Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 87: Conversations Worth Having with Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres

February 22, 2022 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 2 Episode 87
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 87: Conversations Worth Having with Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres
Show Notes Transcript

Conversations are a part of nearly everything we do, yet most of us don’t think about the impact this daily activity has on our and others’ ability to thrive at work, at home, or in any social setting.

In Conversations Worth Having, Second Edition: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement, Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres use real-life examples to show how Appreciative Inquiry (identifying what’s working and building on it, rather than just trying to fix what’s broken) and asking generative questions (those based in curiosity, fostering inclusivity) vastly improves any conversation. 

The revised edition of Conversations Worth Having contains a wealth of new material, including new examples, updates on the latest supporting research in neuroscience and positive psychology, a discussion guide, and a new chapter on “tuning in,” a process to cultivate awareness of factors that influence our interactions, plus a three-step technique to prime ourselves for conversations worth having.

Book Stavros and Torres to learn how anyone and everyone can learn the practices detailed in their book to spur conversations that strengthen relationships, build effective teams, and generate healthy environments in which everyone thrives. Click here for more about the book. 

About Stavros & Torres

Jackie Stavros is professor at the College of Business and Information Technology, Lawrence Technological University, and an Appreciative Inquiry advisor at the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Stavros has more than thirty years of leadership, strategic planning, and change-management experience. Links to her social media: LinkedIn; Twitter; Instagram

Cheri Torres is CEO and lead catalyst of Collaborative by Design, a consulting firm that helps organizations improve performance, retain talent, and transform communication and culture. Torres has more than 35 years of leadership, teamwork, strategic planning and culture transformation experience.

Stavros and Torres have been researching, writing, consulting, and speaking on Appreciative Inquiry since 1996. Links to her social media: LinkedIn; Twitter: Instagram  

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We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

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Jackie Stavros:

What we have found with organizations where many people have either read the book or attended our boot camps is there some pretty simple language that people picked up on and they use with each other all the time when people have these common words or languages that trigger a meta level it takes the focus of the person is being wrong or guilty or less than or bad for being below the line. And instead it's like no, you've just been completely hijacked neuro physiologically, but we can undo that. And you can undo that.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of war, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe, favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review revelon HR rebels rebel HR listeners, thanks for joining us this week. I'm really excited for the conversation. This is all about conversations, which is basically hrs job. So I'm really excited to have the conversation today with Jackie Stavros and Sherry Torres. They have written a book and released a second edition called Conversations worth having, using appreciative inquiry to fuel productive and meaningful engagement. Jackie is a professor at the College of Business and IT Lawrence Technological University and appreciative inquiry advisor at the David L cooperrider. Center for appreciative inquiry. She has more than 30 years of leadership, strategic planning and change management experience. Sherry is CEO and lead catalyst of collaborative by design, a consulting firm that helps organizations improve performance, retain talent and transform communication and culture with more than 35 years of leadership, teamwork, strategic planning and culture transformation experience. Thanks for joining us this week.

Jackie Stavros:

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Kyle Roed:

Well, I'm really excited to start to dig in here. And you know, I think what a perfect topic conversations worth having, which is, you know, basically what we do all day long is have some sort of conversation. So making sure that they are conversations that we should be having, or are worth having. Seems like a pretty interesting topic for us here at rebel human resources. So why don't we start off, I just like to understand what prompted the interest in conversations worth having?

Jackie Stavros:

Well, Jackie, and I, we've known each other for quite a while over 20 years. And we wrote our first book together dynamic relationships back in 2005, with a goal of bringing appreciative inquiry to the general public. So it could be they could use that approach to life. And we decided to do an update 10 years later, and realized that our thinking had completely changed. And so we, we wrote a completely different book. And we started out with a focus on relationships, because that is really at the core of everything we do also. But working with our editor at Berrett Koehler, who kept pushing back on us to simplify it, simplify it, if we really want people to do it has to be simple. We finally realized, Oh, this is about our conversations, how can we do our conversations, so they create the kinds of relationships and practices to the we can live our best lives and be successful?

