Episode 12 – Talent Management with Sensitivity
We have moved rapidly through a significant evolution in work culture and practice with significant challenges surfacing. As employees and leaders alike are suffering burnout, finding ways to manage overwhelm is a constant priority. Sensitivity is necessary.
Lisa and I explore why setting boundaries is so challenging, what to do about much needed connection, and why we need to look beyond what we’re doing to how we are doing it.
We also explore improving the efficacy of our communication by marrying intent with impact. Tune in for some remarkable insights on the value of sensitivity at work.
Having honed her skills in senior HR and Organizational Development roles in large Canadian and global companies, Lisa is the principal Thought Partner and Results Coach at Green Apple Consulting. She uses her strategic and practical approach to help Talent Management Leaders embed programs that elevate organizational culture and drive results. She is also host of the podcast “Talent Management Truths” and monthly interactive Talent Talks.
00:04:29 How sensitivity shows up for Lisa
00:08:22 The value of sensitivity in today’s work world
00:12:48 The challenge of burnout
00:18:27 Capacity is dynamic
00:22:56 Boundaries: Is it the culture or the people?
00:32:29 Aligning intent with impact
00:37:29 Noticing fear
00:39:51 What we can expect
Learn more about and follow Lisa:
This podcast is hosted by Clare Kumar. As a productivity catalyst, highly sensitive executive coach, and speaker, Clare cultivates sustainable performance in busy professionals so they can keep making rich contributions in all areas of life and achieve greater fulfillment. She inspires leaders, professionals, employees, and entrepreneurs to respect humanity and boost performance through marrying productivity and pleasure. After all, why shouldn’t you have fun while getting things done? If you're a visual learner, she’s crafted a version for YouTube as well.
Ready to learn more, or want to find out more about coaching with Clare or hiring her for your next engaging event? Contact Clare here.
If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review as this will help other listeners discover the podcast. Please invite your colleagues, friends, and family to listen as well. Together we can improve the awareness and understanding of sensitivity as a superpower!
And don't forget, everyone (including YOU) deserves a happy space.
Audio and Video Editing by: To Be Reel
Song Credit: Cali by Wataboi from Pixabay
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 12 of the Happy Space Podcast. Today I'm exploring the challenges that leaders are facing today with thought partner and coach Lisa Mitchell.
Welcome to the Happy Space Podcast, a place where highly sensitive people thrive. Not only will we learn how to better navigate life with our superpowers, we'll find ways to better manage the challenges too. We'll hear from product and service innovators, space designers, and leaders who believe in creating an inclusive, neurologically-safe world.
If you are highly sensitive or want to better understand and support someone who is, then you are in the right place. I'm your host, Clare Kumar, and I'm so very happy you are here. Thanks so much for joining in for this episode of the Happy Space Podcast. It's a treat to talk to Lisa Mitchell.
She is the thought partner (I love that term) and consultant over at Green Apple Consulting, and she is all about helping leaders deal with overwhelm, and she brings a vast experience as a corporate leader, as a strategic thinker, and you guessed it, as a highly sensitive person to all of her work.
We dig into things such as the challenges around boundary setting, how hard it is for individuals to actually hold to what they know is important. We look at the importance of connection and how what we've seen through the pandemic and continue to evolve and what we need to actually pay attention to as we hold the priority of connection really close.
We also look at, how we work, not just what we're doing, but how we're doing it and the intention that can be put to that, that can really manifest in much richer results. But the real gem in this conversation comes towards the end where Lisa makes a connection between intent and impact. And I really invite you to hang around and wait for that part of the conversation.
It's a point I'm going to be taking away in the work that I do, and I think it’s a rich add. So as always, it's wonderful to have you joining. Thank you for making the time to be here. It is so appreciated. We love knowing that the podcast is resonating.
So if you do happen to get a chance to share with us on social media what you think, whether there's a point that you're taking away something that resonates with you or even better, a review, I'm gonna ask here for a preference for Apple Podcast just because I'm told that that's what really helped our podcast come up and be known by more people. So if you have the time, by all means, we really, really appreciate that effort. I thank you again for spending time with us, and I invite you to enjoy this episode of the Happy Space Podcast.
Today's episode of the Happy Space Podcast is sponsored by ClareKumar.com. Not only am I excited to spearhead the Happy Space Movement, I love coaching busy professionals to achieve greater productivity and well-being. The two go hand in hand.
