March 1, 2016
I went to Ohio this past month to do some work outside Cleveland. Warmly welcomed by the group of administrators, I sat to eat breakfast with them. And being interested in who I was working with and the districts from which they came, I asked about their regions. One commented that in his area they have a local holiday for the opening of hunting season. Another mentioned that in his area it was common to have students out to go sell animals at the local fair in the fall. I mentioned that San Francisco Unified School District was taking a day off the following week to observe the Lunar New Year. It was a quiet moment at the table. I don’t know if it was the shift to the unknown or to something they hadn’t thought about or just a moment of awareness, but it was quiet for a while as we ate our eggs.
I wasn’t trying to be provocative. I was trying to bring a more macro-focused perspective to the conversation. I might have also mentioned that I worked in a school district that had a significant Jewish population and thus, Yom Kippur was a local holiday. Within a school, and within a country, and around the world, we have similarities but also differences in our communities. We need to recognize there are bigger pictures and not be afraid. It is essential. Critical.
I am traveling a bunch this coming year and consider it a gift. I get to see the world from the perspective of others. Without civil discourse and a genuine interest in understanding others, I don’t see myself able to ‘hold center’ as I move toward living within a much larger global perspective (and as I move forward in our election season here in the USA too!)
My friend, Jenni Donohoo, a wonderful educator, author and a Canadian, sent a Facebook posting of a video from a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. In this video, you will hear the mic cut out during the singing of the U.S.A.’s National Anthem. In this ‘feel good’ moment of USA-Canada relations, I was so touched by the fans’ response. They knew my anthem. They respected my tradition. They also probably really wanted to see some hockey, but their actions brought me up short. I sure don’t know the Canadian anthem by heart. The other-focused journey I am on continues. I am off to learn all of “O, Canada.” Join me.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at email@example.com and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!
“What it means to ‘hold space’ for people – plus eight tips to do it well.” I was introduced to Heather Plett’s work by my colleague, Lucy West. Heather has written a moving blog about a palliative care nurse holding space for her family at the time of her mother’s dying. As leaders, coaches and colleagues, we have much to learn from this blog. Heather says she is a “wisdom-seeker, edge-walker, community-gatherer, and story-catcher.” My kinda person.
Had a chance to hear about a podcast, “Otherhood” while listening to NPR. The podcast is about “about immigrants and the children of immigrants.” About people who don’t belong and those who feel they are “between cultures.” Done by @RupaShenoy and it seems really intriguing and important. You can also find out more about it on Twitter @OtherhoodPod or through this story that starts at 38:42 from PRI’s The World.
And last up, “Two Words that Will Kill Any Conversation” by coaching guru, Marshall Goldsmith. Guess what the two words are and see if you are using them too often.
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Jennifer presented a workshop on Having Hard Conversations to our staff. She is a superb presenter, with a strong command of the content, excellent real examples, and professional delivery. Staff have since been talking to me all week about how much they enjoyed the presentation. I only wish we had more time with her, as these practices have the potential to have a really positive impact on our workplace.”