I hope you enjoy this conversation.

Intro/Break (03:34): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life, podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network, coming soon.

Deb (03:50): Hi, Elizabeth-Leigh, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. I’m really looking forward to this conversation today.

Elizabeth-Leigh (03:55): Well, hello. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Deb (03:59): Yeah, well, I was so pleased to be had the opportunity to be a panelist with you for the Pioneer Network, where we got to participate with a few other family members and really speak to the family member experience for those families who have loved ones living in seniors’ care. And when you talked about your background and how you formed your organization and your experience as a family therapist, I thought this could be a really interesting conversation for us to have, as it relates to self care for people who work in seniors’ care. And particularly as we’ve gone through the first wave with COVID this year in 2020, the expectation of a second way and when and how hard that’s going to be. People working in seniors’ care are already feeling some burnout. So, I would love to have a conversation with you as to some ways that they can find a little bit of self care in their day.

Elizabeth-Leigh (04:59): Sure. And I am ecstatic to talk about it. When I started Everyday Caregivers, I started it to reimagine self care for the caregiver. I had no idea to the extent we were going to have to reimagine it, given COVID and its impact on everybody. So we are all in a time where we’re relying and needing to lean on one another. And I’m excited that you and others that were part of that panel, the Pioneer Network with that, we’re starting to have those conversations because we haven’t, unfortunately, haven’t even begun to scratch the surface when it comes to understanding how COVID is impacting our mental health.

Deb (05:46): So what are you finding with the clients that you’re working with? What are some of the key patterns or concerns that you’re seeing?

Elizabeth-Leigh (05:55): Well for sure stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, there’s a lot of, all of that happening all at once. And what’s different about that while those, that language, those words are not new for anybody, the way that they’re happening and they’re happening all at one time together is really overpowering. And so I find people really leaning into that in a way that is causing them additional panic and concern about how am I going to get through this? Whereas before maybe the questions were, you know, how is it that I can do both …care for my loved one, care for myself, do my job, you know, they were pretty siloed in their own categories. And yet with COVID, they’ve all been squished in together. And so the language around self care is really, really impacting things. And I, I find myself going back to how and why I even started Everyday Caregivers because I’m a family therapist by training. And when I initiate it was called up, right. I like to say that I was called up into service, right. I had been my family’s caregiver for so many years that it really was second nature to me. it wasn’t something that I was like, ‘oh my gosh, what did I do?’ I kind of like, all right, here we go. You know, let’s make this happen. And through that, I was so surprised how my own mental health deteriorated. And as a result, I created everyday caregivers and my Balanced Care System. But when COVID hit, I found myself going through that roller coaster of emotion that I had experienced over a 15 year time period, caring for my family within weeks. Right? So you’re riding this rollercoaster that is going higher and lower. Whereas before you were just kind of riding the wave, if you will, of all of those emotions with COVID, you are experiencing sharp peaks and sharp valleys. And that is really new for people that’s something that is scaring people into, further deterioration of their mental health. And, and I’m concerned because they’re shutting down.

Deb (08:36): And when you say shutting down, what does that look like?

Elizabeth-Leigh (08:42): Shutting down is really your mind going into protective mode, right? So I need to really just kind of shut out everything else and look at what is right in front of me. That I think is our body and our minds’ natural instinct to do that, right. What do I need to do to survive this moment? What do I need to do to survive this hour? And when we shut down like that, though, we are, what we’re doing is we’re suppressing all of our emotions. We’re suppressing all of our coping skills and how to work through something because it’s so overpowering that we’re not sure if we can work through it. So we shut down. So what that would look like is someone just literally doing the bare minimum to get through a moment, to get through an hour, to get through a day.

Deb (09:36): And it probably, I mean, there’s that emotional impact as well as affecting one’s physical ability, right? The problem, assuming things like headaches and fatigue, and as well as just lacking that will to do any extra, is that…

Elizabeth-Leigh (09:52): Oh, for sure. You’re going to start to see yourself, If you’re an extremely patient person, you’re going to see that kind of taper off a little bit. You may find yourself getting really reactive to things that are not usually something that you’re reactive to. You will find yourself creating physical ailments, as you said, headaches, fatigue, um, maybe even anger, right? The language that you may use is going to be different, maybe a little sharper than usual, or maybe a little trite, triter than usual. And it’s going to manifest in some way, right? Our emotions, our feelings are how we take in what is happening to us manifest in some way. So when we suppress our usual way of kind of working through different situations and we kind of shut down, it finds new ways to manifest itself, which can be alarming in and of itself, for sure.

Deb (10:53): When, as you’re describing that, I’m thinking about leaders. So an Administrator, Director of Care, Director of Nursing, people that are on a management team working in a seniors’ care home, and they’ve got their own personal challenges, as all human beings do. And then they have staff who are dealing with their personal challenges and in the work environment, and the anticipation of this next wave, the amount of pressure because leaders are looked upon to lead and be that voice of calm and reason and direction and confidence and all of those things. And just like when you described how people are less patient, I think we can see that anywhere we go from driving to the grocery store to a seniors’ care home.

Elizabeth-Leigh (11:42): For sure.

Deb (11:43): And so it’s what would be some approaches or supports that whether somebody is in leadership or they’re working at a staff level that can help to take a bit of that edge off?

Elizabeth-Leigh (12:01): I think first and foremost is to just acknowledge that we’re all in new territory and to give yourself grace to not have all the answers. The added pressure that anyone can put on themselves right now is to feel like you should know what to do. Nobody knows what to do right now. Right. All we can do is rely on our skills, rely on our training, rely on our coworkers, rely on our policies and working together- and knowing your strengths as well as those strengths of the individuals and professionals that you’re surrounded by use those to your advantage. Right. Really dig deep to say, okay, what is it that we have learned from phase one that really helped and, maybe needs some modifications, right. And who has strengths in that area? Okay. Let’s brainstorm now, let’s get together. Let’s figure out how we’re going to maximize our strengths with each other and individually to get through this second wave.

Deb (13:07): So really focusing on what’s within your control because the things that are outside of our control, are outside of our control and there isn’t anything we can do about it yet, we spend a lot of time…

Elizabeth Leigh (13:23): Isn’t that the rub, right? When the more out of control things are the more we want to control them. And it creates this cyclical motion that goes nowhere, right? Because we’re trying to control something that can’t be controlled. And so the more we do that, the more difficult and out of control it gets.

Deb (13:45): Would you like to better connect with your family members, even though there’s restricted visitation protocols in place? To maintain and build strong relationships with your families and think about your new families, how can you create a healthy connection with them, so you can start the relationship on the right foot. I’ve created a free download that has 10 great ways to build relationships with your family members, even during restricted visitation times. Visit my website and click on the link to download ways to connect and build trust with your families during COVID-19 and you’ll get immediate access. And then you can start using these ideas right away to stay connected with your families.

Intro/Break (14:31): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the first thing you think of, maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind, podcasts that spoke to you, podcasts that you could listen to in short segments? We’ve put together podcasts exactly like that the qodpod network, coming soon.

Deb (15:01): And the other thing, what you said earlier about when people feel shut down, sometimes we can’t really think much past the hour or the day, or a few days maybe, and we’re dealing with those immediate things. And yet there’s an expectation for organizations to have a plan figured out. I am seeing this in the the news yesterday. It’s like, what’s the plan for how we’re all going to deal with this second wave. And yet there’s so much uncertainty around that. So it almost feels like a bit of a push and pull when we have limited bandwidth and limited ability to stay focused. But yet we have to be trying to look one month, two months, three months, six months out in what’s a very uncertain time.

Elizabeth-Leigh (15:48): Yeah. Get as many people as you can, as many different people as you can involved, right? This is an amazing opportunity to say, we’re going to reimagine how we’re going to operate as an organization, as a team, as a floor, if you’re in a hospital, right. We’re going to reimagine that to the extent that we can, and we’re going to utilize every, we’re going to start looking at people, places and things around us as supports, right? When I work with family members individually, one of the things we work on is building your support system beyond your immediate family, because family members tend to find themselves in this narrow way of thinking that the only people who should or have the responsibility of caring for the loved one is the immediate family. And we work on extending that definition of family to include others. And I would encourage organizations and teams to look at that as well. Who around you, maybe on the second and third tier, can be a resource to you and added support to make sure that you’re operating the way that you want to at the level and the quality that you want to be operating. Now is not the time for our egos to get in the way. It’s kind of like all hands on deck. And so I think if individuals can find their way to being comfortable with that, or at least comfortable enough to explore that, I think they’re going to find that more people are willing to help and support, and help them maintain their operations and their quality of care to others than they originally thought or have utilized in the past.

Deb (17:43): Well, and you’ve also indicated that you provide support to the family members who are caregivers and the paid caregivers, people who work in a caregiving profession. And it sounds like there’s some overlap with the kind of advice that you would provide. Like even just what you described, there’s the asking for help in your network as an individual, as well as an organization. Are there other organizations or partnerships or other people that could be brought in to help? And I’m just curious what are some of the other overlaps that you see between the caregivers and the paid caregivers when it comes to providing self care tips?

Elizabeth-Leigh (18:28): Yeah. So, like you said, I focus on self care. So self care transcends what role you’re providing in the care of another individual, because we all need to take care of ourselves. But when we’re in those roles that are really emotionally driven and are about the care of another human being and the support that we provide at that kind of intense level can be really overwhelming. So I created what’s called the Balanced Care System, and we look at four critical areas of an individual’s life that typically change as they enter this industry and, or a specific role of caregiver, whether you’re a professional or family caregiver. And those four roles include looking at your functional needs to eat well, right. Healthy, to sleep and to maintain your own personal wellness. So that includes like your medical appointments, but also includes your connection to your peers, your social support system, as well as your family members, because for professional caregivers you are often in a position where you are caregiving 24/7, all the days of your life. Because you’re caring for another individual’s family member during the “work days,” and then you’re going home and providing care to your own family members. And so that kind of on-call duty intensifies the need for self care. So we really look at, how do you make those changes? Because in my own experience, and I also spent about almost a year talking to caregivers across the country and internationally about their experience, simply just their experience. Honestly that whole thing started as I wanted to validate my experience. I was like, am I doing something wrong? Like, am I the odd one out that just needs to figure it out and do better? Right? And what I found was it didn’t matter what role you were playing, that everybody was feeling that they didn’t know how. There’s a bunch of blogs, a bunch of people that say, make sure and take care of yourself, make sure and ask for help. But it seems like there’s this invisible cry that people were saying, I am trying to do both like, how do you do that? So then I spent another year and I relied on my training as a therapist in my work with family dynamics. And I said, okay, can I create something that helps an individual figure out for their own circumstances what that how is, and that’s the Balanced Care System. So we take a look at this first element of functional needs and we kind of break it down and in a guided worksheet kind of way, how do you do that for your particular situation? And we look at very small changes that don’t overwhelm the system, meaning AKA your body and your mind, right? We don’t want to overwhelm you with, you know, throw out everything and start with the, you know, doing everything fresh and new, but how do you break that down in very small incremental changes that over time will have a huge impact. We also take a look at what I call your balanced care priorities. And this came from, again, my own experience, as well as conversations. And people felt like they were losing a part of themselves. Like they were giving every good piece of themselves to someone else. And so we said, okay, what if we re imagined how to do those things that just make you breathe a little bit easier, put a smile on your face, bring joy into your life, or give you purpose for you as an individual. Right? And so we looked at that and I said, well, I don’t want it to be just, you know, make a list of things that you like to do and find time to do them. Right. It’s like duh, if I could do that, I would. So what I do ask them to do, I do ask them to make a list, but I say, let’s take a look at each one and see if we can break it up into time increments. So can you do you know, item number one on your list in 15 minutes? Is there a way that you can bring some kind of joy or some kind of feeling like, yes, I am doing something for myself in a 15 minute time increment. And so we split it up into 15 minute time increments within four hour time, or excuse me, within two hour time increments and something that could take perhaps a half a day. And then we provide again, another kind of guided worksheet of how do you plug these into your life, you know, and you may find yourself doing more 15 minute things, then even one, two hour things are half day things, but we work through together on how do you keep these things in your life in a modified way so that you still see that you, the individual, is not being lost. So those are the two main things and then I provide them guided worksheets on how to break down barriers in a very systematic and methodical way. And then how do you build a support network beyond your immediate family?

Deb (23:58): Well, as you were talking about, I love the practicality of being able to create a list with those time elements, because it’s like, if we want to shift our mood, the easiest way to do that is to take action.

Elizabeth-Leigh (24:14): Yes.

Deb (24:15): Even when we don’t feel like it. And I could imagine that some of the conversations, like what brings you joy, if somebody is in a burnout caregiver role, they may say, I have no idea. It’s been so long since I… So there’s probably a little bit of digging and probing to be able to find something. And even if it’s 10 or 15 minute thing to be able to reignite that, but they can recognize that that is possible.

Elizabeth-Leigh (24:39): Yeah. And, and we, I think it’s human nature to be like, I just need a break. Right. I need to take a vacation. I need to be able to walk away. And that’s a really big red flag for us when we’re using language like that. When we’re having conversations like that, that’s just a huge red flag for the extent in which we are experiencing burnout. Right? If you are vocalizing to anybody who’ll listen, I just need to walk away for a bit, I need to take a vacation, I need to get away,

Deb (25:11): Run away.

Elizabeth-Leigh (25:11): Run away, which is totally normal. Right. Totally normal. Particularly right now, we all want to go away. I think my husband and I talk all the time when this is over, we’re going to go to this destination, right. So that’s totally normal. I work with caregivers to say, okay, how can we bring that into your life? And sometimes a lot, not even sometimes a lot of times it comes down to our five senses. What can we bring into our world that can utilize our senses that can tap into the power of our brain and the power of our physiology for our body that can just bring about a little bit of that relaxation. Sometimes it’s, you know, I have this favorite candle and every time I smell it, I’m reminded of when we went to X, Y, and Z, or this picture of us when we’re on the beach was my favorite vacation. Okay. So where can we put that picture so that it’s in your visual path and when you look at it, I want you to take a moment, close your eyes and just do nothing, but think about that. So kind of take that mental mini vacation. Is it the same as being there? Of course it’s not, but you’ll be amazed at how, what good it does for your brain and your body.

Deb (26:32): Well, again, I think it’s focusing on those things that we can control. And by activating those senses, just as you were describing that I was thinking of a couple of items that I have, that it’s some hand cream that’s pretty well all dried up, but it’s in a jar, but when I open it, it still has that aroma to it. It’s just, and I hadn’t really thought of it that way. It’s just that two or three seconds.

Elizabeth-Leigh (26:55): Yes, exactly.

Deb (26:59): Things that we can choose to implant in our day until we’re able to run away and take that trip, whatever point in 2022 or 2023

Elizabeth-Leigh (27:11): Right. I’m still banking on 2021. We’ll see, we’ll see it. Maybe 2022 though.

Deb (27:17): Yeah. Well, we can hope for sure. This has been a really delightful conversation and I just, I love the practicality and I really felt some mindset shifts that could be helpful, certainly for me, and for hopefully for the listeners. If people want to get in touch with you, Elizabeth-Leigh, where would they find you?

Elizabeth-Leigh (27:35): Sure you can check out our website everydaycaregivers.com or you can email me. My email address is ELBradley@everydaycaregivers.com.

Deb (27:51): Excellent. And I’ll make sure that your information is in the Show Notes. And thank you so much for joining me in this conversation today.

Elizabeth-Leigh (27:58): Oh, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it and enjoyed our conversation.

Deb (28:03): Awesome. Thanks.

Outro (28:08): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


11. Breakthrough Your BS with Likky Lavji



In today’s episode, Likky shares how your BS gets in your way – and how to leverage your knowledge of your blind spots.

In this episode:

Likky shares how understanding and embracing your BS — your Blind Spots — can make you a stronger leader, a better partner and help you achieve much more success in your personal and professional lives.

In this episode you’ll learn more about:

  • How limiting beliefs can be major barriers
  • How to uncover your blindspots
  • How to create an environment for open communication and better connection
  • How your style of driving can reveal your blindspots
  • How to use insights from his assessment to empower yourself and your team
  • How reflecting on childhood interactions can create a better understanding of current behaviour patterns
  • How to use your BS knowledge to relate better with others

Guest Info:

Let me introduce Likky to you. Likky Lavji is a Founder and President of Dante Group, a consulting firm that works closely with growth-oriented mid-size companies. He is also known as the “Blind Spot Navigator”, an in-demand workshop leader and keynote speaker who is passionate about helping leaders break through barriers to unleash their full potential. With over 25 years as a CEO of a top IT company, Likky’s extensive experience in executive leadership gives him a unique perspective that enables him to understand the multi-layers of human behavior and how they impact an organization’s growth and productivity.

Likky has been acknowledged by prominent organizations that include Telus Corporation, Lenovo Canada, and Royal Bank of Canada for his ability to create mindset shifts with company cultures that lead to greater shared commitment, elevated results and clients that are more engaged and excited.

If you want to learn more about your Blind Spot, Likky has created an Assessment that you can take at no cost. It closely identifies which of the eight personality and behavioral styles describe you the best. You can click on this link to take the assessment at https://likkylavji.com/blind-spot-assessment/.

He will also be launching his book soon: stay tuned and follow him at his Social Media accounts.

Resources:

You can connect with Likky here:

LikkyLavji.com

LinkedIn

Facebook (@speakerlikky)

YouTube

— Instagram (@likkylavji)

— Twitter (@likkylavji)

Want to support us? Love this podcast?

Please tell your friends and colleagues, share our posts, or take a moment to review us and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or where you listen to the podcast!  We are extremely grateful for your support. 

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new podcast episodes!

http://eepurl.com/gmA_JX

Transcript:

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips, to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): Perhaps you’ve heard the quote self-awareness is the greatest predictor of leadership success. I actually think self-awareness is one of the best predictors of relational success as well. When we have a high level of self awareness, we are better equipped to relate with others in a healthier way. And yet what gets in the way of self-awareness? Well, one of them is our blind spots. Today’s guest Likky Lavji is a blind spot navigator, also known as a BS navigator. Listen, we all have blind spots. It’s like that saying goes, we can’t see the label on the jar when we’re in the jar yet everyone else can. The blind spots that can get in the way of effective leadership and relationship building can be how others perceive us compared to how we are perceiving ourself and Likky shares some personal stories and insights with learning about his blind spots that created breakthrough results for him and his team.

Deb (01:26): Here’s a bit about today’s guest. Likky Lavji is a Founder and President of Dante group, a consulting firm that works closely with growth-oriented midsize companies. He’s also known as the blind spot navigator. An in-demand workshop leader and keynote speaker, who is passionate about helping leaders break through barriers to unleash their full potential. With over 25 years, as a CEO of a top IT company Likky’s extensive experience in executive leadership gives him a unique perspective that enables him to understand the multilayers of human behavior and how they impact an organization’s growth and productivity. Likky has been acknowledged by prominent organizations that include Telus Corporation, Lenovo Canada, and Royal Bank of Canada, for his ability to create mindset shifts with company cultures that lead to greater shared commitment, elevated results and clients that are more engaged and excited. If you want to learn more about your blind spot, Likky has created an assessment that you can take at no cost. It closely identifies which of the eight personality and behavioral styles describe you the best. And you’ll find a link in the show notes. I hope you enjoy this conversation.

Break (02:41): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network, coming soon.

Deb (02:56): Hi Likky, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. So looking forward to this conversation.

Likky (03:01): Well, Deborah, thanks for having me on here. I really appreciate it.

Deb (03:05): Well, you know, blind spots are one of those things that I’ve always been a bit fascinated with, certainly from my years of being a corporate coach and how blind spots can really get in the way of people being able to develop their full potential. But I want to start by asking you, how did navigating, helping people navigate their blind spots become your thing. It sounds like it’s your superpower.

Likky (03:29): Thanks. It was honestly by mistake, you know, I guess as I was growing up all the limiting beliefs I had really impacted my life over the years. And over the last couple of years, sitting down and training customers on sales and business strategies, realizing they weren’t able to execute at the end. Not really not getting this stuff done. I just take a step back and say, what’s stopping them. And what’s stopping me from being the person I am. And I really realized it was the stuff I didn’t know. Stuff I couldn’t tell what was stopping me. So I started asking people, what do you see about me? Because you can’t see your own blind spots. So I didn’t know what any blind spots were, but I was asking for feedback – what do you see about me that’s not congruent to my core values. And it ended up being that there was a lot of things I didn’t know about myself. And one of the biggest things was, I didn’t even know how I showed up in a room. I thought I was friendly and smiling and happy. And I was actually told you show up when you walk into a room as pompous. And I didn’t even know that. And that’s mainly because when I walked in, I’d dress up well, but I wouldn’t smile. And I thought I was smiling, but I wasn’t.

Deb (04:45): You’re smiling on the inside, just not on the outside.

Likky (04:48): Exactly. But I thought I was so that came across as pompous. But these are the things that you don’t see about yourself. Others do. So that’s why I call it a blind spot now. And you know, I had a blind spot for many years about not being able to receive things, not being able to receive the good coming my way. And I didn’t know that. I thought, okay, somebody would appreciate me. I’d say sure, no problems. But I had this lifelong stutter for about 30 years that went away in an instant the moment I started hearing the good people were saying to me. So blind spots affect us in such a way that it’s good or it’s bad. We just need to know what they are. Then we can figure out what they are. Like Deb you and I are both the same style. I have an assessment that details out what that looks like, but you’re a connector, I’m a connector, but there’s seven other styles that we just need to know what other people’s blind spots are so we can communicate with them really well.

