Our topic for today is how to cultivate a high trust culture. This seems like one of the most important aspects as we really embrace the hybrid virtual world of work. In this interview, I speak with the author, speaker and therapist Dr. Susan Campbell. Susan and I talk about how we cultivate a high trust culture. We speak about what a trigger is, what causes it, and some common workplace triggers. When we have the skills to navigate our triggers with confidence and skill, we can create greater psychological safety, inclusion, and trust. This is what our workplace and our world needs more of. Susan and I cover the topic of the inner game of authenticity, how to cultivate it, and why that is one of the most important things we can create to clear and repair in our one on ones and in our teams.
We also discuss and highlight key conversations and practices from Susan’s newest book, From Triggered to Tranquil. There are so many inspiring practices for you in this episode. Thank you for tuning into this empowering episode.
Mentioned in this Episode
“If I’m going to be an effective leader, I have to be able to relate to so much diversity.” — Susan Campbell
“Honest feedback is one of the best technologies for learning to be more authentic.” — Susan Campbell
“No good can come of trying to make a decision when you’re triggered.” — Susan Campbell
“It’s an important time to practice transforming our reactivity to triggers.” — Carley Hauck
The Imperfect Shownotes
Carley Hauck 0:01
Hi, and welcome to the SHINE podcast. I am your host Carley Hauck. This podcast focuses on the science, spiritual perspective and application of conscious, inclusive leadership. The recipe for high performing teams and awareness practices that you can cultivate to be the kind of leader our world needs now.
I will be facilitating two to three episodes a month. Before I tell you about the inspiring topic today, can you go over to Apple podcasts and hit the subscribe button. And if you love this episode, please write a positive review. It helps so much.
In season five of the SHINE podcast, we are speaking to thought leaders, business leaders and Game Changers about how we can cultivate the inner game qualities to thrive in the midst of these ongoing complexities and challenges we have at work and at home. Our topic for today is how to cultivate a high trust culture. This seems like one of the most important aspects as we really embrace the hybrid virtual world of work. In this interview, I speak with one of my mentors and dear friends Dr. Susan Campbell. Susan and I will speak about how do we cultivate high trust culture. And one of those ways is by transforming our reactivity, our trigger patterns individually, and then we’re able to transform them collectively, so that we can create human centered workplaces that lead from empathy. We will speak about what is a trigger, what causes it, and even common workplace triggers. We also go into the topic of the inner game of authenticity, how to cultivate it, and why that is one of the most important things we can create to clear and repair in our one on ones and in our teams.
When we have the skills to navigate our triggers with confidence and skill, we can create greater psychological safety, inclusion, and trust. This is what our workplace and our world needs more of.
My guest for today is Dr. Susan Campbell. Susan received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts in 1967. Since then, she has been a couples therapist, relationship coach, speaker, workshop leader, and trainer of professional coaches. She has written 11 previous books on relationships. And she started the couple and family therapy graduate training program at UMass and has been a frequent guest faculty at Harvard, Stanford and UCLA. She trains coaches and therapists to integrate the tools in this book into their professional practices.
Hello, Susan, thank you for being here with the SHINE podcast. I am delighted to have you.
Susan Campbell 3:53
Thank you so much for inviting me thoroughly.
Carley Hauck 3:56
So Susan, I know you have listened to the SHINE podcast, which I feel very honored by. And one of the first questions that I often ask my guests is, why does conscious, inclusive leadership matter to you?
Susan Campbell 4:14
Well, a leader has to be able to see the big picture. So right away being able to see from a whole system’s perspective, that’s inclusive and that’s part of what consciousness is, the more conscious people are, the more different angles they can see reality from. So why all that’s important is because you’re trying to work for the good of the whole and your organization has many different personality types, diverse backgrounds, even different levels of consciousness and levels of self awareness and you as a leader or I as a leader have to be able to operate with that big of a view that big of a heart that cannot be judgmental, or excluding people who are not like me, I have, if I’m going to be an effective leader, I have to be able to relate to so much diversity. And that’s a tall order for leaders today.
But you remember, when you’re the leader, you are, yes, you partly the visionary, and you have a point of view. But you also, you’re going to be working with a lot of diversity. So you really have to understand that people are going to be pulling in different directions. And you have to have a way of at least being able to hear and empathize with and relate to a lot of different personal realities.
