Podcast Transcript

On The Nightstand 3

Marsha Clark  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we uncover what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. This is Marsha Clark. I am flying solo tonight as I record this On The Nightstand episode, which I do periodically where I try to find other sources other than the things that are based solely on my "Embracing Your Power" book. In the book, "Embracing Your Power", we talk about a whole lot of things and yet we know there's a whole lot more to leadership. And, you know, as a teaser, I'll tell you that's what book two and even book three are going to be about, as I'm currently working on book two.

Yet what I wanted to bring to you in this episode, our title for this one is "The Importance of Psychological Safety" and I think about this topic, really for two reasons. It seems that it's been a topic of conversation in the programming that I'm doing, where there's a talk about psychological safety. And it's often related to really the mental health challenges that so many are facing right now. And they can be based on small things, they can be based on large things, they can be based on things that have been happening more recently, they can even be things that happened to us long ago. And in some cases, we may have dealt with them, but they're recurring now for whatever reason. Or it may be that we never dealt with them and that the current accumulation of more and more really traumatic experiences, is creating some real challenges for us. What I want to focus on today is how we as leaders, can recognize when there is an absence of psychological safety in our workplaces so that we can provide the kind of support that's sorely needed.

So this is going to be a little bit different. I wrote a white paper on this topic about a year ago. And I did this as a result of co-facilitating the Women's Leadership Institute Program for the Texas Women's Foundation. And I had an extraordinary colleague, Mia Mbroh, who has co-led this program with me for the last couple of years. And Mia is both a competent and compassionate colleague, I don't mean to illiterate with all those C's. But it is true that her background and her experience as a trauma therapist is her profession of trade. And she's had experience working in supporting children and families in the most extreme traumatic events, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, various school shootings, and quite honestly various forms of abuse that have happened in her clients lives. And I've learned so much from Mia. So I want to give her a very big credit and citation for helping me to continue to learn more about the importance of psychological safety and how to even think about it, define it, and understand it to the point where we can be the better leader as it relates to psychological safety. I also want to say that the following information, I don't claim to be a therapist, I don't claim to be someone who is a trauma specialist, but it's offered as a way of better helping you to understand trauma and then how to create the conditions in your organization and your family to recognize, acknowledge and hopefully help support or reduce those trauma inducing conditions.

And so I've used the word trauma here quite a bit. So let me as I often do give you a definition, the definition in the context of what we're going to talk about. Trauma is a set of experiences, events and effects that undermine our personal sense of safety as we move within our context of the world. It's an inability to reconcile some form of suffering. I think we can all probably relate to that in some shape, form or fashion again, whether it be personal traumas from long ago, from more recently, or professional traumas and how even we as leaders can have an unintentional situation where we may have created some traumatic experiences. Because what I know is that I don't get to define what a trauma is for you any more than you get to define what a trauma is for me. It's a very personal definition. And it's based on a whole wide range of variables.

And when you think about the experiences that all of us have had over the past two to three years, it's been pretty overwhelming. We've lost loved ones to Coronavirus amidst a global pandemic so it's not just a small event, it's a huge event. We've witnessed racial strife and political upheaval. And at a very personal level, we've been confined to our homes. Some people have lost jobs, they've lived under the fear of eviction, and even experienced, you know, significant food insecurity. And these events have reflected a life experience where our sense of safety and security have most certainly been undermined. And how have we responded in our attempt to reconcile this suffering in that some part of the definition is our inability to reconcile it, how have we gone about in an attempt to, in fact, make sense of or reconcile the suffering? And as we've experienced and observed and read about, we've seen a wide variety or range of ways in which people have responded. You know, the question of mask or no mask, vaccine or no vaccine, stay home or travel about, you know, so many of the heroes and the heroines were in the throes of trying to save lives and provide a central care to those in need. It's like people who come back from wars or who face severe abuse, and you think about it as in terms of PTSD, almost. And that's a lot of stress and a lot of trauma that puts a lot of pressure on us. The services that we may have previously taken for granted were huge challenges, online versus in person school for our children, could we even go to the grocery store to buy food to put on the table for our families, religious services, daycare, the graduations, the weddings, the birthday celebrations, and even the funerals and memorial services that were delayed or not done or missed during all of this. We weren't able even to experience, even though they were painful, but to experience them in a serving ways, healthy ways for major life events such as these. And in short, our lives were uncertain, they were unpredictable. And we, many of us, it was a feeling or a sense of feeling out of control because we couldn't fix everything, we couldn't predict things.

