Building bridges one conversation at a time

Karen Heras-Kelly, Certified Coach & Leadership Facilitator at A Tribe Called Woman

Change begins with a series of powerful (often difficult) conversations. Opening a new dialogue and speaking words that can feel uncomfortable will open the space for transformation and move you closer to your desired goal and outcome. 

It’s rare that a solution arises at the very beginning of a discussion, so leaders need to prepare themselves for the long haul. When it comes to many of the issues that are presenting themselves right now (race, sexuality, gender), wanting change isn’t enough, we have to be willing to pull up a chair and dig deep, together.

Part of the issue is that it’s hard to truly understand how it feels to be a woman today, if you are a man, because you are looking at the world through different lenses. However, by holding the desire to wish to understand more, you have already taken an important step. 

“You’re right, I don’t fully understand how it is for you, but I would love you to share your experiences. I really want to build a different reality alongside you, what do you need from me for us to create a resonant change?”

Then wipe the slate clean and get creative. What could sustainable change really look like, feel like, sound like? What is the end goal and what’s the next step? What is needed to stay on this new path, how will you know that your agreements are working? What will you do to realign when progress is halted?

I want to share a personal antidote here. After the death of Sarah Everard and the outpouring of grief that has happened in the UK, I went to a place of despair. I remembered my own experiences and envisioned a bleak future for my daughter. 

Our world needs to change, so I pulled up a chair, dug my heels in and began some difficult conversations with those I love. Starting with my husband and then my parents. To start with, I was (understandably) met with defensiveness. It seemed nobody wanted to really have this conversation with me, I held the space and I talked, sharing story after story. 

The energy changed and the conversations fell silent, I was wise enough to let things settle. The following day, I heard these words, “we are going to create a different reality for you, we are going to educate you and Mummy will guide you.” Hope landed in my heart and I added, “we are going to support you and talk to you together because both of us are needed in the creation of this new reality.”

My intention is for my daughter to know her worth and for her to be equipped to have her own difficult conversations, starting with “no.” And I plan to involve my husband in this vision because I want our discussions to be balanced and inclusive, for her to know that this is a conversation to be had with women and men.

I truly believe that the change we all seek is one of unification, one where we are educated and supported to listen, honour and create together. It may seem like a long arc, but by sitting down together we stand a chance of furthering change.

My top tips for furthering conversations in the workplace are:

  • Start at home, have difficult conversations with those you share your personal life with first and test the water, grow and share.
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness, connect to nature and get used to listening to your own inner wisdom.
  • Pull up a chair and listen, talk, reflect, listen, agree, create. 
  • Do not be scared to disagree and request space to reconsider and come back, and pull up your again, and start over. Often the answers we seek arrive after a good night’s sleep or while brushing our teeth!
  • Above else, be prepared to listen and then allow what people are saying to be heard, this will build trust.

Holding the space for ongoing conversations builds bridges and creates change

This blog was written by Karen Heras-Kelly, A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, meditation and creative visualisation expert. Karen is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman.

What we can all learn about Megxit – a Certified Coach’s perspective

I have found myself gripped by Megxit the last few days and as a Certified Coach and Communications Expert of 23 years, I believe this situation is one that offers a lot of learning for us in all areas of our life, especially in the workplace… This blog is dedicated to creating real-life conversations at work, however it can be used in any area of conflict that may be happening in your life right now… Here goes.

This is difficult and I can handle it

In 2008, I was knocked sideways in a hit and run accident. Stop, my inner voice -screamed from within.

Twenty minutes earlier I said these words, “Please God make this stop.” I was in a difficult spot in my life, working under the remit of an aggressive boss. My confidence was in tatters, I’d given up on my creativity and ability to walk away. 

I have never felt so useless in all my life, I knew that the only way out was to say “no.” And yet day after day, I did the same thing hoping for a different result. “I need to quit,” I’d say with tears running down my face. “Stick it out, you can do it,” said the general consensus. I wanted to believe them but the truth was, I was dying inside. I threw everything I had at it, but it wasn’t enough, it could never have been enough. The truth was that this job was not for me, my intuitive, deep feeling and sensitive nature was too heavily impacted. The cost was too great. 

I knew this within the first hour of walking the floor. My new boss greeted me with frantic eyes, the smooth facade and calm mask worn in the interview, now firmly discarded. It didn’t take long before that look was present in my own eyes.

What I now know, what this experience taught me:

We always know the way out or at least the next step. Our instincts are forever guiding us back home and no amount of pride, money, status and so on is worthy of our peace of mind, openness of heart, creativity and vibrancy.

Nobody really knows how I feel inside or what I am capable of, so this is my responsibility to discern. This is the true meaning of empowerment. 

I also discovered that all human beings, myself included need a level of respect and kindness in order to really thrive. And of course developing a respectful relationship within is an essential part of this journey, so take every opportunity you can to dive deeply into your own sacred well. 

I learnt how to walk again and how to walk away, and my journey took a more meaningful turn. I have made peace with this period of my life and I can see how it supported me to rise, shine, and expand. 

The injuries I sustained that day are serious and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not reminded of the many lessons brought about during this cycle. My healing journey was (is) intense covering the physical, emotional and spiritual domains. I discovered the power of belief and how change can be brought about by planting small seeds, like for example working with a simple mantra. 

My thanks go out to the many people who came to my rescue, to the surgeon who saved my leg, the nursing angel who allowed my Mum to stay by my bedside outside of visiting times – his name was Emanuel of course. And to Louise Hay for her book, “You can heal your life.” Her simple mantra, “I can handle it,” supported me through challenging times and still rings true today.

While I couldn’t handle the daily walk of fear that was the norm in that particular place, I could and still can handle the next phase of my life. And most importantly I can handle pain. 

Remember you are responsible for you, for your own truth and for listening to the wisdom of your own heart. If you say yes to building a life that vibrates with the song in your heart, you will find nirvana. And if you lose your way from time to time, you will discover that beauty and love exist alongside pain. 

When the tears arrive I know I am home in my heart. It’s really that simple. 

My message to you is this:

During the darkest times, when your heart is broken open, there is a gift waiting for you. You can always choose to learn how to rise, how to recieve love and dig for your life’s purpose. If you stay the distance, open up to the pain, the shame and wait for the lesson, you will grow and be given opportunities to share your wisdom with others. 

If you are reading this blog and struggling in any way, this question is for you:

What is your next step? 

The danger of women v men and how we bring true balance into the workplace

The tide is turning in culture, the way we view ourselves and each other. Press for Progress, Me too and Time’s up campaigns fuelled by Oprah Winfrey’s speech at The Golden Globes are creating a growing global awareness around issues of sexual harassment and gender in equality, and putting increasing pressure on Business to change.

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