Deb (05:51): And I’ll make sure that there’s a link in the show notes for the assessment, because as you mentioned, I took it and I’m a bit of a serial assessment person. And I really enjoy taking them because I enjoy that learning and creating that level of self-awareness. I always remember a quote that said something to the effect of self-awareness is the greatest predictor of leadership success. And we’ve all worked with people who we thought, do they not see how they’re coming across? And yet, sometimes what gets in the way is helping that person. You know, I think about that the Johari window where the blind spot and the Johari window is what other people can see, but you can’t see yourself. You know, a simple example is like, if you’ve got a piece of spinach in your teeth, most people will tell you that. But it’s interesting that somebody wouldn’t come up to say, Hey Likky, sometimes the way that you come across as such and such, without you having to ask for that.

Likky  (06:52): Well, that’s because we don’t create the space for that. We don’t create the openness and the trusting space for people to come and talk to you. Once you have a conversation with somebody and you create the space and you allow them to talk and you don’t defend yourself and you just take that feedback properly, then they will tell you more. So before I worked on this assessment, the way I would ask people to look for blind spots is ask for feedback. Ask specific questions, things like, how do I show up when I walk into a room. Think about some of your own patterns. You know, when you’re, when you’re driving in traffic and somebody cuts you off, what’s your first reaction? Is it anger? Are you swearing? Or are you just thinking that, you know, they may have an emergency they need to get to, there are three different emotions right there. But think about, that’s probably the way you react to a lot of situations in life.

Deb (07:50): And there probably is the default reaction, because I think we can choose those situations to think about whether it’s, I wonder if there’s an emergency going on, but if the natural reaction is to have that road rage, then what you’re saying is that that’s an indication of something that perhaps you could work on, or you may not even be aware of it unless somebody is in the car with you and saying, man, like you don’t need to get so worked up about.

Likky  (08:15): Yeah. And that’s what we need to start working on is realizing what those patterns of ours are and then realizing what the blind spots are. You know, when we’re driving, and I love this analogy of driving, when we’re driving, we’re always checking for our blind spots on a daily basis, but in life we don’t check for our blind spots until we get hit really hard with it. And it could be in a relationship. It could be at work that you’re no longer excelling in where you’re at because of your own blind spots. And you haven’t created the space.

Deb (08:46): You know, it’s interesting. I can think a number of years ago in a previous career, I had a manager where we didn’t have the best relationship, but I was always asking for feedback. And one day she said to me, you have to stop being so needy and asking for so much feedback. And I realized that that had such an impact on me that I stopped. My perception was, and as a leader, you shouldn’t be asking for feedback. So sometimes we set people up to not be open or to feel that asking for feedback is being needy. Have you heard that from other leaders?

Likky (09:22): Sure. And that comes across in different ways. And you know, when that person said that to you, I wonder what your process was by asking for all that feedback back then. Because you didn’t know about blind spots then. Was it a limiting belief that was in the way that you weren’t sure of yourself, just, you just want to make sure that you are doing a good job. As opposed to feedback you want you may have wanted kudos, but you were saying feedback. I don’t know, but we all have to realize what is the trigger point in our blind spots? What is a trigger point about behaviors? And if it’s a pattern what’s triggering that? And I think about things like, if you’re always wanting appreciation, I would ask a simple question to somebody and say, what was your upbringing like? What was family like? What was family life like for you? Was it a loving, caring, physical touch environment at home? If it wasn’t, you’re going to do the opposite now trying to get that. And you, you probably don’t relate the two. You never relate the two because that’s not the way we’re brought up. We’re not, it’s not a normal way of thinking, but whatever is happening now is based from an experience that we’ve had in the past.

Deb (10:44): And so in that situation where that could have been a really rich conversation, then she probably also had her own blind spots as to why she either didn’t like being asked for feedback, whatever her paradigm was that ended up creating a rift in our relationship for, and also a learning opportunity for me to understand your point. Is it feedback? Is it acknowledgement? Is it assurance? And then I think that’s where we have our own perceptions of what – We put what’s good and what’s bad looking for acknowledgement is, or kudos is bad or, and other environments like a sales environment, perhaps they would see that as really good. So it’s interesting the different facets, when you start looking at the person’s blind spot, from whichever perspective.

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Likky (12:07): Everybody behaves in a certain way based on their behavior patterns from the past. That’s it, we all know that, you know, there wasn’t a manual said you have to behave this way. It was a perception that happened years ago. And I’ll share a smaller story with you. I had an it company for 25 years and in the IT company it was myself and a contractor for the first 10. And we did incredible. It was the best years we ever had. And then I grew the company and we had 14 people. And boy it was a revolving door of staff all the time, and I just couldn’t understand why. And I went through this self development, self awareness process, probably about 10 years ago. And sitting in that course of sitting in that session, I realized there was a moment when my daughter was three years old, we went to Tofino and on the way to Tofino is a small town called Port Alberni. We were having lunch at The Subway with friends of ours, and all of a sudden I hear this door open up and I see my daughter bolt out in the parking lot. And I hear a screech from the car. And you can imagine a parent’s reaction to that point. So I run after her, I pick her up. You never forget that. I’ll never forget that vision, but there was words I said to her, which I forgot, and the words were, I’m never letting you go.

Likky (13:41): And those words created a non-trusting relationship with my daughter because I was being a helicopter parent worried about her, about every situation she was doing, but it really wasn’t about that. It was about me saying the words I’m never letting you go. I did that for 16 years. And the moment I realized that I had to trace back and say, okay, when I was three years old, my dad passed away. When I was five, my grandfather passed away when I was 16, my best friend passed away from a car accident. When I was 35, my favorite cousin passed away from a car accident. So my thing was, if I get close to somebody, they’re going to leave me, they’re going to die. So I didn’t trust. So relate this back to my company. I didn’t trust my staff. So when you don’t trust your staff, what happens? They feel not trusted, not worthy. So they left. So they’ve kept on leaving and I’m like, what am I doing wrong? I’m giving them anything they want. I’m creating this incredible environment. But the biggest thing that was missing was trust. And that was a huge blind spot for me. But I had to go back into a process of finding out where that issue trust came in for me. So imagine the leaders that have that right now

Deb (14:57): Well, and a lot of times we don’t really know much, if anything, about people’s depending on how long we’ve worked with somebody, their backgrounds and their experiences. And I mean, it makes, makes me feel like we all need to have therapy sessions, right. But to be able to like what you described so beautifully was being able to connect the dots of what was said. And in a very high emotion, intense moment made such a large imprint. And I think sometimes as we grow up, we look back on those things and we try to stuff it down or minimize it and we don’t see the relevance of it and how that shows up.

Likky (15:38): We think being human is to ignore the emotions. But when we ignore it and we bottle it up inside, like you said, it very well when we do that, it creates a blind spot moving forward.

Deb (15:52): So going back to this assessment that you have, I found it was so interesting because as you mentioned, I came back as a connector and how you describe in this assessment, the potential blind spots was bang on for me. And what came up for me was the people pleasing conflict avoidance. I don’t love taking huge risks. I mean, there’s a certain element of that. And that level of sensitivity that again, I think how people may perceive me would be different than that and how we project ourselves. And, what I found really helpful with this is some of the suggestions and ideas of ways to be able to, illuminate those blind spots. So once we’re aware of it, they don’t have the same kind of power over us. And you mentioned that there are eight?

Likky (16:51): Eight styles all together. Yeah.

Deb (16:54): So it would, it would really be a useful exercise. And this is a free resource that you have on your website – for teams to be able to do that because I think just like we just opened up and had a conversation about different facets of ourself. And sometimes it’s hard, I think, particularly as leaders to be able to open their kimono in that regard and say, these are some blind spots that I have. But how does this work for you with when you work with teams and they’re able to share each other’s blind spots?

Likky (17:27): Well, interesting. So that’s kind of where we go with this. So I used to do strategy sessions with companies and organizations to take them to the next level. And we would do all these events and all these conversations and sessions and annual retreats. But it would just go back to the normal ways we build trust and did the whole five dysfunctions. And we did a lot of conversations, but it would just go back because what was missing is people weren’t aware of other people’s blind spots. They didn’t understand what was going on. So if you, if your blind spot is being wanted, right. Feeling that you need to be wanted. Whereas the controller is, I don’t care about others, I’m about myself. Two total opposite spectrums on that scale that we have of eight styles. If they don’t know that about each other, you’re always going to be in the conflict. You’ll never understand each other. So what we do, what we recommended is everybody in the teams take this blind spot assessment and then learn the blind spot of the other person. You don’t need to change. You don’t need to shift. You just understand where they’re coming from. And nobody’s broken. Please remember that. Your blind spot it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. It just says you’ve got a blind spot. You’re not broken, nothing needs to be fixed.

Deb (18:45): I also think Likky it creates a bit of neutrality in it because it’s one thing to be able to read off of this. It’s not like I would just walk into a meeting, go, Hey guys, how’s it going just so you know, I’m a people pleaser, right? But here I’ve got, this is what this report says. And I think allows that ability to then ask for feedback without sounding needy for feedback. Like it’s more specific. This is what it says in my report. Is this something that you would observe about me? Then it becomes a more effective tool I would think.

Likky (19:20): Yes, exactly. So you think about if you’re feeling wanted and whereas the controller his biggest blind spot is apt to cut people off. So if you’re talking in your feeling wanting to get some feedback and they’re cutting you off, it’s a total opposite. Like you’re not getting the feedback you need and he’s cutting you off. You’re actually on a different spectrum not totally. All your limiting beliefs are coming into play. But if you’re both aware of this and you’re aware that he’s just cutting off, that’s just the way he or she is, then you’ll just let that conversation just go and not hold that personal. You won’t make any meanings on it. You won’t take it personally about yourself and, or you’ll just say, Hey, let me just finish my train of thought. And then you can continue with yours. Now, a lot of people have a habit of cutting people off that doesn’t make them a controller, but that could be a potential blind spot for them.

Deb (20:19): Yes. And the not taking it personally. And probably as you say, out of all the different styles, some may be more prone to that than others, but those are the things that start to get in the way of having healthy relationships. And I feel like this helps people to be just in that more relational, curious mindset to really understand if we all can agree that we all have blind spots and there’s wrong with that, what’s wrong is not wanting, shouldn’t say what’s wrong, but the challenge can be when we don’t want to know about them to make any changes.

Likky (20:57): Yeah. Well, self-awareness being self-aware makes you an incredible leader and makes you an incredible partner in a relationship as well. So when we’re in teams, having conversations around our eight styles and the assessment, our ideal team looks like one person from each quadrant. We have the four quadrants set up. If you have somebody from each quadrant in your team, you have a really cohesive team. Now, if you’re missing a quadrant, you don’t need to fire or hire somebody for it. You just need to realize what’s missing. And based on your next hire, you fill that quadrant. So for example, like the analyzers and the stabilizers, right? The people that are always looking for details, if you didn’t have that in your portfolio, you may want to start looking at that. And it will be highlighted in this assessment that that’s missing. Every company needs that. And just like every company needs a motivator. Every company needs a connector. They need a controller because they need to get stuff done. But if we’re all these stabilizers and peacemakers, yeah. Whatever, let’s make things happen. And it’s okay. Don’t worry. I don’t want to rock the boat. Companies are not going to go anywhere. So there’s gotta be a balance of every style in an organization.

Deb (22:19): And when I think about the operations of a senior’s care home, there are so many different relationships. There’s relationships with your managers. So the PSW is reporting into the registered staff. You’ve got the management staff and the residents and the families, and a big area of my focus is that relationship with staff management and families. And I also, I guess what I’m thinking about Likky is that if I know what my blind spot is, that can help me to not get as triggered, if I’m having an interaction with a family member where they’re really upset. I don’t need to necessarily know what their blind spot is.

Likky (23:04): You don’t, you just need to know yours. Once you become self aware of your own blind spots and you were to read the other eight styles, you can peg them into a quadrant pretty easily, right? So there’s eight styles with only four quadrants. So you’ll peg them into which hemisphere they’re in really easily. And then you’ll be able to adapt your conversation because you’re self aware. And this is all about you. It’s not about changing anybody else. It’s not about telling, Oh, you got that blind spot. It’s not about that at all. This is about being self aware of yourself and understanding that other people also have blind spots. They just don’t know it.

Deb (23:41): Yes. This tool is to be used for good and not for evil.

Likky (23:46): Yes. It’s just like your rear view camera or rear view mirror in the car. If you didn’t have that, that could create some big chaos in your life. So this, this tool here is your rear view camera.

Deb (24:00): So when somebody is able to get their report, and I think one of the first things that you recommended is that what you did was to ask for feedback, what are some other proactive steps people can take to really help uncover their blind spots?

Likky (24:16): Well, the easiest is the assessment. Just read that. It’ll just tell you, and you’ll be able to relate to it. I think you did that for yourself. Having an inner circle of people that you can create a safe environment and trusting environment with, and have conversations about this and be open to it. That seems to be the best way of understanding how you react to things and how you deal with things. So you’ve got to build that and you have to have that inner circle. Rule number one, do not put your partner in that inner circle because they will call out your BS and you don’t want that.

Deb (24:54): And BS is BS and blind spot, right?

Likky (24:58): My business card says, BS Navigator. You can call it a blind spot, or you can say BS or whatever you want to say it really is, is honestly it’s our BS that’s in our way. It really is. And we need to realize that and to be the best version of ourselves, we need to know what’s stopping us. Deb, I had a stutter for 30 years because a 10 year old kid said, go back to where you came from. And I hung onto that for 30 years. That kid didn’t mean any bad, any harm by it. He didn’t realize it was going to create a stutter for me. But the lack of trust that I had, the lack of the limited beliefs that I had, that was the catalyst that broke it, but it took 30 years to resolve it.

Deb (25:50): Well. And you’ve mentioned trust a few times, and that of course is critical in any effective relationship. And so when I’m thinking about where, so you and I have worked together in various projects and masterminds. And like you say, there’s that trust element and neither of us has authority over the other. So you go into a work environment where now you’ve got your managers or coworkers where people have a vested interest. How have you seen this work in teams like that where there’s different levels of authority and control?

Likky (26:29): Yeah. So anytime we do, when I talk about inner circles, I always recommend it’s not somebody that you’re working with that’s a superior or somebody below you. They have a different motivation behind that. An inner circle to is either a coach or a really good friend that you’ve had for such a long time or a mentor that you’ve worked with. That’s the inner circle, but in a work environment, when we do these, we usually facilitate them because people don’t know how to do them. We give them the analysis, we get them to read it by themselves. If they feel confident, they’ll move ahead. But if there is a lot of issue, I say issues, but if there’s a lot of growth potential, and the visions aren’t being met, and there’s a lot of turnover, then it needs to be facilitated. We just come in and we have no attachment. So we just say what the blind spots are. And then we share our stories and show what’s possible.

Deb (27:25): Well, and that’s a great point, Likky that you share your vulnerability and that taps into the emotion and the connection, and perhaps for leaders to have the courage to share their vulnerability with their team, gives them permission.

Likky (27:42): It does. And I’m going to share a quote with you right now. You know, Howard Schultz. The guy who owns this thing called Starbucks, small, small little venture. He says, I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are and not be afraid of it.

Deb (28:11): That’s really powerful.

Likky (28:12): It is. And you think about this and you think about the leaders that you’ve worked with, leaders that you see, they feel being vulnerable, shows weakness. Well, there’s a blind spot around that. And they’re not even looking at that. They’ve got to realize vulnerability builds, trust builds, communication, builds relationships.

Deb (28:33): This has been a great conversation Likky. Yeah, lots to think about and the opportunity, right? As you talked about reframing, it’s, it’s not about issues, it’s about growth opportunities and that’s what this is all about. Um, I will make sure that your website and the link to your assessment is available in the show notes. And I encourage all the listeners to check it out and take the assessment. You’ll find it well worth your time and where they can reach out to you Likky if they want to have a follow-up conversation.

Likky (29:07): I appreciate the opportunity being on here. And I love sharing the story this way of people. It helps people get better. It does help people move forward in every part of our lives. So happy to be part of it. And you’re doing such an incredible job, spreading the message out to everybody. So thank you.

Deb (29:22): Oh, thank you. Likky

Closing (29:27): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


10. Cultivating Presence with Elaine Sano



In today’s episode, Elaine shares 3 leadership challenges and how practicing presence can help you manage yourself and your situations more effectively.

In this episode:

Elaine and I talk about three key leadership challenges: decision making, building trust, and being innovative, especially as we continue in uncharted territory with COVID-19.

In this episode you’ll learn more about:

  • Using brainpower to build resilience
  • Learning about your brain’s two binary systems, and how to get them to play nice together
  • How accessing the lower brain can be a strong pathway to being more present
  • How to stay out of the drama, and the stress that causes
  • How to practice “presencing”

So that you can feel more confident in your decisions, built trust within yourself and others, and tap into your creativity so you can be more innovative.

Guest Info:

Elaine’s consulting and coaching experience harnesses over 20 years practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor.  She implements a unique creative process that intersects science, relationship and contemplative wisdom.

Elaine’s design is a synthesis. Quantum Science, Systems Theory, and Eastern Philosophies become her lens to the emergent field. It is an inquiry-action approach that opens the possibility for alchemical change. Individuals reorient their mind & body flow of energies to the sate of presence. The value becomes foundational for confident choices, innovation and clarity of purpose.

Clients include executives & teams from Deloitte, Gillette, PWC, EY and professionals of the Artistic, Scientific, Financial, Legal, Global Not For Profit Sectors.

Elaine’s speaking titles include: Resilience, Mindful Leader, The Zen of Power, The Currency of the Heart and The Art of Listening. Her academics include an Honours Degree in Psychology, and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine; her research has been published in the Journal of General Psychology. Her continuing studies include Organizational Relationships & Systems Coaching (ICF Certification) and Mindfulness. She recently completed a 6 year apprenticeship in Shamanic & Contemplative Sciences of both East and West.

Elaine sits on the Board of Camphill Communities, ON: an Anthroposophical lineage of communities for individuals living with diverse disability.

 

 

Resources:

Elaine’s Contact Info:

—ElaineSano.com

LinkedIn

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Transcript:

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): I remember growing up and my dad had two favorite sayings. One was, well, you get freedom with responsibility, which I think was his way of saying no to things. And the other was – just be in the moment. And that was usually when I was complaining about something not going my way or worried about some upcoming event, not going my way. And that was when life was much more simple than it feels now. I think we could all do with a little bit more presencing. This is a term I hadn’t heard of before, until my conversation with today’s guest. I do believe that much of our power lies in our presence. Our ability to really be in the moment and notice what’s going on for us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and be able to push aside the uncertainties worries, distractions and anything else that pulls us away from being present.

Deb (01:29): Elaine shares what she’s hearing from leaders that she works with as to what the three areas of challenge are that they’re looking for support. And all three can be supported with cultivating presence. Elaine brings her naturopathic knowledge and Eastern philosophies to this conversation in oh, such an elegant way while also being practical. What she shares as a means to ground yourself so that you can be a more effective leader, partner and human being are simple yet profound. Here’s a bit about today’s guest. Elaine Sano’s consulting and coaching experience harnesses over 20 years practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor. She implements a unique creative process that intersects science relationship and contemplative wisdom. Elaine’s clients include executives and teams from organizations such as Deloitte, Gillette, PWC, and EY. Her academics include an honors degree in psychology and Doctor of Naturopathic medicine. Her research has been published in the journal of general psychology and her continuing studies include organizational relationship and systems coaching and mindfulness. I hope you enjoy this conversation

Break (02:54): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live best life podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network, coming soon.

Deb (03:09): Elaine, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. I’m so looking forward to this conversation.

Elaine (03:13): Me too, Deb. Thanks for having me.

Deb (03:16): Yeah. So you work with leaders on a daily basis at various levels of leadership. And I’m curious to hear what are the challenges or the concerns that they’re bringing to you, that you’re able to support them with. What are some of those emerging trends that you’re seeing?

Elaine (03:34): I would say there are a few emerging trends that I’m seeing Deb and the first one being the leader’s capacity to make a decision with confidence, with some of the pieces of data and markers that would normally anchor them in making a decision dissolving or collapsing or being disrupted or changing so quickly, then it becomes a case of the leader sort of in a constant state of pivot. You know, what do I use to help center me to make a good decision with confidence? I think there are a couple of other things that I’m really noticing and, and they probably bridge in with some of your work around relational versus transactional. And that is, that this sense of trust within the leader and the leader in the organization. And and that, that is so important when things are moving around constantly and changing and shifting that the engagement with everybody in the organization needs that sense of trust so that it can kind of lean in and and feel a sense of security. I think the third thing that I’m seeing over and over is how to make a new solution, so innovate and come up with a new solution to a problem that is completely brand new. And moving that with that as seamlessly as possible. Those would be sort of the top three that I’m seeing.

Deb (05:28): Well, that makes so much sense. I think when it comes to decision making and I’ve, I’m hearing that with my clients as well, is that the stakes have been raised exponentially when it comes to making the right or the best decision with not having all of the facts. And like you say, the data points are not always as clear as perhaps they would have been perceived to be in the past and seems to be more under that analysis under the microscope.

Elaine (05:58): Yes, I agree.

Deb (06:01): And so when you’re working with leaders and they’re feeling challenged with the decision making, the second thing you talked about was that trust. So are you speaking to the leaders are lacking the trust? Are they feeling that their team are not trusting them? What, tell me more about what that trust element is.

Elaine (06:26): I would say that bridging along with that concept of decision making, there is the capacity for a leader to really trust themselves. So trust themselves in this new environment, and then with that, for the employee to then trust or the staff or the organization to feel a sense of trust with their leader. And I see that as critical to the security, just like we might want in an uncertain situation at home with a parent or a caregiver growing up here, we are adults and we’re looking for a feeling of security when we don’t really know what’s happening. And I think trust becomes a really foundational piece for that relational engagement.

Deb (07:27): And then the third that you talked about this problem solving and coming up with creative solutions. Tell me more about what you mean by that.

Elaine (07:41): Because business and right down to, how do we communicate with people across the planet when we’re doing this social distancing to how do we resolve, a completely different marketplace and economic situation, is begging us to come up with some innovative ways to resolve that. And I see that as another ongoing trend that I’m seeing leaders grappling with, how do we come up with something that will meet this current new need, in the new environment.

