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Here’s a short personal story about my passion for powerful, effective communication, and conflict resolution skills.
In second grade I learned about fairness, favoritism, truth and trust; ultimately about employees and bosses.
Headed to the playground, I jumped in front of the class bully to talk with my girlfriend. The minute we switched places our boss/teacher, Ms. Westcott, came over, pulled him out of line to send him to detention (yup in second grade) for disobeying rules.
“But,” I stated in a loud, clear voice, “He didn't do anything! I got in front of him so I could talk with Charlotte."
Now, I was “teacher’s pet” and she thought I was protecting him. Marvin (not quite the name for a bully) looked back at me and shrugged. He was used to getting yelled at and he whispered “it’s okay”.
Yet, it wasn’t.
I complained to my mother who called the teacher. I was told “it’s all handled”. The incident got swept under the rug. Marvin was eventually “fired” from our school and sent to one for “problem” kids. I missed his spunky manner and always felt there had to be a better way.
We all have hyper-vigilant memories that point us in one direction or another. I had a strong yearning to find out why we behave the way we do and search for that better way.
I studied psychology and family systems theory and then took what I learned into the workplace. I saw the possibilities for building teamwork, transforming conflict, and managing change as foundational to increased productivity and collaboration.
I’ve learned that it is a myth to think we can and should separate who we are at work from who we are at home. In my executive coaching, leadership programs, change-management seminars, and team building in the workplace my basic idea is that authenticity can only happen when we do the personal work to find out what pushes our buttons and what to do about it.
To gain other perspectives, my husband Herb Kaufman and I invited leading edge teachers to Creative Energy Options. Throughout the years we had Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Robert Bly, Herbert Benson, David Whyte, Willis Harman and many others offer important points of view. I have included much of what I learned in my book “Don’t Bring It to Work”.
Fascinated with frozen right/wrong perspectives, we started The Center for Intercultural Dialogue to study the dynamics between Israelis and Palestinians using the arts to transcend differences. I explored ways to engage head and heart for real change to happen and found stories make more of a difference than debate. I use what I learned there in my Creative Edge Workshop.
I have developed my storytelling ability using real life situations. My ideas, grounded in research and science, address matters at emotional as well as logical levels; that’s what makes them “stick”.
My passion (in part thanks to Marvin,the bully) is helping leaders and teams improve employee relationships and engagement which impacts the bottom line and creates cultures of trust through honest and real dialogue.