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Tathra Street https://tathrastreet.com Tathra Street Wed, 21 Apr 2021 00:31:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://tathrastreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-TS-600x476AURORA-2-32x32.png Tathra Street https://tathrastreet.com 32 32 Tathra Street Tathra Street Tathra Street Tathra Street https://tathrastreet.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg https://tathrastreet.com/blog/ Why are diversity and inclusion important? https://tathrastreet.com/diversity-and-inclusion-importance/ https://tathrastreet.com/diversity-and-inclusion-importance/#respond Mon, 19 Apr 2021 05:54:10 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=20111 Diversity and Inclusion are hot topics right now. But what does it mean and how can we lead the way. Learn what can you do to be more inclusive in your workplace.

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Public Transport stop with person in wheelchair looking at phone

It’s what everyone is talking about at the moment. Diversity, inclusion, equity, social justice in the workplace. What does it all mean? What can we do as individuals and organisations to make a difference? Let’s take a step back and ask the question: “Why are diversity and inclusion important?” They are important because our current systems and structures haven’t kept up with the changing social norms about who gets heard and listened to.

Diversity and Inclusion are important because many people’s voices aren’t being heard. Diversity and Inclusion are important because today, our values are changing and we are more aware of the impact of leaving people out and have an intention to be inclusive and create a sense of belonging. We are asking ourselves what we can do to make a difference and to create a future that’s inclusive and sustainable. How do we do that? We’ll start with some basic definitions, and explore the importance of diversity and inclusion with an emphasis on closing the intent-impact gap.

What is diversity?

Diversity is already present. There are many meanings but today it’s become a recognition of the vast array of perspectives that exists in any group, community or workplace. It’s a recognition of the different experiences that come from the unique place each of us has in relation to how easy or difficult it is for us to participate in society and decisions made that affect us. Often the areas of focus in diversity are based on gender, ethnicity, disability, religion and age. This is how it looks on the surface, looking deeper reveals nuances around equity, intersectionality and more that we’ll explore further in another article.

Diversity exists and is more visible now with technology and social media. This has been highlighted in how different groups experienced the Global Pandemic over the last year. Honouring that diversity is becoming a more pressing priority that many organisations want to be seen to be addressing. The intent-impact gap is significant and while we find our foundations in the space we will likely continue to cause more harm without realising it.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is the next step, it’s about valuing diversity and taking action to support marginalised voices. Inclusion is what happens when what makes us different isn’t a barrier to opportunity and contribution. It’s when the differences are factored in and incorporated, rather than a “one size fits all” approach. It’s when people feel included and that they have input into important decisions.

Inclusion initiatives aim to amplify and put marginalised groups at the centre of our discussions. It’s a recognition that our current social structures have systematically excluded people. It’s an awareness that we can’t continue this way and that it’s time for taking action to raise awareness and make change.

What is the difference between inclusion and diversity?

Diversity is a focus on what makes us different and inclusion values the differences and values a wider range of voices. We’re aiming for an outcome where people feel valued and respected in relation to the choices and opportunities available to them.

Currently, the positions of authority and power in both business and elected representatives are predominantly held by a single demographic. In the past, this has been ‘just how things were’ and supported by a belief that leadership was innate. But today things are changing rapidly. Now, we’re hearing the voices of those not recognised in the past. These voices are getting louder, amplified by technology and social media.

The inequity in our society has reached a point where the value of diverse voices and action to include them has reached a level of legitimacy previously unimagined. Taking action to improve and balance out access to resources, opportunities and social power, these are no longer optional. It’s essential.

Many companies and organisations are now rushing to implement diversity and inclusion policies. Although it’s better to start imperfectly than stall indefinitely, there are some common mistakes we make. Our initiatives are often well-intended but don’t always have the impact we expect.

What do we get wrong about diversity and inclusion?

  1. Focus on hiring practices
  2. Start without baseline measures
  3. Expecting instant behaviour change with new information

Recruitment Emphasis

The first place we see the implementation of efforts to be inclusive tends to be in recruitment. Wording to encourage diverse groups to apply is increasingly seen at the bottom of position descriptions. This is a good start, however, the problem comes when the ‘diversity hire’ steps into the workplace culture. What can happen is that those from traditionally marginalised communities are invited to work in spaces of low diversity and inclusion that aren’t necessarily safe for them, culturally, physically and emotionally.

The onus is on the person to fit in and their diversity isn’t valued beyond the hiring process. This further marginalises and puts unintentional indirect pressure on people with diverse backgrounds to fit in. This can keep the unique contribution of your ‘diversity hire’ out of the spotlight and perpetuate the problem. It doesn’t have the intended impact.

Measuring what Matters

As with any change initiative, measuring what matters is an important way to assess progress and understand the impact of our efforts. The rush to make a difference sometimes leaves measurement as an afterthought. At the start of putting measures in place, wanting to make a positive impact can prevent a well-thought-out strategy. The level of uncertainty can make asking the right questions and measuring what matters feel elusive.

Thankfully there are several excellent bodies of work that can offer insights and a path to follow. Culture Amp specialises in engagement metrics and through their research, have expertise in identifying questions that measure where your organisation stands at the start of the journey. Matching the impact with our intentions is a constant inquiry and feedback in the form of engagement data is one of the best sources to measure how well a strategy meets expectations.

Unrealistic Expectations

Speaking of expectations, one of the key outcomes in diversity and inclusion strategies is sustainable behaviour change. A ‘flurry then fade’ effect is a sign that people want to do the right thing but fall quickly back into old habits. This is a very human response. The expectation that people will change once they have the information about expected behaviours is common. Unfortunately, this is very misguided and sets us all up to fail.

Humans are creatures of habit and our cognitive biases make it hard for us to take on new ways of behaving especially when there is a strong element from the status quo to keep things as they are. Conservatism bias is when new information doesn’t change our behaviour because our beliefs are deeply entrenched. Most change initiatives fail to make the impact they intend because we are using old ideas about how to lead change.

What’s needed for Diversity and Inclusion?

The best thing we can do is start where we are with what we have with the people around us. None of us can do everything, but everyone can do something. Start with asking what’s yours to do.

At this time in history, more and more people are learning about what it means to be part of such a profound shift in values. We’re getting curious about how we can make an impact for those whose voices aren’t getting the same access to opportunities and how to use our privilege and power as a force for good. We’re learning about the vastness of diversity within culture, gender, age, disability, neurodiversity.

This is a fraught and highly nuanced realm, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel tempted to give up. When you’re learning about diversity and inclusion it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes and very likely that you will say and do things that you’ll learn are offensive and no longer acceptable in this rapidly changing world.

When you’re becoming aware of the multifaceted nature of this work, remember that those who have lived experience of exclusion aren’t always interested in educating you. Take it upon yourself to learn and it’s ok to ask questions, just be mindful that what you’re asking can include unwanted emotional labour and potential impacts or triggers that you have no idea about. Stay open-minded and take responsibility for your impact regardless of your intention.


Lead the Way — Top Tips for Inclusive Leadership

How can you make an impact to promote the inclusion of diverse voices? Start where you are with what you have with the people around you. Here are some points to consider.

  1. Listen to understand what you can to learn. Check your assumptions and remember that when defensiveness starts, listening stops.
  2. Be humble. You have blindspots, be curious about them to understand where you’re at from other’s perspectives.
  3. Seek feedback. Be prepared for messages that are hard to hear, inarticulate or unspoken. No feedback is a form of feedback. Use it constructively, it’s not personal.
  4. Share power. Use your privilege to empower others, amplify the voices of people who are different from you.

Who this article is for…

This is intended for those learning what diversity, inclusion, equity and justice at work is about and how to make a difference. The Author Shares a perspective as a learning leader, not knowing all there is to know and open to hearing feedback.

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Goal Setting – pointless or purposeful? https://tathrastreet.com/goal-setting/ https://tathrastreet.com/goal-setting/#respond Sat, 23 Jan 2021 11:01:44 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=19559 This box is out the back of the Coburg Town Hall as a smokers ballot box, it asks if people prefer reading or TV. It’s obvious that there is a stronger preference for reading, but I wonder how many of us actually read more than watch TV. It’s probably a bit like smoking, most people who smoke will tell you they prefer not to smoke. The difference between what we prefer and what we do can be a gap we struggle to face. Reading and TV is perhaps more innocuous than smoking or not. But it highlights something about […]

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This box is out the back of the Coburg Town Hall as a smokers ballot box, it asks if people prefer reading or TV. It’s obvious that there is a stronger preference for reading, but I wonder how many of us actually read more than watch TV.


It’s probably a bit like smoking, most people who smoke will tell you they prefer not to smoke. The difference between what we prefer and what we do can be a gap we struggle to face.

Reading and TV is perhaps more innocuous than smoking or not. But it highlights something about how humans work. We often know what’s good for us, or what is a better choice, but what we actually do or how we behave in relation to that, might be different. It’s very human.


Twenty-five years ago, when I was a smoker, I set goals to stop year after year. Finally, I had a different kind of incentive. Pneumonia. It stopped me from smoking because my lungs were too damaged and I had a cough or bronchitis more often than not the year following pneumonia. It was also related to burn out and just not taking care of myself.


A few years later I valued my health more and wanted to take up a yoga practice. Again, took me years of having the intention to actually doing it and for the past 5 years, I can honestly say I’ve yoga’d most mornings. Just simple sun salutations, but it’s become a habit that my body just does when I get up. Besides setting goals, it took commitment and persistence.


After a while, I started to think new years resolutions and goal setting were just pointless. I was at a stage in my life where I was questioning a lot of things. One year I didn’t set goals at all and I actually accomplished a lot that year. I can see now that the past goals and my purpose-driven nature contributed to what I accomplished and that I was still working toward pursuing my dreams, despite not setting goals that year.


I’ve also set very specific goals for myself and been bitterly disappointed despite my best efforts. Some of it was out of my control, and in retrospect, changing industries is much harder than I expected.  So was starting a business. But one of the mantras that is keeping me going at the moment is “We can do hard things”.


After last year we know that we can get through difficult times. It makes our resilience palpable. We’re reminded that anything we pursue that’s worthwhile is rarely easy or simple.


With all I’ve learned over the years, it feels time to share what I know about goal setting and how it relates to purpose. Part of my purpose is to support others on their leadership journey and change the face of leadership, also inspired by the idea that I teach best what I need to learn most. 

For information about the RePurpose and Goals webinar, click here.  What has been your experience with goal setting and pursuing what’s important to you?

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Change is in the Air – A 4 Tissue Affair https://tathrastreet.com/change-is-in-the-air/ https://tathrastreet.com/change-is-in-the-air/#respond Thu, 21 Jan 2021 09:40:41 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=19510 Walking by a kebab shop, these words from the TV caught my attention: “The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.” I moved closer to watch and hear her words. It’s a historic day. I noticed emotion swell up in my chest,  just from the chorus of horns calling her to the virtual stage. Surprisingly evocative. I saw her dressed in black, addressing the nation, the world. I’m watching from Australia with the Nepali staffer behind the counter. I’m an Australian born, Canadian raised leadership futurist.  The Vice President began to speak. She acknowledged those whose shoulders she […]

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Walking by a kebab shop, these words from the TV caught my attention: “The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.” I moved closer to watch and hear her words. It’s a historic day. I noticed emotion swell up in my chest,  just from the chorus of horns calling her to the virtual stage. Surprisingly evocative.


I saw her dressed in black, addressing the nation, the world. I’m watching from Australia with the Nepali staffer behind the counter. I’m an Australian born, Canadian raised leadership futurist. 

The Vice President began to speak. She acknowledged those whose shoulders she stands on, thanking those who have come before her. She talked about dark times and dreaming. She spoke of being able to do hard things, reminding us of Lincoln during the civil war, seeing a better future and working for the emancipation. She spoke of wisdom, courage and determination. (full speech )


I remember the words of my friend on the phone this morning, who got up to watch the inauguration. She called it a “4 tissue affair” because it took her 4 tissues to get through.


I remember the words of Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet at the inauguration, who invited us to “…close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside… 
That even as we grieve, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.”


She said that “… if we are to live up to our own time, victory won’t lie in the blade but in the bridges we’ve made. (See in full. My friend tells me that listening with headphones, her voice speaks to the soul.)


Until today I had diminished hope. My perennial optimism seemed fallow.Today feels like change is in the air. Today it feels like setting goals is worthwhile, that dusting off purpose is prudent.


If you’re feeling this too, regardless of whether you have set goals for the year or not, consider joining me for this interactive webinar, RePurpose and Goals via zoom on January 27 11.30am Melbourne time. It’s an exploration of what it means to create fresh futures with purpose at this time of change. I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years setting smart goals, dumb goals, no goals and goals with soul. I hope you’ll join us and share your insights and goals.

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The Hindsight of 2020 https://tathrastreet.com/2020hindsight/ https://tathrastreet.com/2020hindsight/#respond Fri, 08 Jan 2021 03:24:32 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=19192 What can the Hindsight of 2020 offer? Learning from the mistakes of the past will help us move more decisively toward a different future. Facing the reality of what we experienced in 2020 will take time to process. These are some of my reflections so far and my take on what's possible, what I'm grateful for and how to have a positive impact on 2021.

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I’m still processing what 2020 was and wasn’t. I’ve read a lot of descriptions of the year, ‘exhausting’, ‘chaotic’ and, ‘surreal’ are common words used to describe 2020. Some even try to put a positive spin on it. This feels trite. Being positive is important, as is facing the difficulty and struggle and naming the reality of our experience. It can be a challenge to hold both.

No doubt, this year was hard. And in doing my own reflection of the year over the last few days I’m reminded of the achievements, the silver linings as much as the devastation, disappointment and disillusionment. Each of us have different experiences and levels of hardship and ways of coping.

Many of us have a gratitude practice to help us get through hard times, this certainly was the year for drawing on the perspective being grateful can bring.

One thing I’m grateful for is that I wasn’t one of the twenty-eight thousand Australians who got COVID-19 but there isn’t a person on the planet that wasn’t impacted by the global pandemic in some way. As I write we’re nearly up to 2 million cases globally, we are all horrified to witness what’s happening around the world. I feel grateful to live in a state where our leadership listens to science and respects the recommendations of the Cheif Health Officer.

In the state of Victoria, at the peak, we had 725 new cases in a 24 hr period. With a population of 6 million, we had around 20,400 cases and 820 deaths. The lockdown that followed was strict, described as draconian, even authoritarian. In this case, I don’t think power was abused. Difficult decisions were made that meant we suffered to avoid and prevent worse suffering.

The pushback and criticism were ample and often warranted. But what came of that difficulty and suffering was something we couldn’t imagine. Zero new cases. Not just a few days, but weeks and in total 61 days before any new cases were detected among the thousands of tests taken each day.

We had a sense of collective achievement and relative security until someone brought the virus back from Sydney and didn’t wait for test results before going out. We knew it would be short-lived and unsustainable when the borders opened up.

We all hoped that 2021 would be better. And it may be, but there are many hurdles ahead, a ton of factors that make for a very complex set of challenges and no certainty that things will improve:

  • New more contagious strains
  • Quickly assembled vaccine with slow rollouts.
  • A significantly fractured society that struggles to comprehend what we’re dealing with, doesn’t trust the institutions to make the right decisions, criticises them regardless of the outcome.
  • An internet rife with misinformation and social media that struggle to address it effectively.

The cracks in our institutions are becoming more painful every day.

Mask wearing has become politicized and misappropriated to freedom of expression. We are getting a global lesson on public health and a stark look in the face of the distinction between individualism and collectivism.

For years we have been hearing alarm bells being rung by scientists and activists about the impact humans are living on this planet. 2020 showed us just how bad it is with catastrophic fires putting marsupials at risk of extinction and a global pandemic with no end in sight. Was this preventable? Is the current global infection rate something that could have been prevented? What will 2021 bring? Will we learn from the hindsight of 2020?

One of the ways this time in human history is described is as a transition from adolescence to adulthood. Learning from the mistakes of the past will help us move more decisively toward adulthood. This can seem daunting but it happens when we make decisions that balance individualism and collectivism with the possibility of a different future in mind.

My favourite Margaret Meade quote comes to mind:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.


This highlights the value of coming together to focus on what’s important to us. And of the inspiration that can come from group wisdom when there is an intention to positively impact the future. This is what my work is all about.

I will be sharing more insights, inspiration and wisdom on the Future of Leadership page. Plus ways to make the most of the Hindsight of 2020 with repurposing values, vision. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about goal setting as a way to face the highs and lows of what lies ahead. We don’t know if 2021 will be better or worse than last year, with some direction and something to work towards that is in the realm of what we can control can help us face whatever 2021 throws at us. Let’s to this.

Follow the Future of Leadership FB page.
Join the Lead the Future community on Podia.

January 27 Webinar: RePurpose and Goals

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2 Big Reasons Why You’re Struggling to Attract Clients https://tathrastreet.com/2-big-reasons-why-youre-struggling-to-attract-clients/ https://tathrastreet.com/2-big-reasons-why-youre-struggling-to-attract-clients/#respond Fri, 18 Dec 2020 01:53:52 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=19115 When we first start out we make assumptions about what we think our clients/customers want. Here are some insights based on what I learned the hard way about who my customers are and how to communicate to them in a way they can hear.

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This was originally published on SmallVille.com.au to support small and emerging business startups in the early stages of business to better understand who they serve and what problem they solve.

There are so many people putting themselves out there and doing their damnedest to make a go of it. In a world full of attention-seeking businesses trying to attract their clients, it can feel like you’re a litte fish in a sea of sharks. Especially when you’re starting out, it’s hard to get enough clients in the door and it feels like real struggle.

There are two big reasons why you’re not getting clients. Let’s start with the first one. Your work is centred around what you offer, not what your clients want or their actual desires. I have seen it time and time again, people promoting their work based on their offer, making it really hard for their clients to find them.

ASSUMPTIONS MAKES AN…

We think we know what they want, e.g. they want peace, they want to stop worrying about things. So we promote using lovely images of peaceful meditating yogis and beautiful lotus flowers. But this doesn’t hit the mark because it’s not where they’re at, sure they want peace but that’s not the current state they’re in.

We assume they know what they want and that it’s the best solution to their problem. Sadly our brains are wired to avoid pain before we seek out pleasure. So presenting peaceful images may not be effective.

BECOME CURIOUS

Get into the world of your clients, what is the problem they have that you fix? If you’re a massage therapist or do healing body work, what are the symptoms they deal with that leads to them reaching out to you? Are they unwell, are they stressed? Do they have a specific pain? Go there.

SEEK FEEDBACK

The second reason is that you’re not getting feedback, probably because you’re either not asking for it or not asking for it effectively.

When someone asks “Was it good for you?“ How likely is the response, “Well actually…”? It’s got to be really bad before your clients will say anything to you directly.

Xero has a feature at the bottom left corner of their client page with three faces, smiley, frowny and neutral. When you change from one to another, they make contact.

TelCo’s will often get you to rate their service via SMS and ask how likely you are to recommend them. Disregarding how you felt about the experiences, focusing on if you got your problem resolved.

There are really easy ways to get feedback. It doesn’t have to be a net promoter score, there are plenty of ways to get insights. It can be 2-4 questions on SurveyMonkey or Typeform. Short and simple are critical here. You can also just talk to them.

It’s amazing how many companies are simply afraid to ask or just think ‘it’s not done’. But you’re a Small Business, and you CAN.

CREATE DELIGHTED CLIENTS

Ask yourself this: What would it take to authentically delight your clients so they will talk about you to the people in their life? How will you know? How can you find out what’s important to them?

Ask your current and/or potential clients about the problem they face, you know, the one that you can fix or address. Get really curious. When you get into a good discussion you’ll find the deeper reason for the problem.

Once you’ve talked to a few people, look at the responses and notice any themes. Look at it from how you can help them, and in particular, what your existing or past clients have said about the impact working with you has had on them.  Use this to help you understand how to offer your work to your prospective clients.

GET ON THE SAME LEVEL

Be very deliberate in meeting them where they’re at. More often than not, they’re not thinking solution yet, especially if there is more than one way to address their problem.

For example, if they are lacking energy and you are a nutritionist, your client probably thinks they need to get more sleep. But you’re thinking about what they’re eating and what foods to avoid or eat to improve energy levels. You’re wondering how much coffee they drink. Are they thinking about food or caffeine? No, they’re thinking about lack of sleep. Or they are using coffee to deal with being tired all the time.

There’s a great saying in marketing “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage” Think about it, showing the sausage before it’s been on the bbq, or hearing the noise from it being cooked. Which is more appealing? It’s the difference between blah and mouthwatering.

What are you selling? Is it hitting the mark with your clients? Who can you connect with to help you get clear on what your prospective clients want and how you can best serve them? How can you attract their attention so they know you are the solution to their problem? Get creative, that’s the fun part.

Do you have a business idea or are starting out with your first business? We can help you get clear on what to focus on and how to move forward when you feel stuck or unsure. Contact us to talk more about your business, concept or idea.

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3 Powerful Tools for Having the Difficult Conversations You’re Avoiding https://tathrastreet.com/3-powerful-tools-for-having-the-difficult-conversations-youre-avoiding/ https://tathrastreet.com/3-powerful-tools-for-having-the-difficult-conversations-youre-avoiding/#respond Wed, 16 Dec 2020 07:26:16 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=19046 Here are three tools to use for your difficult conversations.

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This was originally published on SmallVille.com.au and is just as relevant today as we recognise the value of having difficult conversations.

Are you hiding from that conversation you don't want to have? It's not as bad as you imagine. You've got this.

Is your “too hard basket” full of conversations you’ve been avoiding? Instead of facing up to the challenge, we equate confrontation with conflict and the issue festers. This can make things far worse than if we just got a little courageous.

Here are three examples of situations I’ve been in and tools I use my self and with my clients to help them stay out of the too hard basket and get comfortable having difficult conversations.

SCENARIO ONE

I was with my accountant at a cafe where I know the owner. The cafe owner had a question about the option to put a vehicle in the business’s name or your own name and claim travel expenses. My accountant said it was a lot easier to do the later, my cafe owner friend spent a fair bit of time talking about how much the vehicle would get used for business, effectively justifying the decision he’d made as if my accountant was the ATO.

Tool One: Pause Button

This conversation could have used the “Pause Button” as a way to prevent time wasted and set a boundary for what was appropriate and name the incorrect assumptions being made.

Using the “Pause Button” might sound like:
I’m going to pause you there, I think you’re assuming…which is understandable, but actually…
With respect, let me pause it there, it seems we’re going on a track about… when what this is about/what’s important here is…

SCENARIO TWO

Dealing with a customer who insists you’ve done something wrong that you believe you haven’t. The air is tense and though you’re trying to maintain your composure you’re getting angry and you know this could get ugly if you keep going but you know you’re right. Despite your training that the customer is always right, this feels like an exception and you feel it’s important to educate them and make them understand.

  • Tool Two: Right or Happy?
  • The question to ask yourself in a situation like this is, “Would you rather be right or happy?”
  • If you let go of being right, and withdraw from the conversation, removing the fuel from the fire. You may be concerned that they will give you a bad review but if they are unmovable in their position, it’s likely to get worse if you pursue it.
  • When you withdraw the ire, and make space for a different outcome, you have the chance to turn things around. They may well walk off in a huff, they may well tweet about it, but they may also shift their perspective. Once there’s nothing to push up against, they may well chill out a bit. From there you have some options:
  1. You can apologise, even if you believe you’re right, for letting it escalate, for bringing heat to the fire. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to raise my voice.” or  “I apologise, I let that go in a direction I didn’t intend.”
  2. Say something about how important their business/relationship is to you,
  3. Offer something to soften the exchange. ‘Wow, that got a bit heated, let’s take a step back.”

The minute you take responsibility or shift into a more vulnerable gear, it invites them to do the same. This works only if you are sincere about it. If you are fixed on a particular outcome, they can smell it, and are likely to stay pissed off. When you take responsibility for changing the tone, and get humble about it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly things change. So ask yourself: “Would you rather be right or happy?”

SCENARIO THREE

You’re with a client who has a particular goal that you’re supporting them to achieve. They have cancelled the last two appointments and they’ve rung you to let you know they would like to withdraw from your program. Do you just let them go? Are you concerned about the money? Will they ask for a refund? Will it damage your reputation? Or you could remind them what they wanted to get out of the program in the first place.

  • Tool Three: Get Yourself Out of the Way
  • Turn this around by putting your concerns aside and get back to who they are, what they are capable of despite their concerns. This is your client, they pay you to help them. This is the same for managing your team, working with your staff to achieve goals for their development or specific business outcomes.
  1. Eyes on the prize: remind them about their goal and your faith in their ability, even when they falter, help them see the bigger picture, bigger than their fears and foibles.
  2. Engage the heart: Ask them about what it would feel like to achieve the goal, complete the project, get to the finish line. This moves them out of the concern and back to what’s possible.
  3. Find the source of the concern:  They may feel confronted, and uncertain of their ability to succeed. Give them space to get it off their chest. Acknowledge their experience and normalise it, we all have moments of doubt.
  4. Reassure them: Remind them that they are capable, and demonstrate your faith in them.
  • I remind my clients that they are more powerful than they realise and provide a reflection of someone who believes in them. When the goal or vision is brought to mind, such as fitting into a wedding dress for a personal training client, launching a product for a start up, or writing copy for an ‘about page’ if you’re a web developer, the people we work with get confronted. It’s part of being human. Imagine if you just let it go and gave in to their concerns.

If we don’t have the courageous conversations, we can go on as normal but what’s happening beneath the surface can start to fester. Our clients will believe their own stories about their limited ability,  our teams will wallow in mediocrity and we forgo our own leadership. When we set boundaries, choose happiness over rightness and make way for our clients and staff to shine, great things happen.

To find out more about our skills-building workshop on Difficult Conversations, contact Tathra.

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THE ULTIMATE DISRUPTER – Why Small Businesses are the Most Powerful Force in Business https://tathrastreet.com/the-ultimate-disrupter-why-small-businesses-are-the-most-powerful-force-in-business/ https://tathrastreet.com/the-ultimate-disrupter-why-small-businesses-are-the-most-powerful-force-in-business/#respond Wed, 16 Dec 2020 04:52:53 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=18980 This was originally published on SmallVille.com.au and is just as relevant today as we welcome a fresh wave of new business coming out of a global pandemic. Small Business is an underestimated force to be reckoned with. Yet the identity attached to Small Business is one of virtual insignificance. The vast majority of all businesses are in the Small and Medium Business category, they make up half of Australia’s employment and account for a third of its production. What if Small Businesses started to realise that there are more of them than Big Businesses? What if Small Businesses started […]

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This was originally published on SmallVille.com.au and is just as relevant today as we welcome a fresh wave of new business coming out of a global pandemic.

Small Business superheros are often underestimated, most often by them themselves.

Small Business is an underestimated force to be reckoned with. Yet the identity attached to Small Business is one of virtual insignificance. The vast majority of all businesses are in the Small and Medium Business category, they make up half of Australia’s employment and account for a third of its production. What if Small Businesses started to realise that there are more of them than Big Businesses? What if Small Businesses started to throw their weight around? How might things be different?

There is untapped potential in the leaders who are the founders and CEOs of Small Businesses. Being small can have it’s advantages, especially as the future of work relies on flexibility and resilience. Smaller organisations are far more able to adapt to change than larger ones. As a Small Business, use this to your advantage. What could you do if you leveraged your agility and flexibility? Try different things, make decisions promptly and implement new approaches and see what works.

In the early days of my business, my coach said to me, “Go where the energy is”. At the time, I was trying really hard to make something happen and was coming up against all sorts of obstacles, whereas another area of my work that I wasn’t putting much effort into was flowing rather easily – so I made a decision to stop pushing a snowball up-hill and put more energy into the aspect of my business that seemed to be going well. I didn’t need to consult anyone or send a proposal. I simply changed my focus because I saw the value in it.

As Small Businesses we can do this, we can adapt to change and sometimes we start businesses in response to changes in the market. This is important to pay attention to and an important point of difference as disruption becomes a daily occurrence.

A study at Olin Business School at Washington University predicted that 40% of Fortune 500 Companies are likely to go out of business in the next 10 years. These companies simply won’t be able to adapt or respond quickly enough and will be disrupted by start ups with fresh innovative ideas. When you consider the ramifications of this, there’s hope for small, innovative, adaptive businesses, now more than ever.

Imagine if the identity of Small Businesses began to shift in recognition of the powerful market force that we are. It’s time to stop looking to big corporates to shape the direction of the future of business. Imagine what might be unleashed in the market, the economy, and even in society.

We are already starting to see subtle shifts especially with the democratisation of information via social media. There is a move toward a new way of doing business, one that is less about stakeholders and more about solving real problems for real people. Using business for good is a growing trend, especially among millennials.

Businesses that are purpose-driven, value innovation and intend to drive disruption, can succeed where others have failed. Being crystal clear on the problem you solve, and that problem being linked to social good, can also be an advantage in these challenging times. It’s time for Small Business to recognise its power, that it is leading the way and to harness the significant clout that lies dormant in our midst.

To find out more about how you can bring more power to your small business or if you have a business idea to explore, contact Tathra for an informal chat.

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Post-Pandemic Resilience starts with Flexibility https://tathrastreet.com/post-pandemic-resilience-starts-with-flexibility/ https://tathrastreet.com/post-pandemic-resilience-starts-with-flexibility/#respond Mon, 20 Apr 2020 06:50:00 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=17951 Preparing for a post-pandemic world involves being flexible now on our path to resilience. Adapting to the current context is crucial for those who are faring well to support those affected and coping less well. Human-centred leadership skills are fundamental to developing resilience, starting with flexibility.

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Preparing for a post-pandemic world. That’s what it feels like we’re gearing up for. Doesn’t it? Sure feels that way to me.

It feels like now is the time to be developing vital skills to sharpen what we already have the capacity for, but may have forgotten during a global pandemic. Two specific skills have been top of mind for me, not because of the virus per se. I’m revising the third draft of the book on leadership I’ve been writing. The two chapters I’ve been working on are Resilience and Flexibility. The relevance of which has not been lost on me.


Like never before we’re being called on to be flexible in how we live, work and lead. We’re adapting to gargantuan changes in a short time. It’s causing global anxiety, but we’re doing it, we’re managing. We’re coping. The best we can. We are being flexible.


We sit at home, hoping that the measures being brought to bear will have the desired effect. And wonder how it will all turn out.
As we turn our mind to what happens after this, resilience will be a strong theme. Resilience prepares us for the post-pandemic world, the one we’ll create once the threat of the virus is under control.

Future Authors

We are the authors of the Post-Pandemic World. Our past informs the future, however, we may not realise that the future is ours to write.
We choose how much we will learn from what’s happening now. But first, it’s critical to draw on our innate capacity to endure difficulty. Our ancestors endured hard times, plenty of them. Their legacy lives in us, illuminating the way forward.


What will it take for you to connect to the part of you that knows how to manage difficulty? We have what it takes. We have the technology and connection to cope with the disruption. It can bring out our best and the worst in us. We decide which it will be. We decide how we respond. How we are impacts those around us, locally, virtually and globally.

Our Choice

The choices we make now, about how we respond collectively, make a difference and shape the future. Choices regarding flexibility and resilience, how we relate to them. Perhaps like friends after social distancing measures are lifted. Embrace them.


Flexibility is something we tend to take for granted. We tend to think we’re pretty flexible and perhaps we are, in some areas. However, rigid thinking comes to light at times like these. It often rests in our blind spot. But now, those dark places come to light. On a scale of mentally dextrous to rigid thinking, how are you going?

Flexibility as a Path to Resilience

How are you responding to the changes? Will increased flexibility be a path to resilience for you? Your team? Your household?

Resilience is a quality apparent after difficulty, yet we are being asked to be resilient now. Every second business blog post title and online course has ‘Resilience’ in the title. But how do we cultivate resilience? It’s a practice. At first flexibility is the basis of the response. Adapting to the current situation.

Some of us are more adaptive than others. Yet we don’t always have a compassionate response to those around us who are less so. Especially those who are dealing with the changes at a different pace. We know that stress impacts our brain, our health, and our decision-making capacity. How are your stress levels? Notice the stress in those around you, in your video calls, your news feed.

One of the things that has become most apparent is our interconnectedness and that one person’s actions or inaction can profoundly impact the whole. Remember this when you notice those who are not responding in the same way and at the same pace as you. If your stress is low and others are high, be mindful. If you’re doing better than someone else, your job becomes helping them. This applies mostly to team and family settings.


Vastly Different Responses

When it comes to complying with social distancing rules, there will always be rule breakers. In some countries, this results in having your door welded shut or the police having the authority to shoot to kill. Where we don’t have the threat of death, some will take our personal freedom and social responsibility for granted and defy the intention to stop the spread of infection. How do we deal with this? And what is there to learn from our approach? What does this say about us?

These questions also apply to helping people cope and adapt. To help them see their capacity to be flexible in a new light. Helping people get beyond the stress and anxiety to remain productive and functioning is an important leadership role. Especially when our teams are working from home.

In my book, I explore the dance between leadership and management. This is through the lens of developing skills for human-centred leadership in a modern context. Through this, we identify levels of competency into three categories: Basic; advanced and expert.

Basic is an awareness of concepts related to the skill. Practising the behaviours occasionally. Advanced is the regular practice of the behaviours associated. Expert includes the ability to teach others to develop their capacity.


Leadership Responsibility

People in leadership positions have an opportunity to inspire others to act from a place of care instead of fear. When it comes to resilience and flexibility, to lead the way by helping others come to grips with what’s going on.

As I write this we’ve passed 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally. The USA is approaching 700k confirmed cases. Deaths are at 150k globally. Over half a million have survived being infected. There will be a lot to learn from those who recovered.


At a point in the future, we will be able to look back and reflect on resilience from that vantage point. Until then we adapt, we cultivate mental dexterity and compassion. Where appropriate, leniency and support for those not coping and making decisions from stress and fear. Remember we are all touched by this in different ways. Adding to someone else’s stress during this time of collective trauma, however unintended, can be disastrous.


Normal is Cancelled

We’re all facing an uncertain future and feeling various levels of anxiety on a global level. Now is the time for leaders to be compassionate and show they care.

Now is the time to start thinking about how we’d like a post-pandemic world to look. This starts with the choices we make about how we respond to the state of affairs and how we support those around us, locally, virtually and globally.

What are the practices that help you be more flexible, have mental dexterity and cope well with rapid change? What will you contribute to how resilient we are in a post-pandemic world? On behalf of those who come after us, I thank you for what you’re doing to create the world they live in.

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We Suck at Setting Professional Boundaries. It doesn’t have to be this way. https://tathrastreet.com/we-suck-at-setting-professional-boundaries-it-doesnt-have-to-be-this-way/ https://tathrastreet.com/we-suck-at-setting-professional-boundaries-it-doesnt-have-to-be-this-way/#respond Sun, 24 Nov 2019 23:46:08 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=17133 Boundaries are about what’s ok and what’s not. It’s about what is considered acceptable in a community, workplace and how we interact with each other. The unfortunate thing about boundaries is that most of them don’t get communicated directly or effectively. Many are inferred or unspoken. Ultimately, we suck at it. Setting boundaries can feel hard, but trust me, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you’d rather get on with your work instead of constantly putting out fires, read on. Have you ever seen a person do something at work that wasn’t ok but no one said anything? At least […]

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Where is your line in the sand?

Boundaries are about what’s ok and what’s not. It’s about what is considered acceptable in a community, workplace and how we interact with each other. The unfortunate thing about boundaries is that most of them don’t get communicated directly or effectively. Many are inferred or unspoken. Ultimately, we suck at it. Setting boundaries can feel hard, but trust me, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you’d rather get on with your work instead of constantly putting out fires, read on.

Have you ever seen a person do something at work that wasn’t ok but no one said anything? At least not to their face. There may have been a few raised eyebrows and shared glances. But this non-verbal communication is insufficient and rarely is it directed at the person crossing the boundary.

Not being direct about crossing a boundary sets people up to fail. It often shows up as the person being shamed or shunned for other, unrelated behaviour instead. If you’re on the receiving end of this, it can be confusing and may seem out of proportion so you might not take it seriously. Indirect communication about boundaries not only doesn’t help people understand what’s appropriate but risks disengagement.

If there is any complexity involved beyond a simple, “Don’t do that”, we struggle to find the words and we often avoid saying anything until the situation has passed or the person is no longer present. The sentiment becomes “I wish they hadn’t done that” but is more commonly expressed as “Can you believe they did that?” This avoidance leads to talking to others about boundaries getting crossed instead of dealing with it directly.

So why do we suck at communicating boundaries effectively? There are plenty of reasons, here are the top three based on my experience as a coach and consultant.

  1. We are afraid to offend or cause conflict.
  2. The shame associated with talking about what is ok and what is not, makes it difficult for both the person whose boundaries are crossed and those who crossed them.
  3. We struggle to find the words, so we just avoid it to keep the peace.

Changing Social Boundaries

Social norms are set by establishing boundaries around what we will accept and what we no longer tolerate. As this changes, it can become easier to speak out about where the line is and what’s appropriate. However, it doesn’t always feel that way.

As children, we are taught to obey our parents, not to have sovereignty over ourselves. As we become adolescents we question our parents’ authority and make up our own mind, but it doesn’t necessarily connect to developing our own sense of agency. Many of us struggle to prioritise our own needs and to feel comfortable setting boundaries. Few of us have ever been taught how to set effective boundaries.

Those who have a strong sense of personal sovereignty tend to have less difficulty setting boundaries for themselves and this often extends to setting boundaries for groups and communities. This can look like advocacy and leadership.

Types of Boundaries

There are lots of different kinds of boundaries. What we focus on here relates primarily to professional settings with an emphasis on interpersonal boundaries.

social boundary is a broad grouping that includes organisational boundaries that may be in the form of a code of conduct or less formal means. It includes what a group considers acceptable and what crosses the line. Often these are unspoken and others are formalised as a set of rules, agreements or contracts etc. This can be about who to speak to when you start a new role. The message, directly or indirectly might be: “Don’t go over your managers head.”

Physical boundaries are about time and space. Such as what time you leave work and how much space you take up in an office. If you work in a row of desks and your belongings start to impinge on other’s space it can cause irritation. It can also include timelines such as due dates, meeting start times and scope of work.

Interpersonal boundaries relate to people and how we interact with each other. This can make or break relationships. Especially when these boundaries are never spoken about and are a source of arguments large and small. When our boundaries clash with organisational boundaries tensions arise. Sometimes these can be negotiated, other times they remain in conflict until someone leaves. Ideally, we deal with them as they arise but this is not common practice.

Consider the anguish involved in needing to leave work to pick up a sick child. A workplace with strict policies may not allow it or it may not be workable. It would be difficult to interrupt a medical procedure for example. Increasingly we are seeing workplace policies become more flexible and find ways to make it workable and have a greater level of understanding, and creating new boundaries with greater clarity.

Circumstance and Context

Two other factors that impact boundaries are context and power dynamics. What’s ok in one set of circumstances isn’t in another. For example, conversations heard at the printer would be very different than what you might hear in a fine dining restaurant.

Imagine a person who might have no issue setting boundaries in a family setting, with their own children, siblings and even their own parents but struggles to draw the line when it comes to working overtime. Working on a big project they may feel intimidated or obliged to work the extra time. Even if it’s not about extra earnings, it may be about feeling unable to bring themself to have the conversation about where the line is for them regarding time away from their family. Without a clear or strong boundary, this can lead to family life suffering.

What you would say to a CEO would likely change if you’re at work compared to seeing them outside of work. We might struggle to feel confident in expressing our boundaries to those who outrank us in the social order or workplace hierarchy. This dynamic can create openings for abuse of power. We have seen this come to light in sexual misconduct scandals in church communities, with politicians, celebrities and in the #MeToo campaign.

The impact of what became a movement of people naming crossed boundaries is that it changed the landscape of what is considered acceptable. Holding people to account for crossing boundaries is now more socially accepted and taken seriously with real consequences compared to the past. It has provided us with greater collective courage to speak out and enforce our own boundaries but it hasn’t necessarily made it easier to have conversations about boundaries. We stand on the shoulders of those who took the risk to name what was not ok but has been previously tolerated.

Tips for Setting Effective Boundaries

Here are some things to consider when talking about your boundaries. Most of these apply to interpersonal boundaries and some are more organisational or social.

Why — If something is not ok, why not? For example, “Don’t come to work when you are unwell, you could make other people sick.”

Fear — Are you afraid to say something? This is normal but don’t let it stop you. Name it.

“This is hard for me to say…” or “It’s uncomfortable but I need you to know that this is hurtful.”

Assume ignorance — It’s quite likely the person crossing your boundary doesn’t realise they are. “You probably didn’t know this isn’t ok because…” or “You wouldn’t have known that this happened so please…”

Giving people the benefit of the doubt can help them respect a boundary instead of getting defensive when malice is assumed.

Be definitive — When we express boundaries tentatively or with reluctance it comes across as a preference or meek request rather than a clear expectation. It’s ok to say what’s not ok and to assert a boundary.

“The line for me is x, you are approaching that line.”

Enforce it — If a boundary is crossed, say so. If you have told them before, tell them again. Sometimes things need to be repeated for a message to get through. It may have been misinterpreted or simply not understood. Saying so in the moment is best to help the person learn where you’re boundaries are. Not enforcing the boundary sends a message that it’s not a boundary and doesn’t matter to you.

Where are your boundaries?

Ask yourself where you draw the line and how you relate to that line when people cross it. Parents, guardians and carers set and enforce boundaries for their children and people in their care but setting boundaries for ourselves is a different story, especially in a professional setting.

Setting boundaries can be hard work but the investment is worthwhile. It helps the people around us understand how to be respectful and though it’s not a fail-safe, having healthy boundaries and communicating them effectively contributes to greater mutual respect in general. Mark Groves reminds us that “Walls keep everybody out, boundaries teach people where the door is.”

Having healthy professional boundaries can foster longterm sustainability in your role, support work-life balance, prevent regret about not spending more time with family. It can also minimise or avoid the negative impact of burnout on our mental and physical health. Take the time to think about where the line is for you and how you’re communicating it, with actions and words. How might you be more clear and assert what is workable, appropriate and help develop trusting professional relationships in your team?

If you’d like to explore this further and feel your team could benefit from developing healthy professional boundaries these are the topics explored in the workshop on Setting Boundaries.
To book a half-day workshop on Boundaries for Professionals, click here.

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Freaking about Feedback https://tathrastreet.com/freaking-about-feedback/ https://tathrastreet.com/freaking-about-feedback/#respond Thu, 05 Sep 2019 04:52:21 +0000 https://tathrastreet.com/?p=16779 Feedback comes in many forms, a nod, a grade, a tweet, a furrowed brow, silence, thumbs up, surveys, empty chairs, evaluation forms, referrals, glowing testimonials. Much of it is constructive, positive and even glowing. So why do we fear feedback? Both giving and receiving feedback can be met with trepidation and anxiousness.  Perhaps an experience of poorly delivered feedback left you feeling disempowered and now you brace yourself when you see feedback coming your way. Are you reluctant to give feedback because you anticipate others having similar ambivalence and want to spare them the discomfort?  Let’s unpack feedback a […]

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Feedback comes in many forms, a nod, a grade, a tweet, a furrowed brow, silence, thumbs up, surveys, empty chairs, evaluation forms, referrals, glowing testimonials. Much of it is constructive, positive and even glowing. So why do we fear feedback? Both giving and receiving feedback can be met with trepidation and anxiousness. 

Perhaps an experience of poorly delivered feedback left you feeling disempowered and now you brace yourself when you see feedback coming your way. Are you reluctant to give feedback because you anticipate others having similar ambivalence and want to spare them the discomfort? 

Feedback
Why do we fear feedback?

Let’s unpack feedback a bit to dispel our misconceptions. There is positive feedback and negative feedback, arguably there might be neutral feedback as well but for simplicity sake, we’ll put that aside for the moment. Then there’s giving and receiving. The only one among those that we feel ok about is giving positive feedback. We’ll come back to this shortly. 

Why is feedback such an issue?

Our dominant culture favours knowing and doing over learning and reflecting. On the ground, this looks like mistakes being regarded as bad and to be avoided at all costs. In environments where learning is valued, mistakes are respected as part of the process and not shamed in any way.

We can soften the landing and embed the learning by providing mentoring to assist in leveraging feedback effectively. Pairing more experienced team members with new team members can facilitate skills development in an individual and capacity building across the team and organisation. 

So why don’t we do this?

In a word, insecurity.  When we’re all muddling through and faking it until we make it, we may not appreciate someone’s thoughts on how it could be done better. We take it personally and deflect the feedback. And there’s a good chance a bad experience in the past limits future opportunities for healthy feedback. Broken trust takes time to heal and an intention to overcome. High trust environments have a better chance of feedback being normalised and seen as a way to improve how we do our work. 

In their book “Thanks for the Feedback” Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen use research from the Harvard Negotiation Project to identify the importance of receiving feedback well. It’s where we have a greater locus of control in how to deal with feedback. If this is our starting point for skilling up, it’s likely that getting better at receiving feedback will help us feel more comfortable giving feedback of all kinds. 


The forms of feedback Stone and Heen identify are: 

  • Appreciation – Thanks
  • Coaching – There’s a better way 
  • Evaluation – Here’s where you stand

Think about how you like to receive these forms of feedback. How can you communicate what works for you? Ariana Huffington (founder of Huffington Post and Thrive Global) says her preferred approach is ‘compassionate directness’. She describes an all too common occurrence of choosing between compassion and directness. Her belief is that the power of the two together can be transformative in supporting organisations to overcome problems, achieve peak performance and truly thrive. 


Compassionate directness is defined as “empowering employees to speak up, give feedback, disagree, and surface problems, pain points and constructive criticism.”  Huffington says it must be done “immediately, continuously, and with clarity, but also to do it with compassion, empathy and understanding.”

Imagine what a difference it would make if this were common practice. No really. Take a minute to think about what that would be like. For you. For your team. For your organisation.  Dream a little. 

Giving Feedback Well

Coming back to the topic of giving feedback, let’s explore how we can do it well. After gaining comfort in seeking and receiving feedback, after initial reluctance and awkwardness, you may find that others around you are following suit and offering constructive criticism in helpful ways that are received as care and kindness.

Getting practised at giving feedback can be an important part of normalising it in the culture of your workplace. An excellent resource for readiness in giving feedback is Brene Brown’s “Engaged Feedback” list. In it, she identifies 10 points to put us in the best possible state of mind prior to offering feedback. It highlights the importance of being open and vulnerable as part of setting the tone for the conversation. 

My top four from the list of ten are: 

3. I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.

This reminds us to focus on being receptive and committed to understanding more deeply before responding. 

6. I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you.

Blame and being held to account often go hand in hand as our childhood experiences will attest.  Many of us have conflated these into the same thing, but the experience of being held to account without blame or shame can be transformative and helps to reshape how we relate to accountability as something positive that can help us grow. 

7. I’m willing to own my part.

Taking responsibility is not a strength in our society, as this changes we can own up to how we may have contributed to the situation, by not providing sufficient support or information, it may be systemic conditions that contribute but we can still own our part and take responsibility for overcoming the issue. 

9. I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to your growth and opportunity.

Putting feedback into the context of development is as important as indicating you care how the feedback is received. 

This is a start to get you thinking differently about feedback. It’s also worth noting that there’s a good chance you were never given an opportunity to learn specifically about how to give and receive feedback. It’s one of the many things we’re just expected to know how to do, that we learn by watching others, and often not done skillfully. 

If you’d like to learn more about improving your feedback skills contact Tathra Street for information about coaching or the group workshop “Giving and Receiving Feedback”.

To book a workshop for your team click here. 

Or to give feedback to Tathra click here

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