Tag Archives: Maddie Hunter

Yes And — The Power of Language

Yes And is a technique that is taught in improvisational acting and in communications courses.

In improv, an actor begins supplying some bit of information that helps to create the scene. They may say to another actor “Looks like we’re in for a bad storm.” This is called an offer and the other actor’s job is to accept the offer and support their scene partner. They might say “Yes and I hope that the road doesn’t flood.” The opposite of accepting the offer is blocking, for example, contradicting the offer, which stops the flow of the scene.

Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate this technique:

The Improv Yes-And Rule

The Yes-And Technique

Yes And as a communication technique is meant to raise awareness of when we are dismissive of the ideas of other people. For example, Chris says “We could hire a virtual assistant to handle all the routine work that is using up all of our time.” Lee says “Yes but we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.”

The “but” in that reply can feel like a rejection of the original idea. Can’t you just hear Chris say “You’re always so negative. How are  we ever going to get out from under if we don’t do anything?”

If Lee said “Yes and we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.” The conversation might continue in a similar vein. “Yes and we could start the VA in stages to break up the time drain.” Or even “Yes and we’d want to think of a way to minimize the disruption.”

Use the “Yes And” method to acknowledge and accept another’s suggestion and build on it.

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The Pause That Refreshes

When Maddie and I have workshop participants take our Collaborability assessment, we frequently ask them which collaboration aspect surprised them. The most frequent answer is Pausing to allow time for reflection.

Pausing is most important when you have an instant and negative reaction to a collaborator’s suggestion.

When I notice that I have a strong negative response toward an idea, it’s a sign to me to slow down and check out what’s really going on. More often than not, I find that my reaction has more to do with me than with the idea itself.

The pause allows you to develop awareness about your own areas of resistance or automatic response.  Once you’ve paused, you can ask yourself “How could this work?” or “How is that idea connected”? If you take the time to consider the merits or opportunities of an idea, it may lead to a solution that will work well.

Debbie

Empowered Collaboration – Part 3

For our third post by this title, we present the last 4 practices that enabled Michelle Chung and Nancy Donahue to have a successful collaboration while creating the tool mPWR10.

7. Be flexible and go with the flow

While Nancy and Michelle had educated guesses and did their homework, they weren’t attached to a particular outcome and they didn’t start with the idea of creating a business together. Their ability to test and be open to others’ ideas and to allow the next steps to unfold, led them to an outcome that exceeded their original expectations.

8. Commit to regular time together

Initially Michelle and Nancy met just once a week after work, discussing what they were reading and learning. They increased the time as they began to focus exclusively on mPWR10. Their regularly scheduled time enabled them to stay flexible and responsive to the input they were receiving. Currently, with an evolving, more mature business, they talk every day to keep on track with their goals.

9. Value and leverage each other’s differences

As Michelle and Nancy learned about each other’s strengths and differences, the way they structured their work evolved. Initially they went to every client meeting together. Later, they learned to brainstorm and plan together and then divide the work. They checked in frequently, reviewed what was working and what could be improved, and learned from each other rather than do everything together.

10. Keep the target goal in line with your values

Their core value is Create the results you want. It is the guiding principle behind the mPWR10 tool and Nancy and Michelle used it to weigh their decisions. They used the mPWR10 habits to create mPWR10!
Are these the definitive practices for a great collaborator? Michelle and Nancy would say no. They need to evolve, be tested and refined with the input of many others. So, these practices are a work in progress. Join us in considering them.

What do you think?

For more information about mPWR10 see http://www.mpwr10.com
Debbie

Empowered Collaboration – Part 2

We interviewed Michelle Chung and Nancy Donahue about what practices they used to collaborate when creating the tool, mPWR10. Our previous blog post listed 3 practices. Here are 3 more.

4. Take no criticism personally – everything is fodder for learning; get egos out of the way.

When Nancy and Michelle first began to share their tools with others, they needed to work at not personalizing criticisms from those who didn’t share their enthusiasm for their “baby.” They discovered the usefulness of adopting a learning attitude, where all input is received in the spirit of expanding, broadening or refining their ideas. Learning to set aside any defensiveness or sensitivity helped the duo to continue to improve their tool.

5. Combine focus with blue sky thinking; consider new options and put some on the shelf to pull out later

Michelle and Nancy learned that they brought different strengths to their collaboration. Nancy preferred to focus and jump into action. Michelle liked to sleep on an idea and deliberate before executing. Michelle also was more of a blue sky thinker, envisioning what might be possible long-term. Nancy favored operating in the present. Along with becoming accustomed to one another’s styles, they realized the benefit of stepping back to think and being action-oriented. When Michelle started blue sky thinking, Nancy imagined how to execute those future plans.

6. Trust one another

In order for collaborations to be successful, participants need to be in synch with the vision, goals and intention for the project. The glue for this type of alignment is a high level of trust. Michelle and Nancy had many years of working together before launching the mPWR10 project. They built a sense of familiarity and uncovered common core values. Both women had each other’s best interests at heart and admired each other’s successes. Trust enabled them to work independently and then to make accelerated progress when they met for updates.

Please read the next blog post entitled, “Empowered Collaboration – Part 3”, to uncover the 4 remaining recommendations Nancy and Michelle have to contribute to your collaborations.

