Have different experiences in your own life changed how you interact with touch?
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
I had just dropped my rucksack on the bedroom floor and stepped into the bright, open hallway when I heard the ruckus. I peeked over the open stairwell and saw my two nephews pounding up the stairs with excitement, the six-year-old, Geoffrey, a few paces ahead of his younger brother.
“Auntie Dawn! Auntie Dawn!” I knelt down to receive the oncoming barrage of love, and my heart nearly burst with happiness when I saw his sweet face round the corner. His brown hair bounced as he ran toward me, his green eyes sparkling with glee, a giant smile on his face.
He almost knocked me over as he ran into me full-force for a giant hug. I wrapped my arms around his little frame as soon as he crashed into me. His brother joined from the left side, blonde curls framing his sticky face, and snuck in for a group hug. As I gave them both a big squeeze, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from their big hearts, I wanted to hold onto them forever.
“Auntie Dawn, I missed you! Are you going away again?” Geoffrey’s tiny voice was strained with anxiety.
Oh no, I thought, surprised by the length and ferocity of his hug as I held him close. I was suddenly feeling polarized between the immense amount of love flowing between us and the intruding guilt sinking into my stomach. I didn’t think it mattered to him that I was gone for nine months. They don’t see me that often anyway.
Suddenly, the two large dogs descended on the three of us, tails wagging and tongues flying, trying to get in on the action. As the youngest let go and started asking questions, Geoffrey kept me locked in his arms with an intensity I hadn’t felt from him before.
I don’t want to be another person in his life who comes and goes and makes him feel unstable, unloved, or disconnected. I thought we stayed really connected over FaceTime. I guess that wasn’t enough.
As I held him close, trying to reconcile the overwhelming energy of the dogs, the barrage of questions from the youngest, and the increasing concern about him, images and sounds of a different memory emerged—reminding me of the last time a wonderful hug led to questions about connection and my responsibilities within it.
Have you ever been curious about reactions you have to touch, whether you are overwhelmed by it or longing for it?
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
“There are only a few rules while dancing here,” Kari, the leader addressed the circle of dancers. “One,dance however you want without judgment and without judging others. You can run, skip, jump, make vocalizations, spin, lay down, roll around on the floor, rest on the edges, or whatever you feel called to do that honors your needs and takes care of you. Two, no words may be spoken during dance. All communication should be done using gestures and touch. Three, some people enjoy dancing for a while with others. You can communicate you want to dance with someone, and wait for them to nod or invite you into his or her space. If you do not want to dance with somebody and they attempt to dance with you, it is okay and encouraged to just bow out. Remember, bowing out is an individual taking care of themselves and their body in the moment, and not a reflection upon you in any way. Do not take it personally.”
Those are great rules. I wish it had been that easy in my twenties at the dance clubs! I gazed around the circle at the variety of people sitting in the open wooden-floored meeting space inside the small Texan church. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Kari prompted everyone to declare an intention for the session, and the variety of answers surprised me. They ranged from an intention to be playful to an intention to heal oneself and let go of body stress through movement. The DJ stepped behind the table as the circle broke and people stood up, and then the music started with a steady rhythm that was easy to feel and move to. I stood with my eyes closed, getting a sense of the beat, the energy of the music, and how I wanted to start dancing. Slower at first, allowing myself to get grounded, to feel my breath, and to remind myself to just be playful and explore.
You don’t know this music, but you know how to move and how to dance and how to feel free, I told myself. Just do what you would do in your kitchen or outside.
The music progressed into faster yet more melodic songs, rhythms changing gradually with each one. There were no words—just a variety of tones and instruments—but the energy remained. This music inspired the body to dance.
I remember spinning around the edges of the group, seeing the cacti in the garden outside through the windows, and feeling my hair and my long skirt fly around me as I giggled like a small child. It was pure freedom, and I was high on the knowledge that other people around me were feeling the same. I knew I wanted to connect with people; but as I tried to catch someone’s eye to get permission or make a connection, no one seemed to respond. They all seemed like they were engaging with each other, but leaving me isolated.
Is it because I don’t know anyone? Are people only dancing with those they know? Or maybe I sent a message that I don’t want to dance with anyone else because of what I said?
We lose a lot when we stop talking to each other and checking in with what we want or need. Perhaps today is a good day to intentionally create stronger communication with a loved one.
Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
“How about we go practice some martial arts in the park today?” My friend James asked, as he watched me shove a load of massage sheets into the wash machine at my house. “You mentioned you wanted to refresh your skills before heading overseas.”
I closed the machine and threw a scoop of soap into the drawer. “Nah, I’ve already done about fifteen hours of massage in the last few days. I should probably let my hands rest.”
Besides, I’m restless and would rather run than hang around and practice right now. I’d probably get annoyed and irritated and no one needs that. I really don’t want to do anything for anyone else right now, including him.
“You sure? I’ve been playing with releases and tweaking the techniques to be easy on you and play to the strength you have in your kicks,” he encouraged. “Plus, when we get back I can cook some dinner for us while you finish your laundry and client work.”
“How about we go for a run? I should get some cardio in,” I replied, moving past him to get to the kitchen and empty my lunchbox. And I just think I’m too brain-dead to learn anything anyway. “There’s plenty of time to practice before I leave.” Maybe his knee is hurting him again. I should probably make sure he’s okay before I force him to run. “How is your body feeling today anyway? Are you in any pain?”
“Nah,” he said, playfully puffing up, “I’m tough. I can handle any kind of run you throw my way.”
…As our friendship grew, he was respectful with his physical contact. We had great communication around touch boundaries which gave us opportunities to be causal about it, touching each other for emphasis when we talked, plus tons of hugs and snuggles when we were watching movies. I could tell when he was in a lot of pain, which he often was, being an ex-racer and having had many crashes on cycles. If I started giving him little massages, he would tell me not to get into a healing role with him. He said that he was open to getting some massage here and there, but that he didn’t want to become a project or for me to get into work mode. It was hard for me to find the line between offering healing touch and not stepping into healer mode. Sometimes, he would stop me and tell me not to give massage unless he could reciprocate; so, I taught him some massage techniques so he could work on my arms, shoulders, and neck. The intention was to create some reciprocity and balance.
I’m not even sure what or when it happened, but somewhere along the line I did shift into the healer/caretaker mode because it was so natural to me. And as our friendship changed, our level of communication did not keep up with what was needed in order to allow the whole relationship to shift with our changing needs, wants, and experiences. Eventually, we both stopped paying attention to how we were feeling about touch. I didn’t realize until much later that I had started feeling like I was over-giving. My brain would justify it with “I’m the one who asked if I could try that technique,” or “I am the one who started working on his arm because I was bored with the movie; so since I had initiated it, it felt unfair to be upset and demand something different.” Right? Nope. Not at all.
Suddenly, subtle layers of inequality had settled into my body and into my deeper consciousness. Because I didn’t make a choice to tune into myself and see what was really truly going on, I started allowing other aspects of our friendship to exacerbate the feeling of inequality. Suddenly, his being twenty minutes late, even when communicated, became an issue and another bit of evidence that he didn’t value the friendship. Stuck in my own story of over-giving, I had no idea that he was feeling the same…
The communication balance had broken because our intentions were not clearly expressed. The safety of the culture and communication that we had so carefully built between the two of us was dissolving. The nurturing warm feeling it had offered both of us was replaced with confusion, desperation, and neediness.
“I set my laptop down on the beige tile floor so I could give my dad a hug before I left. My need for touch had returned during the last few weeks. It didn’t take me long to get over my touch sensitivity, I mused, thinking of all the hugs with family, clients, and friends in the last month. Luckily, I’m in the right spot for a really good one before heading to work.
Plate in hand, my dad reached his other arm out and gave me a quick squeeze. “Have a great day at work, Honey. It will be nice to see you when you get home tonight,” he finished, walking over to pick up his coffee cup.
Is that it? I thought, suddenly panicked and dissatisfied. Give me a real hug, dammit! Stop being in your routine and pay attention to ME!!
The child in me screamed, remembering those long, comforting hugs I got when I was little, when Dad would wrap me up in comfort and love—the kind that made my body feel snuggly and safe.
You are an adult now, my mind reminded me. You’re not supposed to need that kind of attention from your parents. I felt the familiar surge of unmet emotions rising into my throat. It felt like I wanted to throw a mini-tantrum to release the emotional void that I could feel growing deep in my stomach.”