I also adore taking the stage if you are looking for an interactive, engaging event to inspire and invite action, whether it be on successful work-life integration, sustainable performance, organization, and product, or expanding inclusivity, please visit clarekumar.com and find out more.
Oh, and if you haven't already joined the Happy Space Pod, it's our complimentary online community. You'll find it right at clarekumar.com/happyspace. Oh, Lisa, I'm so thrilled to spend time with you again and to have your wisdom and gentle ferociously, deliciously positive energy with our highly sensitive audience.
I wanted to start by asking you about your own relationship to sensitivity. I know you took the quiz recently. Maybe we could start there and you could share just a little bit of light on how sensitivity shows up for you.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah, thank you Clare, and it's so lovely to be here with you and spend a little bit of time this way.
So it's interesting because I think I went through most of my life thinking that I wasn't highly sensitive, to be honest. And it only occurred to me really in the last, I'd say seven years when I actually realized that I have anxiety, and I've had it my whole life. But I, sort of, you know, had a lot of coping mechanisms in place to deal.
And people often experience me as very vivacious, very confident, and I'm no more confident than the next person. It just happens to be sort of personality and what I project, you know, I've always found that interesting because inside I've got just as much self-doubt and stuff that I'm working on as the next person.
So with this idea of highly sensitive people, I really appreciate you kind of bringing that language into my world. When I did your quiz, I scored quite high in the sense that I am an HSP, as you would say. For me, the way it shows up is the way I can read a room. I just have this, I don't know this way, you know, like I facilitate for leadership development and I do keynotes and speaking and so on, and I work with my own clients.
And I seem to be able to intuit where somebody's at, right? I really pick up on energy. And some of that has come from some difficulty early in life, right? Like not so good stuff where I had to learn, I was always kind of on edge trying to figure out what was the landscape, what was going on here, right?
So it was a bit of protection. So as much as that was difficult, then it's turned into this beautiful gift that helps me in what I do.
Clare Kumar: I love that. It reminds me of Brene Brown saying, as a child, she was highly vigilant. I'm like, oh, you spot the HSP. And yes, she had to be a little bit on alert for what was going on.
And yeah, so that can layer on it and it can make it a little bit more difficult for HSPs as they’re adults in becoming successful. I don't want to spend a lot of time here, but is there anything you would like to share about this journey through, you know, from difficulties in childhood, and then navigating now to recognize sensitivity as a strength?
Is there anything that helped that come to be?
Lisa Mitchell: Um, well, it's really my coach training, to be honest with you. It was pretty Gob smackingly insightful. I think it was even, you know, just the first week when I went through foundations going back all six years and, you know, he's now a friend of mine, but one of the faculty members had shared that he had been able to reframe something very difficult from his past into a gift.
And it had been that his dad had a drinking problem and, and could be quite the changeling. So he never quite knew what he was gonna get when he encountered his dad. So he was always very watchful and kind of on edge. And now as a coach himself and as a facilitator and training coaches, that clearly comes into play and I immediately related because I had a similar experience with one of my parents as well.
You know, I love them both dearly. And there was this dynamic where I wasn't always sure what I was gonna get with one of them.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, there's the coach training too. I give it a lot of credit. I studied at Royal Roads and their motto is life-changing.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah, absolutely. It certainly was. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. So now you work with leaders, you work with teams and you work, you know, to help them in their journey to grow and be more successful. How are you seeing sensitivity and how it's being valued in the work? Is it being valued? I mean, just as a side thought, I, in the past, in the pandemic, two and a half years now, I've been giving leadership workshops and talking about empathy and compassion as top things we're looking for in leaders.
And we know that in highly sensitive people we're hardwired to be empathetic already. Yes. Mm-hmm, what are you noticing in your practice around sensitivity and its value in the work?
Lisa Mitchell: Okay. So that there's so much, so much to this particular topic. So I think part of it depends on the organization, the team, the leader in terms of how it's valued.
I think if the leader themselves has had the experience of understanding the value of empathy, of bringing that into relationships with their team and within the organization that they are very clear on the value of highly sensitive people as of being empathetic, of being compassionate and know, demonstrate that. I think if they haven't had that experience themselves, it's easy to get sucked into the toxic work world.
