We recently held our fourth Breakfast of Change. Over the year our little movement has been organically growing as more people hear about what we are doing and are drawn to join. It is very much a dedication to creating space. Space to think, to hear, to digest, to experiment, to explore, to connect, to slow down, to contemplate not what we do, but how we do it.
Working with executives and business owners I know the need for this is desperate; we don’t give ourselves permission to slow down and really see what is going on, to consider the impact of our behaviour and decisions.
Our focus on this occasion was inspired by Google’s research demonstrating the importance of creating psychological safety to aid team performance, to question what risks we take to create safety. We experimented with a process to help us slow the conversation right down and enable us to hear each other’s contributions without interruptions.
The conversation and connections were rich. People talked about silence, vulnerability, fear, blame, judgement, connection and disconnection, being busy, being uncomfortable in the moment, needing the answers and not having them, wanting to be okay to say ‘I don’t know’, what it’s like in their organisations, what they observe in their clients, what taking a risk means, letting go. Unsurprisingly, there was the odd mention of Brexit too.
We are conscious in how we set up the Breakfasts to ensure psychological safety, focusing on creating an environment of acceptance and warmth over judgment, because that enables people to feel free to express themselves, just as they are. And as yesterday’s Breakfast confirmed, that doesn’t mean that we all agreed with each other or that there wasn’t some robustness and discomfort in the conversations. But it did mean that people, some of whom had only just met, some who hadn’t even gotten to learn each others names yet, were able to express what they experienced.
As we closed the session, we turned our minds to ‘So what?’. It’s always nice to have breakfast and discuss important issues with a diverse group but So What?
What I took away was a commitment to hold these slowed down conversations more. With my clients, with my husband, with my children. To create space where people feel safe to express what they are really experiencing over what they feel they should contribute. In my experience that’s how we get to the heart of the matter rather than gloss over the surface.