Meditation

A Reason (and Season!) to Connect

We see the signs everywhere: gift ideas, charities asking for help, the Salvation Army Bell Ringers, the Hanukkah candles and the Christmas trees. Our whole mindset is about giving gifts, showing love, and gathering together at work and home. At times it seems tedious, so many in need and so many parties/invitations.

What is the point of it all?

At our core, our humanity demands connection.  In every culture throughout the world, human beings gather in groups using formal celebration, movement and words to express their desire for connection. Even our brains are hardwired for connection as Marco Iacoboni found when he discovered Mirror Neurons.  According to Wikipedia, “A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.”  The fact that we respond in our brains to what someone else is doing as though we were doing it, is remarkable. It demonstrates how connected we humans are with others at the brain level.

So, what does this say about how we celebrate and give at this time of year?  It implies that apart from corny sentimentality or tradition or because we should, we come together and give to others because it is who we are as human beings.  How shall we express this spirit of connection and giving throughout the year in our homes, marriages, offices and teams?  More importantly, how can we get more skillful at connecting in ways that help us be better people and more successful in our relationships.   The late Judith Glaser, an Organizational Anthropologist and executive coach, with whom I had the honor to study, was a pioneer in communication and connection in business.  She shares the practical applications of the connection between neuroscience and communication strategies in her book Conversational Intelligence.  Two of her strategies that work to create trusting connection and to overcome conflict are:

The Ladder of Conclusions and Moving From “I to We”

Often, we have whole conversations in our heads that predict how someone will think, feel or respond and, based on our “self- talk”, we decide whether to talk to that person and what to say.  The “Ladder of Conclusions” graphically shows the brain science behind how we come to “know” something and how important it is to distinguish between our assumptions and theories and fact.

When we realize that what we are thinking in our head is not fact, but is merely our theory, we can check out that assumption by talking to the other person involved. We can ask open questions that build a shared understanding of reality which can pave the way to communication, and mutual solution seeking. This moves us from “I to We.” When we talk in ways that invite others to openly express their thoughts especially if they are different from ours, and if we listen with the desire to understand and connect, we open up new possibilities, solutions and connections. As Judith often said: “Words create worlds.” The words we use either create positive feelings and brain chemicals of connection(oxytocin) or make us fearful or defensive (cortisol) which drive us apart. “Culture depends on the quality of our relationships which depend on the quality of our conversations.” * Judith Glasser Conversational Intelligence for Coaches Training, 2016

So, this Holiday Season, lets practice the skills of self- awareness, checking our assumptions and opening up dialogue so as to increase understanding in our homes neighborhoods, businesses and on social media.  Let’s remember that there are myriad possibilities for solutions, innovation and healing in all our relationships.  Let’s make this the gift that keeps on giving all through the year.

Marjorie is a clinical social worker and certified professional coach. She applies the concepts of Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and “conversational intelligence” in her counseling, coaching, corporate training and keynotes.  Contact Marjorie at Marjorie@ascendconsulting.net (610-696-4443) for information on these topics and keynotes and check out her websites: 

www.ascendconsulting.net 

www.ascendcounselingpa.com

 

 

Interested in Learning and Practicing Mindfulness?

Are you interested in finding ways to put a pause in your stressful days?

Are you anxious or depressed and want new strategies to feel calmer; more positive?

Marjorie has been facilitating the Mindfulness Based Support Group for 10 years. While Marjorie does not directly accept insurance, if you have out -of -network benefits you may submit your receipt to insurance for reimbursement.

 

The next Mindfulness Meditation Support Group starts Jan 23, 2019 7:15 – 8:30 pm for 6 Wednesdays (Last group is Feb 27, 2019.)

           

Living and Working Mindfully…The Case for Compassion

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on stress, the authors mentioned 2 key strategies that help leaders effectively manage stress: tipping point awareness-recognizing when you are exhibiting behaviors indicating you are nearing your threshold of overwhelm, and stress shifting through intentional breathing. More and more we hear evidence of how intentionally pausing to breathe, can be a powerful anecdote to stress. What’s more, mindful breathing can help restrain us when we are about to interrupt someone or blast a colleague or employee with negative criticism.

