12th March, 2024

How to Tell People What You REALLY Think

With Lasy Lawless

Photo of Lasy Lawless

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On this episode

Saying what you really feel – especially in a high-stress job – is no easy task. Crucial conversations are often avoided for fear of damaging relationships. These unaired grievances get bottled up and over time can increase our level of stress.

But there are three core conditions for effective conversation that can help here: empathy (stepping into someone else’s shoes), unconditional respect (accepting the other’s right to be as they are), and congruence (expressing our thoughts and feelings authentically).

Sadly, ignoring a problem with another person – or avoiding giving negative feedback – won’t make them go away. On the contrary, too many important things going unsaid can lead to a toxic environment where stress levels rise, relationships break down, and productivity suffers.

But, by stepping into the other party’s shoes, respecting their right to be as they are, and expressing our own thoughts authentically, we can create a more psychologically safe environment where issues are dealt with respectfully.

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About the guests

Lasy Lawless photo

Reasons to listen

  • To learn about the three core conditions for effective conversation
  • To understand how balancing these conditions can improve communication and lead to healthier relationships
  • To discover strategies to identify and address conversations you’ve been avoiding, reducing stress and unresolved conflicts

Episode highlights


Where people struggle to say what they mean


Bringing your whole self to work


The 3 core conditions for being with people


What to do if you’re stuck in a “must-win” mindset


Saying what you really mean


Identifying your emotions


When to ask for help


How to give difficult feedback


How to take difficult feedback


When tricky feedback situations become unpleasant


Lasy’s top tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Rachel: Is there a difficult conversation at work that you’ve been avoiding? Is there someone that you’ve really loved to give a piece of your mind? When the pressure’s on, it can be really difficult to express your true thoughts and feelings, especially when you’re worried about giving offense.

[00:00:14] This week, I’m speaking with Lasy Lawless, a psychotherapist who advocates bringing your whole self to work. We talked about the three core elements of effective conversations and what to do if you’re stuck with the sorts of person who thinks the conversation is something you’ve got to win.

[00:00:29] So, whether you’ve been avoiding giving difficult feedback. Or you just wants to be prepared for the next time a tricky conversation comes up, there’s a lot. You’ll get from this episode.

[00:00:39] If you’re in a high stress, high stakes, still blank medicine, and you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, burning out or getting out are not your only options. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, and welcome to You Are Not a Frog.

[00:00:53] I am Lasy Lawless, uh, Lasy short for Lasairfhiona, which has too many letters to even discuss. So people call me Lasy, I’m one of the founders of Conscious Business People Limited. We began probably 2008, you know, before all this stuff was trendy and we were probably considered quite weird and strange that we wanted to get people to take their masks off when they came to work and be more of themselves and make that allowable. So, um, I guess around the millennium, people started having, you know, Fridays stress, down Fridays and stuff. And we were thinking, right, forget the dress down. It’s like the whole personality come to work and, uh, what would that be like? And I think more and more people are doing it now and see work as part of their life. But in those days it was a bit wacky.

[00:01:46] Rachel: I think conscious. Leadership conscious business has, has really come to the forefront. And I’ve listened to several podcasts recently that have made me think, oh my goodness. And the more I read about it, the more I chat with people like you and a, a past guest. Nicola Rylett talks about it a lot as well, the more I just think how Important it is for us and, and our workplaces.

[00:02:07] And so I, I wanted to get you on today ’cause we’ve had several conversations about, about this sort of thing. And you were telling me, I think over, over hot chocolate in the Alps somewhere about one of the, the key things you teach, um, being these core conditions to have really conscious and effective conversations.

[00:02:26] Now, a little bit of background. Obviously this, this podcast is for people in high stress, high pressure jobs, often including people like doctors, healthcare professionals. And when we do our teaching about, um, resilience, which is a bit of a dirty word, but we’ll, we’ll go with it anyway, and we talk about what can you control and what you can’t, you control. And it find lots and lots of people are getting very, very stressed about things that are outside their zone of power, things that they can’t control, like the environment and funding and stuff.

[00:02:54] But we find, particularly in healthcare, and I’ll be interested to know from you if this is true elsewhere, that the bits that, that are in their zone of power, the things that are in their control, we often completely abdicate responsibility or we run a million miles from, we just don’t want to do. And a lot of it is about having conversations, about having the right conversations with people that we really need to have. But it’s just so scary and feels so difficult.