Deb (08:20): And I wonder as well, because we can’t see around that corner and anticipate whether it be fall winter next year, what that looks like is how do you know to what degree that you need to innovate that’s going to meet the need at whatever timeframe. I’ve had probably three or four conversations this week, where back in March, April, we were talking months and now I’m hearing years, before having that sense of, and clearly depends on the type of industry and environment that you’re in. So in Seniors’ Care, there’s this, not a matter of if there’s a second wave it’s when, and how hard is it going to hit? So what do we need to be putting in place for that? And going back to that decision making perspective, policies and protocols and practices were changing literally on a daily basis and that constant need to pivot, which is probably going to be the most overused word in 2020, but it describes it so well, you could be facing this way. And the next thing, you know, things have completely changed.

Elaine (09:30): Absolutely.

Deb (09:32): And so looking at all three of those around the ability to have confidence in the decision making, the trusting of your organization, infrastructure, team yourself, and then this additional pressure of having to come up with innovative solutions, it’s like this, I call it Lead Fatigue. Yeah. And what I’m hearing and seeing with people in leadership positions, it’s almost like they just want to put their hand up and say, can somebody just take over for a little bit? Cause I don’t know which way is up.

Elaine (10:05): Absolutely. And sometimes that opportunity doesn’t come because so much is changing. And who do we turn to? It really makes me think because I come with that holistic hat, it really makes me think about the brain and the way we’ve been kind of designed from a very primate level. And then now in the kind of 2020 environment that we live in and what the, as you were saying, risks and costs of all of that. I really think that the basis of being able to be more resilient and in all of those three scenarios that we just discussed is to be functioning with much more of all of our brains. So just like my holistic background with the whole of our brain and where it’s moving in a lot more synchronization or harmony, and that would really call on us to learn some really good solid tools to stay present.

Break (11:23): Would you like to better connect with your family members, even though there’s restricted visitation protocols in place? To maintain and build strong relationships with your families and think about your new families, how can you create a healthy connection with them so you can start the relationship on the right foot. I’ve created a free download that has 10 great ways to build relationships with your family members, even during restricted visitation times, visit my website and click on the link to download ways to connect and build trust with your families during COVID-19 and you’ll get immediate access. And then you can start using these ideas right away to stay connected with your families.

Break (12:09): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the first thing you think of, maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind. Podcasts that spoke to you. Podcasts that you could listen to in short segments, we’ve put together podcasts exactly like that. The qodpod network is coming soon. Check out www.qodpod.com for more details.

Deb (12:39): So I would love to hear you describe when you talk about, we have really need to understand all the parts of the brain and that holistic approach. Can you give us that overview? That would really help us to better understand?

Elaine (12:52): Sure. I’ll kind of take a very complex scenario and try and simplify it as much as I can with the risk of oversimplifying, but I think we could maybe think of it as two binary systems. So we have the sort of lower brain or the limbic system, which is like that reptilian brain that we often think about around surviving. And we could divide it into two branches of automatic responses to get us through an emergency situation. And that would be the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic nervous system The sympathetic nervous system, when we’re in that leadership mode where we’re constantly going from one thing to the next it’s easy to get very overactivated. And when it’s overactivated, that system can feel very anxiety provoking. We constrict, and it can be that fight or flight reaction. The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand is designed to help us sort of rest afterwards. And it can also get into overdrive and the overdrive can look like I’m just flat out exhausted, almost depressed, and it can put us into a state of freeze. When we’re in overdrive, we just freeze up. We almost can’t, we can’t do a thing. It’s almost like a shutdown. So that would be the lower system of the brain.

Elaine (14:43): Then if we go to the higher functioning part of our brain, which is sort of the executive neocortex functioning aspect of a more evolved brain, so to speak, we have two hemispheres. We have the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. And those two hemispheres also work in tandem. And one tends to be more of a rational, linear, logical way of thinking. And the, the right brain tends to be more of the emotive, the body sensory part, and thinks a little bit broader strokes than this linear A to B to C to D. When we are in the scenario of many of our leaders today, where they’re almost in a place of, I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m just like, I want to put my hands in the air. Oftentimes what’s happening is all of these two binary systems are completely out of sync. So one or the other’s more dominant. They’re not coordinating well. We’re getting more linear when maybe we need to think a little bit more sensory and emotive, or maybe we’re going into fight or flight or absolute freeze shut down. And the interesting thing is that the one route in can be through that lower brain.

Elaine (16:19): So the lower brain often has activation on the musculature. So our heart, our lungs, and our gut. And so when a leader is able to access being present or paying attention, starting with themselves, that means that the minute we’re in a scenario and we feel ourselves constricting, so whether it’s our gut constricting our breathing is getting tight. It’s a cue to pay attention. And that may be the, exactly the time where you have – the literature now says it’s about one to ten seconds to make a different choice. So maybe it is just pause, get yourself back into a different state and then reenter and engage the situation or engage whoever it is that you’re working with a more relational kind of a presence.

Deb (17:26): And that takes practice. The number of times that we can have seen ourselves go reactive and get triggered by something or someone. And then after be able to say, Oh, I didn’t really handle it that well. And it’s that ability within that one to ten seconds, to be able to notice, create the level of awareness, to be able to pull back and not be pulled into the drama and the reactivity that our primal brain is pulling us toward. Is that how you see it?

Elaine (18:05): Absolutely bang on the mark. Absolutely.

Deb (18:08): So you need just to provide the magic pill here for all of us. How do we leverage that one to ten seconds and stay out of trouble?

Elaine (18:19): Yes. Well, I kind of sort of lightly hold it as take a chill. So in that chill moment, there are maybe three things that we could really do that would support us. And the first thing is to breathe. So when we feel that tightness, you can imagine that the muscles and everything will just sort of loosen up if you take a breath. Some air in just gives it a little more room. And taking a breath, there are so many different versions and ways of practicing breath. But one that I think can be a fast sort of moment to insert in this one to ten seconds is a breath that takes a nice, easy inspiration, but an expiration that’s a little bit longer so you’re really let it out. And sometimes it helps to make a sound. So I’ll sometimes suggest to people that you take a breath in, hold it a little bit, and then as you expire, like make any kind of sound, whatever it is.

Elaine (19:43): The second thing that I think can be really useful is to keep your mouth shut from saying anything in that one to 10 seconds, which can be hard. We all get into that instant react mode and we want to just blurt. And generally when we’re in that state, the blurt might not come out from our best place. So keeping the mouth shut can help us to prevent a high cost conversation. Having said that I’m a big believer that there’s an opportunity for repair in any relational kind of engagement. And the third thing I think is, we now know that the brain will help to integrate and coordinate when we use our hands. So the hands could be just simply ringing them, rubbing them together. Or as some of the sort of wisdom tradition suggest it’s putting your hands together. Like so.

Deb (21:01): As in together, like almost in prayer.

Elaine (21:04): Almost in prayer. So when we see people a little more often in this sort of social distancing or physical distancing, putting our hands together, sort of as a greeting, when we’ve got a mask on, it is a way that the wisdom traditions would bring the energy back home to pay attention to ourselves. And then we can be with more reverence as we engage moving forward. So I actually think it’s kind of remarkable and almost metaphorical that in our pandemic where it starts as a virus, but the virus is almost metaphorical to economic systems, social systems all our kinds of structures that are in place dissolving that what has this virus encouraged us to do, but to breathe, this is a virus that has hit the tissues, the very fine tissues of our lungs. And so the breath of life becomes more critical than ever. So remember to breathe. And the second is to put a mask over our face and that it is part of us maybe helping us to stay within, but also considerate of othering and that the eyes are the part that’s exposed. And I know in your book, Deb Recipe for Empathy, you have experienced some profound things with groups and leaders around the eyes and what the eyes can do to make a place of recognition with another. And that washing our hands has become important and social distancing. And so what if we use the hands to help us pay attention and get present, and put them together with a sense of reverence for other, but also, the social distancing gifts space. And space is really important when we think about the strong medicine we need in this kind of pandemic.

Deb (23:23): Well, it’s a lovely way to be able to reframe our reality of our current situation. And what you’re describing is just t taking the things that are the positives. And I love the symbolism that you’ve outlined. And sometimes I feel like when I’m teaching about that being present and the importance of taking a few breaths, it’s like, well, everybody knows that, but we don’t really always take the opportunity to get the power out of our breath. And even recently with some new exercising that I’ve been doing, the instructor talks about taking a breath and actually breathing into your back. And I’ve just found that really incredible because you tend to think about the breathing in the belly and nobody wants to be expanding their belly out typically, but when we’re breathing into our back and the ways that you described it, these are all things that can be done without having to really take any extra time as people have these super busy days, you can be doing that while you’re walking down the hall. You’ve used a term that I’d like you to expand upon and you call it presencing. Can you talk about that?

Elaine (24:44): Sure, sure. I think of being present as we said, that capacity to pay attention and really pay attention to what is going on inside us so that we can then interface with the what’s happening in the external Presencing I think it’s more of a practice, just like you said Deb. Presencing is a practicing of really honing this ability to regulate and integrate the brain so that we are standing in a place of more possibility when we need to make a decision when we need to cultivate more trust in our engagements. And when we’re trying to innovate a new solution. And presencing for me, really calls on a different kind of listening. So listening to what’s going on in the mind, in our emotional place, and also what’s what is listening and the deep listening into the plane that is invisible. Reality of the material world that we exist in and is in very important part of our lives, but there’s also a different part of our experience of being alive that is invisible. And that part when integrated in with the the material world or the visible world opens up a plane of possibility to make a new reality, that is far different than if we were just focusing only on the material. And breath is a great bridge in such a simple, simple technique. And it’s a bridge that opens up to all of that.

Deb (27:07): Are you talking about intuition? Absolutely. Okay. So that when we get those gut feels or those senses, it’s like, you’re thinking about somebody and then they just sent you an email or have called you that kind of thing. But that grounding breathing calming allows you to be able to be more sensitive and open because we’re all intuitive beings right?

Elaine (27:35): You’re absolutely right, Deb. I agree. That’s a lovely way to put it.

Deb (27:39): What I’m hearing the opportunity, the opportunity for leaders to be able to practice their presence. And I refer to my book, I tend to think of it as that our power is in our presence and being able to harness our presence to then be able to improve our ability to, and our confidence level of making decisions and building that trust and being able to be more innovative.

Elaine (28:07): Absolutely. Absolutely. I actually think Deb, there was almost something prophetic about your Recipe for Empathy as I was going through the pages. Yeah, I really think that that P in RECIPE is a very key part, this being present.

Deb (28:28): Well, it’s given us a lot to think about and the opportunity to practice with some really practical steps has been super helpful. If people are looking to connect with you, Elaine, where can they find you on the internet?

Elaine (28:41): Sure. I have a website, www.elainesano.com. And my phone number is there. Reach out any time. I’d be so pleased to have a conversation. And if there’s a way that I can support anybody, during all of that we’re going through, I’d be most privileged.

Deb (29:00): I will make sure your contact info is in the show notes. Thank you so much, Elaine.

Elaine (29:05): Thank you, Deb.

Close (29:11): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


9. Create your Calm through Uncertainty with Samantha Fowlds



In today’s episode, Samantha shares ways to help get more calm and manage through our times of uncertainty.

In this episode:

Samantha and I talk about ways to help ease our anxiety during uncertainty, as well as the power of relational energy

In this episode you’ll learn more about:

  • Simple mindfulness practices that won’t take you to a mountain top
  • How to create relational energy that build high quality connections
  • The Happiness Study
  • The Rule of 5
  • The 1% Rule
  • The art of savouring
  • How to be more like Mr. Rogers

Guest Info:

Samantha Fowlds is the Principal Consultant of Copious Boom; a consultancy that applies the science of positive psychology to change initiatives in global organizations. Samantha’s career objective is to help people flourish at work so they can bring that energy home and optimize the lives of their families as well. She is in the process of writing a series of articles on how to embed inclusivity into organisations. Samantha’s career history includes work at TD Bank, RBC, Oracle, KPMG, and Zimmer Biomet. In April 2020 The Change Leadership invited her to go first in their 6-week line-up of webcast speakers. Her topic was “Positive Leadership when your energy is low.” In March 2018 she was one of 8 women nominated for the Oracle Womens Leadership Top Women Award (Canada) for bringing positivity to the organization. She would like to give a special mention to a talk she gave for the Toronto Police Services 911 Responders in the Fall of 2019.

Samantha’s volunteer work has been multicultural and community based. She is currently a volunteer Journalist for the think tank Ethical Business Building the Future, and she has been volunteer teaching character strengths and virtues to multicultural multifath children’s classes on alternate Sundays for 9 years.

She has an MSc.in Knowledge Management and Consultancy, completed graduate courses in applied positive psychology, and holds an ICF accredited Applied Positive Psychology Coaching credential. Samantha offers a free coaching session in exchange for the viewing of a charitable giving receipt.

Resources:

Samantha’s Contact Info:

— SamanthaFowlds.com

— LinkedIn

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new Seniors’ Care Matters podcast episodes!

http://eepurl.com/gmA_JX

 


8. The Gift of Stuck with Laura Vaughn



In today’s episode, we unpack 4 different types of stuck, and how to move through them.

In this episode:

Laura shares an interesting way to look at how we tend to feel stuck, as well as some practical ways to approach each level so that you can find the gift, then get unstuck and move forward.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about:

  • The 4 levels of feeling stuck
  • Ways to diagnose which type of stuck you’re experiencing
  • Getting to the root of the stuck through questions
  • A great cooking metaphor to help distinguish your level of stuck
  • Embracing stuck as a gift

Guest Info

Laura brings 20 years of business leadership experience into the realm of training and consulting in carrythe3 inc. Laura earned her leadership stripes during her 7 years running a $30m business with her Dad and her husband (you can ask her what that was like over a coffee).

Laura has a CPA designation, a degree in Music Performance from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters in Management and Professional Accounting from the University of Toronto. She has filled a variety of senior leadership roles, from General Manager to COO and CEO.

Today, Laura stays inspired by coaching and training Managers, and carrying high-stakes consulting projects for CEOs. She is on a personal mission to expunge the words unprecedented, pivot and new normal from our current vocabularies.

Resources

Laura’s Contact Info:

— Email

LinkedIn

— Facebook

— Laura’s 90-Day Manager’s Training Program, called Linchpin.

— The balanced manager webinar dates are here: www.thebalancedmanager.com

— Visit www.carrythe3.ca for Laura’s recently released eBook, “The Gift of Stuck.”

— Link to Laura’s article “What kind of stuck are you?”

 

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new Seniors’ Care Matters podcast episodes!

Transcript

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): Have you ever felt stuck? Well, yes, of course you probably have once or twice, maybe even just in the past week or the past day. I think we’re all very familiar with that angsty feeling of being stuck. Perhaps our self limiting beliefs that are rearing their ugly head, or we may be lacking the tools needed to get the job done. Or maybe we just don’t feel like working on a project or we just don’t know why we’re stuck or how to get unstuck. Recently. I was feeling stuck with a writing project that I’d been working on for months and just didn’t know what the problem was. Why was I feeling so stuck with it? And how was I going to get well, unstuck and writing again? I happened upon an article that today’s guest Laura Vaughn wrote called “What kind of stuck are you?” And there it was in black and white – what kind of stuck I was mired in, which then gave me the awareness that I needed to then decide if I wanted to keep working on this project. And if so, what I needed to get back to the keyboard and writing. When we have clarity with what’s behind the stuck, we can then make better decisions about what needs to happen to get unstuck. And this conversation will provide some great insights that I hope will help you feel some freedom and options with whatever it is you’re feeling stuck with right now. Let me introduce Laura to you. Laura Vaughn is a business leadership consultant through her company, Carry the 3. Her company helps leaders leverage their teams, helps carry their high stakes projects and inspires progress in three areas, strategy, teams and finance. Laura has 20 years of business leadership experience, including seven years running a $30 million business with her dad and her husband. You can ask her what that was like over coffee. Laura has a CPA designation, a degree in music performance from the university of Western Ontario and a Masters in management and professional accounting from the university of Toronto. She has filled a variety of senior leadership roles from General Manager to COO and CEO. Laura is on a personal mission to expunge the words, unprecedented pivot and new normal from our current vocabularies. I hope you enjoy this conversation.

Voice (03:01): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network: coming soon.

Deb (03:16): Hi, Laura, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. I’m so looking forward to this conversation today.

Laura (03:22): Me too, Deb, it’s nice to be here. Thank you for having me.

Laura (03:25): Yeah, well, as I understand you work a lot with managers and we had a conversation a few weeks back and you shared this framework that you’ve created around this idea of when we get stuck and how we can get ourselves unstuck. And we are going to dive into that because I found it really useful and a really interesting perspective. And what I’m finding with talking to my seniors’ care clients, typically administrators, directors of care, other people in management, there is this feeling of overwhelm feeling stuck, sometimes even having a hard time making decisions. And I think a lot of it is just this crazy environment that we’re in this year in 2020.

Laura (04:10): I think we’re all experiencing new feelings of stuck right now. I think though that the fundamentals of how and why we get stuck on things are universal to circumstance. I think the circumstances can exacerbate. There are more opportunities for us to get stuck on things that maybe we hadn’t encountered before, but whether we’re in pandemic phase or we’re just in normal day to day, life making normal day to day decisions, we still encounter, we still encounter stuck.

Deb (04:43): Well, it’d be great if you can walk us through the four different types of stuck. And I think the listeners will be able to, as you walk through them, identify with maybe one, maybe all, maybe some, and then after the break, we’ll get into some ways to get unstuck.

Laura (04:59): Yeah. Perfect. So the first kind of stuck is the easiest one to solve and that’s smart stuck. Smart stuck is legitimately knowing what to do. I mean, we all have probably heard this story. If my child doesn’t know how to bake a cake, sitting back and asking them well how do you think we should bake the cake, doesn’t work. We need the core knowledge before we can move anything. And just to preface it, I look at the four kinds of stuck kind of like an iceberg. So there’s one stuck that is above the surface and the other three are sort of beneath and I move progressively deeper in my conversations with people. So smart stuck is the one that is above the surface. Smart stuck is my son saying, I don’t know how to multiply a whole number by a fraction. By just, I just don’t know how or a manager says to me, I don’t actually know how to do a one on one meeting with my staff in an effective way. I don’t actually know what good looks like. We have to start with a little bit of knowledge. And so because it’s so easy to solve, right? This is where we, we bought the book. We go to the course, we call someone who knows something we don’t. I think as leaders and parents or spouses, whatever role, wherever we’re playing a leadership role, we often rush to that and we make an assumption that smart stuck is the problem because it’s so easy to solve. And we’re so wonderful at giving advice and solutions. This is like, it’s so fulfilling. So smart stuck is the first kind of stuck. And, it’s really easy to often it’s easy to spot and it’s easy to solve. The problem is a lot of times we misdiagnose it. So my son might say to me, I’m stuck on multiplying my whole numbers by fractions, but what actually happened when we sat down to start doing the work, as soon as I started teaching, because I thought he was smart stuck, he’s like pulling out the answers left, right and center. Seven questions later, he’s got six of them right. Smiling ear to ear. He didn’t need my knowledge. He needed something else.

Laura (07:22): In that situation, he wasn’t actually smart stuck. He was bored stuck. Bored stuck is a second kind of stuck and bored stuck happens for one of two reasons. Either we’ve been working the problem for so long that we’re actually we’re bored. We have completely lost interest. Like I can’t look at that material anymore. It just makes me sick to my stomach if I have to read that report one more time. We’re sick of it. The other way it can happen is if we’ve overworked the problem. So you might expect if you do puzzles. So if you’re a puzzle doer, you know that sometimes you sit and you work on and you’re looking for that one piece you get up and you walk away. And the moment you sit back down in the chair, it’s there right in front of you, right? So that happens to us all the time. And so bored stuck that’s also a version of bored stuck is just, we’ve been trying to brute force our way through the problem. And really, we just need to give our conscious mind a break, walk away, let our subconscious mind do some work for us and come back. Walking away from a problem is not the same as, as running away from a problem. Walking is temporary.

Laura (08:37): The third kind of stuck another layer deeper is motivation stuck. So this is where if I go back to my son’s math problem, like he knows what to do. He just, he just doesn’t get why, like why, why do I gotta be able to multiply a whole number by a fraction? Do I really need this? This is where we get stuck on our exercise routines or we get stuck on managing our finances. My garage right now is an example of motivation stuck. It’s full and messy and it needs a cleanout. So, these are small examples, but it could also be, you know, a motivation stuck is often why we don’t have that difficult conversation with an important person in our lives. Could be a spouse, could be a parent, could be a child. We haven’t found a compelling reason to do the thing. There’s a phrase I heard years and years ago that I’ve held on to. And it’s this it’s “turn all conviction into conduct”. Turn all conviction into conduct. So when we believe something is important and we’ve decided something is important, act on it.

Deb (09:48): Right. And I could see this in the motivation stuck is where procrastination probably lives and thrives.

Laura (09:55): Yeah. And just, you know, it’s one thing, if I say exercise is important because I want to have a long life with my family and I want to de-stress or I want additional creativity, whatever, but then I don’t do the thing. I’m motivation stuck. I haven’t tapped into a compelling enough reason. Now that’s not the same as saying, there were periods in my life where I said, I am actually, exercise is not important to me right now. My children are young. My what’s important is the quality of time I spend with them. And my own exercise routine is going to take a back seat for now. That was an intentional choice. It’s not stuck. But a lot of us go through life thinking about the things that are important and not turning it into conduct. That’s motivation stuck.

Deb (10:47): Yeah. And you’re able to readjust the priorities. And I think sometimes when we get stuck, we think that all the things are priorities. And then that’s when it’s that binary, I need to do it all or I’m just not going to do anything.