“Do you want some water or anything?” Sofia asked, touching my arm as we entered the kitchen from the basement.
Oh my gosh, please don’t touch me.
I was startled by my own internal reaction at such a small, innocuous, and normal gesture.
What is going on with me?
As soon as I asked the question, I got my answer. I had gone from barely any touch to loads of it in less than twenty-four hours. My internal need for touch had completely reset itself, and I was full-up.
I didn’t actually think it was possible for me to get too much touch, I mused, struck and semi-amused by the conflict of being so grateful and wanting to hug Sofia and Lance for all their hospitality while at the same time wanting to shut myself in a room and hide.
As I gulped down some water, I applauded myself inwardly for making this connection. With this awareness, I knew that I could make a clear choice on how to interact with my friends for the rest of the day.
Yes, this is a far cry from a few years ago when I was struggling with how to negotiate physical contact with people I love, including my clients. I’m so glad my awareness has increased.”
Today is a lovely upbeat day. I’ve noticed a pattern of having one upbeat day followed by one that’s completely opposite. It is a great opportunity to tune into myself and find where my sensitivities lie and what I can do to pull myself out of the dark hole of self-sabotage that enveloped me (I addressed this in my last blog HERE) and would have become much worse without my close friends stepping up and checking in. I’ve been spending time catching up with communities overseas, as well as hearing the updates and amazing stories of from their perspective. I’ve been hiking and exploring in the rain, drinking thyme and ginger tea, and eating fresh garlic. I know-a bit odd, but I love all those things and the fact they have antiviral properties gives me a good excuse to indulge so frequently-even if they have no proven effects for this outbreak.
But what has me curious and thinking is about people engaging with touch and communication right now. I read a great New York Times article called What Do We Lose When We Stop Touching Each Other? How are people touching different within their own families and communities they are at home with? Who is really suffering from the lack of touch, and who is being overwhelmed by the touch they are exposed to right now? Who has increased their fears of being touched (or touching) so dramatically that it is having a negative impact on their health and well-being?
I was out for a run the other day, and ran around a couple walking on the path. There was a second couple coming toward us, and I moved “into their lane” to get around the walkers. Even though I was a good distance away, the man coming toward me visibly cringed and stopped in his tracks. It caught me off guard. I felt both awful that I created that reaction in him and sad for him that his level of fear was so high that even more than 6 feet away he felt he had to shrink away.
People have been sharing the memes of dogs versus cats handling this stay-at-home situation. How dogs are crazy excited yet cats are abhorred by the fact their owners are invading their territory and are preventing the cats from napping and going about their daily routine. Luckily, my cat loves having me home, and keeps perching on my shoulders and lap to help me work.
I have been through many situations in my past where I have gone from lots of touch to only a little. Some time periods were self-induced, some were situational, and I feel quite fluent moving back and forth between high and low touch. I’ve wanted more touch lately, and have been lucky to get that from my roommates and cat, but have also developed skills to function when the ability to interact with others is less. I talk quite a bit about it in my upcoming book, but am curious to hear from all of you what your personal experiences are at this time.
Please – comment below or post in the Touch Remedies facebook page. How have your touch habits and awarenesses changed during this pandemic? Are you getting the type and amount of touch you want and need? If not, how can I support you thorough this time? I have many tools that help people set boundaries, ask others for what they want, or, if fully isolated, find ways to get that hit of oxytocin and serotonin -two important hormones released with healthy touch- all on their own. I think it is such an important conversation to have. How do we navigate the tricky terrain of touch during this time? How do we tune into ourselves, into others, and into our communities in a way that supports everyone?
Beyond working online I have been following worldwide homeopathic threads on the latest Genus Epidemicus and what remedies are helping so I can more quickly and efficiently help others who are experiencing flu-like symptoms. (If that interests you and you need support with that, give me a call.)
I’m also still offering free online EFT/tapping classes so you and your loved ones can find a place of calm and peace amidst the stress that may be present in your lifestyle. You can find those HERE.
No matter what is happening in your life right now, please reach out if you need any support or help through. I truly care about my communities and will do anything I can during this time.
Have you ever been so excited about something? The perfect opportunity, job, or relationship? That new fitness program or lifestyle change? Then for some unknown reason, you do or something that screws it up? That destroys it?
