Stephanie Holloway: Founder of Elemental Potential and a body language and communication expert. She is also the creator of Compassionate Assertiveness in Action.
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- Create an Environment Where People Can Ask the Right Questions
- Ask People How They Want to Work — Don’t Just Tell Them
- Leave an Open Channel for Change and Innovation to Happen Naturally
- People Want to Feel Recognized and Valued as a Person
- Graciousness Is the Ultimate Tool and Benchmark for Getting the Absolute Best Out of People
- The Biggest Thing People Lack Is Transparency
- People Get Frustrated and Stop Contributing When Knowing Whatever They Say Won’t Get Actioned or Heard
- What Do You Bring to the Table I Don’t Know About?
- Many People Are Frustrated Because They Have the Solution but Aren’t Asked
- Is There a Reason We Do It That Way?
- Am I True to Myself?
- It’s All About Getting to the Truth as Quickly as Possible
- How to Be Compassionately Assertive
Question 1: How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives & finds meaning, and change & innovation happen naturally?
1. Create an Environment Where People Can Ask the Right Questions
“So how do we create workplaces where more voices matter? For me, I encourage people to ask the right questions. Question one is always about self-analysis — flipping it back to people. “Is there a reason you’re doing this…?” “Why do you think that?” “What would you do Bob/Julie?” How do we create workplaces where more voices matter? I think in some businesses people aren’t used to being asked, they are used to being told. So, create an environment where people can ask the right questions.”
2. Ask People How They Want to Work — Don’t Just Tell Them
“How do we ensure people thrive and find meaning? If you ask people how they want to work, not just tell them the outcome you need, that helps people thrive. I’ve only had a few jobs where I worked for somebody else, but one I remember went from a manager that was very good who let me run with things, to a manager who micro-managed, which resulted in me leaving within two months. The minute I started to get micro-managed, I switched off completely. So how do people thrive? Ask people how they want to work. Don’t just tell them how you want them to work because some people like to work in very different ways.
3. Leave an Open Channel for Change and Innovation to Happen Naturally
“How do we get change and innovation that occurs naturally? I think it will just happen naturally where you leave an open channel for it to happen —from the top to the bottom of your business. Often it’s not the people at the top who have the answer, it’s someone somewhere else in the business. What I would say about change and innovation is just see everyone as important (because they are of course) — not just your high flyers. Quite often it’s the people who are dealing with the after-effects of what’s not working who’ve got the answers.”
Question 2: What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
4. People Want to Feel Recognized and Valued as a Person
“This is an easy one because I work with so many people. It’s to feel recognized and valued as a person. Many people (including ones on this platform) have mentioned feeling valued as an employee. This is something different I am talking about — it’s feeling valued as a person! The reason I say that is because a lot of my work is going into toxic workplaces and trying to detoxify them. In an age where narcissism and toxic behavior is rife, the reality is that many of the people I come into contact with in my work have lived with, are living with, have someone in their life, or have a boss, manager, or someone else at work that communicates to them unreasonably or inappropriately.”
5. Graciousness Is the Ultimate Tool and Benchmark for Getting the Absolute Best Out of People
"Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you wouldn’t treat someone like that in front of your kids or mother because you’d be embarrassed about it, then don’t do it. What will people say about your communication style after you’ve gone? Graciousness is the ultimate tool and benchmark for getting the absolute best out of people and their full attention. Graciousness is at the heart of everything I do. It is the ultimate tool and benchmark for getting the absolute best out of people and their full attention. We notice those people. We feel inspired by them, and it is a learned behavior – not everyone is born with it. If there’s a formula for graciousness it might be to create time and space and stay present. People who ‘run’ on busyness and think it’s a clever struggle to be gracious to people or stay present. Take the time to be fully present. Ask opinions. Include people and watch in wonder as the results unfold before you.”
Question 3: What do people really lack and long for at work?
6. The Biggest Thing People Lack Is Transparency
"The biggest thing that I feel that they lack is transparency. Many employees in the businesses I work with talk about lack of transparency being the number one problem they have with the management. Rumors take over instead of facts. The toxic people have a field day spreading malicious gossip and management does nothing to stop it.”
