FACILITATION FOR TEAM HARMONY & IMPACT
Are you in a leadership role, with a goal to strengthen your team's interpersonal dynamics and emotional intelligence (EQ)? Would you like your team(s) to engage in activities to improve trust and relational health between team members? Maybe you simply want to increase the flow of appreciative feedback in your organization's culture. My background is in activity and evidence based therapy based on western, eastern, and somatic psychology. With a vision for conscious leadership that empowers individuals to do their best work, I facilitate activities to increase radical candor, skillful vulnerability and communication for effective workflow. Based on your goals for your team(s), I design customized authentic relating activities that accelerate the trust required for dynamic collaboration. Embodiment activities (involving breath or movement) can compliment talk based activities and integration, while strengthening perspective taking and nonverbal communication skills.
The more I learn about your team's strengths and challenges, the better I can design a series of both experiential and cognitive activities that can build the precise skills your team needs to develop. Is your team struggling with trust? Transparency? Accountability? Humility? Leadership skills? A productive flow? Alignment with company values? Millennial vs traditional ethos? The majority of team building activities I lead revolve around authentic relating, so your team is connecting with a memorable depth charge that lasts well beyond the training.
As an expert in diverse systems of care, I honor teams with a spectrum of strengths, gifts, capacities, and challenges. Is your team neurodivergent or divided? No problem. I invite each member to bring their entire selves. By remaining open to adapting the activities based on what emerges, an energetic crackle emerges. This crackle is the sound of your team bonding.
You want to invest in building trust, emotional intelligence, and synergy within your team. You recognize that the cost of a divided team is potentially massive, and you want to accelerate the professional relationships that will optimize workflow. You're willing to candidly share your vision, observations, and challenges when it comes to your team. Your team(s) may be stuck and you're looking for someone to facilitate practical, inspiring progress toward dynamic collaboration. If this resonates, reach out to connect.
Trainings for Teams
Examples of trainings I offer for leadership teams and for teams with individual contributors:
• Effective Communication: The Neuroscience & Practical Power of Nonverbal Communication
• Radical Candor: The Art of Combining Care with the Courage to Challenge
• Creating Trust and Transparency: 15 Paths
• Positive Intelligence Team Coaching: Intercepting our Saboteurs, Growing our Sage
• Authentic Communication & Skillful Vulnerability
• Sealing Energy Leaks to Optimize Focus
• Preventing Burnout: Health and Wellness for Increased Happiness, Productivity, and Job Satisfaction
Authentic Relating Activities for Increasing Trust
I have a rich collection of authentic relating activities that can be customized for your team's needs. Authentic relating activities facilitate increased capacity to witness and reveal our humanity in ways that serve organizational health. They increase psychological safety and directly address a team's need for trust and connection, so your team can innovate and achieve.
Why is trust so important? It's an invisible variable that can either make businesses sink or swim. Stephen M.R. Covey, business icon and author of The Speed of Trust, points out that while conventional business wisdom is Strategy x Execution = Results, trust is a hidden variable and without it, speed of work is slow and business costs become high. So the real equation is Strategy x Execution (Trust) = Results.
When teams have trust, there are fewer energy leaks. Fewer energy leaks mean more power. Instead of energy being directed toward survival and belonging--or survival and safety--energy can be directed toward healthy risk taking, innovative strategy, and greater collaborative flow. When we are stuck without trust, our energy is spent worrying, posturing, spinning, manipulating, and watching out for one's own safety in the workplace. We flounder instead of flow. With trust, there's a crackle and flow, with output and productivity that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Authentic Relating Activity Example: Practice Appreciative Feedback
Appreciative feedback is when we share with someone how their contributions, skills, talent, or energy impacts us. It's simple and free, and has tremendous potential impact on team health. With the power to motivate and trigger collaborative behaviors, it's especially powerful when it is spontaneous, organic, and authentic.
The deeper significance of appreciative feedback is that we feel psychologically safe, and therefore free to be creative and take risks. The tricky part is that it requires that we have the prerequisite skills to offer it naturally--and here's where it gets interesting: we need to tap into our best selves to access skills of generosity, strengths finding, empathy, and compassion. In other words, we need the capacity to truly see, feel, and hear each other, which is neurologically quite complex. It can also be vulnerable to share the positive impact someone has on us, since we are revealing something about ourselves, so we also need skillful vulnerability. Lastly, we also need the skill to gracefully receive someone else's appreciative feedback.
How do we cultivate all these skills? Practice! Through a masterfully facilitated, simple, and fun activity, I create a safe space for people to practice 1) scanning for that they truly appreciate about each other 2) voicing it 3) experimenting and feeling the all the awkwardness, thrill, and enjoyment from both offering & receiving appreciative feedback. I will also share the science behind the process, so there is both cognitive and experiential learning.
Authentic Relating Activity Example: Positive Gossip
Skills: offering praise; transparency; strength recognition; witnessing each other
We all wonder what is said about us when we are not present. How do our colleagues really experience us? What could we learn if people were brave enough to share their perceptions about us? And...what would it be like if sharing perceptions of strength recognition was not only an activity saved for written peer reviews? What if we all increased capacity to let verbal compliments flow? Fly on the wall is a way to practice expressing gratitude, and giving and receiving praise. One person stays silent (and/or turns their video off if on Zoom), while the rest of a small group speaks positively about the recipient, or the fly on the wall. What happens can be magical for inspiring connection: we see and are seen in a playful, spontaneous and organic way.