And I think a lot of, a lot of corporate cultures right now are indeed toxic. Not that companies are trying to be that. I mean, there's lots of great intentions out there, but when I see amongst my clients, both individuals that I work within a group, just the expectations placed on them, the pace, the exhaustion, the overwhelm that people are operating in more and more frequently, constantly.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Little hard to live into that, you know, the value of showing them empathy and compassion. I don't know. What do you think?
Clare Kumar: I think there's been a whole lot of lip service over the years to, you know, work-life integration demand and people saying, you know, I need some help here.
I need things to be right-sized. I need to be able to take my foot off the gas. And I actually had one client go with me on the suggestion of labeling one talk beyond lip service and we were talking about, you know, effective work-life integration. So I think there's been an attempt and a recognition that the culture maybe is… no, people are, people are not at their best.
And I'm not sure how many people, how many leaders look back and say, “oh, we have a responsibility with the culture we're trying shape. And we have a responsibility as leaders to role model what we're hoping other people to do.” And it's a real conundrum as leaders because I think we've got such highly motivated individuals, very driven, very ambitious, who are often prioritizing work over other things.
And we know the full workforce doesn't wanna do that. So role modeling is tough.
Lisa Mitchell: Um, and it starts with you. If you can't exercise compassion towards yourself, then you're, it's not even gonna occur to you, you know, really beyond surface or lip service, as you say, to demonstrate that really in a meaningful way toward your team and your peers.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, so I think we're a little bit, so heavily influenced by that culture, the hustle culture that we're in, especially North America, in Europe at least, they have better vacation policies that, you know, it's four or five weeks vacation a year. In the US you're lucky to get your two and then still people aren't taking the whole thing.
So we're in a culture of more is better and faster is better, louder is better that, you know, everything more spicy Doritos, you know, what we market. We're not after sort of dialing down and really tuning in and I think because of the pace of culture, we don't get the tuning in, therefore we don't get even self-awareness. Even so, we can't, from self-awareness then go to, “oh my gosh, this is what I could invite for other people”. We've sort of had the blinders on in a way, and where even the leaders are truly responsive and overwhelmed and burning out from a lot of the research. So the leaders are not immune here?
Lisa Mitchell: No, no. And this is, you know, so in terms of who I typically work with, I mean, as a coach, I work with leaders from across industries and different functions and so on in terms of my group programs. So, and one-on-one work that I do, I call myself a talent manager, not partner, because I really see, it's just because this is the world I came from.
I was an executive in the area of HR and talent, I see these people operating in people learning and development really being an essential part of how we can help nurture empathy and create opportunities for it, and help people understand the need to step back to refuel, to be intentional, to take the break exactly at the point when they think they can't take a break.
So I see this, you know, working with and supporting talent leaders as being this multiplier effect. And the reason I bring it up is because, you know, this program that I offer that I told you about when we were talking previously offline, the Talent Trust is a six-month peer mentoring and coaching program that I offer exclusively for these leaders.
And you know, I thought it would be an easier sell in some cases, but you know, for people to just go, “of course I need this”. But people don't often see themselves as needing space because what it does is it creates a committed, safe space to think, to ideate, to create action plans, to be more strategic, and get help with that. So it's creating the space that they don't have in the crazy day-to-day. It's focus. So interesting. So I was saying, “oh, you know, people see this because I see it all the time. You see it when I talk to you. We always kind of connect around that. Oh my goodness. And yet helping people see themselves, you know, as having that particular need.”
It was, it took more convincing, you know, once they were in, they were like, “oh yeah, this is what I need, and look at the results.” But anyways, that's what you made me think of when you were talking. Yeah.
Clare Kumar: Yeah! So let's imagine a leader’s listening right now. They're highly sensitive or they've got highly sensitive people on their team.
How have you been successful in having this need for self-awareness, for pausing, for, I call it, you know, tuning in before leaning in.
Lisa Mitchell: I like that. Yes.
Clare Kumar: How have you been successful to connect with that need and have it resonate?
Lisa Mitchell: Oh, it's one person at a time, even if I'm working with a group.
Right. So it's really helping people decide to start noticing, right? Just in the course of a day, of a week, of a month, like… I was working with a client this morning. Like, where are you feeling, in stress, in shame, you know, those rushed kinds of mode and whatever you're feeling, you know, in those negative, certain emotions.
