7 Questions with Joe Weston, Respectful Confrontation Expert
Joe Weston Teaches Us About Leadership, Resilience, and Stress
Joe Weston is the founder of the Weston Network, which trains corporations, governments, and other organizations on communication, productivity, and time and stress management. Joe Weston works with individuals to build their self-confidence, enrich their relationships, and gain clarity in their life goals. Joe Weston’s book, Mastering Respectful Confrontation and his Respectful Confrontation workshops teach participants how to de-escalate conflict, improve their resilience, and foster cultures of respect, civility, and mutual empowerment. Joe Weston’s teachings draw on a wealth of knowledge and experiences, both ancient and modern, to help individuals become their best selves. We asked Joe Weston seven questions about his work.
1. What is needed from leadership in times of uncertainty and anxiety?
It’s helpful when leaders can create environments that are inclusive, mutually empowering and where people can feel trust and safety, fully human. In our Resilient Power Leadership program, we train leaders to understand that we all carry with us certain levels of trauma and compounded stress, to encourage their members to face and confront the fact that people are struggling at times, and support them to find balance with the various professional and personal stressors. It’s the perfect time to model power in vulnerability.
2. Why is it important to understand resilience, especially now? (What are the benefits to a person and their teams?)
A resilient team or team member can think and feel at the same time. This leads to effective decision-making, clear communication, and an ability to meet challenges with skill. People who cultivate resilience are able to care for themselves and others simultaneously. This is what we call creating a culture of mutual empowerment. This is exactly what the workplace needs in times like these and makes the difference between an organization that is trying to survive and one that can thrive even in the midst of widespread challenges.
3. How can individuals start to incorporate resilience practices into their leadership?
One way is to develop open communication where people can share when they are reaching their limits, respectfully set clear boundaries and hold each other accountable, clarify needs, and promote rest, self-care, and filling in for others when they need a break. A quick check-in with team members is a good start and letting them know they can raise their hand when they’re stressed or burned out. The practices we teach can be done in 5 minutes or less. You don’t need any expensive equipment or need to carve out an hour to do a class. Just 5 minutes a day, or 1 - 5 minutes between meetings can help you reset, get energized, and shake off any tensions.
4. Why should people be focused on regulating their nervous systems?
There is a lot of compounded stress and trauma across our culture, even before all of the current issues of the last 7 months - COVID, George Floyd and racial justice, the election, to name a few. Our nervous systems were designed to run from hungry tigers, not necessarily a 24/7 bombardment of our modern stressors. So, it’s necessary to understand what’s happening in our bodies, and then find practices that can bring us into balance even when the kids are screaming, the dog is barking, and your boss is on the phone. The stressors aren’t going away any time soon. How you manage the stressors can change and you can learn to stay physically vital, emotionally stable, mentally clear, and avoid the symptoms of compounded stress and trauma, like burnout, insomnia, anxiety, and withdrawal.
5. With many conversations happening in the digital space how can people continue to regulate stress and prevent conflict with others?
Finding balance throughout the day is key--getting away from the screens, having quick practices you can do between meetings, and knowing what self-care means for you. Regarding conflict prevention, if something is loaded or tricky emotionally, it helps to move beyond chat and email. Pick up the phone or do a video call. Because the chance of miscommunication increases with most of our interactions taking place in the digital space, start by giving the other the benefit of the doubt before you jump to conclusions. The need for nervous system regulation and physical, emotional, and mental rejuvenation practices are now even more essential while we are teleworking since we have most likely become more sedentary and engage in less interaction with others.
6. When talking to someone with different opinions on important issues, how can we keep the discussion focused on the issue rather than individual instances or on ourselves?
If you’re looking to win an argument, you’re probably not going to deepen a relationship, nor get to the root cause of the issue. So being able to suspend our need to be right is essential to deeper listening and finding new solutions. Finding the common threads and clarifying the needs of both parties is the quickest way to find new solutions. We tell participants in our Resilient Power Leadership program that cultivating deeper levels of presence leads to increased impact and investing in deeper levels of connection leads to increased influence. So, when you’re present and connected, you prevent misunderstandings, and the issue can usually be worked out creatively. This is more essential when most of your interactions are virtual since it is harder to read non-verbal signals.
7. In the time of COVID, many are working from home. Do you have any advice on setting boundaries when working from home with family members or roommates all sharing the same space?
Learning to identify and state your needs is so important. But it’s not just doing it, it’s HOW you do it. When you are attuned to yourself and others, you don’t make demands. You learn that the language of power is the language of feelings and needs. If you share what you need, be sure to ask the others what they need. When you are both clear on what the needs are from all involved, then you can come up with new creative solutions that can work for all of you. Also, structuring time throughout the week for check-ins could be helpful. This is a chance to clear any unspoken hurts, misunderstandings, and can be a renegotiation of commitments and agreements. Also, having a sense of humor goes a long way!
Thanks again to Joe Weston! You can check out his book here and learn more about his work here. We know that prioritizing yourself can be tough in stressful times, especially if you work in politics. Check out some of our favorite tools that can make your life easier and less stressful.