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Personal Power and You image

Power and You

Power and You

Jill Briggs, MD and Founder, Affectus

Where does understanding power originate?

In 1959 two social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven, who had been studying people and power provided us with a deeper understanding to personal and positional power. Although this work is decades old understanding the dichotomy of personal and positional power helps me each day. I also know that when I present a keynote or a workshop and weave in the concept of power the energy of the room changes.

Is this because it is observable? We see it displayed all the time.
Is it because we take our power for granted? I can feel mine wax and wane.

People respond to the concept of power. They are eager to understand and tell me stories of their experience with power. And as I share Affectus’ knowledge with my audience is unlocks responses and understanding about an attribute to access.

Awareness of power

Are you aware of your power? How does it feel?

I have often observed people using their personal power to do such good acts. I think of my father sharing his wisdom; my mother encouraging me to be courageous; a wise older person helping me with the definition of opinionated; and mentors sharing their referent power.

I have also witnessed people’s power being challenged and attacked.

When did you last see someone’s power challenged? How did it happen? How would you have managed the situation?

My story of personal power sources

Have you ever been given a crown? You know; captain of…, head of…?

I have worn a few of those crowns and, sadly, I have tarnished a few.

I distinctly remember becoming a total ratbag when given the School Vice-Captain badge when I was 12 years old. There I was, ordering people about, being pedantic about uniforms, delighting in managing the rubbish collection.

However, it was made very obvious to me within just a few short days that this behaviour was not going to be tolerated, as my lunchtime group of handstand friends shrunk to zero.

It turns out that the way I used coercive power was counterproductive to enhancing my prestige power.

How have you seen power used effectively and caringly? How have you used your power to improve a situation?

I also remember that when I wore a crown later in life that I was open, caring and enabling. I used my referent power intentionally to build the team up and their sense of combined power. The small team I worked with transformed and changed their world. 

The Power Sources.

The learning from the second example was so much more profound than from the first.

I had an opportunity to reflect in a way that challenged my behaviours and grew the positive concepts.

More importantly I understood my connection with the power I hold. I more fully understood the concept of personal use of power and sources of personal power. I gained greater understanding of my desire to be liked and therefore the power that I felt most comfortable cultivating was referent power.

Referent power is a person's perceived attractiveness, worthiness and right to others' respect).

I also gained further insight into prestige and expert power .

Prestige is- your ‘connections’ and/or status and/or reputation. Prestige power is influential or important to others. Expert power is the possession of expertise, skill, and knowledge, which gain the respect of others. Possessing the expertise to influence the behaviour of others.)

Using your personal power sources

Do you want to use your personal power sources?

This next bit is not about building up your resilience and inner strength (although this may happen by applying the tips). It’s about knowing your personal power sources and then using them to improve any situation.

7 tips for finding & using your personal power.

1 – Quiet those voices 

We all have personal power – perhaps you have a voice that says you don’t – not true we all have personal power.

2 – Find your favourite

Review the three personal powers sources mentioned above (prestige, expert and referent) and know yours.

3 – Knowing me

Write down when you most recently used expert and/or prestige and/or referent power, understanding the situation and how the use of your power made an impact.

4 – Deep Dive

Get to know expert, prestige and referent power at a deeper level. Mind map who uses it and when.

5 – Observe and Feel

Become familiar with the building up of others through watching how others use their personal power sources to improve the situation.

6 – Positivity Plus

Scenario plan the positive use of your power sources and the increase of strength of your personal power sources.

7 – Be Intentional

Use your power. Inject each situation with some of your personal power to improve the situation for everyone.

Have a look at my video about power. It will also help. 

Want to know more about power? Sign up for Ready now!

The art of listening

The art of listening

The art of listening

Communicating isn't that easy. So, how can you increase your listening prowess?

Watch the video below for some simple tips.

Understanding the elements of listening

  1. Stop physically
  2. Stop mentally
  3. Compartmentalise
  4. Completely attend to the other person
  5. Quiet your mental acrobatics

Power and Next

Power and Next

I have been thinking about Next. The Next that will be facing you, me, all of us.

The ‘Next’ that will emerge from pain and struggle of COVID19.

I have been thinking:

  • What will ‘next’ look like?
  • How will I adjust?
  • How will I ensure I hold onto the new importance that has emerged for me during this COVID19 time?
  • What learnings must I ensure I don’t lose sight of?
  • And how can I not fall back into ways that I have got rid of when I return to the spaces that will feel like the ‘comfort zone’?

What does Next look like?

Perhaps it is like New Year’s Resolution?

Actually, that is flippant and meaningless for some of us who went through the “fire storm” of NYE 2020. I don’t want to get too heavy, but I certainly don’t want to be light and frivolous.

Let me step through some of the tips that are helping me with my thoughts of understanding my power and ‘Next’.

Reconnect with your Why

My passion for my work was born out of September 11 and I have had time to look back at my progress and my achievements during ‘iso’. I have had time to look forward and see “what else” but mostly I have held in my hands and had a good look at my why, my purpose, my passion and it remains the same.

Do you know your why?

Does your why shine during your day-to-day? Can you see your why connecting with those you will restart sharing your day-to-day with? And what about the different spaces some of may find ourselves in; can you make sure you can see and feel your purpose?

Dust off your core values

I have been dusting off my core values these last couple of weeks because affectus has been facilitating a number of values workshops.

It is wonderful to see people exploring the concept of core personal values. And then to consider and plan about how to have conversations with others that may share the same values or may have different values.

I believe starting with values when we begin to reconnect is important personally, professionally and (dare I say it) globally.

If you are unsure of your core values please get in touch and we can take you and your workteam can help you with Values. There is so much power to be drawn on through knowing your values.

Know your responses

How have you responded during this time of crisis, challenge, bumpy ride?

I have re-identified that I like to think about things not for a long time. I’m not totally a contemplative person, but if a significant concept is being considered I like to think and then to respond and write and find a process.

I now have great insight and personal knowledge about me that I will take forward to assist me and others.

How do you respond?

What is your way of connecting with a complex concept?

Can you sense the personal power you have at your disposal by just knowing this?

Establish your needs

This is a tricky one but…

If you want Next to be brighter for you (and those that you share your day-to-day with) then being honest, open and generous with your needs is a good move.

I have found this a time of deeply understanding my needs around my why and at the same time being more empathetic and aware of the people that I care about. My needs are challengingly intertwined with everyone else’s needs. I don’t want all of those needs to become a complete mess so by getting my needs clear I will assist us all.

Have you established your needs and are you ready to work with others needs Next?

Find your power

I love the concepts of personal and positional power. It is interesting to understand that unless you have given yourself time to explore the concept of personal power then it is often a very blurry concept.