How does it show up in your body? Right? Because that's such a key thing. Like what's, and back to Brene, she talks about that right there. There's a symptom, um, a physical symptom you can tune into and sort of, “oh, there I go. I'm, I'm, wow. I'm in stressful mode”
Clare Kumar: It's your first clue.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah. Yeah. And so what's beautiful about it, as much as it's uncomfortable is it gives you the opportunity to notice it, not only notice it but step on and pause and say it. “Okay. There I am. All right, what do I wanna do? Do I want to let go? Do I want to breathe a little bit so that I move out of this kind of reactionary mode?”
Um, so that I, you know, because you're not at your best when you're in those emotions. So it's really helping people gradually over time, learn to notice what are the things that trigger you. Um, and then from there, making new choices, experimenting, and then from there, you know, people's confidence starts to go when they see some success with, “oh, this is what works for me”, and what works for me Lisa, may not work for you, Clare. So it is an experiment.
Clare Kumar: Absolutely. That's coach training at play right there too. To stay curious. To stay curious. But yes, I added down two things I wanted to connect to based on what you just said. Number one is episode, I believe it's four. I talked to Sunil Godsy about intuition, and we talked about intuition showing up in the body, these somatic experiences that are really cues that, oh, something is going either with us, for us, or against us or puzzling us. And an invitation to check out that episode if you're interested a little bit more in some different ways you can connect to yourself and be guided.
And then I thought, wow, you know what you're inviting in this opportunity to work over a period of time and in-depth with leaders is an invitation for connection with self, which might be being dismissed. And it made me think of a question I've been asking my leaders in workshops now is we're struggling with hybrid work, right?
And how do I manage this beast, which honestly has been around for a very long time. I worked, you know, this first workforce for years. But if it's new to you and you're thinking you wanna go back, there's some stress around it, depending on what's going on.
And I've been asking leaders, “how much time in your meetings and in your intentional scripted time is spent on connection with others?” And some people have a big donut, a big zero as the answer. And other people have said to me, “oh, I weave it in everything”. And uh, yeah. Well what do you say to that?
Lisa Mitchell: Well, it's intriguing because you know, do you remember at the beginning of the pandemic and everybody was doing the virtual happy hours? Like, yeah, I remember leaders saying to me, “Yep. So every week on a Thursday, you know, we grab a cocktail or whatever your poison of choice is, (I can picture this one leader in particular), and then we just chat about life and the pets and everything and just sort of hang loose.
And that was great. And it seemed to give some energy instead of a purpose. We're all in it together and we can get through this, and we're connecting more personally. And then it lost steam and eventually, people were just so exhausted from being on camera a lot, from being in back to meetings virtually, um, that then they didn't wanna do those anymore.
And I saw some resent sort of creeping around. I didn't wanna do those extra connections things. And so then I think we moved back away from that because we were trying to get people's space from so many, so many meetings because you have to be intentional to connect when it's virtual.
And that can be wearisome. Um, so I think there's an opportunity now to figure out, well, what could connection look like in a hybrid world? And I think the answer is to be really intentional and planful about how you use your in-person time and how you use your virtual time. These are easier said than done. I think that's the key.
Clare Kumar: And it’s different for every team. Just like every person, you know.
Lisa Mitchell: And evolving. It won't stay static.
Clare Kumar: That's right. I talk a lot about dynamic capacity, right? On a great day, and everybody's firing on all cylinders, you can expect X. How many people have perfect days?
How many people have somebody in the family who's just come down with an illness or virus or covid or whatever? Whose pets just got sick? Whose internet connection just went sideways, who just had a snowstorm or a tornado where there's so much of life that happens that's always affecting capacity?
And I think one thing leadership does not do is plan for that. We plan for 115% and say, “put it in your a hundred percent bucket. “
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah. And then we're always surprised when things don't go that way. Right. All the time. Yeah. It's so funny, I think. You make a really good point. That's been something, you know, if I think about just me personally and how I see, you know, my 16-year-old son, you know, things he's struggling with as he's, you know, in grade 11 and starting to think about university and everything… is being accepting of the fact that you're not always at capacity.
Like, I shared with you, you know, before we actually hit record, that I've had a really busy couple weeks and have been feeling particularly tired in a physical way. And I'm giving myself the grace and space, quite frankly, to be okay with that. And I wouldn't have done that back in my corporate days. And I feel sorry and sad for myself when I think about that.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, right. Oh, I feel you. I feel you.
