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.
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.