Cheri Torres:

Yeah, I would just add to that, that if you're listening, think about how much of your awakening hours you are having a conversation with yourself with others, whether it's on media platforms, emails, social media, we get people at say anywhere from 90 to 110% of the time, they're having conversations.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. You know, I think about that, you know, conversation in general. You know, what I said before we hit record, you know, that's just that's just what we do. You know, in human resources, we're all about, you know, we're all about the people right? And and in order to impact and influence people, you have conversations with them, but I feel like so often we get hung up on you know, the the tool that we use to have a conversation so is it you know, is it email? Is it virtual? Is it Video Is it is it phone call? Is it you know, face to face as opposed to the content or the you know, the conversations that we actually need to be having so, so as you as you approach the book, and As you started to dig into maybe a little, what sounds like a mindset shift, and started to focus on this, you know, where do we start by figuring out? You know, where should my energy? Where should my conversations be focused? And? And how do I prioritize the conversations that are worth having versus maybe those that

Cheri Torres:

aren't? So where do you start? That's a great question. And that's what brought us to the second edition of the book is, it's called tuning in. And if you would just, you know, if you just learned to tune in, which is, you know, pause, take a deep breath and get curious and ask yourself before, which of those conversations, where am I, and imagine you had this imaginary line. And above the line is appreciative, you're in a space where I value you, I value the situation, even if it's a difficult person or difficult situation, but you want to be coming from above the line, which are affirmative conversations, conversations worth having. And if you're below the line, you're in that depreciate of that, that protect mode, and your conversations are going to be maybe perhaps critical or destructive, and you're below the line. And you don't want to be entering conversations from below the line. So just the technique of pausing taking a deep breath and getting curious and ask yourself, Where am I?

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, my head is racing. And you know, I'm going back to Oh, yeah, I remember. Yeah, I remember that conversation. I was definitely below the line in that conversation. Yeah, that's, that's, that's a really interesting way to frame it. And, you know, it's, you know, as I think about, you know, kind of taking the taking a moment to pause and reflect, you know, in this day and age where we've got something coming at us seemingly every every week, you know, how, what tactics can we use to, to be aware of that line and to and to really inform how we approach making sure that we are having conversations worth having.

Jackie Stavros:

I think they're kind of twofold. One is to recognize that our conversations, and the words that we use, are actually deeply influential. And they have an impact on our neurophysiology when we say them, and the neurophysiology of people that hear them. And we can either throw somebody into a state of protect, the defenses come up, and if people are feeling criticized, or like they might be like thrown out of the group, which from a conditioning point of view means we think we're going to die. That the what happens just in our nervous system, is the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. We get a dump of cortisol, adrenaline, testosterone, epinephrine dumped into our systems, and we move into a place of fight or flight. When we're in that place. We can't access higher order thinking we can't access our emotional intelligence, our centers of empathy, we can't access creativity, because all we're worried about even our even our vision gets tunnel vision. And so if we want the best out of one another, the way we engage with each other is critical. And when we have conversations, as Jackie was mentioning, above the line, whether where we are valuing others, or we are adding value, through our questions and our comments, we actually create a sense of safety and psychological safety is really big in the workplace these days. And the reason is that when we feel psychologically safe, we've got a whole different set of neurotransmitters dumping into our nervous system. parasympathetic nervous system goes into effect, we relax, our brain opens up we have access to the prefrontal cortex, to the ability to connect have empathy to Access, emotional intelligence. Those are all the things we want people to have in our organizations. If we want innovation and creativity and engagement and connection, we've got to recognize that we have an immense amount of power in making that possible, just by the way, we engage with people using words.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. You know, I, I, I don't know if I can pinpoint the exact moment where I figured that out. But I remember, you know, vividly early in my HR career, that you know, the words, the selection of words, the timing of words, the the attempt to, you know, engage somebody in a conversation at the wrong time, made a huge impact on on on the outcome. And, you know, it's, you know, I remember, at one point, I went home to my wife, and it was, it was a rough day. And I was like, you know, I kind of had a lightbulb moment where I was like, wow, I realized that just a couple of the words that were, you know, misinterpreted, really screwed things up today. I spent most of my day unpacking the words that were misinterpreted to the people that misinterpreted them. And then, you know, and, and it's it, you know, whether that was because I was below the line, or that person was, you know, was not ready to hear it in either way. It was, it was a situation of ignorance of not thinking through, how will this be perceived? How is this timing going TO to occur? And the funny thing was, the entire context of that day, was I was trying to be efficient, I was trying to get things done quickly. Yes. So I'm just gonna say this. And then it blew up on my face and made me spend all day dealing. So So you know, clear, so I'm walking through all the things I've done wrong now. So so what? So as we approach these types of things, especially in HR, where sometimes we're dealing with people who are in that emotional state, looking for solutions kind of already in fight or flight mode, you know, as you enter that context, and you've got somebody who's whose psychological safety is is not strong. How do we work through that? And how do we kind of, you know, tiptoe into those conversations, ultimately, to, you know, try to try to resolve a situation.