Lisa Mitchell: Oh, I look back at that woman and I think, “oh my God, there was so much push.” Yes. Push, push, push.
Clare Kumar: So much push, right? And suck it up. Push through. And all of that. And when you said, “my energy's low, I'm like, “it's okay. We're gonna dance together at whatever pace, right?” And so my highly sensitive listeners out there, um, you've got a gift in the number of mirror neurons you have, in the empathy that you have to meet and respond to these challenges.
Meet somebody where they are and say, “Hey, we're going together. It's fine. I don't have to trample you with my energy and I expect you to do, you know, have your poms-poms out and waving. I'm gonna meet you where you are, and together will bring delicious energy to what you need to do”, right?
So we have to, as leaders, I think we have to think of our people as human animals with a dynamic capacity, with ever-increasing capability before we start committing and over-committing. And there's probably the elephant in the room at most meetings, is workload. Uh, as far as I see it, it's not even talked about.
It's just assumed that the workload's gonna stay what it is. In fact, somebody's gonna be quitting tomorrow, so you're actually gonna have more on your plate than you thought. And if you wanna take a vacation, you're gonna have to pull three all-nighters to be able to take that vacation. We've just, we've got ourselves kind of wound into knots cause of the workload piece on the table.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah. And I think that there's a huge opportunity for boundaries. And when I think about, you know, a common theme that's really been coming up lately, that's just that, that word just went across my mind, sort of like an airplane pulling the message behind boundaries because it just feels like, you know, there's some folks I, you know, again, looking at my son, I think about him and people of his generation coming into the workplace, people that are already there, they don't know some boundaries in the work, right?
So they think, “oh, okay, so my boss is saying, well, this is just the way it is. Suck it up buttercup, and yeah, do those all-nighters so that you can maybe take part of your vacation”. That is actually not acceptable and they don't always have the modeling or somebody to say, that's not acceptable.
You are a whole person. You are not a machine committed solely to work.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. And the culture has something to do with it. I started my days in tech, iTech, and we used to wear all-nighters like a badge, you know, an RFP was due. And you're like, how many did you, I pulled two Allnighters for this RFP, you know?
Lisa Mitchell: Right? The busy badge. It was like the busy badge.
Clare Kumar: And you're like, how many did you, I pulled two Allnighters for this RFP, you know?
Right? And so we talked about it that way. I left that firm and I ended up in another tech firm. And I remember working for my boss, I really liked her. She had had four children already but was a single mom at the time. That somebody fell in love, baby number five on the way. And when she had four kids, she asked me to work on a project. I remember. And I stayed up till two in the morning working on this thing. And of course, there was still the expectation that you were gonna be in the office on time the next day. It wasn't, yeah, stay up later if you need to and recover, right? That's not discussed. So I was back in the office and it turns out she didn't need what was asked.
And I said straight up, “never do that again if you know that it's not gonna be needed”. And it was evident from the conversation, “oh, I found out what wasn't gonna be needed”. I'm like, “y'all gotta tell me because this is not cool”. And it's interesting because I personally have found my voice quite young.
I think my parents would attest to that. It was. You know, always challenging things. Why? Why does that? I was just challenging my bank. Why does the paperwork, you've given me 48 hours to do the paperwork and I need to come in and sign it, but your advisors don't have time for me to sign the paperwork. This feels kind of broken.
Lisa Mitchell: Something's not connecting for me.
Clare Kumar: Right. So it's like this is pressured and awkward and it's not comfortable. And so, yeah. So I'm, I've been always a questioner and, um, just coming back to leaders and boundaries here. It's a hot topic. There's a book of boundaries out now, a brand new book.
I think Erica Ehm’s doing a talk at, uh, the University Rotman School of Business interviewing the author of the book of boundaries. It's a hot topic. And it came up actually in some team coaching that I'm doing. We were talking about boundaries and, you know, is it the culture that's at play here or is it individuals?
And what we uncovered through the discussion, it's like, I'm not, I'm not looking after myself. I'm not speaking up. I'm further inviting the encroachment of theoretical boundaries that stay theoretical because nobody's sort of, nobody's adhering to them.
Lisa Mitchell: So this is why, you know, team coaching, coaching, any opportunity we can give people to think about how they purposely want to work, how, not just what they wanna do.
