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Weekly Wellness Word: Empower

Monthly Theme: Communicating

This week’s word is Empower

We are all too familiar with drama. On TV or in movies we categorize a show as a drama when there are an overabundance of scenes where intense emotions are expressed - love, anger, hate, grief. Often there's a healthy dose of revenge in there somewhere along the way as well. We all personally know a drama queen or two as well; someone who seems to thrive on disagreement, moaning ""woe is me"", and at their whit's end to know what to do with their life's circumstances. At times we view these individuals as immature, but this week's email is to explore just how it might be that our questions, our responses to them perpetuates a dramatic response.

Helpful communication starts with giving each person a voice. Learning how to interact with others in such a way that gives everyone a voice can be an incredible challenge though. We often find it difficult to allow space for voices that are dissenting from the group, expressing anger or injustice. We sometimes label these voices as negative and sometimes fear that giving them a platform will cause division and discontent.

There are helpful tools that can show us ways to listen attentively to dissenting voices in healthy ways. The Drama Triangle is one of these tools. We can learn to shift the tone of a conversation from victim, persecutor and rescuer (drama roles) over to challenger, coach and creator (empowerment roles). In conversation, a victim says or implies, "I'm not okay. You're okay." A persecutor and rescuer says, "I'm okay. You're not okay." In the empowerment roles, we can say instead, "I'm okay. You're okay." The pathway to disconnection is to make the person feel like you are interrogating them, judging them for how they feel, or trying to fix them to make them more like you. The pathway to connection is to explore what the person is saying, try to understand their viewpoint, and join them in imagining what it's like to live in their shoes.

This week during your conversations begin noticing when you or the other person shifts into one of the Drama Triangle roles of Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer. For phone calls, keep a note tablet handy and write down the words Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer when you or the other person shift into one of those roles. Experiment with shifting the conversation towards empowerment by using words like explore, understand, and join. If you disagree with the person, be creative and see if you can find ways to affirm them as a person without validating their viewpoint. Notice any shifts in your own opinions as you offer the other person space to share and are intentional about better understanding them. Write down what you notice in your journal if that is helpful to you.

Quote of the Week

"Learning to speak in the context of community is key for the long haul...Community can be the cheerleader and the springboard from where you find your courage as an individual to speak. You find solidarity and identify with the people in your community...

There is a chance that your community will experience tension and confusion as you experiment with raising your voice...Speaking up doesn't increase division. It brings injustice to the forefront. Speaking up can be an avenue of truth and healing, which can be painful for you and your friends...

Ambition is not a dirty word. However, we need to have strong community around us to help discern our gifts. Sometimes community will give you the confidence. Sometimes community will help check our egos. Activist Deray McKesson tweeted, ‘I found my voice when I lost my ego.’

Be informed and learn from people who are different than you. The internet can actually be a time suck. I find myself mindlessly spending hours, yes, hours during the course of a week, and yes, you do too (if you are honest), on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, while Voxing, Snapchatting, and texting. Spending time online makes us believe we have gotten to know people better and know lots of important things, but we actually come away with very little knowledge or understanding. My social-media world and my real-life world can quickly become echo chambers of posts and people who thin exactly like I do and believe similar things if I am not intentional.

Walk away from the screen. Commit to reading books by authors who have a different viewpoint on issues than you do or come from a different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic experience than you do. Think about the podcasts and subjects you are most interested in and then add a few from the ‘least interested’ pile. And don't limit your consumption to Western voices. There is an entire world out there. Take a hard look at your circle of friends and be honest about the diversity reflected in your relationships. An then take your questions, along with what you are learning, back to the spaces you can influence and use your voice."

- Kathy Khang, Raise Your Voice

Next Step

Are you undermining your own empowerment? Learn how to create an empowered environment through personal reflection and how to start conversations that will stimulate and foster empowerment.

Leading from the Bottom: Conversations that Empower Leaders to Empower You

Further Information

For a deeper dive on unhelpful/helpful insights from The Drama Triangle, check out the links below from The Power of TED.

To better understand the three roles of the drama triangle - Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer - visit this page:

To better understand the three roles of the empowerment triangle - Challenger, Coach and Creator - visit this page:

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