I can feel my personal power wax and wane. However, by knowing my power I am able to give myself a bit of a talking to when I feel it dissipating and I can mentally call on it and most times it returns to me. But I have become aware, during this time of pandemic, that my personal power overwhelm others.

I think that understanding the power that you have and the power you can call upon is so important as we move to Next.

Next may look somewhat familiar or not at all familiar or anywhere in between. But knowing the power that you can draw on will be very useful when you step into Next.

Have the conversations.

Golly now that is glib and I know that’s easier said than done. I know, however, if there was ever a time where you can bring self-knowledge and deeper understanding to conversations about you and Next this will is the time.

It will be easy to chat, easy to be light. It is important that we have the courageous conversations. To think through the why, what, who how and when.

We should all be aware to the importance of having the conversations. Ppeople holding leadership positions should be aware of the conversations to be had and should be making space and opportunities.

Next is not going to be simple or linear.

Next may be wobbly, foggy and unsure. But I am looking for better.

Next can be better. Because, if we each use our self-awareness and access our personal power we can have the important conversations from a position and ‘Next’ will be better.

Head to Lockdown leadership it will help you with Next also. Click through to Lockdown Leaders for practical and useful materials, workshops and information.


Values and Courage

Values and courage

When I think of courage I think of having a strong sense of purpose. But what underpins that courageous purpose?

Well what we know is the basic building block for all of that forward motion is values – personal values.

Values that may not be apparent but nevertheless are part of our decision-making processes.

My values comes from many areas of my lived experience, my parents, my sisters, people I have admired, responses to knowledge gained and experiences had.

What are your core values? Where have they come from? How do your values connect and mesh with those you share your life with?

Essential steps

There are seven essential steps that we have identified to assist you surface your values.

  1. Understand a simple values framework and consider where your values tend to fit.
  2. Reflect on the history of your values – who has given you all or some of your values.
  3. Identify your core values.
  4. Review the “appearance” of your values during times of disruption.
  5. Understand how your values are a “coverall” for your day-to-day activities.
  6. Examine the connection of your values to other’s values.
  7. Develop a communication process that allows for discussion of values.



What are values?

Values are the principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong. These principles, in turn, guide your actions, behaviours and thinking in various situations.

The most useful starting point when surfacing and sorting your values is to find the words that match the principle.

Words like these:


Values workshop

Affectus has a simple one-hour Values to Guide Your Through workshop scheduled for 28 April 2020.

It will help you identify your core values and develop a process to allow these values to guide you through. Additionally, you will be provided with a simple structure for conversations about values.

If you choose not to join the online workshop I encourage you to surface your values, develop some conversational processes to share, and discuss your core values with those who share your (COVID19) life.

It will assist you to get through this challenging time – and beyond.

Finally, and repeating something mentioned above, what I know is the basic building block for all of that forward motion is values – personal values.

By identifying your values you will have a strong foundation to move courageously forward.

COVID19 – Give Yourself Some Slack

Courage & COVID19

Giving Yourself Some Slack

Written by Heidi Mumme, Affectus Facilitator and Researcher

Have you thought about going easy on yourself?

What are your expectations of yourself ?

These are completely abnormal times, unprecedented circumstances, terms we are all becoming more familiar with since COVID-19 first reared its ugly head. These are times we are all navigating through on a day by day basis. It can be stressful and scary; it is uncertain and there is no handbook to help us. 

What is your new normal?

The reality is that there will be people who no longer have jobs, people who are now juggling work under a new set of conditions, and there will be some for which life hasn’t changed too much. Whatever your new norm is, there will be continuous readjusting to what that means for you. The reality of what your new norm looks like has/or is possibly still kicking in - this new normal will become normal, at least for now.

Goals and standards drive us as individuals whether in work or your personal life, but COVID has shifted many goals posts for almost all of us.

What happens when the goal posts are shifted?

For most of the population working from home is not the norm, let alone trying to work at home with your partner and/or children all trying to function in the same space, throw home schooling into the mix and each day can be a definite challenge – give yourself some slack.

Yes, we are going to make mistakes – big ones and small, and that is OK. Making mistakes is part of life and they are important to learn from. If something didn’t work today, try it differently tomorrow and see what happens – Have you given yourself some slack yet?

Our "Give Yourself Some Slack" Tips.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others – your situation and current set of circumstances is unique to you. What works for your best friend may not work for you and that is OK.
  • Understand the goal posts have shifted and this may mean you need to reassess the expectations you would normally put on yourself – you need to find a happy medium in your new situation.


Ask yourself these questions each day

  • What are 3 things I am grateful for?
  • What are 2 things I did well today?
  • What is 1 thing I would do differently?

Recognise when you need some time out for yourself because you will!!

More than ever we need to take care of ourselves, look out for each other and be considerate to each other.

Be generous and be kind to yourself and those around you.

Courage and Stress

Courage and stress

Written by Katie Scutt,  NSILP Graduate 

How stress influences how we lead

In global crises like we are experiencing now, we are all likely to be experiencing higher levels of stress than we normally do.

This is on top of the stressors we already have. But what is stress, really? And how does it affect our ability to be the strong leaders that we need now more than ever?

​“…stress arises when individuals perceive that they cannot adequately cope with the demands being made on them or with threats to their wellbeing.” 
Lazarus, 1966

To explain this further, for us to feel stressed, we first need to perceive that what is happening is a threat (e.g. there is a t-rex in front of us) and then we need to perceive that we don’t have the resources to cope with that threat (e.g. it can run faster than us).

What is important to note here is how we perceive situations and our ability to deal with them is key to whether we feel stressed and overwhelmed or calm and clear headed.

It’s also part of the solution.

A lot more information on what stress is can be found here and ways to cope with stress here.

Stress, leading and good decisions

So how does stress affect our ability to lead and make good decisions?


For better or worse, stress influences our leadership behaviour.

It can turn us into great leaders in or we can unknowingly become part of the problem.

This in turn, has a significant impact on the stress levels of those who we are trying to lead.

Consciously cultivating positive leadership behaviours in times of stress, such as maintaining a strong vision, communicating a positive outlook and forming strong connections with our team members will focus our leadership skills and also reduce stress for ourselves and others.

Decision making

Leadership takes a lot of brain power, even in the best of times.

To make good decisions we need to address problems and make decisions all the while thinking about the big picture and keeping a watch out for threats to our progress.

When we are under stress, our ability to do this is reduced. This is ok and normal.

Remember, we are stressed when we feel like we don’t have the resources to cope with the demands placed on us. So, if we can find ways to increase the amount of resources we have, we can free up brain space and clear thinking.