Carley Hauck 5:58
Right, and, yeah, and different worldviews and different perspectives. Right. And I really liked what you said that everyone is coming in with a different level of consciousness. And so again, to really have that be part of how you’re viewing each person that you’re interacting with. And that gives us more of an invitation to be compassionate, when that person, you know, based on their own life experiences, is showing up like this right now.
Susan Campbell 6:31
Yeah, different levels of so many things, what occurs to me now is different levels of feeling safe in the world. And safety is a big deal for all of your people you may not realize. And I when I’m when I’m the leader, and I’m in charge, I honestly just naturally feel safe, because
I’m kind of the big cheese. But I don’t realize sometimes that some of the other people do not feel that safe.
Carley Hauck 7:04
So I’m going to move us into the next question. You have written so many incredible books, I have a few of them in my house right now. And you have really honed in on communication and supporting people to be effective in their communication, you know, at home and at work. And I feel curious, why have you focused on that subject?
Susan Campbell 7:32
Well, in any system, a mark of a healthy system is good communication between all the sub parts. So that means information flow, that doesn’t get blocked by defensiveness in the system such as well, that’s, that’s their fault, or that’s their, that’s their domain, that’s not my domain. And so I don’t have to listen to your complaint, you know, all that buck passing that goes on in big companies. I know some of our listeners have smaller, more manageable systems that they’re working with.
But that’s the lifeblood of your organization is good information flow. And there’s a lot of, I’m gonna say, bad information. And when I say bad, I mean, not true. People covering up like not willing to ask for help, not willing to admit mistakes, not willing to admit they don’t know something. And so all of these things are blocks in good communication. But by being a good conscious, inclusive leader, who understands all these things, and understands that people need to feel safe in order to communicate effectively, at least that’s one thing, they knew they needed a few other things too, like self awareness, and some company norms that don’t punish honesty.
So now those are a few things that a system needs in order to promote good information flow. But if you understand what gets in the way of information flow, like those things that I mentioned, you can create systems that make sure that there’s good communication within your company.
Carley Hauck 9:23
And what you’re really speaking to is psychological safety. Is there psychological safety? Or is there the absence of psychological safety, which allows people to feel like they can share their experiences and their worldviews? Their feedback without punishment, criticism, rejection?
Susan Campbell 9:41
Carley Hauck 9:45
And authenticity is something that I know that you have really specialized in your own personal life, but also in the books and in your various offerings. And I believe you’ve also been trained in radical honesty. Tell me how you practice authenticity in your personal and professional life, like what are some tips that just allow you to lead from that place. And then on the receiving end, you’re inviting more authenticity from others?
Susan Campbell 10:18
Well, let’s, let’s define authenticity. One way to define that is there’s a match between what’s inside you, like what you know, to be true for yourself, and what comes out of your mouth. So it’s congruent. So you’re congruent with what you say and what you feel and believe.
Another aspect of authenticity, however, that’s a little less common is, the more self aware you are, the more honest you can be. And when I mean, when I say self aware, are you aware of your own cognitive biases? Like only Oh, always wanting people who are more your worldview? You can hear those people. I can hear people who are my worldview, but if somebody has a different worldview, I just have no time for that. Are you? Are you aware of how your childhood conditioning affects what you pay attention to, and what you’re willing to speak?
There’s so many filters that humans look through right now. Even you’re placing an organization in a big organization, if you’re in sales, they’ve got one set of norms, as opposed to
the production, manufacturing, or research and development, who have a whole other set of norms, because the research is all about being very careful and slow and methodical. Sales is just about get er, done, you know?
So understanding that there’s, there’s a subculture within the corporate culture based on what your what your job description is. So all of these things are part of your self awareness. Are you aware of all the factors that you filter through in trying to solve a problem and trying to communicate with somebody who may be from a different subgroup than you, like, for example, sales, talking to r&d, that sort of thing.
Carley Hauck 12:30
And I’m, I’m going to push a little bit more towards you, how have you developed your self awareness so that you can be authentic?
Susan Campbell 12:41
Well, I went to a lot of groups, like the groups I lead, where people give you feedback. And there’s a lot of this going on, in, in various companies now big and small, where people either go to a stranger group, or they have somebody come in like a team building consultant, and facilitate feedback sessions. So this is how I experienced you.
