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Love and its Languages

Several years ago I wrote a Good Group Tip called Love and it was published in my first book. A high school friend of my daughter’s picked up the book and thumbed through it, stopping on the Love page. “I get that this is a book about group decision making, ” he said in a 16-year kind of way. “But what’s love got to do with it?”

I’m pretty sure he had no idea about the Tina Turner song. It’s just that he reckoned himself a future businessman and couldn’t see why Love would be in a business book.

Then this comment shows up at the website. Just days ago. About Love. From my brother John Prista Freshley. A businessman.

“I have started and led a wide variety of start-ups. And, ever since Craig wrote this tip in his book, I have included it in every company (starting in 2006). And, I have tried to practice and, often, quite explicitly. “I want us to have loving, caring relationships with each other. Start-ups are hard and love is part of the glue that will hold us together.” It is always a powerful moment.

A lesson learned….

Like many of Craig’s tips, it is sometimes super hard to practice and…a few years back, one of my daughters suggested that I read “The 5 Love Languages.” There are some simplistic things in there, but I instantly realized that many of my colleagues that I thought I was treating lovingly, did not receive it that way. I was not speaking their language!

I was direct, up-front, challenging them to grow, concerned about the career prospects. Sometimes, that was received as intended. And, sometimes, it was received at pushy, arrogant, “you don’t think I am any good and need to better.” It did not feel like love at all.

So, Craig – I suggest an edit to this old and powerful tip! “Love absolutely belongs in a meeting room and an organization. And, to demonstrate that, learn how your peers and colleagues know that you are being loving towards them.”

The Earth Needs Women Leaders

It’s no coincidence that I’m writing about the need for men to share leadership on the eve of Earth Day (April 22), in the midst of Spring’s unfolding, and at time when our Earth ecosystem is struggling. I don’t believe that patriarchal leadership marked by empire building has served humanity well and it’s time for a change. To me it’s very simple and very clear; if women were in charge, our environment would be healthier.

The data in the map is 4 years old but relevant I think. In Tan are the countries that have never had a female head of state. The Dark Green countries have had women at the helm for 15 years or more. Read the report here.

And just a note that I struggle to get the terminology right. Many reports on this topic use the term women and many use female. Yet many people don’t identify as men or women. I considered the term non-male so as to include non-binary people, yet I have read cautions about labeling and lumping non-binary people with women. I’m not sure what’s the best terminology, just that it’s time for a change.

Please stop talking

“Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?”

If you have been watching Hemingway on PBS, or if you know his essay Hills Like White Elephants, you might recognize this quote. It’s a woman to a man.

I know there is a danger in categorical judgments but I’m going to make one because this is something that I have seen over and over again in my meetings. Men tend to talk more. Women tend to defer more.

I bet that if you tracked the data in the last 100 meetings that I have been in……looked at the proportion of men and women in those meetings and the proportion of time spent talking by each gender, you would find that a disproportional amount of the time is dominated by men.

If your goal in the meeting is to get your way — to get the whole group to affirm what you already know to be true, without even having to hear from anybody else — then interrupt others and dominate the airtime. That’s a good strategy for that goal. But if your goal is for the group to make a good decision with the best available information and the very best chances of implementation due to buy-in, then spend more time listening and less time talking. Make room for everyone.

Now if you’re a man you might be thinking, “Well, if a woman doesn’t speak up that’s her fault; it’s her responsibility.” I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s a shared responsibility. Your part is to yield space. Her part is to speak up.

If you are a man about to make a comment — you know exactly what you want to say and you’re about to jump in — I’m encouraging you to pause, look around the room, especially at the women in the room, and give a chance for one of those women to take your turn.

And I must add, there is something uneasy about asking my fellow men to give over space to women because it comes with a presumption that the space is defacto ours in the first place, to be conceded. A woman actually doesn’t need my permission or concession to speak. The space among us is not defacto mine to control.

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