7. People Get Frustrated and Stop Contributing When Knowing Whatever They Say Won’t Get Actioned or Heard
“Some things cannot be divulged to the workforce, but where many businesses fail in their communication is either no follow-through in communication or the knowledge is hoarded by one person and not filtered down. People then get frustrated and stop contributing all together knowing that whatever they say will never get actioned or heard or to the right person. If ever I need proof that this is happening in a company the first question I ask (an employee not a manager) is how are your meetings run? Does everything get done before the next meeting, or are they just carried forward in future minutes or forgotten?”
Question 4: What is the most important question management should be asking employees?
8. What Do You Bring to the Table I Don’t Know About?
“What do you bring to the table that I don’t know about! It is my profound belief that somewhere in your workforce is the answer to everything that you need to succeed beyond measure in your business. But due to managers who knowledge hog, they keep the knowledge to themselves. Sometimes it’s ineffective management that is top-heavy, or sometimes it’s management that never gets to know your team. Quite often for me, it’s differing communication styles — there is a massive effect from this.”
9. Many People Are Frustrated Because They Have the Solution but Aren’t Asked
"So often people feel undervalued, underutilized. and undermined. How frustrating to be sitting there with the solution and know that your boss – due to ego, dismissiveness, or lack of appreciation of your qualities and attributes — will never hear what you have to say. Sometimes it’s about busyness. Bosses will say to me, “Who has time to get to know everyone when I have 140 emails a day to deal with and pressure, etc., etc.?” My reply is, “Who has the time not to?” Because you could be missing out on a lot of things if you don’t ask them what they could bring to the table that you don’t know about. And by the way, busy isn’t clever anymore. It probably means you are ineffective or defective in some way. Look into a leader or manager’s inbox further and within a few minutes, you can note signs of control, micro-management, and people below them who have gotten used to passing the questions uphill instead of sideways or down.”
Question 5: What is the most important question employees should be asking management?
10. Is There a Reason We Do It That Way?
“Sometimes even managers have inherited practices, processes, and procedures from other managers. That doesn’t make them right or mean they are the best fit for the business. I think sometimes people just go along with things. Then the day becomes really boring or mundane or stressful or frustrating just because they don’t ask the question, “Is there a reason we do it that way?” I think some people just go along with the flow and turn up for work, take the paycheck. and never bother to ask.”
Question 6: What’s the most important question we can ask ourselves?
11. Am I True to Myself?
“If you’re not true to yourself and live a life that you want across all aspects of your life, then what people get is a lesser version of you. As a result, the most important question to ask yourself is, “Am I true to myself?” What I mean by that is, do I speak my truth? Do I ask for the truth? Do I encourage others to be better people by how I communicate with them and the questions that I ask? If not – then what everyone else gets is a lesser version of you. They will never have your full potential… and who knows what that would mean? Part of Compassionate Assertiveness, my communication model, is based on a little mantra called, “See it, say it.” I’ve got businesses that have been working with me for three or four years now, and it’s transformed their business just by working with that saying. That means if you see it (or hear it) you deal with it there and then – don’t wait. If you do wait and address it later, it often sounds like ‘blame and shame’ by that time.”
Question 7: I’ve been enjoying reading your book, Ping Pong: Compassionate Assertiveness in Action. What is the book’s core message?
12. It’s All About Getting to the Truth as Quickly as Possible
“The core message about Compassionate Assertiveness in Action™ is that it’s all about getting to the truth as quickly as possible – so regrets, recriminations, and resentment doesn’t set in.”
Question 8: What qualities would you need to have to call yourself compassionately assertive?
13. How to Be Compassionately Assertive
“You would look for the win-win in situations rather than having to be the winner. Compassionately assertive people look for collaboration, inclusion, and cooperation, they check their ego at the door. You would seek first to understand others, rather than be understood yourself first. So not just waiting for your turn to talk and subjecting others to your opinions and judgments – but staying present and really listening and observing. You would talk in a low and slow tone, which aids conflict resolution and helps your body language to respond appropriately. When your tone of voice changes to aggressive/loud your body language steps in to help you out and this means that your body language can become choppy, high, bigger, and can look oppressive.”
My interview with Steph is also featured in The Future of the Workplace where you discover many more valuable insights on body language and communication. Get your copy today!