As I continue my series of growth along this personal and intimate journey to become a better leader and CEO for this company…and in the spirit of getting ready for all those “New Year, New You” obligations/stress/requirements/judgings that I know you’re planning to load on yourself over the next 3 weeks… Let’s dive in to my experience with Module 2 of Marsha Clark & Associates’ POWER of Self program.
What did I learn in Module 2?
I learned that I have a SAY in my life. What comes into our cupboards and closets, what goes into our bodies, the people with whom we spend our free time (women in particular), the gifts we give, the thoughts we focus on. Anger is a choice. Resentment is a choice. Clutter is a choice. So are spaciousness, flexibility, laughter, compassion, tenderness, and resilience.
Module 2 continued to plant the seeds for new ways of thinking – new ways of looking at myself as a woman and for seeing other women differently. The module also had a completely different structure which I’ll admit TOTALLY threw me off balance.
Session 1 focused on my personal vision for leadership. There was a lot of lecture-style teaching, note-taking, and PowerPoint slide-gazing with little interaction. We all got comfortable in classroom mode. It’s easy to blend in or even hide out in that setting. You’re not required to be vulnerable, or even to communicate very much with others. It’s safe.
Module 2, however, threw all of this out the window and introduced a unique structure of interaction called “T-Groups,” or Training Groups. Over the four days that comprised Module 2, the objectives were:
- To see myself as others see me through a Formal Feedback structure,
- “When you ___________ (describe a behavior), the impact on me was _________ (describe reactions, thought process), and I felt ___________ (name the feeling – not “I feel that…”).
- To improve my interpersonal skills in groups,
- To increase my awareness of how being a woman affects my participation in groups,
- To increase my awareness of issues affecting women in groups and organizations, and
- To increase my ability to build powerful partnerships with other women in my personal and professional relationships.
A woman’s life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience.” ~~ Wallis, Duchess of Windsor
Talk about an INTENSE EXPERIENCE… in a nutshell, our group had no absolute structure or requirements for the four hours a day we spent in T-Group other than:
- Participation is voluntary,
- Discussion deals with the “here and now”… our interactions with each other, not “back home” issues,
- No expectations or guidelines from the group facilitators,
- This one was really tough because it required that we initiate our conversation with ZERO guidance and no objectives. This might sound easy, but get a group of women together and see how uncomfortable any length of silence is.
- No guidelines around creating or limiting conflict, trying to get everyone to get along, or other “nice” outcomes.
The Johari Window
The intensity of these four days was compounded because, in a new group (after all, we had only all met each once in Module 1 last month), Box 1 is very limited. It doesn’t feel natural, yet, to casually chat about the weather let alone be personally vulnerable with one another. There’s not much free and spontaneous interaction. It takes time for the group to grow comfortable, mature, and use “disclosure techniques” to expand the size of Box 1.
Box 2 and Box 3 shrink as Box 1 grows. We find it less necessary to hide or deny things we know or feel because it actually takes more energy to hide, deny, or be blind to behaviors involved in interacting with others.
In an atmosphere of growing mutual trust, there’s less need to hide pertinent thoughts or feelings. However, it takes time for Box 2 and Box 3 to reduce in size, usually because there learned behaviors and “good reasons” of a psychological nature to blind ourselves to the things we feel or do.
Women’s Unspoken Friendship Rules
One of the best learnings I took out of the four days was “Women’s Unspoken Friendship Rules.” See how these affect your life and women’s relationships…
- Unswerving loyalty
- Good listener
- Ability to keep confidences
- Share gossip & air problems (hello IRONY with the previous bullet!)
- Constantly self-disclose
- Practice equality and acceptance
- Rarely disapproving – especially face-to-face. Behind backs, is a whole other ballgame!
- Don’t discuss the Friendship Rules
Unspoken, and often unconscious, relationship expectations can become filters for interpreting the behaviors of all other women. For example, many women have different behavioral expectations of female vs. male bosses… expecting more “nurturing” and relational behaviors from women bosses.
I had a lady that I worked for who was more like a man (task focused), and it did drive me away more. With a guy, I would have expected it, but I expected a little bit more of a relationship from her. It was all she could do to say, ‘How was your day?’ It just killed her to ask it, and that made it real uncomfortable for me.” ~~ Sheri – High Tech Industry
Renaming and reclaiming the positive patterns that expand The Johari Window and build relationships and teams can help us resist internalizing negative stereotypes (such as, all women are catty and untrustworthy) that set us up against each other.
Learning to differentiate between our positive and negative patterns of speech can also help to create more trusting and collaborative work environments that will benefit everyone… both here at Lifestyle Frisco and at your company!
Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you have any comments or questions about this program, please leave me a note in the comments box below.