Well, you can try to make amends. Ask for forgiveness, rebuild trust, or do what you can to get back on track. Sometimes that works. For example, when I was interviewing candidates for a receptionist position, I had about fifteen applicants and five that I called in for an interview. One was a twenty-year-old woman, who had great qualifications, fit all my requirements, and who came in looking professional and holding herself with confidence. But she was anxious and unclear while answering questions, and by the time we were done, I had already decided she was not a good fit. I walked her out, and as she opened the front door, she turned to me and said, “I know I really screwed up that interview, but I want you to know I will be the best receptionist you’ve had if you hire me.” Then she walked out the door.
I was impressed. She had acknowledged her shortcomings and confronted me with honesty and integrity. I ended up hiring her and she was right. She was efficient, friendly, organized, and if she didn’t understand my directions or if I gave her conflicting information, she would clarify with me and make sure she got it right.
Other times, it doesn’t work so well. I’ve self-sabotaged in the past. For example, I’ve procrastinated and missed deadlines for speaking engagements because I had already decided I “wasn’t good enough” to speak there or my message wasn’t powerful enough. In January I had about three hours worth of edits to do on my book. Every slot I had set aside to do it I delayed. I did little things that didn’t matter and that weren’t important. But then, it got worse. I started getting angry at myself and let my mind tell me how awful I was, how stupid, and how this is why I would never be successful. I recognized my pattern and started therapy with one of my healers. She observed my level of self-sabotage and reminded me how sometimes our beliefs from childhood or past experiences prevent us from stepping forward and embracing all that we are. The subconscious can also tell us we are unworthy of something or someone and make us do something that destroys the opportunity.
I had a situation recently where I said something completely out of character for me to a person I care about deeply. I didn’t even know where it came from or why it came out of my mouth. It broke trust and destroyed everything that had been built over years. My friends were shocked that I would say something like that. Back to my healer I went, who has me looking at the following questions.
Do you believe you deserve this?
What could happen if this did work out? How does it leave you vulnerable?
Where in your past did you get hurt in a way that you subconsciously created this problem as a defense mechanism?
How can you heal that past so you don’t do it again?
I know if I don’t look at my past, I will keep self-sabotaging over and over again in future situations because I haven’t healed the root belief and the root fear that my subconscious is protecting me from. So, I am working on it and trying to forgive myself for the times I failed, the times I got hurt, and the times I hurt others. It’s going to be a long road. I’m hoping I’ll be forgiven. I’m resisting the self-forgiveness for sure. As many of us do.
Where do you self-sabotage in your relationships, your career, your health? How do you prevent yourself from opening to happiness, health, and ease in all aspects of your life? I encourage you to explore your own healing, whether with a healer or therapist, or on your own. Really sit and figure out what you want. Then go for it. Commit to yourself and the process even if it means being uncomfortable for a while. It’s how we grow. I’m right here with you.
Dictionary.com defines it as “the act of directing one’s interest inward
or to things within the self.” As
someone who has defined herself as an extrovert since the age of nineteen, the
idea of being defined as an introvert again scares me.
But why do I have to define myself? As a child, my parents and friends knew me as
an overly-talkative, playful, and goofy character. My mom recalls me laughing at “free air”
signs at gas stations. Why on earth
would people charge for air? But
when around strangers or in groups, I was quiet, compliant, and docile. I liked being outside for hours playing with
my Labrador, Ben. I charged myself by
pondering things like love as I wandered the deep forest with him. I loved
reading until the wee hours of the morning. It all changed when I moved to Salt
Lake City, Utah to go to massage school.
How would I meet people? How
would I survive? I adapted my dad’s
personality, and forced myself to talk to anyone and everyone in my class. I was surprised to make friends quickly and
as I celebrated my twentieth birthday there, I realized I was more than the box
I had been subconsciously relegated to—both by myself and by others that knew
I returned to Minnesota expressing myself differently than many
had seen me before. Suddenly, I would
talk to anyone, I presented myself with confidence and assurance, and I even
stood up to my boss who committed insurance fraud under my name and kept about
five-thousand dollars of my wages as punishment. But it wasn’t the social aspect alone that
had changed. Suddenly I found
rejuvenation by being with people; anyone around me at that time could tell you
I processed my thoughts outside myself, as most extroverts do.