Cheri Torres:

That's a great question, Kyle. You know, I one thing comes to my mind, because we're all gonna fall below the line. We're humans, and we talk about this in the book. But when you know you're below the line, you can feel it. If you have a smartwatch on, it'll tell you about your blood pressure, or your heart rate. And when you pause, breathe and get curious. You can ask the other person, let's do this over, it's called a do over. And when you begin to go above the line, and we had mentioned Appreciative Inquiry, Appreciative Inquiry is asking, What would you like more of what would you like to see happen? What is it you'd like to talk about? Because people usually come in with their problems, but they don't like what they don't want to talk about. And that's where you need to, through your questions is one of the practices generative questions or framing really began to talk about? What would you like to see happen? What would you like to talk about today? What do you want to see more of?

Kyle Roed:

So when you're asking those types of questions, is that is that kind of flipping the switch in the brain to go away from kind of that? I don't know what the right word is for like almost that animalistic fight or flight, you know, aggressiveness into kind of the higher level self.

Cheri Torres:

Yes. Yes. And that's where the science is behind it, because a generative question can create that frame that positive frame by just asking the questions, and sometimes you have to ask the same question three times because the person is in such a disconnect, protect mode that you know, how do you see it and they may give you a funny look. Let's talk about what you'd like. And so sometimes asking a generative, the same generative question two or three times, they begin to relax, they begin to open up and they want to engage in a conversation worth having with you.

Jackie Stavros:

And sometimes, they just want to be heard first. And so asking the question that says, you know, tell me what's going on what's what is happening? How's it impacting your ability to work? And then moving to Okay, what do you need or what would you like to have happen can be highly effective, often being seen and heard is enough to shift somebody to being ready to move to something else, as opposed to being dismissed or stopped?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, I think, you know, that's a really powerful tool. Um, and I don't ask me where I were heard this, but you know, the question I like to ask is, so what does good look like for you? You know, or, you know, something along those lines, right? Yeah. And a lot of times, you're like, Well, I don't I don't know, I, you know, I just, I'm just, you're supposed to tell me what, you know, you're supposed to tell me how to fix. But it's, you know, a lot of times, you know, I have also learned this through, you know, trial and error that, you know, I assume that I understand what somebody actually wants me to do. And I'm just flat out wrong. And you know, and I'm on, and sometimes I'm on equipped to even help them with that. And it's, it's really about making, they're making sure they're connected to the right resources that can actually help them. So what one of the things I wanted to ask, and I'm sure my listeners are probably feeling this, especially as we go through, we're recording this in January, there's a COVID spike, there's all sorts of questions around work from home, there's wage inflation, like there's all sorts of things coming on HR right now, I guarantee you that that many of us are dealing with people who just want to vent, you know, and a lot of times HR is office can kind of turn into what I call, it's like the school counselor, right? Where you just, you walk into the office, and people just kind of sit down and they just start to complain. And, wow, I want to help people have, you know, good relationships and connections at work. And I think most HR people are fairly empathetic and want to help people solve their problems. A lot of times those conversations are draining, and really don't resolve much. So as as we're dealing with those types of interactions. Or maybe maybe that's what you know, people assume HR should be, how can we take those types of interactions and make them conversations worth having.