[00:03:23] ‘Cause a lot of these conversations are giving people difficult feedback or saying when we’re not happy or saying when someone’s upset us or et cetera, et cetera. So the conversation I had with you, I was like, oh my goodness, the, the podcast listeners really need to hear this. ’cause I found it really, really helpful. So I’ll just start with that question that I probably asked about two minutes ago. You know, is it just healthcare or is it everywhere that people really do struggle to say what they really mean and have, and have proper conversations?

[00:03:50] Lasy: Oh God, I think it’s everywhere. I think there are cultural issues, there are gender issues, there are race issues, there, uh, neurodiversity issues, you know, so there are so many ways that we have been told to be silent or, uh, turn up in a particular way, edit ourselves, not be genuine and authentic. And then you go into a place where the power dynamic is somebody can completely change your life by removing your job and your livelihood, and all of the anxiety of getting it wrong is going to be in the mix.

[00:04:27] So, you know, that’s why we rarely thought about, you know, a different way for people to turn up to work and be allowed. And it’s great to see so much more acceptance for diversity and how, and how healthy that is. And this is a core part of doing this well.

[00:04:44] Rachel: I guess from, from the get go, part of me when you said this, sort of bring your whole self to work on a Friday, part of me thought, oh my gosh, what if your whole self can be quite rude, can be um, quite confronting to people, but actually offends people, or is difficult? Is that what we’re telling people to do? Or are we telling to bring their whole selves in the way that is acceptable? And then how does that actually make you authentic?

[00:05:09] Lasy: Well, I guess it’s interesting as to what’s acceptable, isn’t it? That’s a sort of good question in itself, and I guess the assumption is that if you are spending a lot of energy managing what you think is allowed or not allowed, it’s obviously causes stress to the put, but, but also probably leaking out in some way or other anyway. And unless you can bring more of yourself where you’re also able, allowed to explain maybe what’s, you know, what’s happening at home, what things you struggle with, what might be, you know, different for you than for me, or, you know, a guy than a woman or somebody older than younger or whatever it is. So, so then when we say the whole self, it’s like all those conversations are relevant and, and acceptable.

[00:05:56] Um, not all behaviors are. So that’s why we always begin our programs with like, get really conscious about how you communicate. Uh, because obviously like you’re saying, you know, you come out and just be completely direct, ignoring any impact, that’s going to have an impact not just on the other person, but on your relationships generally.

[00:06:16] Rachel: I think that distinction’s helpful, isn’t it? It’s about helpful or unhelpful behaviors versus are I acceptable or not? Well, yeah, we are. We’re all acceptable. We’re all great, but sometimes we behave in a manner that can really put people’s backs up.

[00:06:30] Lasy: Yeah, exactly that. And, and we all do it sometimes. That’s the, the absolute truth. Yeah.

[00:06:35] Rachel: And I think you hit the nail on the head about these difficult conversations that you, you’re having to have with people that, yeah, could sack you, uh, or, or even worse, won’t sack you, but you’ve gotta work with ’em for the next 20 years and they’re there horrible to you. We, we are so, so worried about the effects in the relationship, about saying what we really mean.

[00:06:53] I mean we, we do talk about this quite a lot on the podcast. I think that some of the things that you were saying really rang a bell with me and, and I found were quite helpful. So how do you guys approach this, this conundrum?

[00:07:04] Lasy: I guess, uh, actually before we introduce the communication style, we do something called insight discovery. So, so people have profiles, but, but these profiles are really good compared to some of the other profiling. You know, there’s over a million profiles, so they’re very subtle and they can pick out individual differences. So we begin our training with differences and appreciating differences and appreciating, you know, that, that people communicate in different ways. And then we follow that up with people self-assessing what their own communication style is. And we use quite a lot of these three-pronged models ’cause they’re easier to remember and simpler to, to apply, really, get very complicated, you know, it, it just becomes overwhelming, another thing to remembe.

[00:07:54] So the core conditions come from the Rogers, Carl Rogers in the 1950s when a lot of psychotherapy was about what do you think? And everything around the thinking and the head and, you know, analyzing. And he really brought down into the person is how to be with somebody else and how if you can create the conditions to be with someone else, amazing things can happen, including sort a sense of safety and understanding and self empathy and stuff we’ll talk about.

[00:08:28] Rachel: Okay. So it was all about how to be with someone else. And so he developed these, these core conditions out of that work. So what, what are these core conditions and how do they actually help us?

