Day Four – Dialogue? It’s a Whole-Body Thing

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Last week I ran a “Bring your Body to Work” session in a leadership programme. The invitation to participants was to pay attention to how interactions at work generate physical responses (altered breath, tension, knotted gut, racing heart) and how learning to work with that can help us respond well or differently in-the-moment.

It’s my challenge to the whole “sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” adage. Actually? Words can hurt and wound. Or lift and inspire. There is a physical impact, often, in the talking we do. Pretending otherwise kind of seems counterproductive, especially if you are striving to be a leader. So dialogue absolutely has an embodied element to it….

Body Works
I have been privileged to work with the deeply wise and generous Amanda Ridings, author of Pause for Breath, for over 3 years now. She is mentor, friend and teacher. Amanda brings together her experience in business, her t’ai chi and mindfulness practices and the embodied/ somatic work of Wendy Palmer; linking these elegantly with dialogue and leadership. Her work is fiercely powerful.

You know you’ve worked with Amanda when you find someone pushing gently against you (physically or conversationally) and your body becomes rock-like and unyielding, stubborn and unwilling to budge (in my case) and you suddenly realise you’re not quite as flexible and open as you’d have yourself believe….

The work throws up great questions: How does my body respond under pressure? Or under praise? What effect does this have on my capacity to talk well or respond well to others around me? What’s my body up to when I feel fight-y and scared? What working conditions help me to be expansive and generous? How can I understand these and work with them more often?

Bring Your Body To Work
Amanda’s work really forced me to understand that I work with head, heart and instinct. I am not a “brain on a stick” as she would say. How people speak and respond to me and how I speak and respond to others has an impact. It matters. If I want good outcomes for me, for my business, for my family, some awareness of my-whole-self-in-conversation is not just useful… it’s absolutely bloody essential.

I was a little shy about explicitly using body work in leadership and management programmes for a while. I thought clients would see my work as being slightly “out there” if I wasn’t using the appropriate models and giving due attention to the brain….But how can you run a Presentation course without due consideration for breathing and posture? Is it OK to train managers how to performance manage without dealing with the physical reality of nerves? How can we ask someone to lead a team, without equipping them with an understanding of what it might physically do to them when they step into the limelight? I’m not sure it’s wise or productive to work in this way.

So I talk about body work now. It is a firm part of my practice. These days? I bring my body to work…

And in this is an invitation – fuchsiablue is running two 2-day workshops on 5th & 6th Feb and 20th & 21st March this year designed to encourage attendees to think well and talk well together.

You’ll find more details about Exploring Dialogue here:

If you are interested, please sign up – if you’re not, please pass this on to someone who might be – and no matter what, I hope you enjoy the blogs over the next few days.

It’s that time of year…

So I can get a little sentimental at this time of year – long dark nights & mulled wine might do that to a person.

At the risk of getting a bit Oscar Ceremony, I want to pause and take a moment. In August, I wrote the Kindness List post  and I want to do something similar now – A thank you list….

So to family, friends, clients, colleagues, peers, classmates, tutors, teachers, collaborators, contributors, commentators….

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The Thank-You List 2012

I am thankful for the people who have made me stop, think, reconsider.For those who make me realise how clumsy and careless I can sometimes be. For those who see the opposite. For those who have taken the time to walk with me, talk with me, hear me, see me. For those who have allowed me to do the same back. For those who recommend me on or come back to work with me. For those who don’t understand what fuchsia blue is about. For those who have made me belly laugh with my head thrown back. For those who have made me cry. For the people who have put up with that scary frowny thing I do when I’m REALLY concentrating. For those who have had no time for me at all. For the folk who took time to read and comment on this blog. For the people who refuse to read the blog because they’d rather not go virtual.

For the people I love and who allow me to love them…..

Thank you.

And if you are reading this, I’ll take the opportunity to wish you &  yours all the very best over the holidays & into 2013… and if you’re not, I’ll catch you somehow.

Seasons Greetings.

ps: I won’t just be doing the thanking via the blog – there will be more specific thanks offered via phone calls and emails and meet-ups and letters….Few Christmas cards, though this year, it’s a donation to Alzheimers Scotland.

pps: Image courtesy of caroline gardner

On Friendship

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Last night I stayed at my friend’s house. We went out for dinner, had a little valpolicella, talked families & work, aspirations & general good stuff.

I needed to be up & out early for the London train….so earlyish to bed & taxi booked for the station.

When I came downstairs this morning, she’d left me breakfast in my Converse.

That gesture of care made me grin like a Cheshire Cat & I’ve come into the day feeling loved & seen.

I’ll call her later to say she made my day. She’ll be cool about it, it’s just what she does…. Awesome human being.

Friends. Gotta love ’em