Some ways to increase your resources include:

  • delegate, remember you are part of a team and getting through tough times is a team effort
  • remember its ok to ask for help
  • prioritise and cull things off your to-do list that aren’t immediate priorities; what are you trying to achieve and what will help you get there, everything else can wait
  • learn how to say no – when you say no to one thing you are saying yes to another
  • get enough sleep and take care of yourself – remember you need to put your oxygen mask on first
  • think about the positives, take a moment each day to reflect on what is going well

The bottom line

Stressful situations are going to affect us in different ways, including our ability to lead and make good decisions.

The good news is that if we take conscious, simple measures we can be the positive leaders needed to not only survive, but thrive in a crisis.

We just need to keep sight of our vision, bring our teams along with us and free up resources where we can so we can focus on achieving that vision.

Finally, if you or someone you know may be interested in delving deeper and exploring more tools and resources to deal with stress, click here for a free evidence-based e-course. 

Courage and difficult conversations

Courage and difficult conversations

~ The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment ~
Dorothy Nevill

For each of us, the world has temporarily changed as we know it.

What this means and how this looks will be different for each person and family. 

Particularly at this time of uncertainty, we are regularly confronted with difficult situations that need us to have confronting, difficult conversations. Conversations that require courage.

A courageous conversation requires you to speak up and express how you feel about the issues that are weighing you down.

Being able to articulate your thoughts and opinions is not always easy and they can be misinterpreted leading to more awkward situations.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

At Affectus we regularly ask people to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.

What does being uncomfortable look like for you?

For me the “unknown” manifests all sorts of levels of uncomfortable, but more importantly having conversations about what the unknown means and looks like is daunting.

How do you start these tricky conversations?

How do you find your voice?

The decision that a courageous conversation is needed is the first step…..well done!!!

Courageous tips for courageous conversations

  • Fear and Ego can get in the way. Let them go
  • Know why you want to have the conversation. Be clear
  • Discomfort is highly likely. Be prepared
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Be calm and in the right frame of mind especially if it’s a sensitive issue
  • Don’t talk too much. Listen. Conversations are two way. Talk with people, not at them
  • Be vulnerable

It’s time to be brave and start having those courageous conversations; start being open, transparent and honest…you will become more resilient and it will have a wonderful effect.

~ What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? ~
Vincent Van Gogh


Courage - some thoughts

The ability to do something that frightens you. I like that definition of courage.

I like it because it is your ability, your fear. It is you that is assessing your ability, it is you that has turned to face something. It takes others out of the picture. It is you and yours.

At Affectus, we spend a lot of time asking people to look in the mirror and be bold. Often about personal traits and behaviours; levels of understanding and openness to change.

In fact, as I write this, I know that eighteen courageous individuals are on their way to meet us as part of the National Seafood Industry Leadership Program that we facilitate.

And, again, we will be asking them

  • what do you know about yourself?
  • what are you willing to step into to make the change that is needed?

At no point will we be asking them to measure themselves against one another. They may do this but we are not interested in that.

 What we craft is an environment where people see situations that may be scary. They have a good look at it. And they take a step toward it.

We courage will we see?

We have been specialists in the area of leadership for well over two decades. That means that some of what we see and hear will be familiar to our team because others have trodden similar paths toward their fear. But it will be different and inspiring…I am positive about that. In fact, we often talk about awakening tigers! And that takes courage.

So, what does courage look like?

For one person it could be willing to start a difficult conversation…or any conversation.

For another it could be to address a room full of strangers…or another person.

Or, it could be a young person speaking their mind surrounded by faces with decades of experience.

Perhaps it’s a quieter person chairing a meeting.

Or, an experienced participant sitting and unearthing a deeper, hidden, unexpected wisdom and sharing it with others.

A couple of years ago I was asked to do some work in an unfamiliar setting. I hesitated, I felt my heart lift a few revs and I bit down and stayed quiet.

I found my Third Space, dusted off my courage and agreed. Now as it turned out the dates didn’t match my calendar (mores the pity) but at that moment I realised a couple of things:

  1. It had been long time (2 ½ years) since I had done something way, way out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t had to bite down on my fear for a long time. I realised how inappropriate that was considering nearly every room I walk into that is precisely what I expect others to do. So, I am dusting off my courage more regularly now. When I feel the revs go up a notch or two, I pause and consider more actively; does it connect with my purpose? Yes! Well turn and have a look and move toward it. Step into that new leadership space.
  2. I also realised that courage takes practice. Once you know it there is a familiarity to your responses. However, we can get out of the habit of being courageous.
What about you?

How do you know when you need to be courageous? When was the last time?

I wonder, as I write this out, what percentage of my day/week/year is spent being courageous? And then I wonder about the person sitting next to me on the bench at the gate? Sitting next to me on my previous flight?

And then I pause and consider courage at a more intense level. Fleeing; facing aggression; looking at rage and it takes on a completely different hue.

When will you be courageous? Tomorrow? This week?

How will our amazing eighteen inspire us again as they demonstrate courage and then build deeper self-knowledge?

Don’t let your courage get dusty like mine did.

Have a wonderful courageous day. 

Awaken the tiger.

Juggling You

Juggling you - self care

Do you wonder about juggling you? Do you think “when will I have enough time”? Does your to-do-list feel a little/a lot/just plain crazy?

During periods of time in your life juggling time so you can find care for yourself can be elusive.

Some of you may be married and that becomes part of the juggle. Others of you have a terrific leisure life and that becomes part of the juggle. And for others it is the community expectations and kids wants & needs.

Yep many of us can tick off all of those and think..golly there it is in a nutshell…juggling and me…well actually it is just juggling.

Our last blog talked about knowing yourself, your distractions, your type and team.  This blog is just for you and it comes as a story.

Now I am not a great story writer. I am a little more skilled with the talking part. But nevertheless I want to tell you a story. It is a story of juggling and self-care.  I hope you will find it useful rather than just another dose of “suck eggs”.

My juggling story

I took myself away last weekend. I went to a place with people I love and who help me be open and vulnerable.

The opening up element I find ok. On the other hand, the vulnerable part I can find challenging. But when I connected with the people that I shared this weekend with I was able to step into vulnerability.

This probably has something to do with safety. 

So, over the weekend this is what I found out.

Learning 1 - Away 

By taking the time away from the day-to-day I discovered more about myself.
I unearthed a more practical side of my nature and I found out some more about my responses to others.

Some of those are trivial and some immensely valuable.

Learning 2 - Vulnerability

For instance, I can knit squares for refugee bedspreads while I am talking about loss and grief. And in doing this for the first time I didn’t cry.

I found out that when the conversation got a bit heavy and intense I feel the vulnerability rise and so I project and assume others are feeling the same and I lighten the mood.