[00:08:39] Lasy: I think first of all, you know, I’m gonna park anything that happened in psychotherapy, ’cause I think what I did when I came into business coaching was try to bring the best of what happens in terms of transformational change into therapy. So, so I use them as a way for, first of all, to self-assess what we’re good at at communicating.

[00:08:59] So there are three core conditions. The first one is empathy, and that is the capacity to really stand in someone else’s shoes and imagine and almost viscerally experience what it might be like to be them. So you kind of suspend your disbelief about what you think and feel and go, oh, right from your place, if I’m looking at your eyes, this is absolutely acceptable to feel and to to be.

[00:09:31] And then the second one, we call unconditional positive regard, which we have shortened for business, unconditional respect. And I think this is tricky, particularly in business. It’s kind of where you will respect the other’s person’s right to be exactly as they are, even when you struggle with the behavior. And I think it’s one that’s particularly rich around neurodiversity at this, you know, these changes that are coming about. But we could come back to that.

[00:09:58] And then the final one is called congruence. And congruence is that ability to be authentic, to be genuine, to be truly straightforwardly yourself in how you express things. Uh. I think earlier on you talked about it in sort of, you know, two direct and two straightforward, and two much for somebody else.

[00:10:19] And that’s why any one of these core conditions on their own can land badly. So somebody who’s very empathic all the time can actually become invisible. You can’t really see them ’cause they’re constantly looking for your opinion and you know, going from your perspective. And equally, somebody who’s very congruent and only looking at their own perspective may not be fully understanding or relating to the other person. So it’s how those core conditions work together.

[00:10:48] Rachel: I think in medicine we do empathy quite well, generally. Well, I think we’re, I think we come outta the box with a lot of empathy. Maybe it sort of leaks out of us as, as, as we go along and then we forget what it’s like to be a patient or what it’s like to be a junior or whatever.

[00:11:03] The two things I struggle with, I think is firstly the, the, the congruence thing. And I always thought, oh, being authentically you is like really expressing your deepest soul and what you are like. But actually I’ve, I’ve come now to realize congruence is actually saying what you actually think or what you actually, what you actually mean? ’cause if you’re in a difficult conversation and you’re going, oh yeah, yeah, that’s fine and don’t worry, I’m not upset, well actually, and you are really upset. That’s really not authentic and it’s not you. So I think the word authenticity just gets misinterpreted. ‘Cause you know, I wanna be authentic or what does that mean? But actually, I wanna actually say what I really think. Now that is really freeing, but it’s scary and it’s really, really quite, quite hard, and that is what people really fear, I

[00:11:49] Lasy: yeah. And, and it can be weaponized, couldn’t it?, You know, I’m only saying it because it’s true or you know. it’s like, I just wanna be authentic with you, and yet I can say something completely bruising and devastating. Yeah, so that’s why we think of it as something to sit beside the other qualities.

[00:12:08] Rachel: And then the U, the UPR, and interesting you said, I think un unconditional respect waters it down a bit in my mind, because I can, I can respect you in who you are, but actually the unconditional positive regard is like, I’m, I’m assuming that your intentions are good. I’m always thinking that what you mean is good.

[00:12:25] Because I think when I’ve reflected on the things that upset me the most in interpersonal communications is when the other person assumes I’m trying to be bad or evil in some way, because I’ve generally not, I’ve probably just forgotten something, or I’ve just done something too fast or been impulsive. I’m not trying to belittle people or be mean or be mad, but that someone would assume that I was is very, very hurtful. I would much rather this one has unconditional positive regard for me that they always assume that my intentions are good or that we, that we mean.

[00:12:58] I mean that phrase, oh, he means, well, actually that, that’s a really good phrase actually. People do genuinely mostly mean, well, I mean, most people don’t go to work to be an asshole, I’m presuming. I mean, some do, I guess.

[00:13:12] Lasy: I, I mean, maybe some goal to win, like they’ve been thought that the thing to do at work is to win and to achieve, and they get lost in that. But, but even there is almost more essential to have some, some UPR or unconditional positive regard because any of us could have grown up in an environment where that was the, the sort of conditions that we were told, you know, you’re not worthy unless you do that. And, and why we may not wanna be like that and, and may not wanna spend a huge amount of time around the behavior that goes with that, the unconditional respect is something like sort of understanding and, and sort of seeing yeah, if I grew up in the environment you grew up in, I can see and I can imagine how I could have got caught up in the achieving, achieving at other people’s expense.