Jackie Stavros:

So I think one of the and this is one of the practices from our book, the first one Jackie spoke about a little bit was generative questions. The second one is using a positive frame. And so listening long enough to the person who's venting to get an idea of what the nature of the problem is that they're wanting to vent about, and perhaps even asking questions, to get it to make sure it's clear and and, you know, putting yourself in the play place instead of in like, Oh, here they come again, they're going to event I don't, that puts you below the line. And now both of you are below the line, to move into that space of how can I support this person in helping to solve their own problem, or help them to get clear on what it is that they want? So flip it around in your own mind to a challenge. To create help the person create a positive frame for what what they are wanting? And then to ask enough questions have to get clear on what the problem the nature of the problem is, then flip it to the positive opposite. So if somebody comes in venting about their boss, for example, never had no listen. Yeah, don't listen to me, they don't care about who I am bla, bla, bla, bla. And take, you know, take notes, write that down. If you have a whiteboard, write it up there. So the person can actually see the problem they're describing. And when you've got it all up there to finally say, okay, so this is what the problem is, right? And get them to say yes, that's it. Now they feel heard. And you could flip it to the positive opposite, say, Okay, if the positive opposite of that were true, if your boss listened to you, and truly valued you, and write all that up in the second column, if that were true, what would be the outcome for you? What would that be like? What would your work environment lead be like? What would your relationship be like in in that third column, then write down that that positive frame, this is where the person is wanting to go? They want a good relationship, they want to be heard and valued. And then you can be in a conversation with them around you know, even asking this is like standard Appreciative Inquiry question. Has there ever been a time when you have felt valued by your boss and your boss to listen to you? Oh, yeah, about nine months ago when and then they describe what what were the conditions that made that possible, but you value about yourself and your boss, how can you and your boss begin to recreate those things? And then do you want to try this on your own? How could you have a conversation with your boss about that? Do you want to have a conversation with me and your boss and you? But now you've you, you've listened, they vented, but but they're now moving in a different direction?

Kyle Roed:

That's, that's great advice. I'm thinking, geez, I don't have a, I have a whiteboard. But that putting that, you know, putting that visual question on that on that whiteboard and then confronting that question, as opposed to letting the meandering vent? Or, you know, and then, you know, and you know, what happened seven years ago? You know, I mean, I still, I'm still not over, you know, it's like, okay, all right. There's a statute of limitations at a certain point, right. And there's,

Jackie Stavros:

there's Yes, yeah.

Kyle Roed:

So, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's really an interesting technique. And I can see how that would be, you know, that that could prompt some, some good acts, some actual solutions? What about a situation where the person won't get there, like, like, it's just, they're so far below that line, that they truly are in a really dark place, or there's a you know, there's maybe a point where this, there's not going to be a productive conversation, you know, should we just sit there until it ends? Should we, you know, end the conversation, what kind of tactics do you recommend for those types of, you know, situations?

Jackie Stavros:

There's, there's one suggestion that I wouldn't make. And especially if this is if it's already been going on, if you've tried to flip it, it doesn't. They won't flip. They're just stuck down below, just to say, Okay, let's pause on this conversation just for a minute. And let's take a look at what's going on, at kind of the meta level for you right now, in terms of your ability to access your own creative potential, and your own best self in terms of being able even to identify what is it that I want. And I would bump up to the metal level of saying, here's what's going on neuro physiologically, as you keep going over this and over this. And you're going to move yourself further and further and further away from the ability for you to find any answers. And if that's what you want to keep doing, then go for it. But if you want if you want out of that cycle, so that you can reach your own full potential, then I am delighted to help you work through that. But we've got to get some different neurotransmitters going. So it takes the focus off, you're wrong. Or you're, you know, the reason you're so far down the line is because you've had this huge dump of cortisol and testosterone, and it's flooded your system. And we can switch that and what we've what we have found with organizations where many people have either read the book or attended our boot camps, is there some pretty simple language that people pick up on and they use with each other all the time? Like, oh my goodness, I am so far below the line, what can I do to help you get above the line? Or wait a minute, we'd let's stop for a minute. Let's just name what are we dealing with? What's the issue here? Let's name it. And so when they when people have these common words or languages that trigger a meta level, it takes the focus off the person as being wrong or guilty or less than or bad for being below the line and instead it's like no, you've just been completely hijacked neuro physiologically. But we can undo that. And you can undo that and adding

Cheri Torres:

to what Sherry said is sometimes it's things you are unaware of it could be the person's not sleeping enough they're not hydrated enough. There can be physiological things that I put you below the line before words even put you below the line. And you know, maybe they need a mental health day maybe you know, it's simple as drinking more water the certain things in your body pull you below the line before you've entered a conversation.

Kyle Roed:

For as my kids might say, you know dad needs to eat.

Cheri Torres:

Yes, yeah. So your blood sugar levels off. Yeah.

Jackie Stavros:

What and let me just add one other thing to that because what what that triggered for me is when somebody is keeps going on and on like that, it might be the time to just pause and say, what's really going on for you? Because it may have nothing to do with the fact that they're, they're railing up here but their partner's threatening to leave them or, you know, yeah. Yeah, are they're overwhelmed because of COVID and filled with anxiety and or they've decided this isn't the place for me to go, and I don't know where else to go.

Kyle Roed:

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Cheri Torres:

And, Kyle, you mentioned earlier, when you find yourself assuming, go to asking. So when you are assuming something about somebody or something, just start to ask. And if you ask these generative questions that are leaning in, and you really care, and they're open ended, you're going to learn more about the other person?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, yeah. And I think, you know, we, we get caught in, I think, in this not just HR, the corporate world gets caught up in thinking, well, what's the right thing to say? Or what, you know, how do we, how do we spin this correctly? You know, and, and, as opposed to actually just just taking a pause and listening and, and responding with authenticity? And a little bit of, you know, just humanity, right? I mean, you know, meeting people where they're at? Because if you don't do that, I mean, they'll pick up on it, right? Yeah.

Jackie Stavros:

Yeah, just showing that you care. And if you start there about I, I'm, I care and if you don't know what to say, just saying, say that. You know, I don't know what to say, and I want to support you, how can I? What can I do? Yeah, genuine connection. And also Sherry's

Cheri Torres:

really modeling and I hear it in your voice to Kyle tone and direction you want, um, you know, people know when you come at them with a critical tone, that they can't even listen to what you're saying, but they know just the tone of your voice shuts them down. Even if you're trying to help. So having a tone that is much more appreciative and calming when you're in a difficult situation is going to begin to open up and help that person connect to you.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it's, it's funny, you mentioned that because, you know, the, one of the challenges I think, that I faced early in my career was I was trying to be HR I, you know, I was trying to be what I thought HR should be for or I was trying to be what I thought a business leader or a manager should be and what that did is it it prompted me to essentially flip a switch and become just pure logic, like binary like, you know, no emotion, how can I help you? This, you know, do this do that, you should do this, you should do that. This was the policy you should do this. This is the rule you should do that. This versus you superior, you need to go to them first, you know, those kinds of like that level of thinking, and it took me a number of years to realize that the connection, the humanity, the actual the richness of the conversation, the richness of the relationship matters a whole lot more than the content of you reading from a handbook. Mm hmm. Absolutely. So absolutely, just just wonderful content. And I think something that that we can all can all, you know, learn from and, and, you know, I would just ask, you know, my listeners to think about, you know, reflect on those times where, where you've had a bad interaction, and ask yourself was I above or below the line in that interaction? You know, and the next time you start to have a bad interaction, ask yourself, where is that line right now?

