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Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Marcia Reynolds on the Discomfort Zone


podcast-logo-21Permission to Speak

Video Blog & Podcast

Hosted by Leadership Communications Expert Kelly Vandever

Permission to Speak is the video blog and podcast that loiters at the intersections of leaders who want their people to speak up, technology that facilitates connections, and results that serve an organization’s higher purpose.

Our guest for this episode:  Marcia Reynolds

Dr. Marcia Reynolds has over 30 years working with global corporations in executive coaching and leadership training. She is a past global president of the International Coach Federation and speaks and teaches topics related to leadership coaching and emotional intelligence worldwide. She is the author of 3 award-winning books including Wander Woman:  How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction, Outsmart Your Brain: How to Make Success Feel Easy, and The Discomfort Zone:  How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs.  Click here to learn more about Marcia.


Topics discussed:

The Discomfort Zone is a way to listen to those smart competent people who seem to be stuck, help them expand their thinking in a way they can’t do for themselves

– Being willing to disrupt their brain, sharing something you noticed that may upset them a little, is actually something good

– It’s the difficult conversation when you have the biggest opportunity

– Leaders think they have to devise a message when they talk to their person instead of realizing it’s more about how do I listen to this person

– Use the discomfort zone type of conversation when a person is smart and competent but there’s a behavior that is causing a negative impact that they rationalize away

– You can’t just tell them to stop it and change, that doesn’t work in the long run

– Look for shifts in emotions

– It’s about stopping and being present with the person in front of you

– Great question is to ask: “How do you know that to be true?”

– Examples and case studies in the book help people to understand and applicable they are

– Once the person sees that new perspective, they can’t go back

– There has to be a level of trust for this to work

– You have to be there for the employee’s best interest, not just what you want

–  The importance of the employee feeling like they’ve been heard and allowing for the emotional expression

– The leader needs to be OK with their own discomfort of the emotional expression of their employees

– Leaders: don’t ever say “don’t feel that way”!

– Emotional intelligence

– Self-awareness is understanding how you’re feeling in the moment and being able to shift your emotions when you need to

– The Leader sets the emotional tone

– There’s so much more impact we have on people with our emotions than the words we use

– DREAM are the bookends in having the Discomfort Zone conversations

– DREAM stands for D= Determined the desired outcome; R= Reflect on what you’re seeing and hearing; E= Explore, why they feel that way, why there are contradictions in what they’re saying; A= Acknowledge what they’re learning or what insights they’re having; M= Make sure they have a commitment, ask what support they need, what they’ll do, and by what date

– As a leader, commit to understanding your own emotions better and knowing your emotional triggers, what is it that you dearly protect

– Understand not just that you’re feeling an emotion but why

– Listening not just to our brain but paying attention to the messages sent to you by your heart and by your gut

– In almost every language on the planet there are words something to the effect of, “I should have listened to my heart”

– Different people refer to listening to the gut differently but there’s still the sense of listening to your gut or your core or your center

– Listen to your heart with gratitude and care

– Use courage to open our gut, our center, our core

– Receive information from all your body, not just your head or your brain

– We create a greater bond of psychological safety when we open up with the heart and with the gut

– Be interested, care, listen at a deep level and people will open up

– It’s not really listening, it’s receiving

– Exercises and visualizations available on Marcia’s website http://outsmartyourbrain.com/exercises-support-materials/

– When you have to make decisions yourself, asking yourself, “OK brain, what do you say?  Heart, what do you say?  Gut, what do you say?”

Daniel Pink and his work around motivation

– Values are the better and the relationship with making changes within ourselves and make it lasting

The Leadership Pipeline talks about how leadership changes at different levels of the organization, and the values shifts that occur at different levels

–  Teaching skills can be a waste of time if we don’t first look at how this fits into their values and what they’re trying to achieve

– People will think twice if they know that their leader has their best interest in mind, and that their leader believes in them and invested in them

– If someone’s going to leave, they’re going to leave.  And remember, they might come back!

– To make this change, to have discomfort zone conversations, remember your commitment

– Employees want you to be present more than they need you to be perfect

– Give it time, you’ll continue to get better

– When we are just curious and care about the person in front of us (rather than spending the time to share all the smart things we know) they go so much further

– Being present and facilitating thinking is much more powerful than all the wisdom we have

– Leadership comes down to how much can I value the person in front of me, if I treat them as a significant human being and if I really listen to them in that way, they’re going to perform in the way that we all want

– Millennials expect to be treated like a significant human being that has something to offer, and good for them!

– The less I say, the more profound I am!


Marcia’s Books

Other Books Discussed

Questions answered:

How do I help an great employee who doesn’t play well with others?

How do I coach a good employee who doesn’t get along with his/her co-workers?

How can I help my employee to see how what they’re doing is having a negative impact on their co-workers, customers or the organization?

How do I help my employee change?

How can I show my employee that I have their best interest in mind?

My employee has change his/her behavior… so why are they getting better results?

How do I better coach my employees?

Why is listening an important skill for managers?

How do I listen to my intuition as a leader?

Why should I listen to my employee when I know they’re in the wrong?

Why should I listen to my employee when I know he/she’s just going to make excuses?

What is emotional intelligence?

Why is emotional intelligence important to managers?

How can I show more emotional intelligence as a leader?