Laura (11:02): Yes. And that’s why one of the reasons like you’ve really hit on the main reason why motivation stock is so tricky because we can’t do all the things. We have to make trade offs. So we’re going to get into how to deal with the stucks on a little later, but just in the context of motivation stuck, one of the ways of dealing with it is really getting honest about what is important and the things that we’re convicted are about being important. Let them go because there are other things that we want to change, you know, convert to conduct.

Laura (11:36): So the fourth stuck is mindset stuck. And again, remember where we’re going a little bit deeper with each version of these stuck. They’re a little bit more hidden inside us. Mindset stuck is when we lack the belief in our ability to move forward. We really aren’t sure we can do the thing. We’re afraid of failing, or there’s a limiting belief that comes from years back in our childhood, there’s something inside us that is preventing us. We’re telling ourselves a story that is preventing us from moving forward and getting unstuck. And oftentimes the reason I think of it in layers is because oftentimes we’ll start a conversation as though it’s a smart stuck problem. But when we the deeper we go, we realize you got everything you need. You’re just afraid you’re going to look like an idiot. And so how do we get over that? Or you’re just afraid somebody’s going to laugh. Or, you know, you just feel like your dad told you your entire life, this isn’t who you are. So that’s where the conversations obviously get really rich and deep, but they don’t all go that far down.

Deb (12:44): Yeah. So that’s what I find so interesting. And I love the metaphor you used with the iceberg that starting with smart stock. And then the next level is the bored stock motivation stock,and mindset stock. So we’re going to talk about some ways to be able to get unstuck in each of those four areas.

Deb (13:08): You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols with admitting and moving in new residents. You’re dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com Or click the link in the show notes. And I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

Voice (13:41): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the first thing you think of. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind, podcasts that spoke to you, podcasts that you could listen to in short segments, we’ve put together podcasts exactly like that. The qodpod network is coming soon. Check out www.qodpod.com for more details.

Deb (14:11): Okay. Let’s start with the first one, the smart stuck, the easiest stuck. How do we get unstuck in the smart stuck?

Laura (14:19): Yes. So this is the easy one. Again, this is, in smart stuck, if you’ve got people in your life who are smart stuck, really you’re trying to diagnose what is it that they need? So really our job when somebody is smart stuck is either to share what we know if we have expertise. So in my world, if I’m coaching a manager and I realize they’re smart stuck, I know this is my time to teach. The key is to diagnose exactly what they need and figure out who can provide it, if not me. And if it is me, what’s the right format and the right timing, bringing on all the different tools based on how people learn, that sort of thing.

Deb (14:58): How do you go about clarifying that it is a smart stuck to be able to provide the right resources?

Laura (15:05): Yeah. So I start with, when somebody initially says, even my son, I don’t know how to multiply a whole number by a fraction. Well, tell me what you do know already. Or if a manager says, I really don’t know how to have a good one on one meeting. Okay. But you’ve been doing them. What do you know,? What has worked? Probe a little deeper because sometimes people know more than they think. And again, we’re going for depth. We want to make sure we stop at the right stuck. And so we don’t want to spend too much time on smart stuck if that’s not legitimately the problem. So often I spend a lot of time saying, tell me what you do know and what else do you know and what else do you know? And what else do you have to work with? Like what, sometimes we have more tools and knowledge around us than we realize. So what do you already have that you can get started and then identify the gap. What do you feel you still need to know? What’s missing in your knowledge set? And sometimes it’s sort of like well, I don’t know what I don’t know. And then other times it’s like, you know what? Yeah, I do actually have a pretty good handle on this. Oh, that’s interesting. But you’re still not doing it. So let’s talk about that. What else is at play here? What else is at play? So if we can get them to explore what is there for them then that oftentimes a whole bunch of stuff comes out onto the table and we’re like, yeah, this isn’t the issue.

Deb (16:38): And then that’s where you’re getting below the surface of the iceberg into it’s potentially three other types of stuck that may be getting in the way.

Laura (16:47): Right. And so then I start asking questions about tell me about the problem. Tell me about your perspective toward this thing. How long have you been working it? How intensely have you been working on it? So, this is really easy to look at it in the context of my math example. Nathan had been trying to do this multiplication module for two weeks straight and he kept getting things wrong and he kept, he was just, he was honestly just bored of the material. He needed to go back and rewatch the videos and relearn some of this stuff, but he was so sick of it. He’s like, I’m, I’m just, I’m bored.

Laura (17:29): So if I know somebody’s been working a problem or an opportunity or a goal for a really long time, and then, I start asking questions about, well, why, why are you working it? What was interesting about it in the first place? Like what intrigued you about it? What got you started down this path, trying to help them see the problem in a new way. What, who else is this important to? Like, there’s a reason you started this in the first place. And sometimes, if somebody’s just been working the problem for so long, really intensely, then the best thing I can do for them is make them walk away. You need to set this down for a week.

Deb (18:14): Sometimes if we’re not able to find someone who can coach us through that, the questions that you went through, you can self diagnose and self determine if you’re feeling these types of stuck. So let’s talk about, I think the motivation stuck may be the gnarliest of them perhaps.

Laura (18:35): I like that word gnarly. Yeah. It’s a tricky one because we do have to make this distinction between, is it important really? Part of the reason motivation stuck happens is oftentimes we just sort of lost our way a little bit, and we’ve lost sight of where we’re really trying to get to, what kind of life we really want to live or how we really want to show up. This is a conversation I have often with managers. How do you want to show up in the world? How do you want to show up in your workplace? So, they’ve lost the, they don’t want to do the thing that their boss wants them to do. Or there’s a co manager who expects them to do things in a very particular way. And they’re like, this is stupid. Why do I gotta do it this way? I ask for permission before I talked to your people. Like, I just don’t get it. And so I try and take them back to, well, what do you want to be known for in your work? How do you want to show up? And then we can get clear on what the situation requires and it’s not, it, we sort of disconnect it from desire, right? You don’t have to necessarily want to do the thing in order to do the thing. And so sometimes we need to uncouple what we want and like, and then are passionate about from what the situation requires. If we can get clear, but we can only answer that question if we’re clear about where we’re trying to go.

Deb (20:12): And I like how you said, I mean, it’s somewhat uncoupling. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could do only the things that we love to do a hundred percent of the time. I try to use the rule of thumb. If you can get to that 70 to 80% of your job overall, knowing that there are still going to be other things that you may not love, you may not be the best at, but they are part of your job without having to white knuckle it, you can manage that. But if you get to the point where you’re at the 50 50, and there’s more things that are draining you versus energizing you, then to look at that, what is still motivating me here. And maybe it’s time to make a career choice decision to get better aligned with that.

Laura (20:57): You have to connect it somehow to something bigger, right? So what’s waiting for that. What’s waiting for me on the other side of this thing that I don’t really want to do. Like there has to be a reason to do the thing that maybe we don’t expect to enjoy, but we are convinced it is right and important. And so we have to, if we focus on the thing that we’re not going to enjoy, we’re never going to do it. But if we can get past the thing to where we’re trying to get to, which could be just simply a physical, if we’re talking about exercise a state of mind, or this is the state of mind I want to have, or it could be a promotion, or it could just simply be, this is how I want to show up in the world. If we can stop fixating our gaze on the unpleasantry of the difficult conversation or the exercise, or the cleaning out the garage and focus on the thing that’s on the other side that is really important to us, then we can get through it.

Deb (22:06): So let’s talk about how you deal with mindset stuck.

Laura (22:10): Yeah. So it’s very easy to mistake a motivation stuck with a mindset stuck. Motivation stuck really is just purely I know I need to have that conversation and I just don’t feel like doing it. I’m not, not afraid of it. I just, you know, I just don’t feel like doing it. Whereas mindset stuck is when we’re thinking through all the things that are gonna go wrong and we are afraid of it that are, like you say, it’s always gone wrong in the past. And we assume before we even try the thing, we’re already filled with assumptions about how my mother’s going to respond, how my boss is going to respond, how my kids are going to respond. And so a mindset stuck, we really have to explore… Is that true? Like, do you really know? I was working with a manager a couple of weeks ago and she, there was conversations she knew she needed to have with her boss about her staff. She was really afraid that it would make her look weak, that he would assume she didn’t have things under control that she would look like she hadn’t made progress. And so in mindset stuck people often need two things from us. They need us to remind them of all the good work they’ve done. All the things. Because sometimes we can’t see it in ourselves, right. But somebody close to us can hold up a mirror and say, do you remember, do you remember where we actually were? Do you remember what conversations we were having two months ago? Like, can you see how much you’ve already accomplished? Can you see? And we need to show them. And I honestly, I think as leaders being a mirror for the people around us is one of the most important roles we fill. People need that from us so much because so many people we all so often create our identity based on the feedback of the people around us. We have a responsibility to reflect back and help people figure out all the good in them because we just often don’t see it in ourselves. So that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is a little more tangible. How can we go there with them?

Laura (24:24): How can we do it with them? So sometimes that’s just a role play and I will do this with managers all the time. They’re dreading having a conversation with an employee. And so tell me what you really want to say. Like, you don’t have to watch it just tell me what you really want to say, and they’ll say it and it’ll start out, you know, all callous and then all of a sudden it morphs into something really actually articulate and true and not offensive at all. And so if we can just take all those barriers away for people and let them play and explore, then a lot of times the mindset stuff will start to disappear. So if we can de-risk the trying by coming alongside them, then that is usually where, how we can tackle mindset stuff. In addition to reminding them of how capable they are.

Deb (25:14): Yes. And I think those, how do you know this to be true? Because we get caught up in our own assumptions and our negativity bias and the stories that we make up. And we are hardwired to consider the absolute worst case scenario, which gets in there, gets in that way. And that’s where I can see where you’ve identified, where you’ve got the motivation stuck, That’s a bit gnarly. You’ve got the mindset stock. That is very, I look at it as a bit more deep and complex.

Laura (25:42): Yes, these are much rich. Yeah. These are much longer conversations. They take time. These are, I often say to people that there are, there are microwave issues and then there are crockpot issues. You know, smart stock is a microwave issue. We can get in and we can get out good and fast. Mindset has to go in the crockpot. We need to let it simmer and then take the lid off and explore, and then put that lid back on and let it simmer again. They’re much deeper issues. And we have to allow people the space to really do that self awareness, that self reflection piece so that we can help them in a meaningful way.

Deb (26:29): Yeah. And I think with what you’ve shared today, Laura, it’s really great tools for leaders in working with their team. But as leaders themselves feel stuck and deal with that, what I call lead fatigue. And they really want someone to tell them what to do or take a bit of the load. But these are tools that you’ve provided that we can utilize for ourselves as well as, as a leader for our team.

Laura (26:58): I really believe that the, when stuck happens, it’s a gift for us. We hate the feeling for ourselves. We hate seeing it happen to the people we love or need or both. But it’s a gift because it’s an opportunity. And the biggest privilege of my career journey has been the opportunity to come alongside people who are stuck and be a part of their story. And it helps me when I am stuck, helps me ask for what I need when I think of it as a gift. Because what I’m creating is the opportunity for somebody else to journey with me through my story and experience, and when my son got through his math and had this huge smile ear to ear, totally proud of himself. And it’s like, my day is made baby. That was, that was rock solid. So that’s what makes life rich. And so I really have started to think about stuck as a gift and an opportunity and how do I leverage that opportunity. Open the gift.

Deb (28:05): Love that reframe. So Laura, where can people find you?

Laura (28:09): Yeah, well, you can find me on social. LinkedIn, Laura Vaughn, and, uh, my carry the three page on Facebook. My website is www.carrythe3.ca.

Deb (28:22): And I’ll make sure that all of your social links are in the show notes. Thank you so much, Laura.

Laura (28:28): Thank you very much, Deb. It’s been a pleasure.

Deb (28:35): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


7. Improve your Relationships through Improv with Nancy Watt



In today’s episode, we talk about how embracing an improv mindset and approach can strengthen your relationships.

In this episode:

Nancy and I talk about cultivating an improv mindset and approach and how that can actually strengthen your relationships. We can only control how we choose to show up, and yet with the intention to connect, we can definitely influence how other people respond (versus react) to us.

  • The improv principle of “Yes, and…”
  • How to accept even when you don’t agree
  • How to shift out of binary thinking through improv
  • How silence can create connection
  • How your brain works with improv
  • Creating an ensemble environment for better communication and teamwork
  • How to break through resistance and embrace adaptability

Guest Info

Nancy is President of NANCY WATT COMMUNICATIONS, a specialized consulting and creative agency that works with all sectors exploring the social science of collaboration, communication and connection. Using a ‘Pracademic’ approach, Nancy Watt elucidates evidence-based research in an engaging and entertaining way using the tools and techniques of improv honed from her days at The Second City Conservatory in Toronto. This form of experiential learning has been used in diverse setting with a wide swath of clients from marginalized populations to the judiciary, medical school faculty and law societies.

In order to capture effective experiential learning, she builds a camaraderie-filled ensemble where the participants learn while laughing.

Rated in the top five Leadership Workshops at Microsoft’s global conference for the last four years, NITA’s Communication Specialist and regular at corporate team building events, Nancy Watt delivers powerfully creative and memorable sessions. Her dynamic workshops on communication, leadership and collaboration directly impacts any organization that needs to deal with unpredictability, build mental agility and foster innovative thinking.

Her workshops have been delivered to Engineering and Science departments at Harvard University, Princeton, MIT, Rutgers, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and McMaster University.
Nancy is busy in the business, healthcare, and education sectors. Her work is referenced in academic papers for pedagogical experiential learning.

She’s from Second City’s Improv Conservatory and Sketch Writing Programs in Toronto and Chicago. She has a B.A in Psychology, Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology, is a Certified Improv Practitioner, Diversity and Inclusion Executive Program from Cornell University, and EQ-i Emotional Intelligence Certified.

Nancy is writing H.A.P.P.I.E., How to Apply Positive Psychology Improv Exercises

Resources

You can find Nancy at www.nancywattcomm.com, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter

Charles Limb TEDx Talk “Your brain on improv

The book “Gamestorming

Barbara Fredrickson

Keith Johnstone

 

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Transcript

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network . Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips, to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:31): On today’s show, we’re going to be pulling back the curtain on improv and how embracing an improv mindset and approach can actually improve your communication skills and help you better connect with people – whether they’re your coworker, your manager, your customers, or your family and friends. And how we can have some fun while we’re at it, and really who couldn’t use a little more fun these days. I met Nancy through a positive psychology program we were taking a few years ago. She had this intriguing presence about her, and I quickly learned how improv was a big part of this presence that she shared with others. Here’s some of Nancy’s bio information, and you can read more about her on her website. A link will be provided in the show notes.

Deb (01:18): Nancy is President of Nancy Watt Communications who works with all sectors, exploring the social science of collaboration, communication, and connection. Using a pracademic approach, Nancy elucidates evidence-based research in an engaging and entertaining way using the tools and techniques of improv honed from her days at The Second City Conservatory in Toronto. This form of experiential learning has been used in diverse settings with a wide range of clients from marginalized populations to the judiciary, medical school faculty and law societies. In order to capture effective experiential learning, Nancy builds a camaraderie filled ensemble where the participants learn while laughing. She has a lengthy list of clients she’s supported through teaching and workshops – too long to reference here, and her website has lots of great information about her organization and offerings. Her dynamic workshops on communication, leadership and collaboration directly impacts any organization that needs to deal with unpredictability, build mental agility and foster innovative thinking. Yes, I think Senior’s Care checks off all of those boxes. I’ll have all the links in the show notes. She shares some fascinating research and resources that you’ll want to check out.

New Speaker (02:46): In my book Recipe for Empathy, one of the chapters is all about curiosity, and we talk about how improv taps into and develops your curiosity. She shares the “Yes, and…” principle of improv and how it can actually help us to be more adaptable. And having a healthy adaptability quotient is the new EQ (emotional intelligence). 2020 has shown us how important it is to be able to adapt to the constant change in our environments and lives, and dare I use that word to PIVOT when it feels like the rug’s being pulled out beneath us. Playing with the “yes, and…” approach can build your adaptability and even enjoy a few laughs in the process. I hope you enjoy the conversation and are inspired to embrace an improv mindset and approach.

Break (03:41): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network: coming soon.

Deb (03:56): Hey Nancy, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. I’m so glad you were able to join me today.

Nancy (04:01): So happy to be here. Thanks Deb.

Deb (04:04): Well, I’m really looking forward to digging into your mind when it comes to improv and that improv mindset and improv approach and how leaders and staff in seniors care could actually take an improv approach when they’re looking at how to build better teamwork, how to be able to communicate more effectively.

Nancy (04:26): So when we want our teams to build cohesion, or we need them to be more creative, or we need them to build their adaptability quotient, whatever, there are very specific improv exercises that can cultivate because you know, a theory is still just a theory. It’s still just in a textbook. And as you and I know, experiential learning is the best learning. The improv mindset is something that has helped so many, and it has transformed our education sector. It’s helping our medical students. I do a lot of work with physician communication and a ton in STEM trying to teach engineers to communicate better than they do.

Nancy (05:12): The improv mindset is one of curiosity, wonder acceptance. The principle of improv is something called “Yes, and…” Yes, and…which means if, when you and I are on stage together, if you come on stage and you create your environment, as your listeners know improv doesn’t have a set design or costumes or props, we make our environment. If you come on stage and you say, Whoa, you know, grab the sails, the storm’s coming in. You know, you offer me the environment that the fact that we are on a sailboat, I yes to that. I agree with that. I accept that that is where we are. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Nancy  (05:58): Acceptance is not agreement, but I accept the reality that has been created. The AND part of the Yes, and… improv mindset is where I heighten, or I add my own voice. And I say Yes, and… Oh, it’s the East wind comin’. They told us about this one that we left or something like that, you know and away we go in this scene. Many people might think that that is simplistic to just Yes, and… to just accept and build, but I promise you, it’s not. The number one reason why miscommunication happens is because we don’t accept the reality of the other. And I dare say why we are so politically polarized today. You know, why we just can’t seem to move forward when we do not, when we immediately have a reaction, as opposed to a response to someone’s reality, I promise you the difference between a reaction and a response is huge and developing your improv skills and co-creating and listening and learning to communicate effectively is all a part of the experiential applied improv process.

Deb (07:10): So you talk about that ability to be curious, and to be open and have that kind of, I think of it like that soft energy of acceptance versus the resistance. And I also feel like we can very easily get stuck in binary thinking, particularly when we’re feeling under stress to make a quick decision or we get reactive. And I think of a staff member may be dealing with an angry family member of one of their residents and that immediate kind of putting the defenses up in preparing their response or their answer, I should say, in preparing their answer or their reaction to the emotion that they’re seeing. So in a situation like that, where someone is feeling that they’re being criticized or judged, how could they bring a Yes, and… approach to that interaction?

Nancy  (08:03): Brilliant – you have it. I love that synopsis – binary thinking how we immediately let our amygdala take over and we already form our defensiveness before we allow a response. In theater and in improv, we often invite silence as another character on stage. And I promise you from a theatrical point of view, audiences love it. Silence allows for us to be in the moment. It is a very intentional and mindful choice. Silence on stage anyway, might breed intimacy or fear or tension or something. It also dissipates the tension in the the room. Silence allows a mirror for both the listener and the speaker. Silence allows that ability to hear what we just said and not defensively react to it. You know, hear what’s something has just triggered us and be able to absorb that.

Nancy (09:12): You might be familiar with you know the term flooding? That psychological physiological, emotional state whereby our cognitive processes are limited. We truly get dumber. We don’t think well when we are afraid, when we are, and we go to that binary thinking and we have our blinders on, and the wonderful thing – the trick about that is that we think we’re being focused. We think we’re being, we think we are being productive and we are being anything but. We are, we have no peripheral. We have that we do not see. We have that binary thinking, and all we can see is straight ahead. And, having an improv mindset changes that, or having, forcing us to confront that cognitive distortion and allow ourselves to wonder, or be silent, or take a step back and open up the possibility of what might else be happening both with us is, is so necessary. I mean, flooding, I don’t know about you, flooding happens to me when I, if I have an argument with a sibling or my husband or something, and in the moment I get literally flooded with emotion and I, and I don’t know what to say.

Nancy (10:32): And then I don’t know, maybe on the drive home, I’m thinking, well, why didn’t I say that! All of a sudden I become brilliant. And that’s just a good example of how letting, how flooding works.

Deb (10:46): And I think of the research that I think her name’s Fredrickson did on the Broaden and Build theory.

Nancy (10:54): Yes. Barbara Fredrickson.

Deb (10:55): And because when we, that narrowing, because we are in that fight or flight, so in that situation with an angry family member who wants an immediate resolution to something, and the staff member is trying to gather their wits about them and understand what’s going on and dealing with that fight or flight, it’s hard to look at that broader picture. But what I’m hearing you say is having an improv mindset, even in that moment, can help to open up that perspective, to be able to choose to take a different approach and a more effective response.

Nancy (11:33): You’ve got it. There’s a great researcher at Berkeley, Dr. Charles Limb, he’s got a great Ted talk called “Your brain on improv”. He did functional MRI on people who are, who were in an improvised state. He looked at jazz musicians. He looked at improv actors, and what he found intrigued me. The part of the brain that is suppressed when we do improv, what does not get activated is something called the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for this guardedness, the self monitoring, that inner critic, that nasty little editor in our head, I like to call it the “headitor” that voice in our head that says, don’t, don’t do that. You know, better not risk it. In improv, in an improvised state when we are playing and creating and deeply in the moment you and I together, understandably, that is suppressed.