I was extroverted in my travels last year. I met great people, and developed friendships
that continue with a few of them. I
explored and connected through the new and the unexpected. This year has been
startlingly different. Writing a book
about The Touch Crisis in our culture and shining a light on feelings and
patterns I hadn’t exposed to others brought me back inside myself for a deep
level of transformation and preparation. I spent much of my journey at safe
spaces with friends instead of exploring.
I deepened relationships, took advanced trainings in EFT/tapping, homeopathy,
and CranioSacral. My hikes were more
about rejuvenation and connecting with myself and nature than exploration. I recharged being alone, versus with
people. I started thinking inside and
then communicating instead of processing externally (although both happen for
different reasons.) I learned that when
one takes pictures of the Northern Lights, many more colors show than visible
with the naked eye. Isn’t that a great
representation of what others see in us and what we truly are? Who sees all of our colors in purity and
My mind races sometimes with unanswered questions. What will people think? What will I do when people attack me or take
offense over what I have written? How do
I step back into my relationships as my new self? How will this impact my business and my
Tapping and homeopathy have helped me tremendously to overcome
these questions and settle back into myself.
This journey was about finding flexibility. I have concluded: I am all of it. I am an extrovert in some seasons, and an
introvert in others. Overall I have
remembered that health is about flexibility.
About being to express all of ourselves when we want to. I have been stuck in introversion, and have
been stuck in extroversion, but being able to move between the two as I need is
a sign of health. It’s a sign of
breaking free of social programming.
It’s the ultimate freedom. I had
thought freedom was exploring and traveling and not caring what people thought
as I wandered carelessly through the world.
I was wrong.
Freedom is being flexible within myself. Freedom is communicating what I want and need
and not being afraid of the outcome.
Freedom is understanding why I am upset and learning from it; addressing
it with tapping, healers, and talking to friends; struggling and coming through
the other side; breaking free of the fear of being ‘not enough.’ Freedom to me is choosing who I want to be
with—even if that’s just myself. Freedom
is returning home after many journeys a different person and allowing others to
react how they wish, but staying true to who I am now, instead of playing a
role that doesn’t fit me anymore. It will get even more intense when my book is
released in January, and I’m okay with that—finally.
I question you. Where are you in a box that doesn’t fit? What role are you playing that doesn’t suit you? Do you feel you are not as happy as you wish to be? I’ve been there. A few times in my life. I would love to help. If you are ready for something new in your life…to let go of old emotions, habits, and beliefs, or to transform yourself, your life, and your relationships, let’s chat about the possibilities for you. Click HERE to book a 30-minute session, or we can chat at your next appointment.
I look forward to connecting.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you are interested in hearing when my book comes out, SUBSCRIBE HERE.
I have officially hit the half-way mark with writing my book, and
thank goodness I hired a writing coach to help me. I write in spurts of energy and enthusiasm,
but then hit blocks. I wonder how to
phrase my ideas. Are they too
repetitive? Will they trigger someone or
make them feel uncomfortable? I find
myself getting upset as I poke around at old memories and lay them out for the
world to see in an open and vulnerable way.
Luckily, I also create time to hike to ground myself back to the
earth and breathe. I also do a lot of
tapping/EFT work with myself. I’m even
using my EFT practitioner once a month to help find deeper sources of patterns
I cannot see on my own. It’s been an
invaluable tool of healing and processing emotion so I can neutralize the past
and keep using those stories to help others.
I started reading a book once called The Way you Do Anything is the Way you Do Everything. I got about halfway through it, like I do with most books that are not fiction. But the point was valid, and the video below I took reminds me of that book.
I started hiking a mountain, but hit snow. I wasn’t sure, due to the melt, if I should
walk across it or not. I know a lot of
these mountains have deep crevices and holes that are buried under snow, or
streams that run deep underneath, creating potential pitfalls for the average
hiker wandering alone. I wandered at the
same level for a long time, entertaining myself by building a small snowman,
and taking pictures. Then-I found tracks
in the snow leading up. So, I followed
them. I had planned a 3-4 hour hike
round-trip. The book had said 3.5 hours,
6.9 km (4.29 miles), but I had already deviated from the path and circled the
mountain to a different path— a ninety-degree difference on the map.
