As I flew into Calgary, I could see the snow-covered fields and rooftops. It was going to be an unseasonably cold week with temperatures dipping below -20°C.
My job this week was to bring some cohesiveness, and maybe even heal, a team fractured by department lines. My plan was to do this by encouraging them to experience each other at a deeper level than their current day-to-day operations would allow. The organization was growing quickly, and everyone was running. There was no time to stop and see the big picture, to see beyond what was directly in front of them.
The mood on the first half-day of the 2-day workshop was cool. Not quite as cold as the weather outside but definitely cool. There was a certain uneasiness in the air as I opened the workshop with questions about trust and the personal meaning behind it. Participants were asked to share with their head, heart, and guts and to listen without interruption and with full attention. “Look for the meaning behind the words,” I said. “Consider the impact the others’ words have on you. What do their words say about them?”
We practiced this type of communication the rest of the afternoon and by the end of the day, there was a slight improvement in the interactions. People were starting to relax with this idea of sharing at a deeper level. They were able to experience that it was indeed safe to do so and felt pretty good.
Day 2 started with experiencing BRAVE™ communication and seeing how it’s possible to live these 5 virtues (benevolence, respect, authenticity, vulnerability and emotional consciousness), even when things get difficult. I then asked the participants to think about the positive and the difficult things for them about the organization and culture of their team. I encouraged them to include feelings and meaning behind each idea. As the groups prepared and presented their ideas, it became clear that the teams had not previously understood the impact their actions had on the others. This was a great foundation to build upon – to create a collective desire. What did they want the organization and culture to look and feel like? What would it take to get there?
By the end of day 2, things really started to heat up. Not only was the sun beating into the meeting room window, a collective meaning was being built that left the team feeling empowered and gave them new hope. I left them to sleep on these ideas of their future organization, coming back the morning of day 3 ready to tackle the “how”.
By day 3, the teams were getting tired. We spent some time talking about what each of them could do to ensure that their collective vision would come to fruition and there was a great deal of discussion about how they interact with each other. They had lots of great ideas about how to create a communication style that would indeed by BRAVE™. When we ended our session, I had a commitment from each of them to work on their specific actions, both individually and collectively.