So a personal learning is to take something to do with my hands when deep conversations might happen. And next time don’t lighten the mood; leave that to another and go into that place that I sometimes avoid.

What about you?

When was the last time you paused long enough to get to those places of self-knowing? And why is that important?

I can’t help you with the answers to those two questions. But I do know how valuable it was for the 18 other people I was with. It was really valuable.

Learning 3 - Distractions

Something else I found was the importance of distraction. You might think I am contradicting myself. But I don’t think I am.

Last blog we talked about juggling in a more practical functional way. So when I am talking about distraction that means suspension/pause/off-button.

Last weekend, like similar weekends I have attended, helped me suspend my life for 56 hours.

Yes there are others who attended this retreat who wanted action at the end. But for me the distraction, the suspension allowed me to be with others. And hear their words, understand their drive and direction.

Through the suspension of my day-to-day I was able to be more present. I was able to access more appropriate responses.

And the true loveliness was that none of others stuff had to become part of my juggling. At the same time it did add understanding to the items I am juggling.

Being in distraction (perhaps suspension is a better word) to ensure you can be more present allows you bring your whole self to a conversation.

The importance of these three learnings

When did you last allow distraction to happen in a way that assisted you to see the things you are juggling more clearly? What can you do to give yourself space to hear and respond in a way that assists you with your own juggling?

The importance of these three learnings for self-care provides more clarity which in turn may assist in forward momentum.


Getting away is vital. Into a beautiful environment helps too.


Go there. It is part of the understanding of self-care and creating a safe space allows this to happen.


Distractions can bring new knowledge in and will assist with juggling more effectively.


Take time. Always take time to pause. Fit the pause in. Put the balls down. Just put them down. You may be frightened that you will then want to pack them away for good, but take the self-care pause. I am so glad I did.

If you would like come and pause with me next time, drop me a line and I’ll be in touch, jill@affectusaus.com.au.

Juggling time and commitments

Juggling time and commitments

“If you're not good at juggling, then you're not juggling. I always tell people that. if you're dropping a lot of balls, then maybe you shouldn't juggle. And that's fine... there's different ways of working.” ~ Amanda Seales

This quote from Amanda summarises the ideas about juggling that I shared last time about Juggling and Focus .

This week we're delving into the practicals about juggling​. There are four key aspects:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Know your distractions
  3. Know your type
  4. Know your team

Know yourself

Do you like to have many things on the go?

Understanding this about yourself will assist you in juggling time and commitments.

How do you identify whether you do like a few things happening at once? Try pausing and understanding your personal response when there are many projects/jobs/commitments needing your attention.

By finding out about yourself you can understand how your response is different.

For example, I am energised by having a number of actions/jobs on the go but I also want no distractions and am more single-minded when I am working with a “people issue”.

Know yourself. 

Know your distractions 

A logical next step is to think about what distracts you?

Perhaps it is a time of day or a type of task.

Do you get distracted very easily when doing certain activities? Or there other activities where you can concentrate really well and maintain focus through all sorts of noise?

Is the latter because you place high value on that task or activity? Such high value that you don’t hear people talk. Is the former because you haven’t placed high value on that activity.

Knowing your distractions and how you value them can help you work out (juggle) when to work on what.

I want to let you in on a secret, I get distracted very easily when I am doing certain activities. And it is always hose activities I don’t place a high value on.

Know your type

At Affectus, we have this amazing personality assessment tool called The Big Five. One of the most robust conversations we have with clients who use this tool centres around conscientiousness.

How is your level of conscientiousness related to juggling and time?

Well I think that highly conscientious people are often more wired for getting things finished. They tend to know the task and where it finishes.

Whereas for someone with low conscientiousness gets distracted and finds something more valuable to bounce onto before finishing what they have started.

Yes, yes I know I know I am generalising here but the point is…knowing your type it is hugely liberating.

Another not-so-secret-secret. I am not very conscientious. It’s funny because even my teachers use to say that about me! But knowing I’m not conscientious makes me more conscious of juggling my time and commitments effectively.

Know your team

This seems an inconsequential concept but it can been liberating to really know who is in your various teams. And how can the team be effective time managers?

You may have many teams in your life. And if you know the team’s strengths you can then see their juggling habits.

What do they do well? How can you tap into that strength to assist you with your juggling.
Going back to the image of the bicycle-riding, tightrope-suspended, ball-juggling aerialist in
Juggling and Focus,she is part of a team. A whole team that makes up Cirque Du Soleil.

Understand your juggling in relation to others surrounding you and draw on their abilities.

How to juggle time and commitments

Knowing yourself is a good starting point.

To assist you with knowing yourself it is valuable to get a bit of a snapshot.

Here is a link to a simple inventory.

This will assist you in establishing your time wasters. And, from that point of knowing, you will have some insight into you, your distractions, your type and your team.

A final secret.Just to let you know this is not how I juggle.

“I'm always trying to show versatility. I'm juggling, and I'm flipping fire, and I'm chewing gum and rhyming at the same time... on a unicycle, while playing the drums.” ~ MF Doom

Juggling and focus

Juggling and focus

Have you seen Cirque Du Soleil?

I watched the performance with a couple of young people. We were entertained. We were amazed. And one of us cried halfway home because he wanted to stay there with all the circus people. Quite the impression!

I found one of the acts was particularly impressive. A women on a bicycle with an umbrella juggling. Juggling lots. So many objects.

It was incredible to watch. Such skill. Such concentration. Whenever I think of juggling that suspended artist on her bike with her umbrella comes straight to mind. How did she do it?

What is juggling? 

Well the definitions read like this

“continuously toss into the air and catch (a number of objects) so as to keep at least one in the air while handling the others.” and/or “cope with by adroitly balancing (several activities).”

How does juggling overlay with opportunity and leadership growth?

Well it depends on what you are trying to juggle doesn’t it?

So back to my mental image. Do you have lots of balls going at once? Are you:

  • able to keep your eye on them all?
  • worried about dropping one or three or perhaps all of them?
  • concerned that others will see this “collapse of order” and you will be embarrassed? What about the globe

Well what happens when we have too many balls going? 

As I watched my suspended juggler maintain a cloud of ping pong balls I did watch her face. And particularly her eyes. They appeared to be glancing through the swirl using her peripheral vision to track flashes.

I have tried to juggle and a modicum of success was achieved through not looking at the individual object. But to predict and then manage my movements in anticipation.

Perhaps someone who juggles may have a succinct description of what the brain and body does. My point is that in the act of juggling perhaps we are not focusing. Well, not focusing on the objects.

And when we manage the complexities of our lives, what do you juggle?

