Jennifer Abrams -Consultancy that informs, inspires, and empowers VOICE
January 2014

Wonder Woman to the Rescue

Happy New Year.� I am not one for New Year resolutions.� But for this year I am working on one that I think is critical to my growing up.� Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) tweeted this wonderful statement, "One of the greatest gifts is that of being good at disappointment: having non-persecutory, speedy, resilient emotional digestion."� While de Botton talks about being good at disappointment as a ‘gift,’ I believe we can and need to build our ability to deal with disappointment, with feedback and with conflict.� It is a resolution I am making for myself this year - to build up the ability to be on the listening end of hard conversations and listen with grace. The question is how...

Here are a few of the strategies I am incorporating into my Having Hard Conversations - Part II section on "Receiving Feedback with Grace."

1) Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," is for folks who want to ‘fake it til you become it.’ She speaks of research on how standing like Wonder Woman - hands on hips, strong posture - for 2 minutes can make you feel and act more confidently.� How about doing it before a meeting where you might receive difficult feedback? Or when you know you will be hearing some differing perspectives that might be uncomfortable?� So many uses for Cuddy’s work.

2) Remember Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism research.� Don’t globalize, localize.� Think short-term, not long-term.� Think change is within your sphere of control, not outside your ability. I used to teach Seligman’s research to my high school students who received grades and feedback every hour on the hour.� It has also helped me keep a more positive perspective on getting difficult feedback in my career.

3) Take a tip from an expert, HBR Blogger Mark Goulston, in his piece "Don’t Get Defensive: Communication Tips for the Vigilant." Goulston has this possible response to a sudden negative interaction. "’Whoah! Let’s each take a breath here because I am feeling very reactive and I know until I calm down a bit, whatever I say or do now will only make this conversation worse. And I am not going to do that." Then take that breath and say, "Okay, what’s clear to me is that something is frustrating you. What, in your mind’s eye, would you like me to do to make that frustration go away?’"

May your 2014 be one of humane, growth-producing conversations and speedy emotional digestion.

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916, Skype me at jenniferabrams, tweet me @jenniferabrams or email me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cool Resources

Jane Kise has written a wonderfully substantive and thoughtful book on Polarity Management entitled Unleashing The Positive Power Of Differences: Polarity Thinking in Our Schools.
Many times we think we have problems that can be solved when they are actually polarities that need to be managed.� A great resource!

In designing HHC Part II I am discovering how much work we all need to do around compassion, awareness and understanding of others.� Catherine Woodiwiss is assistant web editor for Sojourners and wrote an incredibly touching piece entitled The New Normal: Ten Things I Have Learned About Trauma that I feel everyone, especially teachers, coaches, administrators and health care workers, should read. �

And for those who are truly dealing with winter at its most cold, a blog from my friend, Beth Kessler, from entitled "Eat and Sleep.� You have my permission."

Bring out your ‘inner bear’ this season.� Stay warm.

Upcoming Events

Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!

Feb 5�������� �����������������
Polarity Thinking Meets Having Hard Conversations -
Both/And, Not Either/Or
Teacher Leaders/Administrators
University of Chicago Laboratory School
Chicago, IL

Feb 6��������������������������
Being Generationally Savvy
2014 Academy for Division Heads
Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS)
Chicago, IL

Feb 7-8
Women & Conflict and Millennial, Xer and Boomer Women at Work
Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE)
Annual Conference
Boston, MA

Feb 11�����������������������
Having Hard Conversations - Part II
Capitol Region Educational Council
Hartford, CT

For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.

Until next time!


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