And so it just helps people to learn that somebody not liking everything about you, won’t kill you, you know, you do, you do have to develop some, you do develop some emotional resilience, I think by being in groups where people give each other honest feedback. So that’s one of the best technologies for learning to be more authentic, and also learning to see yourself more objectively there’s others but that’s, that’s one that a lot of people already understand, I think,
Carley Hauck 13:45
Well, I’ve been in groups with you and I would consider you to be a mentor of mine. And I’ve always appreciated how you put yourself in the ring, you know, you’ve you’ve shared about your childhood, your, your relationships, Peter, your beloved is often in group setting. So that I think brings a whole nother level of authenticity as well. Now, obviously, we’re not gathering in physical groups like we used to, but I think that there’s a way in which you show up just as you are, which really supports other people to feel like they can show up as they are.
Susan Campbell 14:30
So yeah, take some inner work, to get over needing to hide the things about oneself. Or myself, let’s say that I’m not super proud of you know, it takes some inner work but you and it takes some of that group work woman, but you have a value of those of us who value authenticity, also have a value on learning is more important than looking good. And if I think that’s always been my passion, learning is more important than anything else. So even if somebody doesn’t like something, or somebody criticizes you or I criticize myself, there’s always some learning in it. And I basically go, Okay, if I had that to do over, I would have done it this way. Because in the moment, I didn’t see it as clearly as I see it now. So I use that practice a lot for my own authenticity. I call it revising, or going out and coming in again, it’s like, well, I said the wrong thing in that meeting, but next time we meet, I’m gonna correct that. And I’m gonna say, Hey, I’d like to have a do over here.
Carley Hauck 15:43
Right? It’s, it’s refining. And I’ve definitely seen you do that. And I think that’s part of also being a conscious, inclusive leader, that growth mindset, and always being willing to learn, to take responsibility to repair if possible. And I know that’s, that’s part of what we’re going to be talking about in just a little bit in our session. So I want to give some light to your most recent book, From Triggered to Tranquil: How Self Compassion and Mindful Presence Can Transform Relationship Conflicts and Heal Childhood Wounds.
Susan, this is a phenomenal book. I remember when the pandemic hit and you said, I’m writing a new book. So why this book? Why that? Tell me more?
Susan Campbell 16:34
Well, we live in a traumatized culture right now. And so this really is illuminating. I said the word safety earlier, it’s illuminating how many people walk through life feeling unsafe, and how we really don’t know what’s behind the face of another human.
But so often, when they behave in a way that we think is inappropriate. There’s some level of triggered and trigger triggers is just the word for reacting in the present to some perceived threat. Like I’m not safe, because that person is speaking to me. And they’ve got this flat tone of voice and this look on their face that I read as disapproval. So there’s no there’s a lot of that in common, you know, common business, relationships, misreading each other’s cues and filtering them through these old fears that come from attachment traumas.
I mostly deal in the book with the kind of traumas that are happened in childhood, when your childhood needs are not met, like the need for safety, the need for reassurance, you can go to somebody when you’re scared, and they’ll calm you down and help you learn that you can actually self regulate and down regulate the nervous system when you’re all all fearful and, and excited. So the word trauma can refer to just not getting your basic needs met as a child.
But I said a minute ago, we live in a traumatized society right now. And so much of what’s going on love just the lack of coherent leadership in the sense that our country is polarized between the red states and blue states, let’s just call them and okay, are our presidents doing pretty good. But there’s a lot there’s a lot of chaos in like, Who’s in charge here? And where’s it going? And that is traumatic for a lot of people, particularly, any of us who grew up in families where
we call them in my business, we call them disorganized, families, families, where you really didn’t feel like there was a totally competent adult there, who you could always depend on. And we all need that. And so many of us, maybe just because our parents were busy, but a lot of times, it’s more like our parents are so wrapped up in their own needs, that they don’t really have the bandwidth to fully be present to the child the way the child needs.
And no, I don’t want to blame anybody for that. Partly it’s this system that keeps parents so busy, and so darn stressed about money. So you know, I see all of this systemically. But
when we’re in a time of such uncertainty and quite a bit of chaos, that is very destabilizing, ie traumatizing to people’s nervous systems, and that has a lot of people coming from the more primitive part of the brain that focuses on survival and almost feels like gee, you know, there’s so much uncertainty. Am I gonna have my job tomorrow, what’s going to happen to the economy, a whole bunch of things like that some of us can relate. And that has going on.