And so even though these recent months that had traumas sort of piled on top of other traumas in the pre-COVID and pre 2020, thinking about all that's happened since then I want to speak specifically to the experience of women, people of color and in fact, any marginalized group, people who did not have access to resources is what I think of often as marginalized groups, some of it within their control, and some of it not. And so as many hearing this or listening to this will know, I've spent the last 20 plus years delivering leadership programs that have been targeted specifically to women. And it's through that work that I want to offer my thoughts on this topic. And I want you to know that I'm integrating Mia's work and insights along with my work and insights. And I know lots of, she and I talk about it, lots of light bulbs go off for us as we make new connections. And both of us at various times have declared 'Well no wonder' this is the way that works or why this is happening. So I invite you to be open to what I'm about to share with you and to consider and apply this information as you think about your own life experiences, because I do think it's applicable to each of us in a myriad way.

So a review of history will show again and again that women have predominantly been in a less than position. And of course, there are exceptions to that as there are in research being typically reflecting that bell shaped curve and their tails on each end of that bell if you will. But women have been quieted, we've been ridiculed, we've been criticized, we've been disrespected, and we have been diminished in many, many ways. It's a matter of being born into this experience around the globe, merely by being a female. And as women go through life, of course, we develop our own coping mechanisms. Some of those things can be stuffing it as you call it, you know, pushing it down to repress awful memories or experiences that we really don't want to think about much less open our hearts to feel how much it hurts or disappoints, or angers. It might be addictions, drug addictions, alcohol addiction, food addiction, exercise addiction, even work addiction. Her armor or our armor, or protection, may be this hard surface that's intended to protect her and yet it also prevents her, us women, from letting the good things of life in too. And that's such a loss.

Our families of origin certainly play an important role in how we experience and manage trauma. If we grew up in a loving, nurturing and supporting environment, we tend to be much more resilient. I envision it as, you know, being sort of cloaked in love, or you know, that love is warm, it's certain it's consistent, it's deep, it's predictable, it's reliable. And as a result, I can handle trauma in a healthier way. And yet, for those who didn't experience this loving early life in our families of origin, it can be a very different result. In this case, I envision not this cloak of warmth and love, but rather a thin veil of protection. And that veil doesn't protect me well, at all. It's very easy to be penetrated. Almost everything can make its way through this thin veil. And I am feeling much more vulnerable when this is my story. And as with most things, this is a continuum. And there are many kinds of layers of protection. And I invite our listeners each of you to think about your own means of protection. What are your mechanisms when times get hard? What do you go to? And again, the list is long as to the possibilities. If this is our early experience then as a child as a young teenager growing up, how do my behaviors now show up as an adult in my daily life? And when Mia shared this particular list with me, it was my "oh my gosh, no wonder" moment.

And she calls this, and it's actually the source that she cites, is Dr. Bruce Perry. And the list is entitled, The Signs of Unhealed Trauma. So the trauma still resides in us, it hasn't been tended to, cared for, managed to a place of getting healthier on the other side, so it's unhealed trauma. The first thing on the list is fixing others. The second is codependency and this can is characterized by excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, someone else in my life. The third is needing to constantly be proving myself. The fourth is a constant need to please everyone else. The next is living my life on high alert. I'm waiting for something else to happen. I'm looking over my shoulder. Everything is a conspiracy theory. I require a considerable amount of external validation. I fear abandonment, I'm going to be left alone, I'm going to be isolated, I'm going to be the only, I'm going to be that moment of no one else around. And I also deprioritize my own needs. There's often a lack of self care, self prioritization. So think about those. And again, we're not talking about every now and then, but when these are routinely present in our lives, they can be signs of an unhealed trauma. And I want you to also know that I've heard so many of these words or phrases or stories or sentiments from women around the world. And admittedly, I've never made the connection to trauma, specifically a woman's trauma. So I again, thank you, Mia, for opening my eyes to this connection. And I would like to go into a little bit more depth on each one of these.