We play so much focus on that. Like, “what are the KPIs? How are we gonna work together as a team? How am I gonna show up? What works best for me and as a result, best for my teammates in the organization?” So what's interesting is, you know, organizational culture is toxic in so many, so many places.
Not every, but you know, a lot, a lot of organizations doing great work. Um, it's, it's very complex. If there isn't space given or an expectation, boundaries are okay. Right. Like that example of you staying up till two, “Hey boss, I stayed up till two 'cause I'm so committed, here's this. I am not gonna be until noon 'cause I'm exhausted and I need to catch up on my sleep.”
And just being okay with saying that, so if an environment is already gonna be kind of taken aback, then there is a cultural shift and there's something that needs to happen from the top down to start nurturing and allowing, giving permission for this kind of behavior. Yeah. But it does start with the individual because ultimately if the individual isn't willing to say, Wait a second, you know, powerful phrase that doesn't work for me.
Here's what would work better, you know, and speak up. Then I don't think the organization's getting the cues they need to start making some of those changes. So it's an ecosystem, right? We all have a part to play.
Clare Kumar: It is, and it was wonderful, um, recently in a group, to say to the group, I gave them homework.
I said, “Okay, so what we've uncovered is that it's difficult for individuals to actually stake the boundary and hold to it. It's difficult just for ourselves to even get there. How can your team support you if you know, can we share that this is difficult?”. I mean, it's never discussed, this stuff.
“I'm having trouble actually adhering to taking a break on the weekend.” Well, what could your team do to help? And so the homework is to come with an ask for the team to support a boundary or something that you're working on as an individual. So an example of how talking about the "how" can really unearth golden opportunities to better the whole experience for everyone and have people feel like they're looking after each other.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah. That's a beautiful example. And, you know, it made me think of another one when I was working with a leader. Actually, this is a common theme. She just really, you know, recognized early on that what they needed in order to, they felt like they were never getting to their big rocks and they weren't, you know, they were just so under the gun all the time and getting lost in the details, in the weeds that they couldn't get to the really important, more strategic long-term stuff.
Both for their own career, for the organization and their function. So anyways, they recognized earlier, I need to start taking booking time. Big chunks of time to do this kind of thinking. Listen. And they were not honoring that time and, and over and over, we'd go through, they'd book the time, they'd commit verbally to what they were gonna do, didn't honor it.
And so, you know, when we talk about, well, what happened? What, what got in your way? My team, they just don't, you know, they're just constantly knocking on my door and popping in: “Got a minute? Got a minute? You know, I can't stop them from getting stuff done. So it's so funny because ultimately you're laughing because you know what needed to happen.
What ended up happening was telling your team ahead of time, “Hey guys, I am not ignoring you. I am spending this morning. I am here. If it's an emergency, please knock on the door. All right, I'm going to be turning off Messenger. I'm gonna have my email shut down. I am just thinking and I really need this protected time so that I can share with you, my vision is some next steps around whatever it is. You know, will you support me in that?” You know? And making that an expectation, asking for help brings people closer and we're more likely to be successful.
Clare Kumar: And to hear people in the group express to each other, it's really, I'm working on this and it's really hard, and that I may need some help to even have time for my own desires.
Right. “Oh, wait a minute. I know Julian was working on really having his weekends free, so how can we support Julian to do that?” There's such power in inviting the team to support each other. Yes. And that's how we build the team. Building that trust and building that group accountability.
If you look at Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team right? So, so we can, we can start instilling some of the behaviors, but if we don't talk about "the how" we're always staying on task, none of this stuff gets nurtured and evolved into something good.
Lisa Mitchell: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It's so true. And I think it, I think leaders, you know, often because of the pressures they're under, which are real, you know, they have their own stuff that they need to do as well as make sure everybody else is getting their things done. It's very complex.
They're not just watching people work. There's a real need to model the way, to be very explicit, to think about not just what we need to get done or even how, but who? All the questions. Who is involved here? All the questions.
Clare Kumar: By when they need specifically. Yeah. Not asap. Not at a reasonable time. No. There's no room for vagueness here. Clarity is your friend. Absolutely.
I know one of the other things that we spoke about earlier, you wanting to talk about was, and it's so important for highly sensitive people, aligning intent with impact. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Lisa Mitchell: Yes, absolutely. So this is fundamental to communication. It's actually a miracle that I think that anybody ever gets any message across that's received in the way they intend it. Right? Because, you know, you think of it, as if you think about coding, right?