Nancy (12:32): What lights up is called the medial prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for self-expression and closely aligned to feelings of freedom. I mean, that is what we want. That is what we need our team members to feel. That is what, more than anything else, and especially in long term care, we need people to feel psychologically safe with interpersonal risk taking. We want them to feel authentic. We want them to feel that mistakes are understood and will be accepted and that they are part of a team that has their back. And that we parallel that with building an ensemble, because right after the rule of Yes, and… in improv, the second rule of improv is make your partner look good. Make your partner look good. When I, when my focus on stage is you Deb, and all I want is to make you look great. That is, I mean, magic happens. I’m deeply attuned to you. I am mindful. I am Yes, and’ing. And things happen. There is an energy and a collaborative creativity that emerges when my self-centered self is not focused on me but focused on you.

Deb (13:55): Yes. And if you’ve got a team of people who are embracing the improv mindset, as I’m working to make you look as good as possible, you are doing the same with me.

Nancy (14:06): Exactly. We do. We have each other’s back.

Deb (14:12): You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols with admitting and moving in new residents. You’re dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com. Or click the link in the show notes. And I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

Break (14:45): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the thing you think of. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind, podcasts that spoke to you, podcasts that you could listen to in short segments. We’ve put together podcasts exactly like that. The qodpod network is coming soon. Check out www.qodpod.com for more details.

Deb (15:15): So if we look at this from a practical standpoint, I think about where some of the bottlenecks can happen in a team culture is the, well, we’ve never done it that way. We can’t do it that way. You don’t understand why that won’t work. Right. All of those Ya Buts, and, and No’s – the doors get closed. And the shutting off of any kind of discussion, because you may have someone who’s got, they’ve got the clinical experience. And the understanding of this is the way that we need to do it. How can somebody’s listening to this and thinking, yeah, like I work with somebody who keeps shutting me down all the time. I think I’ve got these great ideas and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. And then it’s frustrating and it’s draining. And that, that fray that starts to happen and the lack of trust with the team. So is there an exercise or a mindset shift that you can offer that if a listener’s wanting to try something new, to be creative and try some improv?

Nancy (16:21): I love, I love that question. And I love that you said yes, but. Yes, but. Oh my God, our organizations are riddled with that praise, you know? Yes, but…yes, but we can’t do it that way because we don’t have the budget. Yes, but it’s a Tuesday. We can’t do that because it’s a Tuesday. Yes, but you know and…yes, but really is a no. It’s a polite no. It’s a Canadian no. Still a NO!, It is still a no. Keith Johnstone, a pioneering improviser said with yes, you are rewarded with the adventure that you will take. With no, you are rewarded with the security you retain. And let me tell you, let me save your listeners a world of hurt because by saying, no, you are, Oh, the pain is in the resistance.

Nancy (17:14): Adaptability is where our organizations are changing. There will be more change happening in the next 10 years than there was in the last 100. It is adaptability is now seen as the new social science metric, the new organizational development metric for those who can mentally pivot for those who can deal with unpredictability and think on their feet. That IBM and the RBC white paper and Harvard Business Review, everyone’s talking about this adaptability quotient. I would offer your listeners this exercise. It takes too long to explain Deb, sorry, but I did for the neurological reasoning as to why this works, but it is an exercise in listening and it’s a simple game it’s called Headlines. And it forces us to listen to the end of the sentence of the speaker.

Nancy (18:18): Because very often when we have said “yes, but” it’s because we already know the answer and we’ve stopped listening and we’ve already got our defenses up and we know where we’re going. Headlines is a simple game. You can play it at home around the dinner table with your colleagues around the lunchroom, whatever. Headline, someone says, a headline, you know, storm warnings over Ontario province. And then, province offers new initiative to education. And education is the new capitalism. I don’t know, but we take the last word. The first word of your headline must be the last word of the previous one. And what this forces Our brains to do is to not think about our response until we have heard the very last line of the other. And I’ll tell you, it totally works.

Nancy (19:15): I would encourage your listeners to repeat back before they say “yes, but” I would offer them an opportunity to say “yes, and…” to simply allow themselves to cognitively and emotionally accept what they have just heard to repeat back. Yes, so I see you’d like the meetings, the monthly meetings moved to Friday afternoons instead of Monday. Again, giving yourself that acceptance of the reality of the other and allowing the speaker to feel like he has been heard. Vitally important in building teamwork and leadership. Yes, and… Invite the silence, repeat back what they have said and magical things happen in that moment of time, whereby you might just offer yourself an opportunity to say, well, maybe Fridays would work if we move this and this. Your binary thinking that you mentioned earlier, we are so quick, we are so inundated with information. We feel like we have to make decision after decision after decision quickly. And the wonderful thing about an improv mindset is that different, innovative and creative solutions happen when we don’t have that pressure on ourselves, you know, it’s a different type of pressure. It’s a different type of mindfulness.

Deb (20:46): And there’s a level of playfulness with the improv. And that willingness to have fun. And I’ve done some improv exercises with you and that feeling of silliness that can happen to break the protection that sometimes we put around ourselves and let’s face it, Healthcare is a serious business. Seniors care is a serious business. And to be able to create an environment from a team perspective, to have some fun and lightheartedness and allow ourselves to be playful is what I see the work that you do with that and how it breaks down the, even the roles that people feel they need to project based on their title.

Nancy (21:37): So true. Oh my God. I got to talk to you later about the surgeons and the lawyers, because absolutely we are often in positions of authority and we hold great accountability and responsibility for the work that we do. And I study leadership alot and in the end, our greatest leaders are those who are deeply authentic and can accept themselves with humility and with a learner mindset. And laughter is so necessary. It’s so playful. It is what connects. It is ultimately the universal language. The wonderful thing about the development of deep and authentic teamwork, especially in a very serious and responsible position like long term care is that we can offer ourselves that ability to think innovatively and creatively while we embed humor and humility and authenticity into our teams. It’s so necessary and deeply ironic that the more serious we take ourselves, we become less effective.

Deb (22:55): Well, and as you’re describing that, I think about it as that ability to reset through improv, You’ve just dealt with something that’s been a little bit intense or difficult, and then you come together with your team and you’re able to intentionally reset by using improv exercise or mindset or approach, or even just being able to say, okay, let’s just, let’s just Yes, and… some things let’s just play with this concept of Yes, and. And what we typically would say no, but, or yes, but to, to be able to say, let’s just see what we can create and we’re not engraving anything in stone here! We’ll see what kind of, I mean, we talk about brainstorming in corporate business world all the time. And to me, improv is a form of brainstorming with a spice of playfulness.

Nancy (23:51): Absolutely. In fact, there’s a great book called “Gamestorming.” Not brainstorming. And there’s a lot of improv techniques in that. And I love the word reset, Deb and I also I would submit that in the, in this age, it is more important and more challenging not to learn, but to unlearn. I do a lot of product development with different companies and different types of brainstorming challenges and where they’re always going is what they’ve always known. And real progress is made only when we stop and force ourselves over that speed bump, you unlearn to unlearn what we thought, we know, what we thought we knew. And then watch the possibilities unfold.

Deb (24:45): Well, you hear all sorts of stories of organizations that had a three year plan to develop a product or program. And they’ve done it in three months because of the necessity through the crisis that we’re working with. But I love this conversation. And I think that there’s some great resources that you have indicated that you want to offer to the listeners. So let us know where people can find you and what offers you’re making available for them.

Nancy (25:14): So there are two things that I would like offer. Thank goodness that there are many improv exercises that translate well on zoom. And so I’ve been doing these ridiculously fun and very productive zoom, online improv workshops. And it is absolutely, it will inoculate you from zoom fatigue. So I offer that to you and your listeners at 50% off the going rate. And you can contact me through my website at Nancy Watt communications. And that is www.nancywattcomm.com. And then there is, and then I’ve been working a lot with a UK company who has now developed the assessment for AQ. We all know IQ. And since it started at Yale university, 25 years ago, EQ, or our emotional quotient, emotional intelligence in leadership and team building has become really important. And that is all well and good and as it should be. Watch for, if you haven’t already heard of AQ, this is coming down the pipe hard and fast, especially in the, especially in the last few months. Some of us are adapting and others are not, some of us are falling down and not getting up and others are okay So there is now a valid,it is the new social science metric, and I can offer 10. I have permission that I can offer 10 assessments, which is about a good size for a leadership team, 10 AQ assessments for the cost five, which is 250 pounds. It’s like 500 instead of that. And it comes with an applied improv workshop and a review of the social science and the social psychology evidence-based research that went into it.

Deb (27:13): So that the AQ is the adaptability quotient. Well, yes, I think we all need it. And so I’ll make sure that all of those links are in the show notes. And just want to say, thank you so much, Nancy, for being a guest today. I think some great concepts and ideas, and some practical ways to be able to bring improv into our teams and in our leadership.

Nancy (27:41): Deb from the, I want to quickly, if I may offer my deep gratitude of thanks. I have a cousin, I am legal guardian to a cousin who is in long term care. And I know the space. I am acutely aware of some of the challenges, and I just want to offer truly from the bottom of my heart, my thanks, and my gratitude for the work that is done in this sector. And thanks so much, the time did fly and I had a great time.

Deb (28:13): Awesome. Thanks Nancy.

Close (28:19): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters. Part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


6. Transforming Burnout with Jim Damron



In today’s episode, we discuss burnout within the caregiving profession and how to build your capacity to prevent burnout

In this episode:

Jim and I talk about burnout – how to identify it and how to prevent it, along with:

  • The definition and three main characteristics of burnout
  • The connection between burnout and compassion fatigue
  • How building your compassion capacity can help prevent burnout
  • What we can learn from actors to help deal with burnout
  • How ‘self ignorance’ – or lack of self awareness, unmet expectations and unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout
  • Storytelling (and writing) as a means to building your compassion capacity

Guest Info

Building off his experiences as a clinician who struggled and succumbed to burnout, Jim Damron learned how to transform the adverse effects into ways to mitigate and prevent it from happening again. With his keynotes and workshops, Jim teaches others how to unmask the symptom and discover the real problem hiding underneath.

As a speaker, Jim engages his audience with life-transforming stories. As a workshop teacher, Jim helps participants craft their own story to build trust and foster compassion with others, and as a Life Coach, Jim guides clients to move beyond where they are to where they want to be.

Jim holds advanced degrees in Theology and Bioethics and is the founder of Grapevine Academy, an online discovery platform dedicated to helping caregivers grow. He is also the author of Smoke Screening: Narratives to Navigate Caregiver Burnout, is a Respiratory Therapist and is a trained Ethics Consultant.

Resources

You can connect with Jim at www.jimdamron.com. There you can access his free download “Caregivers Guide to Burnout.”  

Jim’s book is available here. You can also find Jim on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Youtube. 

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new Seniors’ Care Matters podcast episodes!

Transcript

Intro (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips, to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): Today we’re going to be talking about burnout with Jim Damron. Jim is a speaker and a life coach who specializes in topics most people run away from like end of life issues, physician assisted suicide, religious topics, and burnout. Jim works as a respiratory therapist and as an ethics consultant, and he’s the author of the book called Smoke Screening: narratives to navigate caregiver burnout. Jim’s earned six degrees, including three graduate degrees, which means, and these are his words, not mine, that he’s not smart enough to know when to stop studying. Through Jim’s work, he teaches others how to unmask the symptoms of burnout and discover the real problem hiding underneath. This was such a fun conversation to have, even with the topic of burnout. He has such a practical way of approaching this subject with humour and empathy. With all of the challenges that we’ve experienced in 2020, along with working in a high stress environment, increasing our awareness and knowledge of burnout can be super helpful because burnout can be one of those things that you don’t really notice is happening until you’re neck deep in it. And the good news is there are ways to avoid going full on burnout. In our conversation, Jim shares two of the five main causes of burnout that I think you’ll be able to relate to. And a couple of tips on how to protect yourself from burnout. He has a free download called caregiver’s guide to burnout, and we’ll include the link to that in the show notes. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Voice (02:13): When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life. Podcasts that speak to you. Podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network. Coming soon.

Deb (02:23): Jim, welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters. I’m so looking forward to this conversation today.

Jim (02:35): Thanks Deborah. It’s pleasure to be here.

Deb (02:37): Well, let’s get right to it because I’m curious to know how did burnout become your thing that you speak about and teach about and wrote a whole book about?

Jim (02:48): It’s not probably the normal journey. I’ve always wanted to speak. I’ve been teaching and speaking for better over actually over 20 years. And I really wanted to pursue speaking. And healthcare is my world. I’ve been in healthcare for 20 years. So I started asking colleagues and instructors and people the clinicians on the front line, managers, et cetera. What’s the biggest issue that they face. And every single person, I am not exaggerating. 100% of every person that I asked all said, Oh, burnout, burnout, burnout. And in fact, one of the, one of my friends, who’s an instructor as a nursing instructor said, Oh, I’ve got students that are burning out already. Burning out already? They’re not even in the field yet. I go, I know. So she goes, if I could have something as part of my disposal to deal with burnout, that would be amazing. So I had gone through burnout myself. I just thought it was just one of those things that you go through.

Jim (03:55): It’s kind of a right of passage being in healthcare and any field really, that involves a lot of stress. So I started, I went back around and started asking everybody again, have you ever experienced burnout? And they all said, yeah. Oh yeah. And they said it as if it was something as common as getting up and walking down the street. Yeah, of course I’ve experienced burnout. So it was because of that, that I started to dig into it and really try to establish what is underlying all of this and how can I help? And that’s where it all came from.

Deb (04:26): Let’s define burnout because you hear people using that term all the time. And is it, they’re tired, they’re exhausted. They’re overwhelmed. What’s your definition of burnout.

Jim (04:37): Yes. It’s all those things. First of all, the official definition from the world health organization is, which is derived from research that’s been done for the last 30 years is it’s an occupational phenomenon. And I emphasize that word phenomenon and it’s basically characterized by three things: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or withdrawing from people – not wanting to connect, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Now that’s pretty vague, if you ask me. I mean, everybody experiences those types of things to one degree or another and practically every field in every moment of your life almost, but the world health organization recognized it as a phenomenon, not a diagnosis and clarified it as a syndrome. So when I took that and I started to do more digging is I found that most people were defining burnout as the actual diagnosis. I have burnout and I equated it to headache. No you have a headache. The problem is what is causing the headache. So this is a symptom. A syndrome is the definition of a syndrome is a collection of symptoms.

Jim (05:55): So if these are symptoms, then what’s causing the symptoms. And unfortunately we just stopped at burnout and said, Oh, well you have burnout. You have this headache. Well, who would do that? If you go into the hospital and say, I have this headache, well, yeah, you do. And here’s a label for you. Okay. What do I do now? And people, and that’s where that’s the problem I kind of had with burnout is people started to treat that symptom so I can treat a headache with some Tylenol and maybe a cold wrap, et cetera, et cetera. But until I get to the root cause of the headache, it’s going to continue. So I said, well, we need to get to the root cause of this burnout in order to actually alleviate or prevent it or even mitigate it. Not that there’s anything wrong with taking the Tylenol and taking this, the remedies to help it. As I say, you need to stop the bleeding before you can fix what’s causing the bleeding, but we can’t stop with just treating the symptom.

Deb (06:49): And sometimes when people talk about depression, they say, well, it’s a little D depression or a big D depression. Would you say, could that be applied to burnout? Like you’re having a little B burnout. It’s very short term episodic versus a big B burnout?

Jim (07:08): Yeah. I understand that perspective that’s an interesting perspective. And to a certain extent, yes, I would agree with that. But the way I explain it is there’s a difference between saying I can’t do this today versus I can’t do this anymore. So one you could say is a little B. I’m just because of whatever’s going on in my life, I can’t deal with this particular situation at work or anything today because I’ve got too much stress on my plate. So I just can’t deal with this today. That’s okay. We all experienced that. That’s called a bad day or unfortunately for a lot of us a bad week or maybe even a bad month. But the other side of that is if you are honestly saying, I can’t do this anymore, you’ve reached the point where I’m done. I’ve fallen off the cliff. The problem is it’s kind of like that the Road Runner, and this is going to show my age.

Jim (08:06): It’s the LooneyTunes where the road runner runs off the cliff and doesn’t realize he’s off the cliff until about two or three seconds. And he stops and looks down and he usually holds up a sign and says, yikes. And then falls. That’s kind of what happens to us is we go to the point and then we go, man, I’m just, I’m just done. And then you realize you’re off the cliff. You didn’t recognize the signs and the symptoms of that all the way up through, and now you’ve just fallen off the cliff and it takes so much longer to recover than it is to deal with it while you’re having, while you’re having the issue.

Deb (08:37): I also wonder if another potential trigger is when those for people who I’ve heard that talk about either getting that stomach ache on a Sunday night, that they’re not able to, like the Sunday night seems to be a bit of a trigger for them moving into the work week. If they’re working on Monday to Friday kind of schedule.

Jim (08:54): Yeah. And then it becomes almost a Pavlov’s response where you just have that and go, Oh, regardless of it’s going to be a good week, bad week, or you don’t even, you don’t know, you just assume it’s just your body’s starting to react and go into that mode. Which is what happened with me and what happens – A lot of medical professionals, we go into that kind of apathetic callus mode just to protect ourselves because a callus can build up on your bones when you punch and you do things and it just, the repetitions like clapping a hand. You can clap your hands for five seconds, no big deal. But if you kept clapping your hands for five minutes, you’re going to bust some capillaries in your hand, you can cause damage. And that kind of what that’s kind of what happens emotionally is we experience something. It’s no big deal, but if you experience those things over and over again, you can become callous you can build up that, that it’s almost an impervious emotion, which some people think, well, I’m being protected. This is good. Now I can’t now I won’t ever burn out. Yes, but you have no emotion. You have no empathy. You have no compassion. So at what costs are you building up that defense mechanism,

Voice (10:05): You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols with admitting and moving in new residents. You’re dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com or click the link in the show notes. And I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

Voice (10:38): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the first thing you think of. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind, podcasts that spoke to you, podcasts that you could listen to in short segments. We’ve put together podcasts exactly like that. The qodpod network is coming soon. Check out www.qodpod.com for more details.

Deb (11:08): And you know working in healthcare takes a lot of compassion and people who are compassionate are very good at their job, but there’s this other term that we keep hearing about, which is compassion fatigue. What are your thoughts on that?

Jim (11:20): Compassion fatigue is very similar to secondary trauma. It’s the PTSD, if you will. I don’t like to use that. So compassion fatigue is basically rapid burnout. So burnout usually takes time. So you have these constant again, the clapping of the hand over time that builds up and builds up. And eventually, if you don’t deal with it, you fall off a cliff. The proverbial cliff. Compassion fatigue can actually happen very quickly. And it’s usually because of a massive traumatic event that someone had. Let’s say your patient comes in, which is something I dealt with last week, or actually last month where you have a family member whose child is, has suffered a massive accident. And they are, they were officially dead by neurological criteria, but the patient or the family doesn’t want to take the 10 year old off the ventilator. So what do you do?

Jim (12:20): I mean, this is massive trauma that just happened. And you just get wrapped up into this story and then you start experiencing all those emotions and it just, it just happens so fast. You don’t have time to put on the brakes and then you suffer this massive compassion fatigue. It happens, but it doesn’t happen as much as I think people believe it happens. They can experience those emotions. But the compassion fatigue component is you go from I I’m okay to all of a sudden I’m done. I can’t do this anymore type of a feeling. That’s compassionate fatigue that takes a long time to recover from unfortunately. And some people actually don’t, but it’s a rapid burnout, but it’s just not as common as I think people believe it is.

Deb (13:08): I’ve heard you speak before about compassion capacity, which I love because it, to me, it’s a bit more of the let’s focus on what you can build and create with your compassion. Can you talk a bit about that, Jim?

Jim (13:23): I didn’t realize which was one of my issues that you could lose the ability to show compassion and lose the ability to be empathetic. I just thought it was kind of like a certificate. Alright I’ve got that. I got that certificate. I’m good to go. I don’t ever lose my degree, but one, it’s disciplined and it develops over time. It’s practice. You know, you just don’t get in shape after watching a YouTube video.

Deb (13:49): Really??

Jim (13:50): I know! They didn’t tell us that! I’ve watched millions and I’m still in the same shape. It’s just this false advertising. These guys, you know, you actually have to do the work you have to put in the work. And if you don’t put in the work, just like you could be in the best shape in the world, look at football players who are just in this exquisite shape. And then when they retire, things just change rapidly because they’re not maintaining that certain level of discipline. Same thing that can happen with empathy, our capacity for it. And again, empathy is the feeling, compassion is really the act of that feeling if you will. That capacity can diminish over time because we’re not developing. We’re not constantly working at developing that empathetic skill and that compassion and it just disappears. And I just, it just dawned on me one day that I just had this feeling of yeah, person passed away this and it is what it is, you know, it just didn’t bother me.

Jim (14:54): And then it bothered me that it didn’t bother me. And I thought where’s, how did I become so callous? I don’t understand where did this come from? I didn’t just wake up and go, Oh, I don’t care about anybody else, but myself and that wasn’t true. It’s just, why did I, how did I get this way? And that’s kind of the reason a lot of us got into this field is because we wanted to help people. And now people were not getting helped and you go It is what it is. I’m going to go clock out. I’m going to go home. No problem. And I thought, where, why, where did I lose this capacity? It’s because I wasn’t cultivating this empathetic skill over and over again.

Deb (15:30): And so I think I’m hearing a connection between the compassion fatigue and burnout. And so is one of the ways to help because of course the listener – anyone who’s feeling that they’re in a place or on the road to burnout is waiting for Jim, tell me what I can do to help alleviate the burnout is building compassion capacity one of those things?

Jim (15:56): Yeah, I know it’s almost counterintuitive because we in health care and a lot of people put up this front, if you will and say, all right, I don’t want to suffer compassion fatigue. I don’t want to go through that. So I’ll just completely distance myself. It’s a self defense mechanism and I don’t have to worry about that. And then it does actually work. You don’t probably won’t suffer compassion fatigue. You won’t really burn out good for you, but at what cost. The problem with that is, is that the patients want more than anything to show compassion. And there’s multiple cases over the years where things would have been completely different and family members have actually said this after the fact, you know, if the staff or the hospital would have been a little bit more compassionate, I probably wouldn’t have sued. I probably wouldn’t have done all of these things that turned out to be worse for me in the long run.

