Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oasis Conversations - Leading with an Open Mindset to Maximize Potential

“You can go from draining interactions to creating an engaging workplace or environment and moving it forward into successful and dynamic new possibilities” – Dr. Ann Van Eron

Conversation and communication have taken a hit by new technologies that are literally in our faces on a daily basis. Young students are learning on tablets and slim laptops rather than by pencil. The art of cursive, spoken, and written communication is starting to become more antiquated and shorted into sound bites.  Communication is a key driver for effective collaboration and strong teams. With the world changing so quickly, we need to step back and converse differently and have more effective communication strategies.

As leaders, we know that some conversations are tough, intense, and downright intimidating. We are faced with conversing about uncomfortable matters, issues that may blow up, and ideas that may lead to mass dissent. These talks need some planning and our ability to be open, have self-awareness, and the willingness to agree on solutions. The new book Oasis Conversations – Leading with an Open Mindset to Maximize Potential by Dr. Ann Van Eron addresses these finer points of leading effective conversations that have impact.

The way that we communicate has changed over the years. I remember being a young manager and the attitude was “do it or else”. Now we connect more authentically and seek to convince people to jump on board with an idea. Managers strive to be more influential and collaborative on everyday tasks and large projects alike. We open ourselves up more and try to lead with open integrity. Strong communicators are resilient and don’t react to the judgment of others. Moreover, effective conversationalists remain curious about people, take the time to converse, listen more effectively, and keep dialog moving along. Are your conversations fruitful?

Why an “oasis” conversation? An oasis is obviously a gleaming lush area in a remote place. Ann is referencing “something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. I would love all of my conversations to be free of conflict or misunderstandings. An “oasis” conversation brings to mind an experience of calm, collaboration, and peacefulness. Dr. Van Eron offers a 5 step process for creating the perfect environment in which to bring collaboration, come to agreement, find solutions, and empower those involved. By inserting these principles into your next conversation at work or home, you will have more effective and productive conversations that leave everyone feeling empowered and involved.

O – OBSERVATION: Slow down at look at the data and don’t jump to conclusions. Reduce your defensiveness and try to blur your own background and influences to taint the conversation.

A – AWARENESS: Be mindful of your assumptions and manage your emotions and personal views. Remain open to interaction by suspending any judgment.

S – SHIFT: Step back from reacting and shift to being open to other possibilities. This may be very challenging to do. You may need to count to 10 or bite your lip. Start practicing positive intent and keep your calm. At all costs, keep your strategies to yourself until you can converse.

I – Importance: Examine what is important to all those involved and create a true “oasis” of understanding and agreement. Don’t just jump to conclusions and try to rely on these 4 skills – mirroring one another, empathy, ask empowering questions, and notice the type of interaction you are having (telling, selling, and getting).

S – Solution: If you guide your conversations including the elements above you will successfully identify options, strategies, and agree on solutions.

In every conversation it is critical that we remain open with our minds and our bodies in all of our conversations. Body language is so powerful and if you aren’t opening your mind, the disconnect will be reflected in your body.  The key stances that you need to take during every interaction should include:


Written and spoken communication is the key to success in any interaction. Look how often spouses have disagreements over a simple lack of words and because we can’t read one another’s mind. Notice in your next meeting how easy it is for information to be misunderstood or underrepresented due to lacking communication of details or key points. Negotiations and relationships break down daily because of blaming and conversations that go off tract. Oasis Conversations offers a clear guide to ensuring that your next conversation is solid, opening, lacking conflict, and brings joint agreement on solutions. Who doesn’t want that?

Dr. Van Eron adds additional meat to this process including case studies, personal experiences, the impact of brain connections on each element and questions for leaders to seek personal answers to. These elements help roll the Oasis process into a simple and effective tool that can be utilized in any situation. Some leaders keep a card with the word “oasis” written on it as they hold critical conversations to keep their thoughts on track. Dr. Van Eron has been using this tool for years with a variety of organizations and it works. Who doesn’t need another tool in the leadership toolbox?