My life can be very complex, as can all of ours. And I have to be candid here. I am OK but not great with juggling. And I have discovered that the way I juggle doesn’t connect to my espoused values.

Does your juggling reflect your life values? 

I have found that it is people in my life that are dropped when the everything I’m juggling becomes too:

  • demanding
  • many 
  • unpredictable

So what can we do about this?

Well, perhaps its the following

  • Know your values and reflect on them when things get complex
  • Understand that juggling requires us to look through the cloud of ping-pong balls and perhaps occasionally the best thing might be to catch a ball and focus on it.
  • Accept that juggling too many things may result in us doing nothing except keep everything in the air.

I am going to keep talking about juggling over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to share if you know someone who is thinking through the concept of juggling. 

And, if you have someone in your gang who knows how to actually juggle ask them give you a demonstration and watch them.

Circle of hero leadership insanity

Looking for leadership

What leadership are we looking for?

Looking for leadership. Is it too soon? Can I dive in? Have I mulled through my thoughts enough?

Emotions (deep, raw, grief-filled), mine, family, friends, and my network aired over the last 17 days.

 Should I wait until after the next wave of heat and wind that could leave more devastation?

I think it is time to dive in. It is time to look in the mirror and have a good think.  If not now when?

One of my graduates put a comment on social media last night that suggesting that it is time that Affectus (my company) develops and delivers a leadership program for all politicians entering parliament. Wouldn’t we love to. I wonder who might attend?

Now to the questions that have been racing around in my head for months, if not years;

Leadership questions

  • What leadership are we (you and I) looking for?
  • What about the globe?
  • What happens if we continue to elect those who work from the hero leader model?

The hero leader model

The hero leader is an oft-used term, but in this opinion piece it in no way refers to any of the amazing people who have been at the frontlines of Australia’s current bushfire crisis.

Dan Forbes talks about hero leaders here.

I have such strong evidence about shared leadership and how it works that sometimes I find it challenging to keep listening when others are speaking.

Then I remember the first part of great leadership is to listen. And so I stop and listen and sometimes I don’t speak at all. As painful and confronting as it is – I listen.

Imagine if what we observed in our leaders was listening.

The problem is that the hero models say that we have all the answers, so listening is limited because answers are at the ready.

Back to the question

With so much anger, pain and distress swirling through much of our nation I wonder whether it is time to think through the question “What leadership are we looking for?”

What are you looking for?

I read and listened as commentators and social media erupted with the words “We need strong/clear leadership”.

But what leadership did you want? This day, this week, this month, this decade? 

I think the challenge may be that we need something different at different times and situations. 

The challenge of leadership

Which leads me to my initial thoughts. 

When Victoria caught fire and I realised a number of my family were trapped in Mallacoota, I probably needed something different to you.

This is the challenge of leadership.

This is the challenge faced if we hold onto the concept that leadership is about one hero, one leader, rescuing us.

They can’t be everywhere. 

So, how can leadership work if we need different things, for different people, in different places (physically and psychologically)?

I believe that is the gift of leadership. Leadership is not about one person. It never has been. It is about the collective.

And yet, we have set up a system that seeks only one person, placing us in a difficult position.

Please don’t get me wrong or read this as some soft concept. I actually think reconfiguring our understanding of leadership is really hard. 

All things to all people

What traditions do we have to rethink?

We have to review our need for a hero leader. Someone who will be all things to all people.

This person will, incidentally, often be the same person we will attack and blame.

This “all things to all people” person doesn’t exist. They don’t. Think about sports leaders, world leaders, leaders of businesses and companies.

If we continue to believe in this hero leader model (and through that thinking continue to place a single person on the top of the pile), then we have to accept their:

  • Ordinariness
  • Inabilities
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Limitations.

Because they are us.

Really, they are us. And we all know that feeling when we are put into a space that we are completely seen – warts and all.

If we want to avoid going around in Einstein’s circle of insanity (and I know that there is some speculation about the validity of this concept) of thinking then we need to be brave enough to say leadership is not about a hero leader. Leadership is about me and I need to step into my space and be the leader I need. 

Circle of hero leadership insanity

I have also read lots of commentary about what we didn’t get during this time of national need. So, I am going to really stick my neck out here and have a go at what might have been useful.

What might have been useful

  • A sense of “We are aware and this is what we are doing”. Strong, informative communication - did you get that?
  • A demonstration of “We are not in control but we have skilled people working on this critical disaster”. A sense of honesty but steady hand – did you get that?
  • “We are listening – we won’t talk because we need to hear you”. A sense of empathy and vulnerability - did you get that?
  • “We have not got this right. This is what we have been told”. A sense of reflection – did you get that?
  • “This is our way forward and these will be the steps”. A sense of understanding – did you get this?

A clear picture of leadership

When I think about those questions and more, I get a clear picture of leadership.

It's many people stepping into a leadership space.

I believe this, not the hero leader, is the truth about leadership.

As I ponder my questions further I sit here in my office, knowing that tomorrow and the next day, and the many days after, will be dangerous days in my part of the world.

I know that many people have sacrificed so, so much.

I understand that sections of my part of the world will possibly never recover.

But I do ache for leadership. A new leadership where we all understand (including those at the top of the hierarchy) that someone should not feel compelled to be our hero. Instead it is about us stepping into that leadership space that we all see.

What leadership do you want?

More importantly, how can we build a leadership style in our community that saves us from a hero leader who can never do it all?

celebration, reflection and action

Celebration - Reflection and Action

Celebration... A reflection and an action 

This is my last blog for 2019. Now that is something to celebrate.

I have spent time this week considering what to celebrate and how to do it.

Affectus has had another amazing year. We have

  • had shocks to get through
  • celebrated our resilience
  • had change that we have managed
  • embraced this and felt grateful
  • had wonderful success with valued clients who have cheered and joined with us in congratulations
  • had a sense of achievement during those moments

We are completing 2019 with a great sense of positive anticipation.


How do you celebrate?

What have been the celebration moments during 2019 that have stuck with you?

How will you take those celebration processes and activities into the new decade?

As I look back over the 12 months these are the meaningful ways that I have witnessed celebrations where we have been the centre of or on the edge of.

  • having fun with new and old friends on a dance floor
  • promises in front of huge audience
  • reflective conversations with valued colleagues about essential issues
  • quiet times with loved ones
  • adventures with friends to commemorate historical moments
  • collective moments with our team grieving about loss and laughing about next steps
  • public statements through social media

Mostly for me celebration is a remembering process and a looking forward process.

What will you remember as 2019 finishes?

How will you be packaging those moments of celebration and carrying them with you into 2020?

What process will you use to think through the moments?

Sometimes we need a bit of a process to help us capture the celebratory moments and carry them forward.

Do you need a process?