So the idea of fixing others. To me, this one screams the "should" language. And, you know, we tell others what they should or shouldn't do, or what they should or shouldn't have done. And we should on ourselves all the time -  I should have known better, I shouldn't have eaten so much, I shouldn't have, you know, stayed up so late, I shouldn't have, you know, fill in the blank. I'm gonna bet that sounds familiar to a lot of our listeners out there. And someone shared as a perspective with me many years ago, and many of you have heard me speak about this, is that the word 'should', is 'could' with shame on it. And I want to repeat that: should is could with shame on it. So certainly, I've tried to be very conscious about my use of the word 'should' ever since and this idea of telling others what they should do in the spirit of trying to quote unquote, "fix them".  And here's my you know, part in leadership coaching, I suppose, is don't should on yourselves and don't should on others. And so that might be the one you want to remember.

The second one is codependency and this is characterized by that excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. And a gentlemen, a licensed professional counselor, Dr. Mark Mayfield, says it this way: Foundationally it is due to poor concept of self and poor boundaries, including an ability to have an opinion, or say no. That for me to set a boundary with another or for them to set one with me or to be able to say no to one another, that codependency we're stuck with each other because we need that emotional or psychological reliance. We can't get through life without one another. So we it's almost like we're joined at the hip. And it's not friendship, it's not commonality, it is this deeper, emotional or psychological reliance. That's the key there.

The third is needing to prove myself. So, you know, when I think about my life, I've heard many times the old adage that women have to work twice as hard to get half as far and I've seen and heard again many stories that reflect that. And it even takes, this need to prove myself, can take the form of perfectionism. And I will tell you on this perfectionism thing that it is much more common in women than it is in men. And so again thinking about traumas as women I just want to point that out. And I also because in each of these, I like to give some some sense of another way of thinking about it. And in this one, my dear friend and colleague, Susie Vaughan, gave me a great coaching tip on this. And again, I use it often and you've heard it - is that we can strive for grace and not perfection. So this need to prove ourselves, to be perfect, to never make a mistake, to always have all the answers, we can let that go.

The next one is about pleasing people, doing everything for everyone else. We may be afraid to have hard conversations on behalf of ourselves, for fear of displeasing another person or even damaging the relationship with that person. And so because so many of us have grown up with a good girl rules of do's and don'ts that often you know suppress or discount anything that we might think or feel about taking care of ourselves and we can be shamed or embarrassed about 'well good girls don't do this and you know bad girls do that and don't you know in order to be a good girl you have to fill in the blank'. And you know, I often refer to it as we've been taught so well to color inside the lines, to be seen and not heard, to be you know, polite like little girls that never speak up or speak back, you know, we don't have near the latitude that little boys do oftentimes. And even those suppressions and oppressions and limitations, can have a cumulative traumatic effect. And that's the other thing about trauma, it's not just a single major event. There can be accumulation of trauma over a lifetime. You know, you've heard the phrase "death by 1000 cuts". And that's really what I think of in that context.

The next one is living on high alert. And this can often be diagnosed as the ADHD and attention deficit disorder of some sort. And we can't focus on things because we've always got our antenna up to be sure that we're ready for that next traumatic event. And this is where so many, it's such a life condition that they don't even recognize it for what it is. And you know, another sign is just constantly waiting for the next inevitably bad thing to happen. And when we live in this space, it prevents us from from really enjoying whatever it is we may have right now because we're waiting for that next bad thing to happen. And so we can't even live in the present and enjoy the good that may be happening in our lives.

The next one is requiring external validation. I often think about this as holding up the mirror, right? I look in the mirror, how do I live? You know, will I be acceptable? Will I be seen as attractive or, you know, in fashion or thin enough or, you know, healthy enough or whatever it might be. Another thing that represents this is do you have any feedback for me? How many times do we find ourselves, even if we don't ask it we're thinking it, when we add that tag question at the end of our statements, "wouldn't you agree?" That's looking for someone else to validate me. And, you know, it's one thing to ask these questions periodically, maybe feedback, if it's the first time we've ever done something, or, you know, we really don't have the sense of how we've done and we want to make sure we're maximizing our learning versus sort of the "Did I do good? Did I do good? Did I do good?" validation, that's what the extremity of that can look like. And then this idea of fearing abandonment and, you know, this takes a lot of forms. And one, it's often a person will sabotage a relationship if it's going well because unconsciously, I'm going to find a reason to abandon you so I don't have to wait for you to abandon me. And I can create or reinforce that self fulfilling prophecy to justify the abandonment rather than to relive the trauma of some abandonment I felt throughout my life that's lingering, if you will, that lingering trauma.