And you know, in World War II, there's some great historical novels that write now about the coding. And if the British wanted to send a message, right? So secretly, so they would take the message, code it, send it, and then it had to be decoded at the other end in order to be understood, you know?
And we're all doing that because we're all encoding and decoding based on our own baggage, our own experiences, and language is such a tricky thing, right? Like, you know, what balance means. Work-life balance could be totally different for you. Yeah.
So with intent, aligning your intent with impact, what it really means is often when communication goes awry and somebody is misunderstood as, or we've come across, we know we've landed with a thud and, you know, expectations we thought were clear, weren't clear because our team is not doing the thing.
Or we've hurt feelings and we don't quite understand why. All these kinds of disconnects, when you actually speak with the person who's experiencing that disconnect, their retention was honorable, their intention was good. Nobody has the intention unless they're a sociopath. Which is very rare.
Nobody gets up in the morning with the intention to go. and mess up someone's day. Or to be mean, or to create habit. It's just not, it's not there. So when we can line up by voicing our intention along with our ask, that goes a long way to the receiver's understanding, like to the impact being lined up, right?
Clare Kumar: So you explicitly state that intent…
Lisa Mitchell: State my intention versus assuming, somebody… We'll assume best intent. That's the issue. You know, so it might sound like, um, let's say I have to give you some difficult feedback. We've been working together and I've, you know, maybe something wasn't completed on time and it impacted my workload, you know, and made me rush.
So I might say, “Clare, I'd like to have a bit of a conversation, and I'd like to offer you some feedback and I want to offer it in the spirit of helpfulness and to build trust. Not, I don't wanna damage trust, but I do feel like it's important to give this to you so that we can work well together going forward”, and you might say, “oh, okay”.
And you might feel like feedback is akin to, you know, we take feedback as though somebody's sneaking up on us in a dark alley, which is very unpleasant. So we do need to help people understand where it's coming from and what our intention is around. You might say, even though you don't really want it, the feedback.
“Oh, okay. What happened?” You might say, “look, you know, I know it wasn't your intention when you were late on this piece, you know, it was only a day, it's not the end of the world. I just want you to understand that it did have an impact on me and it created stress on my end, you know, so I wanted to put that out there so that, you know, as we move forward that, you know, you'll keep that in mind.”
It, you know, how does that sound? Anyways, this is my language, you know, it's gonna sound different based on person, different people, but it's, it's kind of acknowledging that the other person didn't have the intention to do something that was difficult. They've created problems. And your intention is to be helpful and to help the relationship, not to damage it.
Clare Kumar: Not to be judging. Not to be judging! And so the whole goal here is to step away from inviting defensiveness.
Lisa Mitchell: Exactly. Prepare them to want to hear what you have to say
Clare Kumar: Prepare them to want to hear what you have to say, or at least beautiful. You accept it. Yeah. Beautiful. Especially as I'm thinking about the HSP temperament.
And our emotional responsiveness if we're pausing to think about what to say, this is good. This is a good add. What's my intent? Yeah, what's my intent? And then let's back up a little bit. Frame it as such and then move forward into expressing. So the pause, HSPs need pauses on the regular.
Lisa Mitchell: They do. And HSPs, you know, have this gift of, you know, they need that to pause. They're intuitive in the moment. Very dynamic. Noticing what's in your head, like what's actually, it works for other people as well.
Not just HSPs, but I always say notice what's the fear that sort of going, you know, somebody sort of catches you off guard or you have to have a conversation that feels, you know, critical to have, but you're scared of it, is notice what's the fear popping, what's bubbling, and then you see it.
So I need to approach you with something. And I've been up half the night worrying about it. I'm just gonna be honest with you, and you know, my fear is that, you know, what I say may land in a way that pushes you away. And I just want you to know, I can't control your reaction, but my attention is to pull you closer because I value our relationship.
Clare Kumar: Doesn't that change the way you're listening? Just hearing that opens like something's coming, but it's not meant to hurt me.
Lisa Mitchell: Right. And it doesn't take weight from the fact that it might a little bit. Right. Because feedback especially, you know, that constructive meaning build up, not take down. Yeah. But it, it can be a little tough.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. It definitely can and it can trigger that responsiveness. So it's a gift. It's a gift to give and it's a gift to receive this kind of intent along with impact between, that's a nugget gift.