A celebration formula

Once upon a time I hit on a formula what worked for most people. And it was a meaningful and semi-public way of people sharing their times of celebration.

It was just two simple questions that we each answered well before the clock clicked over into the new year. These questions might be useful and they are pretty simple.

1. What was great about this year?

My answer will be:

  • the people I worked with
  • the people I changed the world with
  • the people who took a risk and changed their world
  • the people who are my family
  • the Affectus folk and the people who have engaged with us
  • the people who have engaged us to assist them to help people change the world through leadership action.
2. What are you going to celebrate this time next year?

I anticipate my answer will be

“the people I have seen courageously take leadership action and change the world”.

Let’s celebrate! What a year!

celebration and motivation



In a recent blog I cautioned about the blending of celebration and motivation. And the importance of ensuring the separation of the two concepts.

However, it is also important to see that having a motivated team may result in celebration. 

So why the delicacy around blending the two concepts?

I suppose it comes in the form of manipulation. None of us like to be manipulated.

It is therefore valuable to separate celebration from motivation.  Perhaps you do. Or perhaps you haven’t even thought about it.

Blending Celebration and Motivation

Have you ever seen the blending of motivation with celebration that resulted in manipulation?

I have. The push back is extreme. The sense of team and individual resistance increases and trust is lowered. And it is hard to repair.

So beware the blend of Celebration and Motivation!


And now to motivation.

I recently ran my eye across a few articles written about motivation and celebration. And I was interested to read the tips regarding motivation.

Fundamentally, my experience with hundreds of teams indicates that increasing motivation commences with the leadership team focusing on individuals.

I have found that thinking through the following concepts can be useful:

  • individual or yeam environment
  • intrinsic or extrinsic reward
  • long-term or short-term task(s)
  • roles and/or responsibilities

When you consider motivation the above  concepts can assist in targeting your motivation process.

A recent experience

Recently, I assisted a team deliver on an outcome for a Government Minister. It was fascinating to watch the motivation of the group unfold. 

We teased out the concept of roles and responsibilities. It was important to establish that first. (So note that the above list isn’t sequential. It is responsive.) By having roles and responsibilities articulated the team could apply energy with focus.

The group needed to work as a team and sub-teams. This team concept was clearly communicated to the group so the endeavours were driven by a team ethos.

What was missing was time to understand how individuals in the team preferred to be rewarded.

When in a leadership role I believe it is vital to understand reward preferences. So, finally a tip.

If you are thinking about celebrating the end of another amazing year and hoping to motivate your team through celebrating with gifting, think about the individual. Yep that can be a bit of work!

Consider whether individuals are intrinsically or extrinsically orientated. And reward them in a manner that matches preference.


 Only ONE.

Know your staff. Are they intrinsic or extrinsic?



Celebrating - during 2019 Affectus has been part of some great celebrations.

And, as we head into a time of celebration for our country I want to firstly say have a lovely time with the people you care about.

I’d but also like to share with you our thinking about celebration and why it is good to do it. And what we think are the important elements of celebration. 

I also want to acknowledge that times of celebration can be very challenging for some people. It can bring up sad, complex and traumatic memories. So be gentle also in your celebrating.

And, of course, there is our “old chestnut” - what about leadership and celebration?

What is celebration?

Let's start at the beginning.

By definition celebration means …

A special enjoyable event that people organise because something pleasant has happened

Affectus has done some reading and research about this. And we are interested in diverse thinking. However, it would appear that we celebrate because we want to connect with others; to share our joy or our sorrow about something that is important to us.

So, we celebrate:

  • Birthdays
  • Awards
  • Deaths
  • Achieved goals...

We now more clearly understand that celebration is not about numbers. It is about sharing with others something that is important.

What do you celebrate? How do you celebrate?

Having thought through the concept of celebration, we have listed a few that Affectus celebrated in 2019.

Quite Celebrations

  • Affectus expanding and two of the Affectus team (Virginia and Jill) celebrating the arrival of Heidi Mumme.
  • Completing a rolling 10 year leadership program for the vegetable industry (Growing Leaders).

A Bigger Celebration

  • Connecting with some other businesses and delivering a leadership program for Indigenous people connected to the seafood industry.

Some Public Celebrations

  • Affectus receiving some awards – individuals in the team and our work for the industry we service.

A Gentle Yet Organised Celebration

  • Affectus' end-of-year celebration and planning retreat.

We have had a great year of celebration.

And we also got to hang off a few others celebrations.

Thank you for letting Affectus vicariously celebrate all your successes, joys and recognise some sorrows.

A final thought is about the blending of celebration with motivating people.

We would encourage you all to consider celebration as a separate concept to motivation. Over the next month or so we will write about motivation and celebration.

Finally, our tips about celebration.

Tip 1 – Do it!

Tip 2 – Make sure celebration is distinct from motivation.

Tip 3 – Consider who is celebrating and what will be appreciated

Tip 4 – Think through the public nature of the celebration

Tip 5 – Share the joy and the sorrow

Tip 6 – It can be small and simple or massive and complex

Tip 7 – Take a leadership role into the celebration space.

Celebrating, not motivating

Celebrating (not motivating)

Celebrating (not motivating)

What are the right questions for leadership?

I have been part of some great celebrations.

What celebrations have you:

  • Witnessed?
  • Planned?
  • Enjoyed?

What are the elements that make celebrations:

  • Memorable?
  • Meaningful?
  • Sincere?

During the celebrations we witness people fist pump, hug, yell, clink glasses, laugh, cry, speak too much, not speak at all.

We regularly attend highly managed celebrations. And we also have enjoyed more casual less orchestrated gatherings. And, frequently, I have been leading teams that have organised celebrations.

So what is celebration?

Let me go to the beginning.

What is celebration and why do we celebrate?

By definition celebration means this…

A special enjoyable event that people organise because something pleasant has happened

Therefore, celebration involves some level of thought and planning.

What is the importance of celebration for you? Why do you celebrate?

I celebrate birthdays, awards, deaths, achieved goals…what about you?

Some thinking …

Do you blend celebration with motivating people? 

I would encourage you all to consider celebration as a separate concept to motivation.

Start with a why question:

  • Why are you celebrating?
  • Why are you considering motivation? 

I will write about motivation separately but let's consider celebration (briefly) now. 

  • Celebration questions tend to be what questions, followed by logistics and planning.
  • It's easy to get celebration and motivation confused. They are different/different not different/same. 

The questions about leadership

The questions about leadership.

What are the right questions for leadership?

I was with a woman many years ago who shared with me that she thought I wasn’t asking the right questions.

I thought “How bizarre is that?”.