[00:14:01] Rachel: Yes. And I can see then how doing the insights profiling or just understanding the people that you work with a bit better can really help with that UPR. ‘ Cause if you know that that person’s motivation, they are quite competitive, but that’s how they’ve been brought up, that’s what they really focus on tasks and things like that, you can go, oh no, well that’s, I understand their motivation so I’m not gonna judge them for being like that. So I can, it will, it will up your UPR, right?

[00:14:26] Lasy: Yeah, I think it’s like these three be kind of called attitudes. Like if you have an attitude like you do that generally people are not trying to annihilate each other or, or think the worst of each other, even do harm to each other. You know, it’s huge burden to carry around when, when you do do that, when any of us do that. That doesn’t mean that some of our behaviors. Don’t have that impact, but it’s about intention. And when it’s really hard to hold that attitude, to be unconditionally respectful when you would look at behavior, I always think the way back in is one of the other two core conditions.

[00:15:01] But say you see somebody in the street being really violent or whatever, and, and all you see is the behavior, that’s all you’ve got, you know? And, and it’s probably frightening. It’s probably offensive, we are gonna have a response to that. But like so many great, you know, Netflix and great movies and stuff, when you actually hear what that person has gone through to end up in that place. So that’s the empathy, when we actually go forward with an intention to understand more. What is it like to be you to get to that place? Then it tends to either raise up this sense of, okay, how I can create, re-feel that unconditional positive regards, like I can imagine being like that.

[00:15:48] And if that doesn’t work, which, you know, it doesn’t always work, you know, because for whatever reason the information isn’t available or somebody can’t trust you enough to let you know that or whatever, then you know, the way back into that relationship can be through congruence. And that’s something like, you know, I’m really struggling to, to appreciate why, why behaving that way serves you or serves us, you know, so you, you, you’re coming back in, but with an empathic intention, you, you sort of express your congruence. Um, and again, that allows the other person back in to, or at least the option, the choice to step back into the relationship, which most of us want, and all of us need.

[00:16:31] Rachel: So would you suggest that these three conditions need to be present just for the difficult conversations or, or in any conversation at all?

[00:16:40] Lasy: I, I think, you know, if we were perfect beings, they would be, uh, present all of the time, wouldn’t they? We would be much more mindful of, of everybody including ourselves, because we need to offer those to ourselves as well. I think in reality, we are mostly good at one, like we just do it naturally. Uh, we might sort of have, have a sort of an ability to do two well, but it’s rare to do three well, and so it’s a practice. And yes, it’d be ideal in every conversation, but when it comes to difficult conversations and when I work with people and do mediation, it’s generally, you know, one of those core conditions has fallen out. Either somebody’s not being authentic, like you say. Yeah, no, they’re saying it’s okay, but actually that’s not what they’re thinking, or they’re completely not interested in the other person’s feelings, perspective, and they just want things to be right because they see it as been right.

[00:17:38] Rachel: So I know, I know which one I, um, I really struggle with. So I’m gonna ask you about the other two first and then we’ll come, it’s the third one, it’s, it’s the saying what I, I actually really think. But if you were someone that struggled with the empathy bit and immediately went to be quite competitive and really couldn’t see them, what sort of tips and techniques do you give for those sorts of people?

[00:17:56] Lasy: I think people who struggle with empathy particularly, um, may be in the same category as people who are focused on achieving. So their focus is on winning, achieving, outcomes, getting things done quickly. Uh, they are, their energy and their focus is slightly different than somebody who leads with empathy. Somebody who leads with empathy is kind of, let’s do this harmoniously, let’s do it together. You know, the important thing is that we’re all collaborating together and we, we arrive together. Whereas, like you say, somebody who’s less, uh, attuned to other people and more focused on the outcome is thinking, well, look, I’ve had to do it tough, like I’ve had to get on with it, you know, I just need you all to get on with it.

[00:18:41] And so it’s sort of been able to, I guess, introduce them, assessing, you know, which of these are you doing well, and kind of what is the impact of that? What do you think the impact is there? And which of these do you appreciate when people are communicating with you when it’s a difficult conversation? So it’s beginning with it’s okay to be how we are, let’s see what it’s like. What do we need most? If somebody’s coming to you with, you know, a difficult conversation, what do you want? And most of us need the same things. We need a bit of understanding, bit of respect in the first place, and then some genuine conversation that also is backed up with those two.