Jackie Stavros:

And, and also ask, what, what was what either what story? Did I make up about the other person? And could a different story have explained the same facts? And how do I know what the real story was? If I don't ask questions?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, I mean, I, you know, I love, I love stories, you know, and I, and I'm really good at creating that creating that picture in my head about why this person is mad, or, or what this person should do, or what happened in that situation without actually even understanding what actually happened. And you know, when you confront that, you realize, oh, these are just this is just a bias like this is I'm just reacting because of something that happened this way, however many, however, many years ago, or in a similar situation, etc. So one of the things I want to talk about a little bit as it relates to conversations is the stories that we tell ourselves and believe, coming into the workplace. So what I'm really talking about is some of the some of the polarization that we see in our society today where somebody believes this about masks somebody believes this about vaccines, somebody believes this about the president, somebody believes this about the past president. And it's, it's, it's just there's a lot of that kind of noise that has trickled into the workplace certainly has, has not made our job any easier. So as we're confronting people who are believing, you know, they're their version of a story. And there's, there's maybe some, some conflict or some challenges in the workplace as it relates to those types of conversations. How can we help to mediate that or, you know, kind of try to reduce some of that polarization in the workplace through conversations?

Jackie Stavros:

Boy, that is a big question, I think. Especially when being in the workplace, under COVID scenarios, can raise all sorts of anxieties for people, no matter what side of anything you're on. I think, again, being able to have have conversations that move away from people's belief systems, and, and the strength that they bring to the workplace, what, you know, how do we work together, there's a colleague of ours who's a jazz musician. And when he talks about bringing these practices into everyday living in an organization, he he equates it to improvisational jazz. And he says, I don't have to like every jazz musician, I just have to be able to trust that they know how to do their to play their notes, to riff when everybody riffs, that they will, they will be part of the thing we are trying to do together. And if they're an excellent musician, I don't care whether I like them or not, or ever hang out outside the office, but I can love performing with them because they're really good at what they do. And so perhaps focusing on what are the strengths each person brings to the team? And how do we how do we act access that in the best ways that we can being human with each other and let the stuff that we're polarized about fall away? That might be one. One approach and I guess it also depends on whether somebody wants to keep harping on it and they want. You know, there's a lot of juice that comes out of stirring, stirring the pot and the pot gets stirred Every day by the media.

Cheri Torres:

So I would add to what Sherry saying. So we're talking about asking these, um, these generative questions make room for diverse in different perspectives. You know, how do you see it? Why do you see it that way? It can surface new knowledge and it were you getting your information, your knowledge, we're really having a conversation, because we're polarized. But But why are we this way? Where are you getting your information and just beginning to share it, even though we may still at the end of the conversation, go back to I'm not going to wear a mask, and I am going to wear a mask? Especially if there's no policy in the workplace, about when you wear a mask or don't wear a mask? And then you're kind of figuring it out?

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it's it's a it's definitely a tough one. It's something that, you know, there's certainly been division in the workplace. I've had, you know, different levels of interactions over the years. I don't know that it's necessarily anything new, it certainly seems more pronounced. You know, just and I think, you know, my theory there is it's everybody's under duress, right now, and there's, you know, there's, there's so much stress in people's lives and the personal lives that, you know, it's kind of trickling into the workplace. So, you know, and I'll be honest, one of the challenges that we've had is, like politics at work. You know, it's always kind of been one of those things where, you know, we just don't talk about that stuff at work. Right. You know, and that's, that's kind of the the school of thought that I was I was certainly raised in, but it's almost impossible not to have work at this point. Because if Yeah, if there's no policy, you're either wearing a mask, or you're not at work. And it's almost like everybody knows exactly where you stand. And it's, it's easy to, to create our own stories in our heads about what somebody believes or what they think and why it's a lot harder to actually engage them in a conversation that could potentially prompt, you know, some conflict. So is, in a conversation worth having, is conflict inevitable? Is that going to happen?

