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Thinking Out Loud - Ep: 015 Care-Frontation / Don't Storm the Castle

podcast May 10, 2021

Welcome to “Thinking Out Loud” with Dr. Joe Currier!  Here, we’ll be regularly sharing Dr. Joe’s latest groundbreaking insights.

What does it mean to allow space for disagreement, while maintaining mutual respect for our fellow people? There’s a right & wrong way to engage in “Care-Frontation.”

Episode Transcript:

Andrew J. Mason:
This is Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier, episode 15, Care-Frontation, Don't Storm the Castle. Welcome to Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name's Andrew J. Mason, and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life-changing halftime inspiration, and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe's playbook to pull it all together when we're on the field. Today, Dr. Joe breaks down what it means to maintain mutual respect for humanity while allowing space for disagreement, something he calls care-frontation. Here's Dr. Joe with more.

Dr. Joe Currier:
Before we begin, please take a deep breath and just hold it for a second and exhale. Take a thoughtful moment. Clear your mind. Feel calm. In my last podcast, I said that leadership is spelled with one letter, the letter I. I may not have been clear enough when I suggested that a critical step as a leader is to go from me to we. I didn't mean to go after oppositional voices with a baseball bat or a confrontational attitude. It wasn't bad enough that we were distressed by a pandemic. Now we have news from Washington. In the political window, storming the castle is not a sign of leadership. If anything, it signals a lack of leadership, a leadership void. The job of a leader is to add value, to find solutions, to help heal, and when necessary, to address difficult issues with a strong voice, but let me add in a strong, caring manner. I call it care-frontation, not confrontation. After all, we are all in this together, are we not? I failed to mention that leadership takes two forms. It is often a capital I, something I, each individual, must do in service to my true, authentic self, to speak my truth as I know it. At other times, leadership is spelled with a small I. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, do I stand down and take one for the team? That's not selling out. It's compromising, being a passionate, reasonable, and responsible partner. In both instances, a person doesn't diminish their self or the other person, the me or the we, or in any way drive their agenda at someone else's expense. I do not intend to intimidate you or undercut your position when I speak my truth. As the saying goes, I'm attempting to build bridges, not burn bridges. However, please keep your eyes on the critical difference between my intention and the impact of my choices. Remember, you may think you know the impact you create, but you never know until someone tells you. The potential danger of intention versus impact is best managed by effective communication. I'd like to offer a model for your consideration, one that can help build momentum and diminish drag, be it in your intimate relationships, be it as a parent, be it on the job and certainly in your community. Please, stop just driving your point and waving placards in my face. In effective communication, being right is not the point even when you're correct. There is the old saying might is right, but that's the legacy of a bully on the playground or the foundation of a dictatorship. In a loving family, in high-performance organizations, and in a thriving, diverse, inclusive society, the power is in the paradigm of me to we. Passionate partnerships take work, beginning with clear rules of engagement. What is the obligation of each and every partner regardless of one's rank and authority? The psychology of difficult conversations is grounded in the principle that all difficult conversations are actually three separate conversations, content, emotion, and impact. Each one is important. Most individuals use only the first, they drive the dialogue. Now wait, it's not really a dialogue. Dialogues have two parts, speaking and listening. So the first, content conversations, are data, information, perceptions, facts, at least facts as I know them. The at-risk point of content communication is that it typically ends up in a debate or worse when tension rises. Debating and driving your point do not build passionate partnerships. They produce tension, not resolution, hence the second conversation. Affective communication is simply how each person feels. One tricky part of the second conversation is that it's often nonverbal. You have to look. Body language is the cue, like facial set, and you need to listen, word selection and vocal inflection. Take the word W-H-A-T. Feel the message when I smile and say, "What?" versus glaring at you and blowing off steam with the word, "What!" followed by a nasty breath out or changing the complete meaning of your words when given with sarcasm or shame. Are you stupid? Is that really a question? Hence, the third psychological component is the impact a person creates. The third conversation impact point often begins with the words, it feels as if. It feels as if you think I'm stupid like you're talking down to me. That causes people to build walls and eventually storm the castle rather than work out difficult challenges we face. We, you and I, me and you, we are best served when we create clear rules of engagement. By the way, silence is not a partner option. What do you know that I need to know, and, oh please, sit with me. Don't stand over me. Stephen Covey adds a very important summary focus on how to manage difficult conversations in his fifth habit, seek first to understand then to be understood. In my book "10 Leadership Contracts to Build Power Teams," the third contract proposes the one rule, later changed to the team rule. Every individual, regardless of rank or position, is obligated to tell others how they impact him or her positively and negatively. These thoughts and feelings will be shared in a caring spirit and received as a sign of respect. Family, community, team, country demand work to reach their full positive potential. Please, get back to work. Your leadership opportunity is to build bonds between me and we. If that was easy, then everyone would do it. We're looking for a leader to step forward. Are you ready? Thank you and blessings on your way.

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