Yeah, they’re going around from the reptile part of their brain not making very good decisions, instead of the prefrontal cortex. So that’s why I wrote the book, I want people to be able to calm that scared part of yourself, and regulate yourself. And know that this is kind of a group a group effort here, we’ve got to help each other to realize that a lot of people are traumatized, but work with our own nervous systems, so that we can stay in our intelligent zone rather than our primitive zone, and make better decisions for our future.
Carley Hauck 20:56
I love it. So to really be in service, in the midst of seeing even more trauma, even more reactivity, based on the pandemic, and really this, this collective transformation that we’re going through, but the way that we move through it together, as you’ve already just shared, is we have to find a way to heal individually, like whatever those wounds are, so that we’re not looking at the other as enemy.
Susan Campbell 21:32
Right. And leaders, we need more conscious, inclusive leaders, leaders have the opportunity to promote calming ourselves and pausing and realizing the psychological dimension of humans, because we didn’t used to bring, we didn’t used to be able to, like bring our emotions to the workplace. I mean, we thought we didn’t, you know, but now it’s much more accepted. And that’s a good development.
Carley Hauck 22:03
So in the book, you refer to triggers, you define it as? Well, I’ll let you define it.
Susan Campbell 22:16
Sure. Well, it’s basically what we’re talking about is trigger reactions. I mean, a trigger can trigger can be like a sharp tone of voice. But the trigger reaction is what we’re more curious and interested in a trigger reaction, when I hear a sharp tone of voice is a thought, that person is criticizing me. And then underneath that another thought, I’m not good enough, or I’m going to be controlled, or some, you know, some fear thought like that. So then there’s body sensations like tightness in the chest or wanting to run out of the room.
So becoming more aware of our own reactions to various kinds of cues that we take as threatening in our environment. And being able to instantly go, Oh, I’m in a trigger reaction, I’m coming from that reptile part of the brain, that fight flight freeze, yell, scream, run away, shut down part of the brain, instead of the part of the brain that can see options that can problem solve, that can collaborate, empathize. And so it’s super important that we learn how to get our higher brain back online, instead of staying in that triggered place. Because no good can come of trying to make a decision when you’re triggered, like, don’t push send on that email rant when you’re triggered.
Carley Hauck 23:43
Definitely, and, and as you shared before, the trigger is often coming from this unresolved past trauma from childhood. You know, that coworker, or that supervisor is restimulating, and it’s like, Wait, that’s not my mother. That’s not my brother. But you know, there’s this projection that’s happening, because we haven’t actually maybe even been conscious that that is a pattern that we’ve been replaying over and over again, so when you talked about self awareness, it’s coming back to really getting curious about this particular pattern that I play out when I’m triggered.
And you have so many wonderful examples in the book, on, you know, triggers at home or you’re triggered with a friend, but because we’re talking more about the context of the workplace, how do we calm ourselves down? If we’re triggered in a group or a meeting, and you actually give some specific scenarios of you might be triggered here or here or here, different categories. So we probably don’t have time to go through all of them. But I can list a couple and you could share more information for our listeners. How does that sound?
Susan Campbell 25:00
Carley Hauck 25:02
So, let’s say that I get triggered, because I’m feeling criticized in a group meeting. Tell me more about that one.
Susan Campbell 25:10
Well, okay, so leaders need to be aware that there are a lot of different incidents that could happen, that could trigger somebody, and you as a leader wouldn’t be wouldn’t be aware of it. But if somebody criticizes somebody else in a group, I want to help the leader see, from the leader’s view why this is important, it’s important to realize that if one member criticizes another member, that other members who got the criticism might be triggered, and you ought to watch for things like them withdrawing, shutting down, not contributing any more. And if you’re the leader, you might want to say, you know, when, so and so said that to you, I felt I felt a little ouch, I felt a little out of my heart. And so I just, I just want you to know that I’m here to support you if you need anything.
In other words, empathize, reach out to the person that you think might have taken something a little, a little so hard, that they’re not that they’re now in their primitive brain, and they’re not able to function as a good team member.
Carley Hauck 26:34
So that could even look like, for example, a microaggression. That’s happening in the middle of the meeting. And in that regard, I think it’s very important that the leader or other team members of the group actually call that in the presence it. But I also think just like what you’re saying, it can be very supportive to go up to that person one on one, and share something along the lines of what you just said, to show that you care to show that you noticed that you acknowledged and to invite a conversation around it, because there could even be, what would you like for me to do if that ever happens again? Is there a way I could support you?
Susan Campbell 27:12
Yeah, you might, you know, some of this, you might pick up a conversation with the person who seemed triggered after the meeting, but sometimes it depends on the context, sometimes it fits to do it in the meeting. And as far as confronting a person who, who was aggressive, you mentioned micro aggression. That’s a delicate, that’s a delicate area, because the person who’s doing the micro aggression is already triggered.
You know, and so I mean, you can, you can say, well, we don’t do that in here, or, you know, it’s time to read, you know, remind ourselves of what our ground rules for safety are, and stuff like that. I mean, you can do all those managerial speeches, but the person who was aggressing
will, that that will not touch their lack of safety. And if you confront them outright in the group, that’ll make them feel even less safe. So I recommend dealing with that. Depending on the degree of things, sometimes you can remind people of our, you know, our safety ground rules in a neutral way, but you might also need to speak to the person outside and just personal direct communication, though, not top down, not you know, or, you know, boy, ah, you need to know, you know, use statements versus I statements, you know, use you statements just create disconnection, but I statements, this is a classic communication 101.
You know, when I heard you do that, I said to myself, is there some way that your needs are not being met here in this team? Maybe start with an inquiry like that, but making an I statement, my ground rules in the getting read practices are, talk about your feelings. Name your thoughts as thoughts, name, your feelings, as feelings. And a good tool is to be able to narrate yourself talk like when I heard that I said to myself, because that’s a kind of very personal way to be able to actually make an opinion known, make your opinion nominal, that you were somewhat unhappy, but you’re not judging the person. You’re relating it from your own place, a personal place.
Carley Hauck 29:51
Great. That’s really helpful. The other thing I want to just share as far as context and I’d love to go into a few more, I think what makes it so hard in this remote distributed virtual world of work is that so many of the leaders and teams that I’m talking to, including even just our coordination today, so many of us are going from one thing to the next, without a lot of transition without a lot of break. And the way that our nervous systems are wired is that we need pauses, we need time to slow down to be able to integrate the last conversation.
So this type of criticism, microaggression, active exclusion, whatever you want to call could have happened in a meeting. And then I have another meeting to go to, and then another one and another one. And I know that that just happened. I know, I want to have a follow up conversation. But what I’m really trying to encourage as we redesign the workplace, because this is the fabulous opportunity that we get right now is, how do we create more transition time? Why are we pushing so fast all the time, because it’s not going to lead to effective communication, and we’re gonna keep getting triggered. It’s like, the perfect setup for triggers.
Susan Campbell 31:16
Well, starting meetings with a personal check in noticing what are you feeling? What are you thinking? How present? Are you? What are you doing? What are you carrying over from your last meeting, okay? If you’re carrying over something, and you need to have a conversation, you know, jot down when you’re going to have that conversation, that clearing the air conversation or finishing the conversation that got interrupted, because you had to go to the next meeting. Just jot down something little so you can like park that somewhere else besides right in front of you, because we want to be as present as possible for this meeting and this agenda. But we’ve all been 50 different places in order to get here. Exactly things like that.
Carley Hauck 32:05
Yeah, I really liked that invitation. Let’s talk about the plop. Tell me what the plop is.
Susan Campbell 32:14
That name plop comes from group dynamics. So this is in my chapter in From Triggered to Tranquil about frequent events that trigger people that a leader ought to be watching for. One of them is criticism, like we talked about before somebody criticizing somebody else publicly. Another one is somebody makes an offering, has an idea, a good idea. You know, people are brainstorming, and all of a sudden somebody says something, and then nobody says anything. It’s like you’ve asked, you’ve given your gift. And nobody said thank you, nobody acknowledged it. That’s called the Plop, it just sort of plops in the middle of the floor, let’s say no, and nobody picks it up. And that can be very hard for some members. So once again, the leader slash facilitator can be the one that picks it up. No, no. Or notice, gee, I No, I noticed that as soon as Grace said that, there was silence.
And I know Grace if I was you and that happened I might really be wondering, you know, what did I say, Oh, are you wondering anything like that? And I don’t know, kind of just move things to a human level.
Plops aren’t the worst thing in the world, but people, some people do have triggers about being ignored, or my voice doesn’t matter. And so you want to be able to sooth that person’s nervous system and get back to work.
Carley Hauck 34:00
Great. I also think it’s important that team members can notice that they don’t necessarily have to have the formal role of leader that they can also chime in and say, Hi, I, I just heard Cassandra speak to this. And I’m interested, tell me more, right? When no else responds.
Susan Campbell 34:19
Perfect. I love that.
Carley Hauck 34:22
And scarcity, in the sense that we’re all rushing so much, but that one seems intuitive. But let’s talk to that one because it’s real.
Susan Campbell 34:29
Okay, so just leaving a group an hour ago, Carley, and one of the men said, Gee, this group is too short. I mean, he just comes right out with it. Most people in groups, they might not say this, this group is too short. And I’m not getting enough time to say all the things that I needed to say. So just know that if this person was able to say it, there may be quite a few others in the group that are also feeling something like that.
These are the people who have triggers around being attended to versus being ignored no time for me. See, so much of this adult sensitivities in meetings connect to early childhood, lack of some sort. So this man has confessed before in groups, because my groups are more personal growth oriented. He’s confessed before that he has issues about getting enough attention and getting enough air time. So just know that it’s, it’s if whoever the facilitator is, and this is often different than a leader, because it’s a group facilitation role, where you’re supposed to manage the time and make sure everybody gets a chance to say something.
So there’s a lot of devices for making sure everybody gets a chance to say something, but the main one is called rounds. Like, okay, we’ve got this question on the floor, can we go round the circle and each person weigh in on this in one minute, on the thing I time, people, but it’s very important to make sure everybody has a chance, at least to speak.
Carley Hauck 26:21
Wonderful. So I’ve been facilitating a lot of these team building sessions. And some of the feedback that I’ve been getting recently is that I’ll come in and I’ll give a 90 minute talk. And I was told a couple weeks ago that they wanted more time. So now the next workshop is going to be two hours because like what you’re saying, especially in the midst of the pandemic, when we’ve had more social distance, more social isolation, we are all craving connection, we’re craving intimacy.
And I think we’re all wanting to feel attended to and to feel seen in different ways. And now that home and work are not separate anymore, and they never really were, there’s, there’s again, such an opportunity to find new ways for acknowledgement for that deeper connection. And I feel curious, like, what are you wanting and needing for this new workplace, knowing that that is a real desire.
Susan Campbell 37:36
The workplace is where most people spend more of their time than they spend with their families. And let’s face it, we get a lot of our social needs met at the workplace, and we still want everybody to be working, too. So it’s, it’s, it’s a little, it’s a little tricky to keep people on the job. And still also realize that they need time to say, you know, how’s your daughter doing here, she had an operation, simple things like that.
Um, I know that a lot of them, a lot of the meetings that I facilitate in, in companies, large and small people will do a kind of a check in something new and good in your life, a personal check in now something new and good in your life? That has nothing to do with work? No, that’s a little check in question. Or you can dream up other personal checking questions. Because there’s just really is a hunger for feeling connected if people feel connected, like just little devices that are designed in to the workday. Right, they’ll do less of the sneaking around to get connected, you know, going to go into the coffee. I know, when I worked for the government. I spent half my time in the coffee line, you know, because they serve coffee right in right in the building. You know, you’re chit chatting, the coffee line. So that’s not good. You know, it’s not it doesn’t serve the overall efficiency mission. But we are more than just efficiency machines. And I think leaders and entrepreneurs are realizing that and probably realize that a long time ago, but let’s legitimize it. People need human connection. And let’s make it fun to come to work.
Carley Hauck 39:40
Definitely. Thank you. So, as we’ve been talking about some of these different scenarios where we may feel triggered, you’ve been giving, you know, subtle tips on how you might create a pause, you know, which could be a calling in in the group and acknowledging what was heard what was seen or also going up individually to another person, and then sharing more. Are there other strategies on how to create a pause and a group when you notice that the group, the group, I mean, I guess this is the other thing is that if one person in the group is triggered, than likely the whole group is probably triggered in some way, because we are emotional social beings, and there is emotional contagion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Susan Campbell 40:32
That’s right. So some people, the triggers, I mean, for some groups, I should say the triggers are going to be obvious, like there’s conflict between two members. And you can kind of feel Whoa, the vibe just changed in the room, and everybody feels it. So if it’s an obvious trigger situation like that, that’s when we say when we say trigger situation, likely to have triggering ripples in almost every group member, except somebody who’s maybe checked out, then it’s good to actually say, and I encourage leaders and facilitators to do this, at the very beginning, say something like, sometimes things get going a little fast, or sometimes there’s, there’s conflict in the group, and it has these ripples, like you and I were saying.
So if I noticed that, I’m going to say the word pause, and I’m going to invite us all to share three slow conscious breaths. That’ll help us learn to regulate our nervous system, reassure ourselves that we are at least physically safe. And that now Okay, we’re ready to move on with our agenda. I’m going to do that. But if anybody else either feels triggered, or notices that there’s triggering in the space, would you do that too, you just say the word pause. And even if maybe there’s no actual triggering, but things are going so fast and, and you’re getting overwhelmed, or somebody you think the group mainly is kind of having too much flooding of data coming in, say the word pause, it’ll help us all. So something like that.
Carley Hauck 42:26
Or it could even be that we take a five minute body break. Yeah. I love that. Just saying pause.
You also shared some really helpful questions in the back of this particular chapter that we’re talking about regarding, you know, triggers in a group, and it’s on group debriefing, revising and repairing. And I thought that these were also really great invitations. You know, one was, how many are feeling the need to debrief today’s meeting for a little while. So again, it just brings in more authenticity, or how many I triggered during the group today? Wow, that’s just bringing it right home. Over those people, how many are still carrying some sense of agitation or anxiety?
Susan Campbell 43:20
It’s really lovely if you can not just have a business meeting, but you have a little personal learning about meetings. See, when you ask how many people were and how many people were as a leader, or facilitator, you’re, you’re educating people too, oh, if I pay attention to that, and move the energy and feel it and admit it, it changes, it goes away. Some like fear, feeling or anger, feeling that I was kind of, I was gonna walk out of the room with that. If the facilitator gives me a chance to express it even in some small way, and I see I’m not the only one in the room. I can let it go and be more present in my next meeting.
Carley Hauck 44:06
You have to name it to tame it. So yes, if we speak to it, we can, we can acknowledge it, and then release it. Yeah. Susan, I could talk to you all day. Thank you so much for this beautiful offering for this book. I know it’s helping lots and lots of people. It’s getting such great acknowledgement. And thank you again for your time and your service.
Susan Campbell 44:35
Thank you for doing these podcasts and all the good work you do.
Carley Hauck 44:37
And we will share all the links in the show notes of how people can find you and find your wonderful books and offerings.
So you just heard Susan and I spoke about common instances where we might feel triggered in a group or a meeting at work. And I would like to leave you with an important framework that you can use to support clearing the air and encouraging repair.
It is normal to feel triggered for a variety of reasons. And our nervous systems are likely wound a little bit more tightly, then they may have been before the pandemic, there is a high level of burnout, we are navigating a lot of complexities and challenges. And on top of that more social distancing. And as human beings, we actually need co-regulation to support our nervous systems to calm down.
So I share all of that because it’s an important time to practice transforming our reactivity to triggers. What can also exacerbate triggers is we may not feel safe within the team with our supervisor. In one sense, depending on what has happened in the past, or what is currently happening in the moment, there may be a lack of psychological safety or unconscious group dynamics that lead to undercutting covert agendas, competitiveness, domination, and a myriad of triggering events.
We often know when a group is operating in a healthy way. And we also know when a group is operating in an unregulated and unhealthy way. If you are in a group, or on a team that is acting in an unhealthy way, I would like to encourage and empower you to use this framework. Regardless if you have formal or informal leadership power, we all need to be leaders right now. And we can lead without authority to support greater collaboration and harmony for the whole.
Try on these four steps for clearing and repairing.
The first step. Be aware of your own triggers.