Cheri Torres:

You know, I'm going to give a very specific example, if I may, um, you know, I work at a university, and there's a policy of when students can come to class and go on Zoom, and think about it at work when you can have a virtual meeting or come to work. And the policy says, if you go through the Dean of Student Services, and you have COVID, or you're in quarantine, you can use Zoom. And the conflict is, well, what if I can't get tested, and I'm not feeling well, can I come in virtually, and I haven't been able to get to, you know, things start creeping up. Because it's the first time we've had a policy like this. So I think you have to be willing to, as a manager, be a little bit flexible with new policies that are written and we haven't fully experienced them. So with me and my students, I come up with the sub policy that you can, I will put you on Zoom, I promise that you will go to the Dean of Student Services, but I want you to come and learn. That's my goal. And I don't want you to take advantage of it. Same thing in the workplace, somebody wants to stay home versus coming in, but they haven't gotten their COVID test or whatever is beginning to trust your employees to say, All right, I What we really need to do in this meeting, let's get you on the platform. And then we will deal with some of the surrounding issues around that. Because this is very new territory for everybody in the world, dealing with the pandemic. And think about framing what do we really want to happen here?

Kyle Roed:

Again, it's it's interesting, because you went right back to what's the goal? You know, your goal was to make sure that they had a good learning environment. Right. And by defining that, you know, it completely changes the, the narrative from we're trying to control what you do to here's the goal of what we're trying to do here, which is very different. Yeah.

Cheri Torres:

Yes. And the conflict occurs because I read a policy, some people will read it up. Nope. You can't learn. You don't have anything from the Dean. You're not in class, and you're not learning and another professor will say, Well, no, I'll put you on Zoom. But then let's figure out how to follow this policy. So you've got to go to that framing of what do we really want to be able to learn in a safe environment and having that conversation and building trust with the employee or the student,

Jackie Stavros:

which removes the focus off the behavior and on to the desired outcome? And then people don't have to be found to be forced to be polarized because of that, it's it is is, instead of trying to convince people of something, it's finding out how do we how do we make this work with a variety of different viewpoints?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And where are we at? Where is our line? Right when we try to? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, there's such good content. The one thing I was wanting to talk about here, that's that's updated with you this revised second edition is, you do have a technique to prime ourselves for a conversation with having so can you expand upon the kind of what that technique looks like a little bit?

Jackie Stavros:

Sure. It's, it's pretty simple, just like the two simple practices of generative questions and positive framing, priming yourself is to first pause, then to breathe. And then to get curious. And the reason this simple technique works is that when you pause, it interrupts your pattern. So whatever the pattern, your reactive pattern is, when you pause, it interrupts that, that can stop the flow of those stress hormones. When you take a deep breath, or two or three, it kicks in the parasympathetic nervous system, which further relaxes your nervous system and begins to open up your ability to access the higher order centers of the brain. And then when you get curious, Curiosity is a positive emotion, and positive emotions throw you into the prefrontal lobe and the neocortex. And so now, just those three simple steps, now you have shifted your brain chemistry to the point where you can be more open and connect with people and access your centers of empathy.

Cheri Torres:

It's that simple.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, that's it, you know, it. It does sound simple. But it's, but that's not easy. Right? Right. Especially, especially when you're already below the line. I want to start using that now. So right now below the line, you guys should trademark that. Because seriously, but I mean, I, what I love about this approach, and what I think is really fascinating about this book is it's this isn't just the squishy HR stuff, you know, there, there is hard science behind this. And there's so much about the brain that we're still learning. But, you know, if if our job in an organization as leaders and human resources and, you know, people who are trying to motivate others, you know, if we don't try to understand the brain, and how people think, and we're trying to move an organization and people, you know, it would serve us well, to understand why people's behavior is the way it is or why the brain works the way it does. And, you know, I mean, that, to me, that just makes perfect, logical sense. So that we can achieve those goals that we're trying to achieve. So I love that approach. So okay, pause, breathe curious. Got it. It's only three words I think I can remember. Perfect. Well, this has been just an absolutely wonderful conversation. I feel like we're just starting to warm up. But I'm going to leave that there. And and for all of our listeners, you know, I would encourage you to learn more, pick up the book, the second edition of Conversations worth having, using appreciative inquiry to fuel productive and meaningful engagement. Check it out, we'll have those links in the show notes. So you can click right in there, and check out the book. But there's, there's so much more to learn and unpack. With that. I want to shift gears and we're going to go into the flash round. So I'm going to ask both of you, I will start with you, Jackie, what is your favorite people book,