Oasis of Conversations does not disappoint and will support you in your leadership in the following ways:

  • Understand why people have different definitions of respect
  • Enable you to better deal with resistance and tough situations
  • Develop and encourage an open mindset
  • Assess your own “inner climate” and how it fits in with the different personal and professional environments in which you live
  • How to create positive and real productive conversations
  • How to better withhold judgment of others and their opinions
  • Enable you to create a personal path to follow when preparing for and handling delicate conversations
  • Better understand the motives of others and place yourself in their shoes 

Oasis Conversations is an effective guide to use in all aspects of your life. Moreover, Dr. Van Eron’s book is applicable to people of all ages and across the diversity of the paths that we all walk every day. Are you ready to create your own “oasis” during your next conversation?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Conflict without Casualties by Nate Regier Ph.D.

“Negative conflict, manifested as workplace drama, costs the US economy more than $350 billion per year in the currency of broken relationships, dysfunctional teams, morale and engagement problems, and failure to thrive”

Not many people truly enjoy conflict. Conflict seems to bring out the worst in people and so many of us don’t know how to react to it or realize that it can be used as a catalyst for change. Growing up, I never liked conflict and tended to morph into the background whenever it reared its ugly head. As I jumped into the real world I ran smack into conflict coming at me from many directions. It was a changing life lesson and I had no choice but to swim with the sharks. Ultimately, I grew to embrace conflict to as a means to unite people and work on problems. Surprisingly, this little conflict avoidance girl was a dynamo at actually stepping in to resolve conflict with a clear head and open heart.

When I had a chance to read the new book coming out soon Conflict without Casualties A Field Guide for Leadership with Compassionate Accountability by Nate Regier Ph.D. I rejoiced. Conflict doesn’t need to be a dirty word and we should snap to attention when it rears up because it means that people may be passionate about something and willing to stand up for what they believe. Nate shows us how conflict should be viewed as a creative force because there is often so much energy behind it. Nate asserts how conflict can be turned around and utilized to grow innovation, build trust, and further engage people. His views will help you change your perspective on conflict, people, and how it can be used to make us more accountable.

Conflict without Casualties is an effective tool kit for managing conflict. Nate introduces us to the nuances of drama through the “drama triangle” resulting from conflict and the roles people take on in the process. People may play the victim, rescuer, or persecutor, none of which are healthy. Drama is expensive in monetary and emotional terms. We have all been caught up at one time or another in drama games and they can bring down people and organizations.

Drama and conflict can be negated through a compassion process which Nate introduces as the “compassion circle”. We turn conflict on its head by being open/vulnerable, resourceful/generate options, and persistence to bring about change. The cycle enables us to balance compassion and accountability while turning conflict into a growth experience of change for teams. Compassionate leaders should focus on this model when working through conflict by starting by asking if there is true openness and making an assessment. If so, move on to making movement on ideas and moving forward. Only then can leaders encourage others to remain persistent in making change or progress.

 Compassion without Casualties leads us through the critical process of getting beyond what I call all of the “junk” in the workplace or even in your own home. Nate encourages us to look at conflict in a new way and to actually embrace it because it can be turned into a positive. He never states that it will be an easy path but in the end it brings us results and growth. You will learn that “Compassion balances caring, concern, empathy and transparency with boundaries, goals, aspirations, and standards. It’s the engine that turns conflict into a creative force”.

So how can you use Conflict without Casualties in your own world to grow?  Following are some insights to encourage you to embrace conflict, not run!

  •                 Personal stories and real- life examples of conflict situations and the impact
  •                 Case studies that can be shared with teams
  •                 Provocative questions to think through to really see the benefit of opening up to                           conflict
  •                 Relevant effective strategies for avoiding drama and becoming a compassionate                         leader
  •                 Personal reflection and personal development questions
  •                 A DRE assessment – Drama Resilience Assessment which is an online assessment

We have so much conflict swirling around us every day and it really is unavoidable unless you live a cave. Don’t run from it. Open your arms and heart to using conflict to solve problems, develop people, and bring more compassion to the negativity in the world. Conflict without Casualties should be your go to bible for turning conflict upside down and bringing back compassion to the process.