Jim (16:58): I wouldn’t have drawn this case out for five years, if they would have just shown a little bit of compassion. So the literature actually shows that the more compassion you have, the better it is for you to not burn out. It leads to less burnout because you get this sense of wellbeing and it improves your parasympathetic nervous system, which is, you know, we have an autonomic nervous system and we live in this sympathetic versus this parasympathetic. And the sympathetic is that fight or flight, which is, adrenaline kicks in, your body just goes into this mode of, I need to deal with this situation. I need to deal with it now. And that’s the stressful situation. And unfortunately we’re almost there all the time. So we’re constantly running that engine RPM way up in the red line and never taking time to stop. The parasympathetic, which is the rest and digest, balances that out. Well if we’re constantly in the one that’s sympathetic and not in the parasympathetic, we just burn out, you know, just that’s like a car, but showing compassion actually leads to more – It incites that parasympathetic nervous system, which helps wellbeing helps all kinds of stuff, emotionally, physically, and leads to less burnout because it actually builds up that capacity. And that reserve, if you will, and some people will call that a resilience, that rebounding effect that you can have after you deal with some traumatic issue.

Deb (18:31): So, Jim, what would you recommend for someone who’s listening to this and saying, okay, I really want to build my compassion capacity?

Jim (18:39): There’s a myriad of things you can do. One, we’ll talk about the causes later. You need to get to the cause of why you’re being drained because in a nutshell, burnout is just the demands exceeding the resources. So why are the demands so high? Or why don’t you have enough resources or a combination of the two. Couple of things that I did. So when I was experiencing this, a lot of times you’ll hear you need to separate work and life. You need to have that work life balance. I heard that all the time, which is great, provided life at home is not stressful either. So what if live at home is stressful. And people go, I go to work just to get away from the home life. For me, home life wasn’t stressful. It was fantastic. So what I did is if when work is stressful, I just started this little routine consciously that every time I need to separate when work ends. And it sounds ridiculous because obviously work’s over because you’re home, but sometimes the emotion is still there. So I needed to come up with a habit that made me separate it. So for me, it was actually taking my badge off. And when I took the badge off, it was like flipping a switch. It was saying, that’s done. And I’m putting that away over here. I’m not going to pull that back out until I have to go back to work. So some ritual that actually had a habit – That ritual actually became a habit. And it really worked. I didn’t realize until after the fact that soon as I took that badge off, there was this light switch that flipped.

Jim (20:13): And that’s what happens to actors because actors are the best empathy or empathetic people on the planet. And in my humble opinion. And it’s when the director says cut, the actor needs usually, unless they unfortunately stay in character in between takes, the actor knows that scene’s over, that character is done. I can take that character off. That’s why I use the term wear and share with empathy. You wear that costume. Okay, that’s done that character’s done at least for now. I’ll come back to it tomorrow. I can flip that switch and really good actors like Tom Hanks. And there’s a footage of Tom Hanks doing, You’ve Got Mail and he’s being interviewed by somebody on set, not actually being interviewed. I think he’s actually somebody who’s talking with a guy on the set and he’s just being Tom Hanks. Hey, how you doing? Good. And then they said, Tom we need you, and there was the guy sharing the story, saw Tom, just as, almost as if they pulled something over his face. He just immediately got into character because he’s that good. He can just flip a switch and go, I’m in character. I’m in character cut. And then I’m back out of character and we kind of need to do that. People look at that and think, well, you’re putting on a costume. You’re being fake. You’re being disingenuous when you’re going to work. And that I disagree with that.

Jim (21:32): You’re not being disingenuous. You’re being a part of yourself. You’re bringing part of yourself to that. You’re just not highlighting every – you’re taking that part of yourself off if you will, and leaving it there because I don’t want that to carry over into my other life, which could cause all these detrimental effects. So habits like that, simple breathing, which is why meditation seems to work quite a bit because just stopping for 30 seconds and taking a slow, deep breath in and exhaling and out, and just what they call being in the moment, not thinking about the future, the past, just being there can really build that parasympathetic and bring that back into it as well. So little things like that, which I have a course that kind of goes into that a little bit deeper, just help.

Deb (22:15): So Jim, you talked about there really being five causes of burnout. Can you walk us through those?

Jim (22:21): Yeah. There’s a myriad of causes, but I have found that most people burn out because of five different reasons. One of which is you just don’t know yourself. I call it self ignorance. And that is, I don’t know exactly what triggers me and what refuels me. So, and it really doesn’t take much to figure that out. For me, it’s amazing how some things it’s – you can just be sitting and talking with someone, a spouse, a friend, and they could just be going off and venting about some particular situation. And you think that wouldn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t get upset about that. And they actually look at you, why are you not upset? I’m really upset. It just doesn’t bother me. That stuff doesn’t bother me, but you put me in traffic and I just go, I just snap because I can’t stand it. That’s a trigger. But on the other side of that is what refuels you, what are the things that you can do that just really seemed to reset everything as you pointed out, and one of those, and I’ve made more of a habit of this is laughing and not laughing in the sense that that’s, that’s cute. That’s funny, but I mean, when’s the last time that you just lost control in laughter. And most of us probably don’t have many of those moments. I am getting more and more of those moments. I know certain comedians and certain shows and certain things that just make me laugh, certain friends that I can sit and talk with that we just start going on about something. And we just giggle like school girls. And it’s that really refuels me. And frankly, if you do that at night, I’ve been most, I’ve been very strategic about trying to watch something and do something like that at night that makes you laugh because that really helps you sleep as well, because it brings up that parasympathetic, that rest digest, and it really helps put you in the right frame of mind to sleep. So you find the things you have to know what triggers you. So I call it self ignorance. What triggers you? Stressfully what triggers you to refuel?

Jim (24:27): I think the number one reason why people burn out is expectations. And I categorize that into two different areas. One is unmet expectations and the unrealistic expectations. The unmet expectations are usually those expectations that are put on us. So we come in to the job, we go okay. In six months, I expect you to be at this position. Maybe you’re wanting to be a supervisor. Okay, six months, we’ll be here in a year, you’re gonna have this much more money. In two years you’re gonna be the director of the whole program, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, all of these expectations you go great. This is exactly what I want. And then a year down the road, you’re still in the same position. You still have the same salary nothing’s changed. And you think, well, I expected this and I’m nowhere near that. Or I expected, I expected this COVID thing to be done in a couple of months and it’s not. Okay. Well, it just didn’t happen. So you have these expectations that aren’t met, and then you start to think, Oh boy, and you need to start this downward spiral. So the remedy, some of that is the remedy for that oftentimes is, allright, focus on what you can focus on because a lot of times those expectations are sorry. We couldn’t plan for this. This is an inevitable event that happened. We couldn’t plan for that. I understand that, But it’s unmet expectations that kill us. But you know what, it’s the unrealistic ones that I think really nail us. And that is the expectations that we put on ourselves. And what we specifically do when you’re setting goals is, you’ve probably heard the acronym, smart goals, set smart goals, where the R is for realistic. So I hear this proverbial motivational speech and all the motivational speakers out there. I’m with you. I understand. But the spiel, as, you know, never quit on your dreams. You dream it, believe it and it’ll happen.

Deb (26:27): What suggestions would you have as far as if somebody is thinking, other than the things that we’ve just talked about, any other little techniques or approaches that they could try and play with to help them in this burnout state?

Jim (26:41): Yeah. One of the things that I found was, and this is a good segue, to my shameless plug. When I started to write a book on, I didn’t really want to write it on burnout actually was writing it just because I had these stories that I had experienced. I said these patient stories need to come out. And so I wanted to write these stories out and what I realized. And then at the end of each chapter, I put a little tool to help you manage burnout. And what I realized when I wrote these stories was it wasn’t the tools that was the most beneficial. It was actually writing the stories. And then as I was doing more research, on stories and writing. And there’s something about writing about writing the emotion down that helps separate one, the patient story or whoever you’re dealing with their story, from your story. It helps that separation it’s actually scientifically proven in neuroscience, how that separates it.

Jim (27:38): And I encourage people to write a story or write a name down of a patient, the family member, or something that there’s a story there that you could maybe explore at a certain time, or maybe at that time and writing it out and actually exploring that has been shown to really help you deal one with that compassion capacity, help build that. But two, help separate your story from the patient’s story and help you realize that this is not actually happening to me, even though, you know it intellectually and cognitively ,emotionally sometimes we can’t separate that, but writing it down helps that separation emotionally from you and the other person, which can help you maintain that empathy and really prevent yourself from being burned out. And, you know, there’s billions of dollars. I always bring up the example of Pixar. Pixar has billions of dollars they’ve made by writing movies based on others’ perspective. A clownfish, a toy, a car, they are so creative at going I wonder what would be like if I were a bug and their perspective. And that is amazing what that does to our emotions and for burnout, our capacity for compassion, our empathy building. And it really helps separate us to the point that you can almost, I can’t guarantee you’ll mitigate and prevent it because it’s all about the cause too, but it really sets you up, set yourself up to keep that distance and prevent yourself from burning out. That’s my biggest tool, my biggest takeaway.

Deb (29:15): Thank you. That’s great. We’ll make sure that in the show notes, we’ve got a link to your website and also where people can purchase your book. Thank you so much, Jim, really appreciate this opportunity.

Jim (29:27): And you are quite welcome.

Voice (29:34): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


5. How to have Productive Conflict with Liane Davey



In today’s episode, Liane shares how to embrace conflict constructively to create better experiences in your relationships.

In this episode

Liane and I talk about:

• The 4 step Validation Technique to shift from unhealthy conflict to constructive conflict

• How to engage in reciprocity

• Sharing and declaring multiple truths to problem solve more effectively

• Embracing the tension and competing priorities while leveraging the conflict clarify and define outcomes

• Adjusting expectations while co-creating solutions

• How to shift from combative to collaborative through problem solving

• Reframe how we see and experience emotions

• The key question you can ask to remove judgment and create more space for a healthy conversation

Guest Info

Liane Davey is a New York Times Bestselling author of three books, including The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Your Organization Back on Track and You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done.

Known as the Water Cooler Psychologist, she is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and frequently called on by media outlets for her experience on leadership, team effectiveness, and productivity.

As the co-founder of 3COze Inc., she advises on strategy and executive team effectiveness at companies such as Amazon, Walmart, TD Bank, Google, 3M, and SONY.

Liane has a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology.

Resources

Click the link below to receive weekly updates and stay informed about new podcast episodes!

To learn more about Liane, click the links below:

Transcript

Intro (00:00):

Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips, to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30):

Today we’re going to talk about conflict and share a different, more productive way to think about conflict, and perhaps even inspire you to lean into conflict, to use it to create different and better outcomes and experiences. I recently had a conversation with Liane Davey, author of The Good Fight, and it was such a great conversation, I’m bringing that interview to share with you here in this podcast. We talked in a previous episode about conflict avoidance as one of those strategies that people pleasers use and how it can end up delaying the inevitable or creating even more issues, when we let things fester and go unresolved. I’m someone who typically prefers to avoid conflict. I’ll bite my tongue rather than tell it like it is if my viewpoint, perception or my truth, as I see it, if I think that will create a debate or a disagreement that will create stress and tension, and just that yucky feeling of disagreement and maybe even hurt feelings. I think it started as lots of things do with my upbringing. My dad had pretty strong opinions and it never worked out well for any of us who disagreed with him or tried to challenge his way of thinking. Maybe that was the era, right? Children were to be seen and not heard. My mother would typically say, just leave it. You don’t want to upset your father. And maybe some of you had a similar experience. Liane’s perspective on constructive conflict gives me hope and perhaps will give you hope as well that there is a way to embrace conflict as an opportunity to problem solve in a more collaborative way – that we don’t have to endure a combative and stressful interaction. We can seize the opportunity to co-create solutions. Liane shares a four step approach that you’ll want to try the next time you’re feeling yourself leaning away from a conversation for fear of it spiraling into a no win situation. There is a way as Liane says to use productive conflict to get your team and organization, and I’ll add relationships with your residents’ families back on track. Here’s a bit about Liane.

Deb (02:56):

Liane’s a New York times bestselling author of three books, including “The Good Fight: use productive conflict to get your team and your organization back on track” and “You First: inspire your team to grow up, get along and get stuff done”. Known as the water cooler psychologist, she’s a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and frequently called on by media outlets for her experience on leadership, team effectiveness and productivity. Liane has advised on strategy and executive team effectiveness at companies such as Amazon, Walmart, TD bank, Google 3M, and Sony. Liane has a PhD in organizational psychology. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Liane Davey.

Voice (03:47):

You need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network coming soon.

Deb (04:02):

I think it would be great to be able to share with people who work in seniors care some ways that they could be approaching this, reconnecting and being able to reintegrate the families into the home as well as be able to rebuild that connection and that relationship.

Liane (04:20):

Yeah, fantastic questions. And there’s no easy answers to any of these things. But one of the things that I think, folks in long term care really have going for them relative to some of my corporate clients, is that in long term care, you’re very accustomed to problems without easy answers. You’re used to no guarantee that things will work. If I think about family members with dementia, you can have a good day where there’s all sorts of positive interaction and a bad day, and no idea what caused one or the other. So dealing with ambiguity and dealing with situations where you’re never quite sure what to expect. The good news is for people in long term care, that’s something you’re very accustomed to. Definitely not true when I’m talking to bankers or folks where things have been much more predictable. So just know that you have it in you. This is how you’re wired. This is what you’re accustomed to. And now it’s a different kind of unexpected outcome and yet dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty, it’s a core skill of yours. So you should feel good that it’s there to draw on when you need it. So that’s, that’s a good place to start,

Deb (05:34):

Okay. So yes, as you’re saying, they’re hard wired for this. And so, they do work in a, I mean it is a life and death business, long term care home typically has 50% of their residents leaving either through relocation or through passing away.

Liane (05:56):

And, I think to a certain extent, that’s, what’s been really, really challenging about these situations is, death and, having a good death. Just like we try and have a good life is the business that long term care providers are in. And so when all of a sudden, COVID affects your ability to give someone a good death, it’s not that people in long term care are afraid of death. It’s their business. It’s their unique contribution in the world, but it’s so often about a good death. And COVID for many, has not been a good death. It hasn’t been holding the hands of people they love. It has been dealing with your care provider behind frightening masks. And if people are not fully lucid, then that can be intimidating. So, it’s not the death per se, as it is for most of us, right, who’ve never seen death and who don’t, you know, it’s terrifying. That’s not the issue in long term care. It’s just that the control is taken away in terms of being able to manage that death or have it be as positive a transition as I think most people would and are professionals at making it an effective transition.

Deb (07:10):

And I think for families, I mean, we understand that the intensity of course in long term care, just because of the demographic and all of the rules and requirements, and yet families are feeling frustrated because they’re not able to be there, particularly if it’s in a palliative situation/end of life. But also to be able to maintain what they would have provided for some family members, the daily care and so this frustration that they’re feeling that they’re not being listened to – hasn’t yet changed what the protocol is. And so therein lies this lack of feeling heard and understood that is contributing to the conflict.

Liane (07:55):

Yeah. And that’s the number one place to start. So in any conflict, in any scenario, whether it’s at work at home, anywhere, the number one thing you can do to change the trajectory of a conflict from being a very unhealthy, unhappy conflict to being at least a constructive conflict, is to make people feel heard and feel understood. So let’s get to something really practical, which is what I call the validation technique. So when we’re overworked exhausted, stressed out and a family member is telling us their little piece of the puzzle, that seems maybe irrelevant, or even horrible to us that they’re even bringing this up. Our tendency is to want to say, do you even know what I’m coping with right now? Or that is so not what your father needs or any, or whatever we want to contradict. We want to, we want to be heard. And of course that’s the worst thing that we can do. So the first thing we want to do is to try and catch that two second breath. When someone says something that is causing us to react, maybe we can notice our palms get sweaty or our heart start to race or whatever your own physiological indicator is that ruh – oh! And to just take one centering moment to then say, okay, I need to make this person feel heard and understood. I need to validate them before I say a word about myself or the greater context or anything. So you don’t have to do that by agreeing with them. And that’s a really, really important point. I’m not saying you need to agree with somebody if they’re wrong, not at all, but you do need to make them feel heard and make them feel understood.

Liane (09:48):

So, you’re really worried about your mom getting enough wool to do her knitting. You may be thinking you kidding me… knitting? But simply just saying for you, you’re really concerned about your mom, having her hobbies, being able to maintain some things that are normal. Simply saying that doesn’t mean you agree doesn’t mean you have a solution for how to do that, but it does mean that I’ve heard you, so say something, and if what they’re coming at you with is something hurtful. You know, your team is callous. They don’t care. You know, they may say something like that. You don’t care. You know, you’re not even working, unless you get four bucks extra, you know, whatever comes at you. And there’s likely to be lots of emotion that comes at you. Again, say something that makes them feel heard and understood. It’s really hard for you to see the staffing levels. It’s hard for you to know that your mom is going, four hours in a day where she’s not seeing anyone, whatever it is, say something that validates them. So that’s step one. And if they say something that’s really hurtful to you, like you don’t care or you’re callous, then you can simply validate them by saying it feels to you. Like we don’t care. And, that’s really, really hard for me to hear, but thank you for being honest with me, or thank you for being candid or thank you for saying that to me.

Liane (11:12):

Then the second stage is to ask them some questions to really get at and to understand what’s underneath. Cause when we’re emotional, when we’re feeling all of those things all at once, we tend to be pretty inarticulate about what’s actually going on. So the families are probably not telling you in their first pass, you’re getting some bluster of emotion and not getting something helpful in terms of what you can do. So you want to in the second step, inquire, ask some questions. So, what would you like it to look like for your mother? What would you like her day to look like? What are the three most important things if we can only take care of three things, what would they be? What’s one thing you would love for your sister to have every day, whatever it is, ask some questions, get them talking, get them telling you the things that help you understand in the grand scheme of things, what really matters to them. What’s going to make the biggest difference. And as you’re doing that, reflect back to them what you’re hearing. Okay. So I’m hearing that some of this is about feeding time where you’re worried and concerned that normally there’s better staffing levels to make sure that there’s assistance during eating and you’re concerned about choking or whatever it is, paraphrasing those things back. So once you’ve done those two things, once you said something to validate, make them feel heard. Once you’ve asked some questions to understand then comes the key moment.

Liane (12:40):

And that’s the moment when you speak their truth. You say for you, this is about X, Y, and Z. The most important thing is this. And what you’ll find is that is the inflection point of the entire conversation. When you speak their truth, either they’ll be so relieved that somebody heard them and listened to them that they’ll do something sort of big and obvious, like yes or finally, or they’ll say something like that, or you’ll just see them like, okay, like I can stop yelling. I can say, cause I feel like it landed. That’s a really great moment when you get it right. Then, and this is the key thing is that then you have earned the right to share your truth. So human beings work on reciprocity. And so when you’ve taken all this time to validate them to listen, to reflect back, there will be a very, very strong impetus for them to do the same for you. It doesn’t mean a hundred percent of the time, but with most people, once you’ve done that, they will then be willing to hear you out. You don’t want to state this as a but or as an or. You want to state this as this is something that’s also true. So if you’ve said it’s really important that your mom has extra care. If we can really only focus on one thing, it’s mealtimes that there is the kind of support because you think that’s a safety issue. I hear you. And right now we have 20 people in the dining room, or we have three staff away on isolation, right? You can now share your truth, sharing it as a second truth, not as an Or, but as another truth, And then say, let’s brainstorm about what our possibilities might be. Let’s talk about, maybe we’re careful about what food, what have you learned about what foods she can cope with easily? What, might we take off of her menu? Those kinds of things. So that, because what happens is, as soon as you get into that problem solving mode, it’s pretty much impossible to be combative when you’re being collaborative in problem solving mode. So the faster you can make the family member feel part of the solution that you’re, co-creating this solution together, you’re going to be in a great place.

Liane (15:00):

So validation is the number one technique you want to be using many times a day. It certainly with family members, but as much with your staff, whatever situation. And then when you go home and you’re stressed out and you’re tired and your teenager says something to you and you just want to invalidate them, use it there as well. So that’s the most practical thing that you can do. Step one, say something that says, I hear you and it’s landed with me. Step two, ask a question, dig a little deeper then state their truth as best you understand it. And then you can pivot, share your truth as an additional truth and then engage them in some problem solving. So we get out of that combative mode and into collaborating to find a solution.

Deb (15:48):

You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols with admitting and moving in new residents. You are dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com or click the link in the show notes, and I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your family.

Voice (16:21):

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Deb (16:50):

And it sounds to me, Liane this is, what you teach your clients as far as when you talk about productive conflict, which probably you hear all the time. That sounds like an oxymoron.

Liane (17:03):

Yes. And it just isn’t. Conflict is absolutely necessary. Let’s just go back and define conflict because a lot of people will say to me, could we use a different word? And I say, well, we can, but the taboo word just suggests it’s a taboo subject. So let’s actually get clear on what we mean and maybe we can then not be afraid of it. So conflict is just the struggle between opposing needs and wants and demands. And we have a dozen of those a day working in organizations, living in families. So let’s not be afraid of conflicts, but let’s understand that there are tensions. So if I’m running a long term care facility, I am under huge tension. I am under the tensions around safety. Number right now, safety, safety, safety, safety, safety of my staff and of my residents. I am under huge pressures then for all of the quality of life and quality of death issues for the people who are entrusted to my care. I am worried about having adequate staffing levels. So I want to be empathetic and kind to caregivers about their shifts and being flexible. But at the same time, I know I’m risking safety or care if I let someone have too much latitude, I feel that tension. So those conflicts and the different stakeholders you have to deal with – their different vested interests. There is going to be conflict all the time. It’s not a bad thing if we can keep it productive, if we can think about it as I got multiple truths that I have to wrangle here to come up with an optimal solution, then conflict is really about making sure we understand what all the different truths are, making sure we have a forum to weigh them and to kind of jockey around, to figure out an optimal solution.