Cheri Torres:

my favorite people book. It's actually one that Sherry recommended to me and it's called The Four Agreements. And that's probably my go to book and if you ever read The Four Agreements, and you don't get past the inside front cover, it gives you the Four Agreements.

Kyle Roed:

Cliff Notes, I like it. All right, perfect. Sherry, what is your favorite people book

Jackie Stavros:

mind changes depending upon what I've been most recently reading and right now Adam grants book Think again, is my most favorite people book. I think if we were all to think again, and then to think again, we would have much better relationships. And we will be learning all the time.

Kyle Roed:

ABS got some great content. So absolutely. Check that out. Alright, question number two, Jackie. Who should we be listening to?

Cheri Torres:

Wow, this is kind of you know, now that my daughter just got a job at HR, I would say your podcast. Yeah, I definitely innovation in HR. But if there's anything else we who should we be listening to? We've been listening to Procter and Gamble has this series called widen the view. And I would definitely tell people, if you just googled, widen the view, and Procter and Gamble how important that is, because you begin to make assumptions unconsciously and how you need to widen, widen the view. So that's top of my mind. second choice after your podcast.

Kyle Roed:

Well, thank you and the Procter and Gamble series, I actually had the honor of interviewing Shelley McNamara, who is the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Procter and Gamble, and just just absolutely wonderful things that they're doing over there. If you're looking for, you know, kind of a, an organization to aspire to be there, they're doing some wonderful things. So thank you for that. Sherry, who should we be listening to?

Jackie Stavros:

I think we should be listening to the young people. And if they're not talking, we should be asking and listening to what they say.

Kyle Roed:

I agree, I, you know, I think, and Jackie, are your daughter's going into HR. So, you know, hats off to her for jumping into the tumultuous waters, but I'm sure she's, she's got such a different perspective than I did when I was going into it. And, you know, I can say that, you know, I learned so much from people who are coming out of college. And, you know, I'll give you an example. We just hired a technical recruiter for one of our, one of our locations, and she came out of school with with such a zest for improving what we do, and a completely different level of understanding to the point that I'm like, I don't even know what that is, I'm going to have to Google what you just said, so that I can understand what you're talking about. And but there's so much there, there's so much to learn. So yeah, don't stifle that. You know, that's, that's kind of what we're all about here. Right? Keep an open mind. So love that. All right, last question. I'll open this up to both of you, how can our listeners connect with you?

Cheri Torres:

I would say, um, you can start by going to, we've got a great website, see W H dot today, which stands for conversations with an s worth having today. But we figured you won't want to spell the whole word out. And if you go to our website, you can download for free a conversation toolkit, the preface, the introduction of the second edition, we've got a blog, just a whole series of resources on our website.

Jackie Stavros:

We also offer conversation boot camps. That we know we know those the practices are simple. But as you said, Kyle, they're not easy. And so our boot camps are really intense experiencial opportunities to practice retraining the brain. And we have two of them. One is a kind of basic conversation boot camp, and one is on strategic conversations.

Kyle Roed:

Awesome. And we will have all that information in the show notes. So open up your podcast player, click in check it out. Just some really great content. And thank you for for spending the time and investing your energy and expertise into this book. Really, really been a great conversation today. Certainly a conversation we're having. So

Jackie Stavros:

thank you. So thank you so much.

Kyle Roed:

All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe