Untangling strong emotions

When I work with groups in conflict, my goal is to help them talk candidly about the issues that matter most to them. Yet breakthroughs in understanding occur after people untangle their emotions. Emotions are the key to unlocking what we believe  and what we can accomplish together. Yet often we think of strong emotional experiences…

Gain insight with Johari Window

One of the challenges of improving self-awareness and teamwork is knowing where to start. I’ve used a model called Johari Window for years as a way to guide effective learning conversations. Johari Window gives a view into four aspects of Self that serve as a path to personal insight and interpersonal resilience. Below are several approaches for using Johari Window. As you gain familiarity with the model,…

Learning from feedback

Receiving personal or professional feedback from coworkers, friends, or family can be scary, especially if you haven’t asked for it, or aren’t prepared to hear it. When someone tells you that they don’t like your perfume, your music is too loud, or your presentation induced comas…well, any of that feedback might feel overwhelming, threatening, or completely unfair. When…

Going to the balcony

By David Emerald As you read this post, please pause for a moment and observe yourself. Where are you sitting or standing? Notice what you are doing (in addition to reading this). What is going on around you? How are you feeling (mad, glad, sad, excited, etc.)? How are you reacting to this unusual start to…

How do you see trust?

Trust in the workplace is a lot like oxygen. You don’t notice it until it’s gone. And then that’s all you notice. One of the challenges of trust is that people understand it with different metaphors. Some people see it as a blank slate. They are willing to extend trust to others unconditionally. Trust is…

Resilient groups end triangulation

Triangulation happens when you have an issue with someone, but instead of talking directly with that person, you talk about the person and situation with a third person.  This behavior undermines group trust and cohesion in two ways: You lose the opportunity to improve the relationship. You don’t talk about the issue, work through it,…

The origins of drama

By David Emerald Have you ever wondered why your conflict has so much drama? We learn and develop strategies to get what we want as children. As infants and toddlers we are little beings looking up at giant and powerful adults.  We all used our innate survival instincts to secure food, sleep, warmth, love and…

How do you say “I’m sorry”?

When was the last time you had to apologize for something you said or did? We human beings create lots of opportunities to practice apologies—not because we’re evil and intend to hurt people (though sometimes that may be true); but more often  because we are fallible, and despite our best intentions, we react to failing…