Authentic Relating Activity Example: Interview
Skills: curiosity, conscious listening, expression, insight, values exploration, values alignment
Depending on your organization's values and mission statement, I pair people up (in person or in breakout rooms) to conduct interviews of each other. Each person has sentence stems that are designed to inspire conversation about personal and company values. The interviewer practices pacing, timing, conscious listening, and verbal reflection. The interviewee practices self expression and values exploration. Connection is a bi-product that benefits the entire team and organization.
Authentic Relating Activity Example: T-Group 2.0
Skills: trust, transparency, attunement, straight talk, giving / receiving feedback
A favorite team activity is T-Group, an activity that can lead to better collaboration and team synergy. The T stands for "Training", though a more accurate meaning for "T" would be "Truth", "Transparency" or "Trust". It was developed in the 40s, and is still famously taught at Stanford Business School to sharpen interpersonal intelligence.
T-Group provides a practical space for swiftly increasing awareness, as well as for trying new behaviors. It accelerates skills required for strengthening teams: trust, perspective-taking, healthy risk-taking, and compassion. As a facilitator, I create a safe practice field for exploring transparency and straight-talk, in ways that elevate emotional intelligence (EQ). The focus is on: present moment experience; the impacts we have on each other; emotions that surface and the corresponding narratives we create. Through the identification of what's happening inside ourselves and the revelation of how it impacts the group, we cultivate emotional intelligence (EQ).
A practical skill that T-Group facilitates is the increased capacity to offer and receive difficult feedback. In her best selling management book Radical Candor, Kim Scott encourages creating a culture in which feedback is direct, frequent, precise, and efficient.The efficacy of radical candor depends on the capacity to simultaneously care about someone personally, while being willing to challenge them directly. Giving and receiving effective feedback requires practice, and T-Group offers a practice arena for it. Courage can replace avoidance; conscious listening and curiosity can (eventually) replace defensiveness, so your team can employ the radical candor that is necessary for teams to optimize productivity and creative, innovative risk taking.
The format of T-Group requires that we practice several of the thirteen behaviors known to create trust, according to The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. At a minimum, T-group requests that we: talk straight; demonstrate respect; create transparency; confront reality; listen first. There are also opportunities to practice more trust behaviors: right wrongs (repair); show loyalty; clarify expectations; and extend trust. After a series of facilitated T-Groups, your team will have a common language to use so each member is seen and heard, while addressing challenging topics with precision and grace. Book a T-Group now!
Yoga for Embodied, Conscious Leadership
Short term benefits: relaxation, improved mood, focus and productivity
Long term benefits: perspective taking, compassion, curiosity, frustration tolerance, embodiment, effective nonverbal communication, long term health, emotional regulation, mindfulness
By now, you've probably heard of or directly experienced the benefits of yoga. Stretching, strengthening, and building endurance have obvious benefits for our physical health; and healthiness increases the likelihood of both happiness and productivity.
What's less commonly known is that yoga also increases cognitive flexibility and interpersonal intelligence over time. Arranging our body in unique shapes allows us to experience, accept, and eventually embrace new perspectives. Our journey with the poses is in direct parallel with the shifts that are happening, neurologically, to expand our minds.
So what, precisely, does "expanding our minds" mean? More brain stimulation and circuitry. Over time and through practice, more evolved neuropathways start to fire, and the baseline of cognitive flexibility shifts. Practicing yoga poses literally strengthens the neurological conduction required to increase compassion and perspective taking.
Specifically, when experiencing a challenging posture, we may move from 1. struggle, effort, and resistance to 2. tolerance to 3. acceptance to 4. active, dynamic relationship that includes compassion for ourselves. The neurological relay of this process goes like this: the brain stem relays sensory input (from doing the yoga pose) to the limbic system, where we experience an emotional reaction. The information then moves to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), where our brains make logical sense of what's happening, then (ideally) to the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ)--which is where the magic of holding multiple perspectives and compassion activation occurs. Some people get stuck at the emotional station ("Ugh/ack! there's no way I'll ever do this pose and I look like a fool! I suck at yoga! I hate my friend who made me come")--or the logical train stop ("I can breathe through this and will survive, I just have to focus"). But more advanced yogis often make it all the way to the TPJ, practicing compassion and curiosity instead of fear and defensiveness (limbic reaction) or judgement (PFC reaction): "Wow, interesting, tree pose today is different from tree pose yesterday. I wonder if it has to do with the margaritas at happy hour yesterday, or playing Fortnight all night. Could be either, or both. But wow, I feel good about being here, and am enjoying just doing my best."
How does this benefit your team? If people can hold multiple perspectives with compassion, instead of reacting to ideas with defensiveness and judgement, your team will create space for the best ideas to emerge and encourage people to share them, instead of shutting them down. It takes time and practice for the skillset to translate to professional contexts and situations, but the skill does generalize over time. The capacity to hold multiple perspectives (and even enjoy the process of dancing with them!) eventually becomes a part of our baseline way of being.
The other key is understanding "vagal tone", which is the innervation of the ventral vagus nerve. This nerve controls serves as our "communication superhighway" because of it's role in managing our facial expressions; offering safety cues through eye contact and curiosity; governing the melody of our voice; and accessing the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxed sate). Research shows that yoga strengthens vagal tone. Why does this matter for your team? Because people with higher vagal tone are better communicators with capacity to give and receive safety cues, freeing everyone up to feel comfortable, relaxed and safe so they can do their best work. We've all heard that nonverbal communication governs 60-70% of of communication. When we have people with strong verbal and nonverbal communication on a team, productivity will improve because the invisible variable of trust is greater.