Why am I feeling triggered?
Breathe into the moment.
Notice sensations feelings. offer yourself compassion for being triggered. And then find your way back into balance.
What I just shared was broad strokes on how to navigate your own trigger. But I have a practice in my book Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World. It’s in chapter two, and it’s called the nest practice. There is also a free audio of this practice. In the Resources section of my website under meditations. This will be in the show notes.
To go more deeper into how to self regulate. In the midst of triggers, there is a past solo podcast episode on how to navigate triggers with skill that I recorded a few months ago and this will also be a link in the show notes for you.
Okay, so first step, you’re aware of your triggers, you’ve transformed them. You’re moving from reactivity to calm and responsive. But how do you care and repair the conversation?
Step two, invite the conversation for care and repair. This type of conversation requires a willingness and openness from both parties to connect, communicate and find resolution.
If you feel ready to engage in repair, and share your perspective feelings and needs simply set up a time to talk to this other person. And it can be as simple as, hey, I have a question or reflection for you. Can you make 15 to 30 minutes for a quick connection call.
My invitation is to set this up in person so that you can see each other because a lot gets lost without the nonverbal behavior.
Number three. This is a frame for clearing conversations that has been influenced by Marshall Rosenberg, the father of nonviolent communication and Susan Campbell, our esteemed guest.
When I saw, heard, did, said, blank, I was or got triggered.
If I could do it over, I would tell you that my fear of blank being ignored and talked over blank was triggered. And I withdrew.
What I need is your support.
So another way that you could do this- I’ll insert the blanks.
When I heard you talking over me, in the group meeting yesterday, I became triggered. If I could do it over again, I would tell you that my fear of being ignored and surpassed, was triggered. And I withdrew and felt resentful. What I would like is your support, to bring my ideas forward in a way that serves the team. And I am given acknowledgement, for my ideas for my contribution
with appreciation. What do you feel, think, hearing this?
So that last question, you’re really asking for impact. Because it’s a bilateral conversation, you’re sharing your experience, and then you’re wanting to hear how did that land?
I would encourage you to write this frame out. So that it’s practice before you say it.
And then number four, wait to hear what that person says. Even if it feels uncomfortable, pause, be quiet.
You’re taking responsibility for your response. And then asking for the other person’s feedback so that new agreements and resolution can be made.
In addition to this four step framework, which is really just focusing on your internal process, you can also be the leader in repairing and clearing in the context of a group.
Any person in a room who feels triggered and is noticing that the group is also triggered, which could be signs of, you know, silence could be signs of reactivity or aggression. You can be that person to pause, and to even presence aloud what is happening in the room.
If you’ve listened to other podcasts, you’ve heard me say that, when we name it, we tame it. This is called affect labeling in more neuroscience circles. And when we actually name what is happening in the moment, it allows our limbic system to calm down, and we can better regulate our nervous system. And therefore it better regulates everyone’s nervous system, because we are social emotional beings, and there is emotional contagion.
So if you’re triggered in a group or meeting, you can pretty much assure that other people are also going to be triggered.
Carley Hauck 53:55
So one way to clear and repair in a group is to simply say, Hey, folks, I noticed there’s some tension in the room. I’m feeling curious, do people feel safe to share here?
Are some of you not feeling heard or valued?
How can we work together to solve this problem?
And what does each person need to hear from the group to find resolution?
Now, that’s a courageous step. That’s why having this inner game of authenticity is really supportive, to speak up to have the brave exchanges.
I hope that was helpful for you. And if you’re interested in learning more about triggers, you can definitely find more information about Susan and her new book. The link will be in the show notes.
And I do trainings on this all the time. It’s one of my favorite topics. So feel free to reach out to me- firstname.lastname@example.org. And we can talk more about how to create a high trust culture in your team or at work. I often use the psychological safety scan as my first measurement to really understand what’s happening within the leadership within group dynamics within the culture. And then I’m able to design and develop a very specialized training or even larger program to support you and your culture to thrive.
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends, family or colleagues. We’re all in this together and sharing is caring. And if you have any questions, comments or topics that you would like me to address on the podcast, email me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for tuning in. We have a few more fabulous interviews through the end of the year.
And again, Susan, thank you so much for sharing your light.
Until we meet again, my friend. Be the light and shine the light.