As a teacher of Mindfulness Meditation, I recommend this to all my executive coaching and personal counseling clients because stress is everywhere, and the breath is always with us to slow the runaway nervous system and our quick tongue.

“She did me wrong”, “He attacked me in that meeting”! When clients feel wronged, whether at home or at work, I listen with compassion and invite them to be compassionate with themselves. After the grief and hurt is calmed, I invite the person to release the hurt, because resentment only hurts the one holding on to the anger. Thus, forgiveness and letting go clears the way for effective problem solving so one can plan the best approach to an honest conversation with the other party. Let’s face it, we humans aren’t always at our best and our communication often goes awry. Misunderstandings, the silent treatment or thinly veiled alliances that pit one group again the other ensue. Resentment, hurts and grudges impede team work and sabotage success. As Judith Glaser in her book: Conversational Intelligence (2014, Bibliomotion, Inc.) says, people get stuck in positional conversations or the Tell Sell Yell syndrome, and innovative solutions cannot occur. So, yes, at work, too, in the most sophisticated organizations I recommend Mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and letting go. After all, its only then, with a clearer mind that can we think clearly, created trusting connections get back to business.

Blind Spots and Building Blocks to Listening

Often, we hear and don’t listen. Or, we listen and think we know what the other person thinks but we don’t. In fact, according to Sandford research study 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/speech-acts/. Why is this? One of the reasons is because we use words and phrases that the other person understands and uses in a very different way or degree. Take Harry, a friend a of mine who was unemployed although he was looking diligently for over 3 months. I asked this soft-spoken man how he felt about the job search process and he said he was “depressed.” (I had used the word “depressed” for minor setbacks like when I gained a few pounds!) So, I did what Judith Glaser calls “double clicking” I asked him to share with me what “depressed” felt like for him. He said he felt “like he was climbing a mountain with a piano on his back!” This brought tears to my eyes because I now understood what he was really trying to say.

In personal or business conversation we may think we know what someone means when we may not. Using “double clicking” or reflective listening gives the listener a chance to state what we heard and then, invites the speaker to say more so we really hear the accurate; deeper meanings of their comment. I have found that when people take the time to do this, understanding really opens people feel heard and co -created solutions can be generated.

Upcoming Events

Sept 27, 2018 6 pm Corner Bakery, King of Prussia
Marjorie  presents “ Insights on Type and Mindfulness” at the  Philadelphia Area MBTI meetup for trainers, coaches and practitioners

Oct 24, 2018 Mindfulness Based Support Group
6-7:15 for 6 Wednesdays
Personal Touch Physical Therapy
790 E. Market St, Suite 290
West Chester, PA 19382

Oct 30, 2018 11-12:30
Leadership: The Importance of Presence
Novak Francella LLC, a Bala Cynwyd CPA Firm

Oct 30, 2018 11-12:30

Leadership: The Importance of Presence

Novak Francella LLC , a Bala Cynwyd CPA Firm

Mindfulness Meditation Group – Beginning Tuesdays on January 17, 2017

 Winter Meditation Group:

“Are you dealing with anxiety or depression or simply stressed by daily life? Learn Mindfulness and experience a quieter mind and calm approach to life’s challenges!”

You are invited to be: Still, Relaxed and be Present!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

8 weeks ($240) includes CD “Come to the Quiet”.

937 Prichard Ave. West Chester, PA 19382

7:30-8:45pm

To register:  Marjorie@ascendconsulting.net (or) (610)696-4443

“Mindfulness Mediation has been proven to improve focus, sleep and overall wellness. You will learn and practice simple to used skills to manage: Stress, Anxiety and Depression.” This Psycho-educational support group is facilitated by Marjorie R. Johnson, Clinical Social Worker and Coach. This group may be submitted to insurance.