Self-aware leaders continually ask themselves questions and they ask others questions. They are curious, they seek out information and welcome the answers. So, how can someone ask the wrong question?

This confounded me and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t asking the right questions for her and her needs.

Where do our questions come from?

But where do our questions come from?

Where do your questions come from? From what part of your thinking?

Do you ask questions for solutions?

Do you ask questions to explore concepts?

Do you seek clarification through your questions or perhaps you ask for confirmation?

When do you give yourself enough time to consider answers to your questions?

Exploring concepts

When Affectus works with you we are exploring concepts so that you will ask yourself questions. Questions that help you understand yourself at a deeper level and the environment around you.

Don’t we?

We are hoping you will discover newness – about you and your direction.

We are not interested in directing you. We are assisting you develop great self-direction.

Don’t we?

Sometimes this drives people mad. That we are not often answering machines. But, we believe we have the process right - getting you to find your own answers.

Questions about leadership

What are your questions about leadership and your direction?

At Affectus, we focus our thinking beyond the individual and consider leadership. Why? Because we know that using leadership as the framework ensures that any person is able to step in where they see it is needed.

We call this stepping into your leadership space.

Chinwe Esimai (Forbes Women) talks about great leaders. She says that knowing yourself is essential. “Self-awareness is empowering because it arms you with knowledge and enables you to make better choices — to change or grow.”

Have you asked yourself enough questions to get a clear sense of self and leadership and direction? How often do you pause?

The Big Five

We use Big Five to commence the self-knowledge journey.

Have you thought through the five areas assessed.

What questions arise from Big Five.

Are you wondering about the value of understanding the five key areas?

  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Confidence
  • Openess

It is so valuable to understand this about yourself. It is also empowering to know how your personality and the using of your strengths will impact on those around you.

It is powerful to use these five areas of your personality with insight and self-knowledge. Using your strengths and understanding your weaknesses to ensure that the team around you has great impact (affect 😊)

Two Leadership Questions

Here are two key leadership questions around personalities worth considering…

  • What is my impact?
  • Do you have deeper insights into me and my personality?

And finally, the critical questions about leadership.

What are your values and how do you identify them?

Self-assess what is important to you. Wander around some values cards and think through those patterns of your life. Seek your values.

And what about your passions? We can’t always be working/earning money in our personal area of passion. But as a minimum we need to know what lights us up and what drives us.

Leadership is all about asking questions – your questions. Start asking questions and seeking answers. Listen carefully and weave this new knowledge into your increasing self-awareness.

Sometimes the questions you ask may irritate but they will also illuminate.

It is all about our questions – the ones we mull through quietly on our own minds and the ones we seek answers to in the public realm.

How do you ask questions?

Why do we ask questions?

I spent a week in Canberra recently with our latest group of seafood leaders.

I have reflected on that week of passion and pressure questions were a common theme. But even looking at the photo I have questions.

  • What did Jeremy say to make 4 of the 18 look at him?
  • What was it about Matt that made him make that confused face in the front row?
  • And against all our pleading, how come Laura and Scott kept their sunglasses on?
  • And why did we ask them to do a silly photo?

These are the questions that run through my head all the time.

And if I pause just now there will be questions. Very quite questions in the background, that my mind is sorting with me barely conscious of that activity.

There will be more pressing task-type questions and more strategic why questions that sometimes the task questions push away from my brain power.

Where do those strategic questions go that get ignored go I wonder? Bloody hell – there’s another question!


Have you ever wondered about questions and the impact they have?

Have you ever paused and thought about how you are constructing your questions to get the answers you are seeking?

Now that might seem like what? But it is important to spend your brainpower brownie points on thinking about how to construct questions.

So back to our champion graduates last week in Canberra.

We spend 6 months working with these wonderful people. Honing their skills, stretching their capacity, supporting their activities, providing them with leadership opportunities.

On the second day of the six months we shared with them some of the theory of questions – the how . And we encouraged them to ask the question for the answers they were seeking.

Now that might seem a little manipulative on first reading and it may sound like ask the question you already know the answer. But that is not the case.

Interpreting knowledge

Interpreting some knowledge shared by MaryJo Asmus it would appear that if we ask open thought provoking questions this happens.

  1. 1
    Neuroplasticity of our powerful brain kicks in and we start making sense and have expanded insight.
  2. 2
    The whole brain gets involved as we reflect on what has been asked and we move forward the answer (or potentially another question).
  3. 3
    We get a hit of serotonin (a rush of energy) as our brain sees that we should be moving and doing something new.

So, ask an open-ended, insightful question. Why? Because the brain lights up and expands and will find new pathways and meaning to discover the solution.

Ask questions that open people to new thinking. And construct your questions in ways that will give everyone that brain activity. What a gift!

Asking questions that evoke responses

Back to the leadership graduates.

Although they had spent time asking questions it was not until the second last day that they really fired. Asking questions of industry leaderships that evoked the above responses.

How did that happen?

Well, firstly because we kept at them about getting their questions honed. And it also happened because, as a group, they got organised and mapped the questions they would ask.

  • What they wanted to know
  • Who they needed to ask
  • How they would word their questions

It was magic.

Create brain magic with your questions. Ask the questions that you want answers to that make all our brains expand. 

PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?

Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.

Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

What does careful communication look like?

I have a desire to constantly be stretched. I love that feeling in my brain when I can feel new understanding happening and deeper insights being grasped. Do you?

In my desire to be stretched regularly I plan out activities and events in my calendar. I d so that each year I do one or a number of things the keep my brain expanding.

In 2018 I did a number of things but during November I put all of my in-kind community volunteering hours into assisting a young woman in her attempt to secure a seat in the Victorian parliament.

Not only did I know that the values that would drive the campaign would align with mine I had also spent enough time in her presence to know that she was making this run at the Victorian parliament with the best of intentions.

I cleared my calendar for the whole of November and dived into being her campaign manager.

What did I learn about careful communication during this intense month?

Mostly I learnt about myself, of course. But I also learnt about the power of communication to connect. I learnt this for myself and I watched it happen with Jacqui.

Pascal  Molenberghs, in an article about inspiration and leadership, talks about language and the use of we and I when involved in communication. He also talks about developing a vision and creating outcomes. These were such essential elements in the campaign. However, Molenberghs’ article needs to include more detail. Specifically about the importance of how to carefully communicate around these apparently simple concepts.

What are the tips for careful communication for a hectic election campaign?

Here are my top five.

1. Make the time to communicate

If you are rushed for there is significant pressure that hearing the message is hard and important ideas are missed or misunderstood.

2. Make a space to communicate carefully

If it is noisy find somewhere else or ask to revisit the communication at a better time.

3. Make a space to communicate carefully

If you are distracted or pressured find another time.