I kept going, bit by bit, checking in to see how it felt to go
farther. Was I going higher up because I
wanted to? Because I felt I should get
to the top because I was already halfway?
So, embracing my inner child, I just did what I felt like at the moment. I took a rest on some rocks in the sun. I thought about patterns of pushing myself for others. How often I do things in life because others expect me to, want me to, or because I just want to prove that I can. I forget to tune in sometimes.
As I write this book that asks people to tune into their bodies
as they learn to integrate physical contact into their life in a way that is
both comfortable and consensual for everyone involved, I realized I better
start doing that in all areas of my life.
Tune in. Be present. Make
choices. Say ‘no’ when I want to, even to myself, no excuses needed.
I did make it to the top, after checking out a live bug hanging out on the snow with me, here and thinking about how I want to overcome and make a bigger impact on the world. 17.72 km (11.07 miles) and 6 hours later I was back at the bottom, waiting for the bus.
Perhaps, if I can allow myself to conquer the mountain bit by bit,
using play and exploration to figure it out, I can do that with the book as
well. I can use the support of my coach,
my friends, and my own healing tools and get it done. No rush, no timeline. Of course I’d love to have it done before I
come home in January so I can focus on my business. Yes, it would be amazing to have it done by
November so people could have it for holidays.
It would be even more exquisite to have it done before I leave the
safety of my friend’ s house in Norway in a week so I’m not stirring myself up
and trying to travel at the same time.
But, I am going to remain playful. I am going to heal the world by balancing a wooden spoon on my nose. I’m going to try to be zen, or at least laugh, even when being surrounded by black flies.
I encourage you to do the same. Find something that you do habitually, a pattern that exists in your life, and shift it to something that suits you more. That allows you peace and balance and freedom. That allows you to tune into yourself and your relationships on all levels. Be prepared-bring a carrot along for the snowman you want to build, but upon finding no snow, eat it instead for energy.
Let me know how I can help you tune in. You can email me from my contact page on my website, put a comment below, or give me a call. My work phone works in Norway! I would love to hear from you.
weeks of self-imposed peaceful isolation to write my book on community bonding
and touch has created a bit of loneliness in my heart. This morning, I made the choice to open Facebook and
catch up on my dear friends and family.
As I scrolled down the feed, my heart sank and tears came to my
on earth am I supposed to help us connect with each other when we cannot even
use civil tones with each other on social media? I sighed, as I scanned
faster to avoid the barrage of hatred laid out in front of me.
people lie, people do bad things—not liberals, not conservatives, not
whites, not gays, not the immigrants, not the millennials, not the elderly.
There are hate groups, of course, but in general communities of all styles, individuals make these choices, the same way my individual
friends make the choice to use tones of hatred.
goal seeming suddenly hopeless, I stepped away from my computer and wandered
aimlessly around the small house in the Norwegian valley. The windows offered the same view to the
beautiful mountains, and the sound of the waters rushing down them hadn’t
changed, but it all seemed suddenly worthless.
mind drifted back to an exercise at my Blandin Community Leadership training. If
only people understood how much our beliefs are actually part of our brain
am going to put you into groups based upon your Meyers Briggs results and have
each group figure a way to solve this problem.”
One of the program leaders said, standing in the middle of the U-shaped
table formation near the front of the room.
rural community leaders, a variety of ages, backgrounds, gender and race had
been chosen after a lengthy application process to learn to build and sustain a
healthy community. We were learning
about ourselves, where individual and organizational blind spots may be, how we
interact with others, how to see problems from a higher perspective, how to build positive social structures, and
how to resolve conflict. Quite an undertaking for a five-day retreat.
should be interesting, I thought, as she divided us into three groups. The last
few exercises taught us all a lot about individual roles and reactions, but
this is the first big group problem-solving exercise. I smiled as everyone
stood up and a cheerful buzz filled the room, as people grabbed their materials
and re-organized themselves.
the situation,” she interrupted the chatter as people organized into smaller
circles, “You are on the board of
directors of a nonprofit organization.
