I love to take myself out to lunch, and when I do I sit at bar seating and often find myself in conversations with other diners.
This last time was no exception. The end of the bar was having a discussion about whether ghosts were real or not and the conversation filtered its way down to my end. The guy next to me was SURE there was no such thing, someone else was sure there was.
We wound up having a fun and engaging conversation around the topic that drifted into deeper stuff like if we are spiritual beings in physical bodies or only physical bodies, and if there are things we can experience beyond our senses.
I learned a lot about the strangers who accidentally joined me for lunch, and even learned a bit about their politics. What came through for me is how much we shared and connected despite our differing political views.
Because right now, half this country thinks the other half of this country is ridiculous and wrong. So when I meet people and we connect despite politics, it gives me hope for a new way forward.
That new way forward is the conscious leadership that rises above polarities and creates room for a third space. That means rising about black and white, left or right, to something beyond that, where you can witness individual humanity and a greater connection to others.
To solve the societal problems we face, and make the changes we need to see, it is going to take more than half of us. That is where the real change lies.
How can you practice conscious leadership? How can you make connections with folks who may not see your side?
Break the reaction chain
Your brain is hard-wired to react instinctively in situations where you feel threatened or afraid. Instead of pulling from your instinct that lives in the medulla (the part of the brain at the base of your neck), work from your conscious brain, the prefrontal cortex at the front of your head. When you can stop and access higher level thinking, you can open yourself up to higher executive functioning, creative problem solving and new opportunities.
Lead with empathy
Having empathy for another person doesn’t mean you agree with their opinion, like it or even believe it. What it does mean is that you can seek to understand why they feel what they feel. And when people feel seen and heard, they relax, their subconscious tells them, “You are safe,” and they will be open to what you have to say. In my Up Level Your Influence class, I spend a lot of time teaching and training participants to practice empathy, and once they get the hang of it, they start to have better relationships with everyone around them. It doesn’t mean you are compromising values or being a doormat, it only means that first you seek to understand because the more people feel understood, the more likely they are to take your direction.
Harness your energy
Being intentional about the energy you bring to a room, or meeting or phone call is just as important as what is said. Conscious leaders understand that the energy they bring impacts others, and can manage that energy no matter the circumstance. They can also allow others to raise their energy as well. If you come with anxiety or anger, that is what you will get back. If you come with confidence and calm, that is what you will get back. Before I start a meeting, I take 30 seconds or so to focus on my mental state and being of service to the person or people I am connecting with. Those few seconds make all the difference.
Meet people where they are at
No one is broken or needs to be fixed. You can witness people for where they are in their own journey and accept that and go from there. My daughter is transgender. When I mention this, sometimes people have questions. They may even have some stereotypes or baggage. I meet them where they are at because if I told them they were wrong, they would shut right down. When I can see the issue through their eyes, then they are more willing to see through mine.
Polarity has taken hold of our culture and seems to have pulled us farther apart. To truly make change, I believe we need to rise above and find the deep, meaningful connections that will get the real work done.
If you are ready for a new way forward, I can show you how to get there. Let’s talk about it.
Maryanne is founder and CEO of Courageous Communication. She works with nonprofits to grow their influence and leadership so they can be more productive, powerful & persuasive and stop feeling rejected, ineffective or pushy. She is author of Courageous Communication: how codependence is making your nonprofit brand boring and what to do about it and creator of Up Level Your Influence training for individuals and organizations. She is leading a movement to change “nonprofit” to “human investment company” to accurately reflect the contributions of the sector. She’s known for her love of ultrahigh heels, extra-large Diet Cokes, and short karaoke rotations. If you want to learn how to build your influence and leadership, connect with Maryanne for speaking or training.