Maddie

Empowered Collaboration – Part 1

When a person says something “changed my life” it gets my attention. I was at a professional meeting and the woman speaking was talking about something called mPWR10

mPWR10  is a 10-minute-per-day tool created by Nancy Donahue and Michelle Chung that teaches six habits distilled from the research on positive and peak performance psychology. After testing the product and finding it very valuable, we were very curious about how they collaborated on its creation. We set up a phone interview to explore what the keys were to their collaboration. Over the next three blog posts, we will report on the 10 practices Nancy and Michelle cited as keys to their collaboration.

  1. Keep track of the passion that brought you together

At the beginning of their collaboration, both women were employees of another firm. When that firm experienced manufacturing difficulties and eventually collapsed, it would have been easy to seek employment elsewhere. Start-up cash-flow challenges could have led them to drop their collaboration, but Nancy and Michelle calmed their uneasiness by hunkering down and focusing on the reason for their collaboration – a passion for supporting people’s success. They launched mPWR10.

  1. Know your value proposition

Michelle and Nancy are both expert synthesizers of information. Their capacity to glean the most important threads from the science of positive and peak performance psychology allowed them to create a simplified, accessible and practical set of habits. From the reactions of others, they learned that this talent was critical to the value they could create.  A client told them that with mPWR10, “I can throw away all the other books I have.”

3.  Seek input freely and widely

“Our goal was to collaborate with everyone since we knew we didn’t have all of the answers”, said Michelle. They drew in other smart people such as Joe Dowling, a peak-performance psychologist, and sought feedback from 500-600 mPWR10 users. The 6 habits evolved because so many people have used it and shared their experience and suggestions.

Read the next post to learn 3 more collaboration practices.

Debbie

Enhance positivity through meetings

Many of my business clients report that an average day is spent going from meeting to meeting.  Some would say that half of their life is spent attending, conducting,  preparing or following up from meetings.   It would therefore seem sensible to assume that if you want to build more positivity in your  workplace, a good place to focus would be in the way meetings are conducted.

In our last blog post, we reported research that linked positivity in a team with the incidence of positive statements made, the degree that the statements are about others and the amount of questions that are exchanged among group members. Here are some tips that may help you put this into action during the meetings you lead.

Meetings can enhance positivity.

1.  Open each meeting asking for recent accomplishments.  “What has happened that you feel good about and want others on the team to know?” In my experience this type of question elicits the telling of stories that help to build a group’s sense of success.

2.  Have a standing agenda item – “Way to go!”.  Ask for people to share personal compliments for others who have demonstrated collaboration or some other high-priority behavior.  In a local medical-surgical nursing unit, this tip is being used to increase the level of coordinated care provided to patients. Compliments help to remind us of our strengths and create stronger relationships with others.

3.  Periodically, use a portion of a meeting for everyone to have 5-10 minutes to check in with every other member.  These “Check Ins” can be structured to cover a specific set of questions aimed at increasing connectivity and positive regard:  What is going well in our relationship? What strengths have I noticed you exhibiting?  What can we create that will enhance our effectiveness?

In future posts we will be offering tips about how to increase inquiry in your teams.  What can you share to get us started?

Maddie Hunter

Collaborating with a muse

For the last 10 days I have become friends with a new muse.  In her Muse-Swap blog, Quinn McDonald offered me the opportunity to trade my regular muse in for a new one.  I actually didn’t even know that I had a muse but after thinking about how intensely I have been working,  I decided I in fact have been selectively listening to one of my muses, the slave-driver.  My slave-driver voice has made me too serious and obsessed with work.  Once I really thought about it I decided I needed a break from my own intensity.  Quinn offered me the perfect swap – a muse who giggles!

Laughing Goat from ingridtaylar at Flickr Creative Commons

Giggles and I have had a ball together.  She encouraged me to impulsively plan a 6-day get-away, driving up the coast of Maine with my sweetheart. We’re heading out next week.  When my teen aged son and I were handed a worksheet in a personal development workshop we were attending ( I know…sounds like a relapse into seriousness, but oh well…can’t be perfect over night!), I uncharacteristically howled out loud when seeing one of the listed tips for good communication as “Have a goat in mind!”.  The typo was inadvertent I’m sure, but my son and I are determined to think about goats now as our code for lightening up when we are struggling to connect!

Don't be low on coolant! Photo by tsja!

I could further tell you how Giggles turned my car leaking coolant on the Saw Mill River Parkway into a funny reminder that I have to drink more water.  She also encouraged me to take my shoes off in a furniture showroom and stretch out with my sweetheart to see how comfortable a couch was we were considering as a purchase.  Giggles certainly made me daring as well as light-hearted!

Although today marks the end of the Muse Swap, I am not turning my new friend back.  I think our collaboration is long overdue and I intend to keep listening to her encouragement to stretch beyond my overly attentive work ethic to have some fun.  As is true for many good collaborators, Giggles reminds me that sometimes we have to partner with others who are really different than our natural selves in order to find the answers we seek.   I may not be done being serious-minded, but I sure am going to listen for Giggles more often.  Thanks to Quinn and my muse-swap buddy for this fun time!