Deb (18:49):

Yeah, but you’ve really nailed it as far as those competing priorities and where we know and the spotlight is on them. So everything is being scrutinized, whether it be through the press, through families, coworkers and looking at all of that. And so, when we’re looking at this rebuilding of the relationship, because there are families who may be feeling worried and anxious and maybe their trust level has decreased, they don’t know what’s been going on because they’ve not been able to be in there. And the communication hasn’t, the value of those casual conversations, when you’re walking down the hall to visit your loved one,with one of the staff that’s not happening right now. The communication is much more structured and formal. So I think this is really helpful as far as reframing, what can be challenging conversations, feel very conflict oriented to have a framework, to be able to approach it as an opportunity to actually create a better outcome through the steps that you’ve outlined and then getting into that place of co-creating the solution together.

Liane (20:05):

Yeah. And it’s, co-creating a suboptimal solution. It just is going to be a suboptimal solution. But if you’ve been willing to listen to what ideal looks like or what all the factors are that the person’s paying attention to, then you can engage them with understanding. Okay. If our resources are constrained, help me understand, which is more important to you. Is mealtime more important than hobby time, help me know which is it more important that there’s some social interaction or more important that we keep your family member isolated, like whatever. But if you’ve allowed them to share their perspectives, it’s going to feel much better as you come to a suboptimal solution, that’s your joint suboptimal solution than imposing a suboptimal solution on someone.

Deb (21:01):

And I think that also opens up the opportunity to be able to have that conversation of adjusting the expectations. I tend to not call it lowering, but it is adjusting because it is a new reality. We all had to adjust our expectations when it comes to the everyday customer service we are experiencing in our world. Right? With all of the new constraints that have been put on in place, and I think that it’s a bit different in seniors care, long term care, it’s a very intimate, personal relationship. So yes, it’s customer service and it’s also a big life change. Any last thoughts Liane on to add to the model that you’ve just described and helping them with their family,

Liane (21:50):

Maybe one point, which is that and if I think about nurses as one group and just my experience over all the years with nurses, what makes nurses often really, really good at their job is they’re able to keep emotion kind of compartmentalized because it’s too hard a job to do if the emotions are bubbling up all the time. So I find nurses are pretty good at keeping the keep calm and carry on kind of approach. And, and so they, what I would encourage folks, particularly if you come from a background as a PSW, as a nurse, as a social worker, whatever your background is, just know that emotions are a given. They’re how the human brain works. They’re not something people can turn off. And what happens is when we deny somebody else’s emotions or we try and make them smaller or squish them, they tend to get bigger and they get bigger in one of two ways. One, if they get bigger, somebody feels invalidated. If somebody feels they don’t have an outlet with you, then one is they might go underground. And that’s where you need to be pretty worried about them, whispering about your home, to their neighbors, posting things on social media about your home, phoning their MPP. You need to worry if you do not make a place for that, it’s going to possibly go underground and come out in a much, much, much more dangerous place. The other possibility is if they try and suppress it, it could come erupting out into a big emotional outburst. So I’m really gonna encourage your listeners to think about how the more you can make room for the emotion in the moment before it boils over the better.

Liane (23:41):

So think of it. I maybe this’ll be helpful to people in the healthcare field. I like to think about emotion in that sense, much like I think about pain. I had bursitis in my shoulder all last year and when I give speeches, I like to wave my arms around and I would wave my right arm around and get a shot of pain right down my side, which was so helpful because it reminded me, Liane, you’re injuring yourself, stop. There’s an injury. And so acute pain is very helpful as a symptom that something is wrong and a chance to actually do some work, to diagnose what’s going on. Well, the same is true when we see emotions, if we see it from an employee, if we see it from our customer or a family member. So I want you to reframe how you think about an emotion. And what I want you to do is use this line because it’s a line that’s free from judgment. And it’s a line that will make a little bit of space for emotion and then allow you to move beyond it. And all I want you to say is

Liane (24:42):

This is important. What do I need to understand? And if someone is in tears, you don’t say, I know you’re upset because we don’t want to tell somebody else how they feel. That’s not a good idea, but we can say, this is important. What do I need to understand? And that person in tears within about 60 seconds, will probably be giving you the information you need to do something to make it better. And you’ll have the chance to say, okay, where do we go from here? And you’ll be able to move them towards something constructive. Alternatively, if they are yelling at you and you say, this is important, what do I need to understand? It’s really hard for someone to keep yelling at you when you make space for their emotion. We get people yelling because they aren’t feeling heard and they get so desperate to be heard. So if you get quiet and you say, this is important, what do I need to understand? Again, within about 60 seconds, that tone is going to come right down. And I know people tell me that, you know, Liane screaming is not appropriate and you know what, we’re in COVID people’s family members are trapped. They can’t see them. They can’t hug them. They can’t touch them. They can’t hold their hands. You know what? There’s going to be some bad behavior. The question is, how fast can you move the customer, the family member from that bad behavior into something constructive. So whether they’re in tears, whether they’re yelling, I really encourage you to simply say, this is important. What do I need to understand? And to really reframe that this is pain, that if I use it to understand what’s the injury being done here, it’s really going to help me with the prescription for what would make things better.

Deb (26:21):

That sounds like the perfect formula to, as you were describing it, I was thinking it’s deescalating a disproportionate reaction, right? But then what you’re suggesting, it opens up that level of curiosity and it’s a softening way to engage with the person. And it kind of takes the wind out of their sails a bit.

Liane (26:41):

Cause you want, all you’re getting from the emotion is symptom. You’re not getting diagnosis, right? So you get the symptom. And if you lean into that, then you have a chance of the curiosity to get the diagnostic. And only from the diagnostic, can you then get the prescription? Right? So we want to go in that level. And I think if we cut off with the symptoms without actually trying to figure out, because we all know we can get pain somewhere that has nothing to do with where the injury is. So let me understand the difference between the pain, as a symptom, what’s actually the injury and what can I diagnose as the problem? What do they care about or value that’s not happening in the home right now? And then I can get to, would this solution work?

Deb (27:23):

Yes, that’s fantastic. Wow. Lots of really great insights. And where can people find you, Liane?

Liane (27:30):

Yeah, the easiest place is just lianedavey.com. So it’s very easy. The good thing is when you have a crazy spelled name, you can get your URL. But if you thank you, Deb, because it’s LI just like Diane, but with an L and Davey with an E, Lianedavey.com. And there are about 500 articles on the blog page there that are all searchable about things like passive aggressiveness or trust issues or things like that. And anything that there’s not an answer for there, the email comes right into my inbox and people are welcome to send me a note, just asking questions. Or if you have something where I might be able to help you work through a prickly situation, because we are incredibly grateful to all the folks caring for our loved ones right now, it is an unenviable position. But you’re making more of a difference now than than ever. So thank you.

Deb (28:25):

Well, and thank you for taking the time to share all of this with the folks who live in seniors care that would really benefit from this.

Liane (28:32):

My huge pleasure. Okay. Bye bye. Bye bye.

Closing (28:41):

Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


4. Disappoint More People with Sandy Reynolds



In today’s episode, Sandy and I talk about the benefits of her mantra ‘Disappoint more people’.

In this episode

Sandy and I talk about that emotion that we want to avoid feeling or creating that feeling in others – Disappointment.

And yet, as you’ll hear, there can be benefits when you lean into the idea of disappointing more people.

In this episode, we discuss:

• The connection between expectations, reality and disappointment

• The challenges created when we focus on avoiding disappointment

• Shifting your mindset about handling unmet expectations and the importance we place on them

• How exercising the disappointment muscle can actually build resilience

• People pleasing, and three areas where people pleasers tend to struggle

• Ways to step out of people pleasing and work with boundaries and disappointment

Guest Info

Sandy Reynolds prefers the term ‘learning catalyst’ to describe what she does. She has worked globally helping organizations strengthen their performance by developing talent and getting clear on their organizational values and strategy. Sandy is currently working on a book called Disappoint More People. As a chronic people-pleaser who has worried about what other people think for longer than she wants to admit, she is on a mission to get people to live aligned with their values.

Sandy has over 20 years experience in some of Canada’s top organizations, has an MA in Leadership and is a Certified MBTI practitioner.

Previous Clients include: Air Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rotman College, St. Michael’s Hospital, World Vision and Opportunity International, to name a few.

Resources

You can find Sandy at www.sandyreynolds.com, on Instragram @sandyareynolds, and on LinkedIn. 

Sandy’s free guide and e’mail course “5 ways to disappoint more people:” https://newsletter.sandyreynolds.com/disappoint

Transcript

Voice (00:00): Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod Network. Each week, Seniors’ Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30): We are going to be talking about the topic of disappointment today, and a really interesting perspective on leaning into and developing your disappointment muscle. Are you a people pleaser? Like, do you like everyone to be happy and to get along? And do you want them to like you? I suspect more of us than we like to admit fall under the people pleaser camp. For some of us, it was ingrained in us at a very young age to be nice and to be likable. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t upset people. Do your best and get along with everyone. And yet, sometimes that people pleasing gene can lead to resentment and frustration and disappointment – emotions that are typically seen as bad or negative. Undesirable. Looking at this emotion and experience of disappointment, I think it’s one that we can tend to have a bit of that allergic reaction to, you know, we just, we want to avoid it at all costs. And there are two sides of disappointment.

Deb (01:37): There’s how it feels when we get disappointed. When something that we were really hoping for doesn’t happen like a second date or someone forgetting our birthday or a job promotion or a new job that you really hoped that you were going to land. The other side of disappointment is how it feels for us when we disappoint someone else. Like when we cancel plans that we know that the other person was really looking forward to or missing a deadline that your boss was expecting to be met or telling a family member that their visit with their loved one needs to be rescheduled. I think in most businesses that value customer service, that customer service experience, there can be a tendency to over promise and to try to bend over backwards to make something work. Even though, you know, in your gut, that you may be setting yourself up for failure and creating disappointment. We’re back to that people pleasing. And part of that is that desire to avoid conflict. In today’s interview with Sandy Reynolds, we talk about this interplay with expectations, reality, and disappointment. Her mantra, disappoint more people is something that can sound almost harsh or heartless. And as you’ll hear, it’s not in a, Oh, I can’t wait to disappoint more people today. It’s a healthy approach to maintaining value, integrity, and personal boundaries where we don’t have to be everything good and shiny all the time.

Deb (03:20): I think that there’s a bit of an art to this idea of embracing disappointment. Rather than do whatever it takes to avoid it at all costs, there’s something empowering and almost refreshing with this way of looking at disappointment. In fact, it can be a pathway to building resilience, something that is constantly talked about as a leadership attribute and a desired competency to have. I think you’ll find this conversation quite interesting, and it can have you looking at disappointing more people as an opportunity for personal growth while people pleasing less. I hope you enjoy.

Voice (04:05): You need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life podcasts that speak to you. Podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network: coming soon.

Deb (04:21): I’m thrilled to have Sandy Reynolds on as a guest for today’s episode. Let me tell you a bit about Sandy. Sandy prefers the term learning catalyst to describe what she does. She’s worked globally, helping organizations strengthen their performance by developing talent and getting clear on their organizational values and strategy. Sandy’s currently working on a book called Disappoint More People. As a chronic people pleaser who’s worried about what other people think for longer than she wants to admit, she is on a mission to get people to live aligned with their values. Sandy, welcome to our show.

Sandy (04:59): Deborah thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation today.

Deb (05:04): Well, I have as well, because when you first told me about the title of your book Disappoint More People, of course it creates this curiosity gap. What do you mean disappoint more people that sounds like how do you do that? Why would you want to do that? And as I learned more and more about your philosophy and approach with this, I knew that I had to have you on the show because in seniors care, a lot of people, they’re caregivers, and some would probably describe themselves as people pleasers when it comes to what their management with their coworkers and with their families. So let’s start by just telling us a bit more about disappoint more people and what you mean by that.

Sandy (05:46): Okay. So for me, the whole journey started with people pleasing when I was doing my master’s degree several years ago, and we did a values assessment and came back me that I had a potentially limiting value of wanting to be liked. And I started, I was surprised and I started digging into it a little more and doing some reading and reflecting on how I am in work and in other relationships in my life. And I realized that I made a lot of decisions to make other people comfortable and that I was often thinking about not what I wanted, but what other people wanted and how I could make life easier for them. And that’s not a bad thing. It can be a very helpful thing. It can also be a very attractive quality in a friend or in a family member or a coworker. I mean, everybody likes the person that they can pass things onto, but there’s a real toll that it takes on a person when there are people pleaser. And I started to realize that I needed to learn to get comfortable disappointing people, because as long as my focus was on how I could make other people comfortable, how I could have people like me, because I was making choices that made them happy. I was not making choices that were taking me where I wanted to go in my life.

Deb (07:21): Well, and it’s interesting, just the word disappointment tends to be a bit of a trigger for people. And I mean, I know my kids would say, they’d rather that I’m angry with them then to be disappointed in them, even though that emotion of disappointment doesn’t have the same energy as anger. And, I use, I refer to a formula that I read from Chip Conley’s book Emotional Equations, where he says disappointment equals expectations minus reality. But I still share this in workshops and in speeches. And I realized after speaking to you about your approach to it is that I was looking at disappointment as being something that you should avoid at all costs. Like figure out what the expectations are and the reality and adjust them. And yes, there’s lots of great opportunities for that. And sometimes disappointment is just unavoidable.

Sandy (08:17): Yes, exactly. I mean, I think we’ve all been disappointed the way 2020’s been playing out. So it’s pretty unavoidable and it is like, I like I do like that equation and I think disappointment has to do with expectations for sure. And that we have that gap where we our reality bumps up against our expectation and we feel disappointed. I think the challenge is when we try to individually be the buffer in there. So we know that reality is going to be a disappointment. So we step in and try to make sure, or somehow cushion people from being disappointed by contorting ourselves into being something that will make life easier for other people and disappointment is going to happen. We all have expectations that are not going to be met all the time.

Sandy (09:16): And it’s, it’s okay to have expectations. I’ve actually been writing a little bit this week about the different about standards and expectations. And, I think sometimes we have these standards and those standards are important, but we then put something on top of those standards and, and try to elevate our standards to a place that is, makes it very difficult for us to meet those standards.

Deb (09:45): And whether they’re self-imposed standards or standards that we think other people we are interpreting, that’s what they’re expecting from us. And sometimes that comes from just assumption. Or our own view of how we look at the world. But I think sometimes we impose those expectations on ourselves without really validating them.

Sandy (10:08): Yeah. I agree completely with that. And it’s a funny thing when we start getting into a conversation around expectations. People can be really quite pleased with their high expectations, but then they’re the ones who feel disappointed a lot as well. And I think about having realistic expectations and agreed upon and understood and communicated expectations. So disappointing people, I think is a way for me to get people thinking about this conversation and recognizing how are you going to handle it when you don’t live up to someone’s expectations? And is your, is it always that important to live up to expectations? Or is there a time when you need to just say, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out the way we had hoped.

Deb (11:02): And as I understand your philosophy around disappoint more people – isn’t that you wake up in the morning and say, okay, who can I disappoint the most today? It is to be open to knowing that you are likely going to disappoint more people if you are true to your values, your beliefs, what your expectations of the situation are. And I think when it comes to providing care and customer service, sometimes we end up over promising and then we pay the price for that when things don’t turn out as they had expected it to.

Sandy (11:42): And you have to, I think people have to be willing to realize that you can’t please everyone. And yeah, you’re not going to get up in the morning and say, I’m going to see how many people I can disappoint today at work. But when you do disappoint people, you have to develop some resilience and some understanding that that’s okay and you’ve done what you can do.

Deb (12:09): You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols. With admitting and moving in new residents, you’re dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com or click the link in the show notes and I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

Voice (12:42): If you had more time in your day, what would you do with it? Listening to podcasts might not be the first thing you think of. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking podcasts take too much time to listen to. But what if there were podcasts designed with your time in mind. Podcasts that spoke to you. Podcasts that you could listen to in short segments. We’ve put together podcasts exactly like that. The qodpod Network is coming soon. Check out www.qodpod.com for more details.

Deb (13:12): It would be great to hear a bit more from you Sandy, about the areas in work, where people pleasers tend to really struggle, because I suspect that there are some patterns there. And so for listeners who may be thinking gee, am I a people pleaser, or they know they’re a people pleaser, how can you support them with that?

Sandy (13:32): I think there’s several areas that I’ve identified from my work and experience where I’ve struggled and where I watch people struggle. And so, I’ll just walk you through some of them and we can have a conversation about it. One is around the area of competency. And I think that when we don’t feel competent in ourselves and our skills or our experience, we can tend to default to other people. And we don’t say what we might know is true in a situation because we don’t have the experience and we don’t trust ourselves. So competency is a big one I’ve seen. And people will often in team meetings, not say something. They won’t speak up if they feel like they have less experience or less knowledge than other people, even though what they have to say could be really important and could really help the whole team.

Deb (14:30): So if they’re in that people pleasing mindset, are they not wanting to speak up because they are feeling like they don’t have the right answer. They’re afraid to ask for clarification?

Sandy (14:45): Yeah. That can be a part of it. I think also in workplace cultures, some of the organizations that I’ve a part of, there can be a big heavy weight put on seniority and experience. And so people who have been there long, we often hear that even when I used to do onboarding in an organization, we’d have everybody go around and talk about how long or in a, not even an onboarding, just in a training situation – how long have you been at the organization? And there’s within that an assumption that you’ve been there a long time. So you know more about a situation than someone who’s just starting. And so someone with less experience will defer because they will feel like they don’t have the right or the experience to speak up. The problem with that is when we’re in a situation that’s new in an organization. So say a new software system has been introduced or a new way to let families into a home or a new screening, or there’s just so many new things right now with a pandemic in terms of operations. And I would imagine in long term care, the way that people are needing to learn new ways to do everything, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been there 15 years. If you’ve been there one week, you’ve had just as much experience with that system as someone who’s been there 15 years. And yet you still feel like you need to defer to other people.

Deb (16:15): Got it. Okay. Thanks for clarifying.

Sandy (16:19): So another one, and I think that just, you were touching on it a little bit. There is conflict avoidance. So people pleasers do not like conflict. So they often will say things to avoid conflict. So they’ll go along with things. They won’t point things out that might need to be improved or changed. They won’t say something to a coworker. If they think there’s going to be a conflict that comes out of it. So if you have a real aversion to conflict and you like to avoid it at all costs, you can easily fall into some of these patterns around disappointing people and around putting the emphasis on people pleasing and avoiding conflict.

Deb (17:08): Yeah. I think that probably is a big one.

Sandy (17:12): It is. And I think some of these all seem to overlap a little bit for me, capacity is another one. And I think that we’ve all had the experience where you see something that needs to be done and your at a team meeting like a weekly meeting where you’re talking about what needs to happen and you don’t want to be the person that says, Oh, this room really needs to be cleaned out. It’s a mess. We need someone to take stock or do inventory or find out what’s going on over here. Because you know, if you say something, there’s a chance that you’ll now have that on your… Somebody say, well, that’s a great idea, Deborah, could you make sure that gets done?

Deb (17:53): That’s why people avoid eye contact and meetings as somebody’s making a suggestion. We should really get this room organized. So when we start looking down at our shoes!

Sandy (18:02): Right, because most people have enough to do. And so some of these things are just so rather than say, I can’t do it, we just don’t say it needs to be done at all. So it never even gets put out there as something that needs to be done. Or we don’t want our coworkers to roll their eyes in a meeting. Like, thanks. Now we’re going to have to do this too. So, capacity’s one. I think that there’s the whole idea of career limitations for people it’s workplace cultures. We like people who are easy to get along with who don’t rock the boat, who don’t ask questions. I remember being in on a team and there was that one person and it’d be like, so close to the meeting wrapping up. And then they’d ask a question and everybody would kind of roll their eyes.

Sandy (18:59): And you know, you just feel the air sucked out of the room and that for people pleasers, we don’t want to be that person. We want to be liked, but there are times when we need to disappoint people and be willing to let people have those feelings about, we almost got out of here, but Sandy asked a question and we can also feel like it will limit our career. Like people will label us as that person who’s hard to work with or there’s a whole thing about asking your manager and challenging someone who is in a position above you or bringing something to their attention. So career limiting moves we talk a lot about, and that’s something that shows up for people pleasers. We just are really worried about what other people think.

Deb (19:53): And I think that describing that person, I think it’s also picking your spots because there are people who do that all the time and it may not necessarily be adding value to the conversation for people pleasers, just to say, you know, I feel uncomfortable now, I’m going to put my hand up and stick my neck out and say this, but I really feel this is an important piece that we need to identify and deal with. Then it becomes more situational versus this is who you have to be all the time.

Sandy (20:25): Yes. I agree completely with that. Most people pleasers are never going to become that person. Like I’m trying to move people into being willing to feel uncomfortable. I’m not trying to get people all the way over to being that person who challenges everything everyone says. For the people I work with, and honestly, I think people pleasing is a bigger problem at work than anyone ever imagined. We’re all very concerned about harmony in the workplace and getting along with other people and making life as easy as we can for each other. And it can be a detriment to the organization.