And then de-prioritizing my own needs. And this is probably the lament heard most often from the women in the programs that I teach and the coaching clients that I have. And you know, the notion of we would never want to inconvenience others, though we have no problem inconveniencing ourselves again and again and again. We feel that our to do lists, and to do lists on behalf of everyone and everything else has to take the highest priority, whether it's family, work, school, community, friends, and we don't appear on our own list, our own to do list, at all. In the first book that I co- authored with my dear friend, Dottie Gandy, and it was entitled "Choose!: The Role That Choice Plays in Shaping Women's Lives", one of our key messages in that book was don't confuse self with selfish. And when you think about self care and refueling and replenishing yourself, myself, it isn't a selfish act. Because if we just give and give and give and give and give pretty soon we're empty, and we can't give anything to anybody else if we're empty. And so we're not doing ourselves or the other loved ones in our lives any favors by running ourselves empty. And so if we're willing to take the time to prioritize our own needs and to replenish or refuel, that's going to help us avoid those health related issues, burnout of jobs, relationships, and so on, and even avoid some damaging relationships. So I know, I could go on and on about that because choice is, you know, a big thing in the messages and the work that I offer, is that we always have a choice and choosing to prioritize ourselves is one of those really, really, really important choices.

So again, as you read through this list, do any of these resonate with you? If so, which ones? How did they show up for you? And if you find that it's in a frequent or quite often situation, I hope that you'll find someone that you can talk to about it to get the support to begin to work on healing the trauma rather than living in an unhealed trauma state - can be a good friend, a mentor, coach or a therapist even depending on the severity of it. And you know, two of my frequent coaching questions that I think about at this point is, whatever it is that may be happening for you, I ask, how is that working for you and how is that working against you? So any one of these signs of unhealed trauma, of codependence, of fear of abandonment, of you know, de-prioritizing my own needs, how's that working for you and how's that working against you, and your very personal situation and your answers to those questions may help guide you to the kind of person you do want to talk to about your unhealed trauma.

And I want to share something else here about how we tend to respond to these stress situations and traumas. And I'm going to refer to these as the four F's, the letter F as in Frank, or as in fight, flight, freeze, and flock. Now, most of us have heard about the, you know, fight or flight response to stress, anxiety or trauma. And this goes all the way back to the prehistoric days of fighting or fleeing the saber toothed tigers, if you will. And most of the early research on the stress responses were done on men, as if men were the only ones who had stress and anxiety and trauma. But more relatively recent research has added this freeze response. And this is when I can either feel paralyzed because I'm so caught off guard and don't know what to do, or I go completely still and quiet getting ready for my next move. And when a recent group of women were discussing the the fight response, I want to say to it, it rarely meant literally fighting. It has a different meaning for women, I think or at least a broader definition could be applied. They, the women shared stories describing fighting for what I believe in, not just fighting or shooting guns or arrows or you know, spears or whatever, but fighting for what I believe in, standing up for my values or what I might consider to be vital issues and fighting to the finish to get through something. No matter how intellectually challenging, emotionally challenging or physically challenging it might be, I'm going to fight my way through it, I'm going to will my way through it. And I like this much broader perspective on the fight response as I think it's more indicative of the women's response to stress and anxiety and trauma with that broader definition of what it means to fight. And as women were included in the research, because surprise, we experience stress too, there were two new behaviors that were developed by Dr. Shelley E. Taylor and her research team at the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA. And these were first published in a psychological review article in 2000. So she found the tend and befriend response - that's a behavior exhibited in a woman's response to threat or trauma or stress - tending, (tend and befriend) tending ranges from protecting our offspring to organizing our desks or consolidating our to do list. And all of these things are aimed at getting things back to a non-threatening and in-control condition.

And one woman that was in one of our classes, she recently shared that when she began to work from home, during the beginning of the pandemic, the first thing she did was deep clean her house from top to bottom. And other women began to chime in with similar stories. And this is a perfect example of tending, I'm going to take care of things, before I can base the uncertainties or the unknowns of a life that has now kind of been turned upside down because my children are homeschooling and you know, I can't go to work, and I'm learning how to use virtual platforms and all the other things that we've learned to do in the last two to three years. And then this befriending, if you know, tend and befriend is the way in which we seek out our social group for mutual support or defense. And this closely resembles the last step, the fight, flight, freeze, or flock. And I'll tell you another story from a woman that she shared that she was recently warned, and she used the word 'warned', that seeking others out for solace or support or to talk things over wasn't really a good idea. And yet, what the psychology suggests that's exactly the opposite of what is true, that when we're in that place of stress, anxiety, trauma, we do need to talk, we don't need to stuff it, we don't need to suppress it, swallow it, pretend it didn't happen. And if you go back to our list of the signs of unhealed trauma, only you can answer the question of whether you're seeking others out for the purpose of whether it's seeking that external validation or whether you're seeking healthy support for really that building the trust and knowing that you're not alone. And in evolutionary psychology that the tend and befriend is theorized as having evolved as the typical female response to stress.