4. Stick to the point

If there is angst and confusion attend to the issue but continue to paraphrase as the communication continues so that the messages remain focused on the issue.

5. Ensure you are listening

If you feel yourself distracted reapply your careful listening skills.

Julian Treasure gives a terrific short talk about listening and what our brain does to assist us with listening. He talks about how much harder it is to “pay attention to the quiet, the subtle and the understated”. However, this is exactly what I saw during the campaign. The importance of listening and making the time to listen meant that Jacqui almost did it. She almost won the seat. And she did it because she carefully communicated with everyone she came in contact with.

The art of listening

Have you thought about how you are communicating with those around you?

What about rethinking your day-to-day communication? Especially now that the start of the year “catch-up” is over.

And not wanting to jump the gun because for some holidays are still on but, what about your children as they head back to care and school?

Let’s start by making a bold statement.

The importance of communication can’t be over stated.

We hear statements like “keep communicating” and “take time to it communicate” but what is communication and how can you up your prowess?

What is communication

Communication is the skill we all employ to move our thoughts from our mind into another’s conscious thought.

Don’t you wish it was that simple?

It is a simple concept. An open mind connecting with another open mind through speaking and listening.

However, what we know, day-to-day is communicating isn’t that easy. We continue to work under the assumption that “I am talking and so the person I am talking at is listening”.

From my experience and observations it is clear that we all try to communicate effectively but “life” gets in the way of us communicating well.

So, let’s start with the element of listening.

The element of listening

How would you rate your listening on a scale of 1 to 10?

Are you an 8 or somewhere near a 10?

How do you know this? How have you developed your self-awareness?

Or do you figure you are closer to the middle or the lower end of the scale?

When have you been given this feedback and by whom? Have a think and explore your understanding of “me as a listener”.

It is important to understand the components of this communication element.

Can we make a commitment to listen better in 2019? I wonder?

Last year I was told, in a particularly stressful environment, that I wasn’t listening. I found that a challenging comment as I thought listening was one of my skills.

On reflection, I realise I wasn’t doing all of the listening components at the time. And that was because I was juggling a number of activities at one time. So, what did I learn that will assist you?

The components of listening

  • You need to stop – physically. Stop what you are doing if you are going to listen. This “stopping” signals to the rest of your physicality, and the speaker, that you need to take up a listening posture.
  • You need to stop – mentally. You need to take a moment to compartmentalise what you were attending to and be completely aware of the other person.

These were steps I thought I was displaying. But I wasn’t signalling to the speaker that I was listening because I was not physically positioning myself. I hadn’t stopped walking nor had I turned my body in a manner that demonstrated I was listening.

And I also know, because it was at that moment that I was told “you are not listening”, that my eyes were not focused on the speaker. They were flitting around my environment as I tried to keep a handle on the activities that my attention had been taken from.

So, therefore, I needed to mentally and physically get myself switched on to listen. But I also forgot to shut down my other thinking, which was saying “there is something else (more important?) that you need to be attending to”.

How can you keep that part of your thinking under control? How do you keep that part of your mind under control so that you can be fully listening?

A lesson in listening

Well here is my learning.

I know I am truly listening when the speaker stops talking and I am able to reflect back what I have heard. AND that it takes me some time to add my opinion.

In moments of listening, really listening, I have managed to completely shut down the parts of my brain that think:

  • “what else is going on”
  • “oooo I can tell you about that”
  • “golly have I got an opinion about that idea”

It’s hard to do. But it is rewarding.

What are your personal processes that drop you into to ensure you are effectively listening?

In 2019, let’s listen. Let’s set up our behaviours and thinking so that we can slot into effective listening – as soon as we comprehend that listening is required.

The Art of Careful Communication

What is communication?

I suppose the importance of communication can’t be over-communicated. But really, what is communication?

A bit of a revision lesson here.

Communication is simply (wry smile)…transferring your thoughts into words (written or spoken). And then sharing them with the world. And trusting that the way in which you have transmitted those thoughts ensures that the people receiving your communication synthesise the content in a way so that closely resembles your thoughts. So that sentence wasn’t simple and we know, intuitively, that the practice of communication is not simple either.

On the other hand when we are in the presence of a skilled communicator that movement of “a thought to your thought” is easier.

Often when in a leadership learning experience, the entrance point to re-examining our communication prowess is speaking. This can give the impression that speaking is the most important communication element. Please don’t misunderstand me, nailing your public speaking, is important but listening is the first element to attend to.

I recently spent time in the presence of a focused woman. And I spent significantly more time in the car with her as we travelled our region of Australia, assisting her to understand the community issues. I was assisting. She was the key person in our team and it was a gift for my understanding to watch her and then reflect on what I had observed.

Now before I go ahead and provide you with my observations here is my challenge to you – ditch “great speaker = amazing public address” thinking, perhaps just this once, and consider someone you know who has listened to you as you spoke.

  • How did you know you were being listened to?
  • What was the interaction like when someone listened to you?
  • And how did you feel when you were being listened to?

The art of careful communication

The art of careful communication is getting yourself set to hear and understand.

Do you set yourself up to hear and understand when you are listening?

What does Careful Communication mean?

Careful communication could mean a number of things. Careful has one meaning which suggests caution and tentativeness. The other definition is more useful to my mind…done with thought and showing attention.

Let’s go back to remembering how you felt when you were listened to. When we are listened to we feel that the other person is giving us their attention and doing it in an open, thoughtful way. Are you listening in a careful way now? I hope so.

If we (definitely read “I” here also) commence our careful communication with careful listening as the starting action then all sorts of opportunities open up to us.

I think about all of you as I write, this our community all over Australia. And I see all of you heading...

  • back into your work tomorrow
  • your family room in 10 minutes
  • to your car with your teenager or your toddlers bedroom
  • your school starters classroom

and I think about you all in careful communication mode. And I see problems diminished and others being valued.

Doesn’t that sound like leadership?

So, what is the Art of Careful Communication?

The art of careful communication is, of course, not only about listening. It is also about speaking.

Consequentially, I would consider similar principles.

Talking extraverts - are they any other sort? I believe there is. As one, if I could also bring to my oral communication the same principles of thought and attention how much more effective might I be. I would be considering my words before I say them and I would think through the audience. And I would be imagining the transfer of the information into the persons' thought-processes.

What else would I be doing?

Well, I would also be attending and pay attention to the responses of those I am speaking with. Looking at their faces and unconscious reactions to what I am saying. Building on this feedback and adjusting all elements of my communication.

The careful art of communication is about thinking about the other…not thinking about self.

This doesn’t mean not having ideas and opinions. What it does mean is considering and acknowledging that communication is always two-way and for it to be two-way we have to do carefully.