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Another month in lockdown, albeit with some restrictions starting to lift. Hopefully many of you are able to reconnect with family and friends, and start to enjoy some freedom outdoor.
The absence of spontaneous open-ended conversations has been tough and that got me thinking about the importance of dialogue. Be that dialogue with purpose, or in some cases, utterly, blissfully free of it.
Two things come immediately to mind. The first is the regular coffee & video calls that our Learning Lab (or Practice Group) have. The second was a book we’re reading together called Speak Up by Megan Reitz & John Higgins.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Our Learning Lab is a group of 6-8 of us who started getting together to share our knowledge and experience. Some of us work independently, and others in organisations. What we all had in common was a desire to learn from each other and grow professionally.
During the lockdown period we started having a coffee Zoom every Friday morning, which we could join as and when we were free. No agenda, no expectations, no obligation – just a talk and a catch up. If you had the chance to read Herminia Ibarra’s article you’ll know that “talking it out” is a key factor in exploring transitions. I like to think of this group as my very own “talk it out” companions.
Speak Up helps us learn how best to say what needs to be said. It’s emphasis is on the workplace, but the concepts and learning can be applied in many different contexts.
In order to be heard we might need to think a bit more about where, when and to whom we speak.
When we keep out hopes, dreams and ambitions to ourselves, we’re just daydreaming. daydreams are lovely, but they don’t shift you. By sharing them with a group of friends we can test them out, get some feedback and maybe be challenged on some of the detail.
Doing this with people you trust is a valuable and rewarding activity. It can build confidence, give you some course correction and empower you to move forward.
Similarly, there might be times when it’s our turn to speak up, but we’re a bit at sea over where to start. As many of us look towards returning (or continuing) to work there will lots of new conversations to navigate. You might need to flag something of real concern, or take a stand when you feel something isn’t safe. Speak Up will give you some tools to help you do that.
As we move forward into new ways of living and working we’ll all be a little unsure. Share your concerns with your friends. Tell them what’s keeping you awake at night. And listen when they share the same with you.
Find courage to give guidance and correction, to support your friends or colleagues as we all move together out of lockdown and into our next phases.
This is a HOW of two halves.
First, lets talk about a Talk It Out group. We based our group on a Community of Practice model. The simplistic version this is to identify a small group of people who all want to learn the same sort of things at the same time.
You meet regularly, share your experiences and use this as a framework to grow individually.
We grew to include unstructured optional sessions to our work together, which have been rewarding and enjoyable through the lockdown window.
Second, about Speaking Up. Megan recommends a 5 step TRUST process when thinking about when you have that nagging need to speak up:
- TRUST the value of your opinion.
- Evaluate RISK of speaking up
- UNDERSTANDING of politics of who says what to who… and why.
- Owning the TITLES and labels people will put on you and others.
- HOW to choose the right words at the right time in the right place.
This isn’t an instant fix though, as difficult conversations always take a little bit of courage. What Speak Up does is help you prepare so there’s less of a feeling of leaping into to unknown. If you want some more ideas on the physical aspects of speaking, check out Julian Treasures TED Talk about it.
And don’t be afraid to join up these two halves. Your Talk It Out group should be an intentionally formed group of people there to support each other. Exactly the right audience to test out your thinking and help you prepare.
We all had a trusted group to bring our ideas and challenges to? Wouldn’t it be great if that was just there, instead of worrying about talking to the wrong person, taking up too much time, or saying the wrong thing?
UNTIL NEXT TIME
If you’re stuck for someone to talk to, we’re always here for you. Reach out any time. Meanwhile, stay safe and keep well, we’re thinking of all of you.
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