And in my mind, it relates to Dr. Patricia Heim's research on invisible rules around gender. She describes the feminine framework around power, the use of personal power as a flat structure, we're all in this together. And that very much for me relates to this flocking or befriending behavior. And you know, I think about it as I'm in a pickle, I can't focus, I can't concentrate, I might call up a friend and talk to them. Or I might say, "Can you meet me for, you know, a cup of coffee or a drink or whatever it might be, because I really need to talk this thing out." So again, as you hear the fight, flight, freeze, flock, tend and befriend, what's your default? You know, I'm betting that you've used all of them at one time or another. But I encourage you to begin to take notice of your response and others responses as well so that you can learn about yourself, as well as being able to recognize and notice that in others that our loved ones that are family, friend, employee not to intervene in inappropriate ways, but to also recognize it for what it is, to not label it in demeaning ways or shoulding, if I can say it that way in those ways, either.

So as we always try to do and I'm not just gonna tell you all the things that are horrible, I'm going to try and give you some thoughts about how to create some of these safe spaces. So as a leader, what can we do? I want to reiterate again, that psychological safety, which I know I want to work in a psychologically safe space, and I want to create that space for those that I'm working with, psychological safety is the absence of trauma. And I'm gonna say it again. Psychological safety is the absence of trauma. And, you know, as as a leader, the last thing I would certainly want to do is to create some sort of culture or environment that's traumatic to any one person, much less, you know, teams of people. And so as a true leader, what we want to do is create spaces that provide psychological safety and, and I want to give you some things that you can do to create a safe space for your team and for your loved ones, for your family.

So the first one is, and these are not easy, I'm going to read them as if they are just well, here's a checkmark, you know, check this one off the list, check this one, but these are hard. And I want to acknowledge that. Suspending judgment and making room for others. And this is others' thoughts, others' ideas, others' perspectives, others' experiences, othes' stories. Suspend judgment, and give people a chance to share those things. Sharing my truth, without harmful consequences. We said something that we identified as CLM, in EDS when I worked there, and it was Career Limiting Moves. If I say this, if I do this is my career over? And, and so if I can't speak my truth, what's real for me, or what my experiences or my response to a reaction to something without fearing retribution or shame or embarrassment or ridicule, I don't feel safe, so I'm not going to speak up. Being okay, the third one, being okay with not being right, or the rah, I must be right. This idea of insisting on or demeaning others, making others wrong to make me right, all of those are things that don't create safe spaces. So I'm okay with not being right. You know what I misspoke on that one, or you know what I think your point is a better point. I mean, admitting mistakes is one of those things, the behaviors that we know builds trust, and that's a part of this.

The fourth one is understanding that just because it's not your truth, doesn't mean it's not someone else's truth. And I want to tell you a story on this. And this goes back to my EDS days. And we had done a rather unique, we called it the Transformational Executive Leadership Program. And we were presenting it around to some of our senior executives in their staff meetings, and each one of them had had a participant in the program so that we could expose different parts of the organization to it. And in this particular staff meeting of very senior executives, one of the gentlemen who had been a participant in the program, spoke about it as a life changing experience. And that was his truth. And one of the I'll call him crusty old guys that was sitting there said, "You know, (I'm, pardon me, but I'm, I've got to do this, just because it's a makes it a little bit in character) I've had a gun held to my head in Vietnam. That's a life changing experience. No training program can be a life changing experience." And I'm sitting there and you know, this was early on when we were sharing this, and I'm sweating bullets going, Oh, my gosh, how do I respond to this? And I say it was absolute divine intervention here. And I said to this gentleman, "You know, I can't imagine how horrible it must have been to have a gun held to your head and I can certainly see where that would be a life changing experience. You know what, I've had a baby. And that was a life changing experience for me. And that's an experience you'll never have. So you can have your life changing experience, I can have my life changing experience, and this participant can have their life changing experience. We don't get to define that for each other". And, as I say, I don't know where that came from but thank you, dear God. And I believe that! Just because it's not your truth, doesn't mean it isn't someone else's truth. And I think that's a huge lesson in life and humanity, and psychological safety in leadership. And in a safe space, a psychological safe space, everyone feels not just okay but welcome to be vulnerable, to admit they don't know, to admit they made mistakes, to admit that there's lack of clarity or certainty around something, that they can be truly open and honest.