Deb (21:05): And as you’re describing that, I think about that relationship with staff and family members. And particularly now it’s even more intensified because of restricted visitation. But when I work with clients who are having a challenging time with we’ll call them a passionate family and they just can’t seem to get to resolution. I think some of it is the conflict avoidance. Some of it is perhaps just capacity, right? You’re so busy. And to get sidelined with a family member wanting to talk about some of the details of care, where you’re dealing with other more significant things. And it can really create the situation where staff are setting themselves up for failure because they are trying to provide all the right answers or maybe they’re acquiescing on certain requests that they know probably is outside of the scope, but they do it anyway to try to shut that conflict down. And then you’re setting a stage for even higher level of expectations and setting a bit of a precedent It just, it makes me think that part of if we’re able to look out to what degree are we doing the people pleasing conflict avoidance, feeling that we’re too busy to deal with this right now versus stepping back and being more thoughtful and strategic for a longer term solution. So to your point, you may have someone feeling disappointed. If you are able to communicate expectations, reality, align, understanding that it may not be exactly what they want to hear. You’re starting to invest in that relationship that’s going to be more grounded.

Sandy (22:48): Yes, I agree totally. And when you were talking, I was thinking about one of the challenges for people pleasers is when there’s multiple stakeholders in a situation. So you’re, if you want everyone to feel happy about the resolution and you have your customers, you have your colleagues, you have the people, you know, other stakeholders that you’re you’ll know who these people are. I’m not sure who they are in your organization and your work. But when you’re trying to please multiple stakeholders in a situation that creates a great deal of stress for someone who is a people pleaser, and wants to do the thing that makes everyone happy or everyone comfortable, and it’s a tough place.

Deb (23:35): And as you were describing that, I was thinking of a few of my clients who describe families, who, well, every family has their dysfunction, right? And so you’ve got different family members with having different wants and desires. And you’ve got one who’s the POA and others who aren’t, and then they bring that conflict or dysfunction into the home. And if you’ve got a family with five kids and they all want different things, if you’re a people pleaser, there’s no way you’re going to be able to please all five of them.

Sandy (24:09): Exactly. And so one of the things that people pleasers need to learn is how to have boundaries, how to say no, how to disappoint people and just say, these are the rules. This is, this is all we can do. And I know this is really tough and I know your situation’s really hard and I can have empathy, which I know you talk a lot about. I can understand your perspective. I just can’t do anything different than I’m doing.

Deb (24:44): So for someone who may be listening and saying, yeah, I mean, I’m a people pleaser. I’ve always been that way. Well, how would you suggest that they start practicing disappointing more people?

Sandy (24:56): I think you have to start somewhere for sure. I think it’s a big thing to recognize that you are a people pleaser. I think whenever we’re learning and growing in any area of our life, awareness is a big part of it. And just starting to pay attention. And often people pleasers feel it physically like a stress or an anxiety in their body. And I think recognizing when you want to, as you’ve already mentioned over promise or over-deliver, or agree to something that you know, is not probably going to happen, that’s a good place to stop and say even if it’s after the fact – What happened there., What was the thing that prompted me to make that promise or to go along with something that I know isn’t reasonable and isn’t going to probably happen and is going to create down the road, the disappointment that I’m trying to avoid in the moment and start to really pay attention to that and then get comfortable disappointing more people. And just somehow for me, just realizing this might disappoint you – even just saying that to someone – I know this is going to be disappointing and I’m sorry, we can’t do that right – away is approaching it with empathy. It’s approaching it with that human touch and saying, it isn’t what you want to hear. And I think it’s better to take the hit at the front end, then let it go and promise something. And then people you’ve created an expectation for people. And then they are really disappointed.

Deb (26:44): Good point. So with just a couple of minutes left, Sandy. I know that you have been a family member with your dad having lived in long term care. And what words of encouragement would you like to share with people who work in the senior’s care sector?

Sandy (27:03): I, first of all, my hats off to all the people who work with our aging parents and family members, because it’s really, it’s really challenging. And I know that you’re not working with them or seeing them when they were in their prime and when they were at their best. And my dad had Lewy Body Dementia. And that’s what was the situation that ended him in long term care. And I was always very grateful for just the smiling faces when I came in and someone who just knew my name and said, hello, it didn’t have to be a big deal. It was wonderful when someone told us a little story about something my dad did or something that they had noticed in him, whether it was at a craft time or at a meal or whatever. My dad had a great sense of humor and he liked to laugh. And there were a couple of workers who really would joke around with him. And I know that made his day to be able to laugh because that was important to him. So yeah, I’ve just that’s been very, that was very meaningful for us as a family member.

Deb (28:17): And to me that’s about those little moments that matter. So thank you. I’m sure that there’ll be listeners who will want to connect with you Sandy, where can they find you?

Sandy (28:28): So I’m at www.sandyreynolds.com and I have a freebie there for people who are listening, who struggle with people pleasing and it doesn’t just have to be at work. It can be anywhere in your life. And it’s five ways to disappoint more people. And it’s a five series, a five-email course that people can sign up and get over a week. It gets delivered to your inbox and it gives you some tips and strategies for getting comfortable disappointing more people.

Deb (28:57): Awesome. Thank you so much, Sandy.

Sandy (28:59): Thank you.

Voice (29:16): Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.


3. The Art of Being with Libby McCready



In today’s episode, Libby and I talk about the coaching mindset and her “Be Buttons” framework to help manage stress and overwhelm.

In this episode:

Libby and I talk about ‘ways of being’ using her coaching model of the “Be Buttons”.  Some of the topics we explore are:

  • The metaphor of ‘touching lightly’ to manage overwhelm and to reset
  • How being curious shifts your energy to be more open and relaxed
  • Self reflection questions to get unstuck and out of overwhelm
  • The layers of listening and being responsive to connect and relate better
  • Ways to be accountable with how you show up and impact others
  • The connection between your amygdala and burnt toast!

Guest bio:

Libby McCready is a veteran executive coach and trainer. For the past twenty years she’s been focused on accelerating results for professional sales teams, business owners and leaders across industries. The models, processes and programs she utilizes use the sciences of the mind as the foundation for people achieving success. She is currently the head of sales training for a major Canadian corporation.  Libby can be reached at libbymccready@gmail.com.

Transcription:

Intro (00:00):

Welcome to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. Each week, Seniors’ Care matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents’ families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips, to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here’s your host for Seniors’ Care Matters, Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30):

As we continue to work our ways through this new normal, while there’s not much normal feeling to 2020 so far, as humans going through this together, we still seek, want and need to connect with others. Even if we have to be masked and appropriately distanced from each other. Amongst all the transactions and policy changes and updates and protocol required, I truly believe we still want to be relational and to be in that kind of relational mindset where you can be open to and looking for those opportunities to connect and to relate, it’s helpful to have ways to be in a more calm and relaxed state of mind. A way to be able to reset and feel better prepared to deal with and respond to all of these many challenges that we’re facing.

Deb (01:27):

And you may be thinking, are you kidding me with everything we have going on in our homes particularly now? Well, I think it’s about saying yes, and… Yes, all of this is happening. And…the good news is we all have these micro opportunities every day to choose behaviors that can support us – to be intentional with how we choose, to think, feel, and behave in any given moment. In today’s episode, Libby and I talk about BEING and her framework with the three ways of being, which is rooted in her training and experience as a leadership coach. One of the three approaches we discuss is about being curious. In my book Recipe for Empathy, one of the chapters is called “The Question Connection” and we discuss how being curious can cancel out judgment and binary thinking. Something that can get us triggered. And speaking of triggered, she shares a really interesting way to think about something that triggers us so that you can reframe and choose to either react or respond. I think you’ll find it really useful next time you feel triggered by something or someone. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did and are able to take away some helpful approaches as you continue to be relational and connect with your team, your families and your residents.

Promo (03:00):

When you need podcasts that inspire you, podcasts that help you live your best life, podcasts that speak to you, podcasts that are easy to listen to. You’ll find them on the qodpod network, coming soon.

Deb (03:14):

I’m really excited to have Libby McCready as our guest on today’s podcast. Libby is a veteran executive coach and trainer. For the past 20 years she’s been focused on accelerating results for professional sales teams, business owners, and leaders across industries. The models, processes, and programs she utilizes use the science of the mind as the foundation for people achieving success. She’s currently the head of sales training for a major Canadian corporation and I’ve known Libby – I was trying to do the math and I think it may be longer than both my kids have been alive. And we met at a conference. We both got our coaching certification at the same school, and I also have the distinct pleasure of being in a mastermind group that Libby is leading. So Libby, I’m so happy that you agreed to come on and have this conversation with us today.

Libby (04:12):

Well, thank you Deb. I mean, it’s super exciting to be here and to be able to talk on this subject and share some thoughts and ideas with you. I mean, I’m sure that you and I could do this all day long.

Deb (04:25):

Yes we could. And I think the other interesting point to note is that you are a family member. Your mom lives in a long term care home in the town where you reside, right?

Libby (04:36):

Yes she does. She’s been there about seven years. Post-stroke.

Deb (04:40):

So, we’ve talked a bit about your experience as a family member and certainly some of the experiences that I had with my husband, my mom and my dad, I know that you’re really committed to helping support leaders and people who work in seniors’ care. And it’s no surprise, being a family member that it’s been a really, really tough last few months, particularly because of the Covid crisis and restricted visitation and people in general, and I’m going to say specifically in seniors’ care are feeling a bit tired, warn down, a bit beaten up – lots of negative media. We are still in the thick of things, the level of uncertainty and unpredictability. And I know that you work a lot with leaders dealing with similar issues when it comes to being able to shift the mindset. To be able to continue focusing on the things that matter. So we think about how sometimes staff maybe feeling a bit down or unmotivated, or just stuck with where they are. Let’s start there and get your thoughts on how that could – you could help shift them with that.

Libby (05:52):

Well, sure. I mean, I think the first thing that I want to say is thank you to everyone who works at every senior’s home, and in particular, the folks who look after my mother and the other wonderful residents, up here in Gravenhurst. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for them to manage family members, and not all of them I would doubt always pleasant, and the fear and the anxiety and the confusion that so many residences have had. I mean, I certainly know, just from my own experience that my mother gets very confused in terms of why she’s unable to see us and why she can’t go outside. And then of course, you know, my mother’s 91, so dementia has her thinking all kinds of things and worrying about Scarlet fever that happened when she was just a small child. So it’s a very confusing time. And the staff go through so much just working with the residents and calming them down, but it’s not an easy job. And so I really just want to say, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Deb (07:22):

What can you offer as far as strategies to be able to help manage the stress level and the overwhelm that they may be feeling?

Libby (07:30):

Right, you know, I don’t want to speak in platitudes and all you have to do is this and everything will be fine, because I’m sure that, so I don’t know, patronizing – far from the truth. But I do know that the sciences of the mind would suggest that you can be in control and you do have the ability to breathe, which has always been number one strategy, take a deep breath and just calm. Now, what do I mean when I say just calm. I love the expression touching lightly. Thomas Troward, a philosophical author from years ago talks to this point about touching lightly. And the idea behind it is that when you get stressed, you tense up, right? And so when you tense up, it becomes very difficult to be fluid, to be in the moment. It’s like this, as soon as you tense, this buildup of anxiety and stress and everything that’s been going on, maybe in the background comes shooting forward and then bad things tend to happen. So you end up being short with your colleagues. You end up being unfortunately, maybe short with you know, a resident, a family member who calls in at exactly the wrong time, asking exactly the wrong question or making some kind of demand, because they believe that they’re special. And it’s like, everything just sort of comes out like this. I heard a great story the other day about race car driving. No, I’ve never been in a race car. And this fellow said, the last thing that you want to do when you’re turning corners is to grab the steering wheel tight. You actually have to touch very lightly on the steering wheel so that you have the flexibility, so that you’re completely calm, so that you can make those maneuvers, because if you tense, you’re going to crash into somebody. And so recognizing that the tenseness is the circumstance and when you tense, it’s because you’ve let the circumstance take power. So in order to take power back, you have to touch lightly.

Deb (10:20):

As you were saying, that Libby, it reminds me of when my husband, Ty was in the midst of his illness and the kids and I were attending family therapy, and the therapist talked about the strategy of white knuckling it. And she would say, you know, you can white knuckle for so long, and sometimes that’s what you need to do, but it’s not sustainable. And that image always comes to mind. And you reminded me when you described that story is to be able to let go of and letting the blood circulate by not hanging on for dear life. It’s hanging by your fingernails or grabbing that steering wheel. Just in the last couple of months, I’ve started riding a Peloton bike. And what I like about the instructors is that they talk about checking in, are you grasping the handlebar, let go of that, shake your arms out. And even she uses this visual – imagine a rolling pin basically through your ears. And you’re just turning it slightly to put your head down versus being all tense in your shoulders. And so sometimes I think we need those, whether they be visual reminders or triggers to be able to help us with that. Touching lightly is a great way to be able to express that.

Deb (11:49):

You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols. With admitting and moving in new residents, you’re dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents’ families. If you’re looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com or click the link in the show notes, and I’ll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

Break (12:22):

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Deb (12:51):

So Libby I’m thinking it could be really helpful to the listeners to dive in a bit deeper into the coaching mindset. Not everybody has had the opportunity to have a one on one coaching relationship. And as you and I have talked about before, there are ways that you can self coach and utilize that coaching mindset and some of the tools. So let’s talk a bit about that.

Libby (13:17):

Okay. Actually, there’s three really simple things that you can do to self coach. So coaching as you just said, Deb is more mindset and there’s a skillset that goes along with it. So when you or I are coaching somebody there’s first of all, a state of mind that we want to get ourselves into. The idea behind coaching is that the person who is getting the coaching really has all the answers inside themselves. And so, several years ago I created a model that began with a mindset and the mindset is simply this :Be Curious, Be Responsive and Be Accountable. And so why is it so important to BE – why can’t we just ask questions or why can’t we just tell people what it is that they need to do? We are not human doings. We are human beings. And so the idea of “being” is a mindset. So be curious, what does it mean to be curious? Well, the skill of being curious is asking questions. And so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might want to start asking yourself some simple questions. So what is it that has caused this feeling? What were the circumstances that caused this feeling? So get some clarity around – it was something outside of you and it, that thing created a chain reaction of emotion, right? So it was circumstances.

Deb (15:15):

I also think with that, when you’re able to be curious, it takes away the judgment. I may be feeling overwhelmed and I start to beat myself up. Why am I not handling this better? And why, why, why am I feeling so overwhelmed? We’re taking an approach of curiosity is Huh! This is interesting – what’s going on here? What’s contributed to this? And having that softer energy of curiosity.

Libby (15:44):

And I love what you just said there. Hmm. That’s interesting. Hmm. I just reacted that way. Isn’t that interesting! Now, is that what I wanted? So that’s another question that you can ask yourself. If I were to run that all over again, how would I have wanted to show up.

Deb (16:07):

Having a do over in essence.

Libby (16:09):

Having do over. It’s one of the things that when I’m providing feedback to a sales person, who’s just had a sales call. I always start with, well, how did you feel about it? What did you think went really well? What could you have done differently? And if you had that do over right now, what would you do differently? And it’s not that it’s a blaming or a judgment on yourself or who you are or anything like that. It’s just an opportunity to look a little deeper and to say, well, maybe there’s another route. And there’s something really interesting psychologically that happens to a person when they get overwhelmed, when they get reactive, the whole, without getting into brain science, but the whole prefrontal cortex, where we have our opportunity to judge and see shades of gray, it just shuts down. Our primal function of fight or flight survival starts to take over. But the research around neuro leadership, neuro-psychology putting people in MRI machines and actually looking at the brain, when you start to ask thought provoking questions, the energy, the physical energy starts to come back to this whole area in the prefrontal cortex. And so then you start to see shades of gray. You start to see options, you start to see opportunities. So be curious with yourself, not judgmental of yourself, be curious with yourself. That’s interesting! I wonder why that happened? What was it that caused that? If I had to do over, what would I do next time? Because guess what? There’s going to be a next time. And the next time might be in the next five minutes.

Deb (18:15):

And you take that learning. So let’s see the second be button, which is Be Responsive.

Libby (18:22):

So being responsive, the idea is twofold. First is about understanding the difference between reacting and responding. So again, reacting is that emotional trigger, right? I’m reacting in the moment. When people are calm, they respond. And maybe even with a little bit of curiosity, that’s interesting. That’s interesting you say that. Tell me more. So being willing to really the second part being responsive is the ability to listen, because when you can listen and listening comes with understanding, right? So back to this situation, here I am in this situation, am I reacting or am I responding? So if I’m responding, I’m listening and I start to get curious again. So there’s a bit of a cycle here, it’s not sort of be curious first and then be responsive. They gel together. They go together. But it’s about learning how to listen and be, not allow the emotion to come forward. So being neutral again, is about being responsive.

Deb (19:48):

I also think about the, what are you listening for? Being able to be almost stepping outside of yourself and being that observer.

Deb (19:58):

Yes. So I like to, when I’m teaching, it’s a funny thing to do is to teach listening skills, right. We have two ears, one mouth. And so what should you do more of, you know, listen, more, talk less, blah, blah, blah. It’s a lot deeper than that. And a lot of people think that good listening means that I’m mimicking you, or I’m doing that active listing. Let me see if I heard that right. And that’s an element of it, for sure. You know, confirming to make sure that you’ve heard correctly, is a part of listening. But the deeper level of listening is listening for maybe what’s not being said, so listening to the context behind. Listening for that other person’s emotion. Wow. They’re really upset. Wow. Sounds like they’re really frustrated

Deb (20:53):

Particularly if the words and the body language are incongruent. Part of the listening is with your ears, but as well as with your eyes.

Libby (21:01):

Yes. And with your gut. And most people think that listening is an intake process. It’s what you do with your listening that really creates an opportunity for a different kind of conversation. Listening is an output skill. And so when you hear things or notice things, you want to do something with that. So that active listening piece about, paraphrasing what somebody said, or, you know, let me see if I understood you. I think if I heard you correctly, you said, blah, blah, blah. That’s focusing on the content of maybe what somebody said. But I’m looking at you and I’m noticing a whole bunch of other stuff. And I might simply say, wow, it sounds like you’re really frustrated, or I hear your anger, or I hear your confusion. Let me see if I can help. Right. So that’s sort of that advanced level of listening contextually, and then being able to do something with all that great information that has come in and putting it out, not like an accusation, but an opportunity to create a dialogue and a discussion.

Deb (22:24):

So that’s an opportunity where an individual can be utilizing this to have better conversations with their staff or families or residents, and from a self coaching perspective, this being responsive is really listening to and noticing how you’re feeling, how you’re thinking, the words that you’re using. And then also to be able to be curious about it.

Deb (22:53):

So the third be button is Be Accountable.

Libby (22:57):

Yes. And so particularly for leaders, but really everybody, there’s an opportunity to be accountable. Accountable, earlier on we were talking about, judging myself. I reacted the way I didn’t want to react and now I’m in full judgment. You want to be accountable to yourself. You want to be accountable to what’s right. So in these days, when you’re allowing visits, as an example, you’re getting a lot of pushback from families. I can feel that in the emails that we’re getting, that, you know, we need to follow the rules and I’m thinking, wow, I bet there’s people who don’t want to wear masks.Wear your mask! Being good is not about being a pushover. And it’s not about letting somebody else control you. You still need to know what’s right and be able to stand up for yourself. So that’s one element of being accountable. You’re accountable to whatever the organization needs you to do. That’s, that’s one level of accountability. The second is, with neutrality. So without judgment, every single person needs to take accountability for how they show up. It’s not somebody else. You know, it wasn’t my fault. It was because they yelled at me and you know, then you’re caught in the circumstance. Be accountable, correct it if you need to, but only you can be accountable for the way you show up. Only you can manage the way you show up. Because circumstances are always going to be with you.

Deb (24:57):

So having that level of responsibility and accountability in how I’m showing up and interacting with other individuals, no matter what the circumstance is. And the going back to the be curious and being responsive are ways to be able to neutralize yourself and getting out of that, taking it personally, or getting reactive or getting defensive and getting triggered by other people.

Libby (25:23):

Yes. And by the way, you will always be triggered. As human beings, we are wired to get triggered. We have this little thing in the back of our brain that we share with the reptilians of the world. And that is our amygdala and the amygdala is our fight or flight. And it is on high alert, 24-7. It is making us safe and it is helping us survive in this world. So it triggers, there is no not being triggered. It’s what you do once you’re triggered that makes the difference. And I heard this analogy, I thought it was great. The amygdala is just like your smoke detector. It goes off. The problem is it doesn’t know whether it’s just burnt toast or if the house is really on fire. So know that most of the situations that you face, where you’re getting emotionally triggered, it’s burnt toast. Right? It’s just burnt toast. And so get the flag out, wave it around a little bit and then be curious, be responsive, be accountable, do a little self coaching. And if you’re a leader in the organization, use these same principles to coach your teams and to coach each other. Coaching is up, down and across. So Deb, you and I can coach each other just as easily as I could coach a member on my team as much as I can coach my boss.

Deb (27:05):

That’s great. That’s a great summary of the BE buttons. And I think some really practical tools that people can use. So thank you for that. So just with a couple of minutes left, you’re a family member, as we talked about earlier, I would be curious as to what words of encouragement or advice that you may have for our listeners that are providing care on a daily basis for their residents.

Deb (27:34):

I mean, again, I just go back to my gratitude and I can’t, I mean, I love my mother dearly and she’s a bit of a handful, right? She’s left side paralyzed and she’s got dementia and, you know, she’s taking her mask off to scratch your eyeballs. I don’t understand how that happens. You’re all so amazing with our relatives with our family members. Know that we appreciate you. Know that we have no idea some days how you do what you do with such patience and grace. And so when you’re dealing with some of those family members who are giving you a hard time, there’s something going on for them. And so if you can touch lightly, it will do amazing things to calm them down. You might never understand what it is that’s going on for them, but it will do wonders in terms allowing them to breathe.

Deb (28:53):

Yes. And I think that touching lightly is a great way to be able to invest in the relational bank account that we’re wanting to build within our relationships. Thank you, Libby for joining us today. Oh, I thank you so much for having me. It was my pleasure. Take care. Okay. You too.

Outro (29:16):

Thanks so much for listening to Seniors’ Care Matters, part of the qodpod network. For more information on today’s episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors’ Care Matters.