Lisa Mitchell: Don't see it as a gift though. If it doesn't feel like a gift. Yeah. We miss the message entirely.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. And then there's a whole other conversation.
Lisa Mitchell: Exactly. Exactly.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. Yeah. Um, we're coming to sort of the end of our time and I wanted to close with a bit of a question to you about what you're seeing now in the economy. Employees have had leverage before, uh, like never before. We've been able to ask for what we want.
We've got recession looming. But we also have still a very tight job market. What, is your sense of what's at play here? And gosh, I'm thinking of employees in general. I mean, many employees are leaders. So what's at play here? Uh, for people to continue to ask for and value aligns with the organization they're working with, and also construct that work-life integration.
What are you sensing is going to happen? You got any crystal ball projections on what we're gonna see?
Lisa Mitchell: I think we're all really in a place of curiosity right now as we, because it's just a very strange time, economically speaking in the world, you know, with this tight job market and yet looming layoffs at the same time.
It's quite confusing. Right. So it depends on industry and the company itself and so on. You know, I think what it means is people need to remember they are not alone. And I think it's easy to feel alone and confused when there are all of these conflicting environmental pressures and things going on, and then our own kind of reactions to what's happening.
I think it's important to take your own pulse, right? Give yourself a bit of space and grace to step back and sort of say, what's going on? What am I tolerating? That I'd like to let go of and what do I need to add into the mix? Like what am I really wanting and what's, what could that look like?
And then from there, talk to somebody, right? Like it could be a trusted confidant, it could be your boss if you have that kind of relationship. Um, I think people tend to, I know I did. This is the highly driven, highly sensitive folks push through, barrel through, think they have to do it all by themselves, especially when they're under pressure.
They go into that mode and that's, that's actually destructive. I think it's helpful, you know, whether you're working with an individual coach, a team coach, friends, mentors, but have a way to get the swirl of confusion and thoughts out of your head. Get the oxygen on those things so that you can sort the fact, the fiction, in a nutshell.
Clare Kumar: That is a nutshell. It's a gorgeous nutshell and an invitation for people listening to think about the support that they need when you get overwhelmed. I'm just looking at what kind of business coach I'm gonna work with because, yeah, I've been a swirling ball of confusion, it had been my head. Yes. What should I do?
There's so many options. And so I'm going to be working with a business coach. I haven't decided who just yet.
Lisa Mitchell: I always have a coach and I've got a great coach I really enjoy working with, and I tell you, you know, I meet every two weeks with my coach and sometimes I haven't gotten as far as I thought I would based on the last meeting.
That's okay because I will tell you I prep for the next one and it sort of lights the proverbial fire and gets me reflected so that I can talk through and it's very, very powerful.
Clare Kumar: So for listeners out there who might want to reach out and connect with you, what's the best place? Of course this will all be in the show notes, so if you're driving right now, or walking and don't have time to grab it, uh, it will be in the show notes. But Lisa, just tell us one place where people can find you.
Lisa Mitchell: Absolutely. So I'm a former teacher, so I used to receive apples from the kids sometimes and that kinda thing. I just love apples cause it's that symbol of learning. And green's my favorite color. So my company is called Green Apple Consulting and the website is the same GreenAppleConsulting.ca because I'm based in Canada.
And up there people can sign up for my free monthly talent talks which are interactive peer forums around key topics of interest to HR and talent and employee experience professionals. And I also have a podcast as well, which you've been a guest on. And that episode isn't out just yet, but it's called Talent Management Truth.
So those are two ways that I support my community and, uh, yes, it would be a pleasure to host your listeners, um, at one of my talks or even to have one of my conversations with them that they can have as well.
Clare Kumar: Awesome. Thanks so much, Lisa, for your take on what's going on in this world and some wonderful language and opportunities of things to do with the challenges that are before us.
It's been an absolute treat speaking with you. Thank you!
Lisa Mitchell: Me too. The time flew. Thank you so much, Clare, for having me.
Clare Kumar: Thank you so much for listening. You can find all of the Happy Space Podcast episodes over at happyspacepod.com. That is also where you'll find a link to our online community. Please leave a review over at Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you tune in, and if you liked what you heard, please share. After all, doesn't everyone deserve a happy space?