The next one is listening to each other in order to truly understand rather than responding or imposing your thoughts and feelings as if yours are better than theirs, right versus theirs, or somehow more important or more valuable or more valid or more credible. But listening to each other, probing to clarify, finding points of connection, is going to create more of that psychological safety. The next one seems so obvious, but it's encouraging everyone to speak up. You know, this is one where you're gonna go around and ask each person in the conversation, whether it's on a, you know, virtual platform screen or whether it's around a conference table, or, you know, around the dinner table. What do you think? What are your thoughts on this, I'd love to hear about your perspective or your experience. The next one is assuming positive intent. And we've heard this a lot as it relates to building trust. And what I would offer to you here is that it can also keep us on track in the conversation versus putting up our defenses because we're assuming an attack, or another traumatic event, versus that person is telling their truth and they're sharing it even though it may be hard to say or different than mine, but that they're trying and working to connect and engage. It's also giving everyone permission to learn, grow, and change. You know, when you're with the same organization or your family has known you all your life, and maybe you did something early in your life or early in your profession and now it's 15 years later, 20 years later, and they can't let it go, right? That still defines you in some way. We've got to give people permission, that we've learned things, that we're trying to live a better life, a more productive life, a higher quality life, a kinder life, whatever that may be, in doing things right and doing the right things, and giving each other room for that. I also think back to that strive for grace. Give everyone grace, including yourself.

And encouraging and enabling honest conversation. I will tell you, whether it's been with family members, or clients or program participants, colleagues, team members, you hear a lot of stuff and you can't let it get you off base, right, or react in such a way that they wish they'd never said it or never shared it or never told it or never said it out loud. But, and sometimes we don't know what to say, let's be honest with that. And all I can say is anything from I hear you, I've never had that experience, I don't quite understand it. But I really hear the pain in your voice or I hear the hurt in your voice or I hear the anger. And I can't imagine how hard that might be. I mean, just even acknowledging, I hear you. And you know, again, to quote Mia Mbroh, "What we each need as human beings is to be seen, heard and valued."

And that really gets to this final bullet which is creating an environment where everyone can be themselves and be seen, heard and valued - not diminished, not domained, not painted into some stereotypical box, a limiting view of one another, especially when we really don't even know that person. And, again, what comes to my mind here is what I often say at the beginning of classes, which is everybody's got a story and everybody's working on something. I don't care how much money you have, whether you are you know, the leader of the, you know, the nation or whatever that might be, head of the largest corporation in the Fortune 100 and all, that you've got a story and you're working on something. And when we can remember that and see people with compassion, I think it can help us create the psychological safety that we want and that we need in order to contribute our best work and our best thinking.

And so when I think about all of this it's in relationship to my wish for a world that values women and girls equally with men and boys. And that if we can create these kinds of safe spaces where our voices are heard, where what we have to say and what we have to contribute is considered and valued, it'll go a long way toward changing the almost automatic condition of girls being born into an environment of trauma just because they're girls. And if these views seem extreme to any of our viewers, our listeners, I invite, and encourage you to practice some of these safe space behaviors. And, you know, to me, this embodies that bullet point of understanding that just because it's not your truth doesn't mean it isn't someone else's truth. And remembering too that we don't get to define what someone else might define as trauma. And what might seem small and simple can be years and years of accumulated traumas that make it bigger for that person. And this as a leader, it requires compassion. And, you know, I have a belief that we, we're reading and hearing a lot today about leaders need to be more empathetic. And I believe that we need leaders who are more compassionate because I may not be able to empathize with another person or put myself in someone else's shoes. I can't imagine what it's like to be a woman of color. I can't imagine what it's like to be fill in the blank. So I can't put myself in your shoes in a full and complete way. I can hear your stories, and have great compassion for what your life's experiences have been. And that's what I think is more required from a leader is that compassion. You have compassion for the pain and the trauma as well as the joys and pleasures to celebrate those while also supporting one in the pain and the trauma of another human being. And when we provide these safe spaces, we can begin to change our thinking, our feelings, our beliefs. And I've told you this before that the neuroplasticity of our brains allows us to lay down new neural pathways, and do things differently, think differently, feel differently. And so the psychological safety must be equal to or greater than the experienced trauma. And that's a really important statement, the psychological safety must be equal to or greater than the experienced trauma. And I now have a new story that I can tell myself when I consider that. And that's going to now influence my thinking, my responses, my behaviors and my choices.