Your bookkeeper, a volunteer who has been loyal, accurate, and timely
for 15 years, suddenly starts making mistakes in the financials. The mistakes seem to be growing slowly, and
one day it is brought to your attention that someone smelled alcohol on her
breath while she was at the office. What
do you do?”
stepped back and smiled knowingly. “Does
anyone need me to read that again?”
not quite as challenging as I anticipated, I thought as I turned back to my group
with a thoughtful look on my face, I already know what my plan of action
of course we need to have a conversation with her,” one member piped up right
away. “We don’t know what’s going on or
if it’s true she really had been drinking.”
“She is a volunteer,” another person chimed in. “But we do have a duty to our organization, especially when it comes to finances.”
we definitely cannot sacrifice our organization if she isn’t able to continue
here duties well, but if she needs a bit of time away from the job to deal with
a personal issue, we could find another person to help temporarily,” the next
this is easy, I
sat up straighter and looked around the rest of the conference room to see how
the other two groups seemed to be getting on. Looks like there’s a lot of
agreement in the other two groups as well, I noted, people are smiling and nodding and
seem enthusiastic with their hand gestures—-at least the extroverts.
giggled to myself. Blandin had broken
our 16 types down into sub-types, giving us further insight to each category,
and I could see that playing out in the room. Our group is much smaller than
each of the other two, I noted. We only have about ten, and the other
two are around twenty people each. That
must make it a bit more difficult to come to a resolution.
have three minutes left. Please pick
someone from your group to present your decision to the group.” The leader interrupted loudly over the
hastily picked a leader, had her summarize our final decision to us quickly,
and turned to the front of the room, waiting.
one, please present your results.”
A prominent businesswoman stood up and projected the decision easily and clearly over the group. “As the board of directors, we have no choice but to terminate her volunteer position immediately and find a replacement. We cannot tolerate any financial impropriety in the organization, as it could cause a negative impact on our nonprofit status, our revenue, and the community trust in our organization.”
that is super harsh, I
thought, stunned. No communication?
No making sure that there wasn’t some other error in the system or an
update that wasn’t her fault that was creating the errors? Wow. So much for years of loyalty. I know how much time that stuff can take.
three, go ahead,” the leader interrupted my thoughts as I shook my head and
turned my body the other direction to hear the verdict from the other side of
the executive director of a nonprofit stood and faced the group. “She has had 15 years of loyal service. We thought it was in our best interest to sit
down and have a conversation with her, offer her help, see if the matter was
one in which she wanted to leave the position temporarily or permanently. We will give her support in finding help with
her drinking if that is necessary, and do what we can to get her back on track. She is a volunteer after all, and we don’t
need to jump to harsh conclusions or actions until we understand the totality
of the problem.” She sat back down.
that doesn’t seem to protect the organization fast, and is completely opposite
of the first group’s answer.
2?” The leader prompted.
spokeswoman, who worked for a large corporation, stood up and announced our
decision, an exact blend of the other two.
Starting with compassion and curiosity, and if the issue wasn’t fixed,
to take strong disciplinary action.
brain wiring determines how we make these kinds of decisions. Holy crap. And my group’s brain wiring has a blend of
both sides, which is why we are smaller and have a blend of both answers.
understanding hit me as ways to increase communication and synergy to pull two
conflicting sides together became clear.
and nurture both influence how we see and interact with the world as
individuals. The drama in the media of
all sides now shapes the tone and grace, or lack thereof, in which individuals choose to share their
opinions and the stories they hear.
mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice—-don’t say anything at all. I don’t believe that is true. Communication is necessary for a vibrant
community. We need to be able to
disagree, to have respectful conflict, to speak our minds, to share what is
disturbing us and why. However, it can
be done in a curious, educational, and amicable way. Are there people spouting melodrama and
hatred out there? Of course. Does that mean you need to match their
tone? Absolutely not.
something someone says triggers you and makes you extremely angry, is there a
way to pause, take a breath, and reply in a manner or tone that conveys your
disagreement in a way that opens communication? What kind of attitude and tone opens you to
listening to an opposing point of view? Try using that.
my challenge for you this week. Whether
it’s a disagreement with your child, your coworker, your friend, or on social
media, take a breath. Realize that
everyone has a right to their own opinion, no matter what information or lack
thereof informs it. You may not be able
to change someone’s mind, but you won’t for sure if you attack them. Ignore those who haven’t learned these lessons
yet, except to prompt them to please use a different tone.
give ourselves a chance to heal our communities and our relationships. Let’s
say what we need to, nicely.