And so, you know, as I wrap up this episode, I hope that the information that I provided has given you some insights regarding your own trauma. And I also hope it provides some guidance on how to prevent unintentional trauma situations in whatever role we may play as a, as I say, as a sibling, as a parent, as a leader, as a co-worker, as a customer, anything else. And again, I want to acknowledge that each and every one of us has experienced various forms and degrees of trauma. And my focus on women and girls is based on the work that I've done with women around the world and hearing a lot of stories, a lot of stories. And those stories are reflected in the information I shared in this document. And I want to say to everyone that, really to everyone since we've all experienced trauma, that my heart goes out to you and I hope that you're able to find a loving environment that helps you to heal from whatever traumas that you might have experienced. And I don't know that there's any more important work than to do the healing work that allows us to live healthier lives, more fulfilled lives, where we can be there in support of ourselves, which is often a bigger requirement, so that we can be there for all the other people we have in our lives.

And there was a book called "Managing From the Heart", and I don't have it in front of me but I it's an old book, I have read it back in the 90's and 'heart' (Managing from the HEART) - it was an acronym. And here's what that acronym stands for: The "H" in heart stands for hear and understand me. Even if you disagree with what I'm saying, please don't make me wrong. Separate my words, my beliefs from how you value me as a human being. 'A' stands for acknowledge the greatness within me because even if there's a lot of hurt, anger, disappointment, there's some good stuff too. Can we see a bit of that to help us move through supporting that person with compassion? "R" is remember to honor my loving intentions and that's assuming good intent in my mind, and the "T" stands for tell me your truth with compassion. And I want to share your truth, I give you the flip side of that, I want to hear your truth with compassion as well.

So that wraps up our segment and content as it relates to the importance of psychological safety. I hope, as I say, you found some insights into that. And I also want to say that our next six episodes are going to be related to managing conflict. And I'm going to share a framework with you and take you through some strategies or give you some tools for managing conflict effectively, not only to achieve a desired result but also to strengthen, build, extend, sustain strong relationships. I know that for many women getting into a conflict is hard, it's difficult, it's challenging, it's uncomfortable. And much of that can be based on the fear of breaking or damaging relationships but I want to give you some what else could be true's about that. And I want to say to you that creating psychological safety can coexist with also being comfortable to get into complex situations. So knowing that those episodes are coming up, I just wanted to offer that as a little bit not only of a tease, but to get you thinking through that it isn't I create psychological safety, therefore, I cannot have conflict. Both are going to be there, have the opportunity to be there. And how do I learn to live in maybe the tension of that, and being respectful from both a results from relationship perspective, to maintain or create that psychological safety and yet still be of a different opinion. All of that can, is a part of the human experience. And I hope we can give you some thoughts and insights and tools to help you in that regard as well.

And I also, as you all know, I mean, I appreciate your listening. Please share it if you think this is a particularly important one for maybe friends or family members to hear. Please feel free to offer this up as something that might be useful for those friends, colleagues, family, loved ones, and so on. And I do think that we as women have some I'll call them special or unique, you know, skills, competencies. Someone gave me a plaque that said, "I'm a woman. What's your superpower? And so I think some of our superpower comes in really being able to see people through a different lens than much of the world sees each other. And that that's another important part of we as women showing up, and that for us to be there, not just for everyone in general, but to be there for each other. I think it's an important way of creating an exponential value in doing this work in the world and creating the psychologically safe spaces and recognizing the humanity of it all.

So it's with a special twist that I close today's session, as I always do, which is, here's to women supporting women!

Unknown Speaker  54:39  
For more information, please see this white paper authored by Marsha Clark:  https://www.marshaclarkandassociates.com/post/life-traumas-and-its-impact-on-who-we-are