[00:19:21] Rachel: So it’s more about listening and asking questions, I guess, to the other person. If you, if you feel your, your empathy is, is down a bit and you’re stuck in that achievement, competitive zone.

[00:19:30] Lasy: Yes, their listening skills may be poor. They may think they’re good, but they tend to be people who, what we call reload. So the minute somebody’s starting to talk, they’re already reloading the gun to come back and show why that is wrong. So they have low UPR as well. They tend to assume that people are out to make things difficult or, or maybe just don’t get things they might think of them as less intelligent than them.

[00:19:58] Rachel: I’m smiling to myself because I was thinking, oh, I’m, I’m probably not so good at the third one, but, but to be honest, I think under stress, I can be lacking in those first two as well. And I’m thinking of, you know, doctors at the end of a really busy day, you’ve seen 30 or 40 patients. You just, people aren’t doing their jobs properly, it’s just, why can’t you, JFDI just get on with it, you know, you’ve lost all, oh, why do I have to do everything? Maybe you’re not as, not as capable anyway, so I’ll just do it for you anyway. And then, yeah, and then we’re not listening, we are reloading, we’re just trying to get through things and you know em, empathy absolutely crashes.

[00:20:32] Lasy: Of course. And, and of course we all have those times and those days. And sometimes those weeks and months, you know, but having it as a lifestyle is pretty brutal, both on you and on the people around you. And I think when people stop to think about it, it is possibly not their way of choosing. Most of us want relationships. We need relationships. And it’s alienating.

[00:20:55] Rachel: I thinkk most of us, if we, if we look back at the way we behaved, would feel absolutely dreadful. Because for most of us, I, I think particularly in medicine, like empathy is a core value, you want, you want to understand people, you want to have unconditional positive regard for your patients, for the people you work with. But then we feel very, very ashamed when we don’t. But when we don’t, it’s generally when we are under pressure.

[00:21:17] Lasy: Yeah, exactly. Uh, and you know, or we’re focused on their health and not what they’re feeling about it. And they, we don’t have time, like you say. But I guess there’s something about taking a breath and appreciating that that’s what they need. We might not be able to give them, but that, that may be what they need. So becoming impatient with them at that point probably isn’t good for their health anyway, and probably is gonna get us the outcome we need.

[00:21:44] Rachel: So can we just talk a little bit about the, the, the congruence thing? Because I think it’s one thing saying to people, yeah, you just need to say what you think and what you’re really feeling. It’s really hard, really hard doing it. When I have tried to do it, I’ve often just mucked up and made things a lot worse or not done it in the right way. Um, even if I have a lot of empathy and unconditional positive regard, I’ll, I’ll stutter over my words. I won’t, I’ll sort of fudge it a bit. It’s hard.

[00:22:10] Lasy: It is really hard. Yeah, no, it’s really hard and I think, I think of congruence as two levels. One is that we are aware of what we think and feel, so that’s the first level. Choosing how, when and when it’s appropriate to express it is the second level. Brilliant communicators, you know, if everybody thinks of somebody they think of as a really good communicator, they’re not splurting out everything they think and feel all the time. You know it. It would be just too much for them, for everybody else to manage. But brilliant communicators sort of look like they’re aware, they have that sense of like eye contact, connection, but they’re still holding onto a sense of what they think and feel, their position. So it’s something about being aware.

[00:22:59] And then secondly is choosing is this the right time? Like when is a good time for us to talk about this? And or like it comes out badly and they go Sorry, hands up, like, you know, I’m messed up there, I really guess it’s the wrong time. So, so it’s something about being aware and expressing it at a time which works for both people.

[00:23:20] And I think that’s why on its own, it could be harsh, but that’s why all those core conditions are a little dense. Like you’re always moving between them and, and trying to, you know, probably don’t have to focus on the one you’re good at, but probably need to sort of use a little bit of muscle to train the ones who are less good at.

[00:23:38] Rachel: So I know you’re a therapist. How do you help people become more aware about what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling?

[00:23:46] Lasy: That’s a really good point. And, and we’ll focus on business rather than in therapy. ’cause that’s a whole other area, and I guess people have been, no. But I guess in business it’s, Like, business wouldn’t buy therapy. And I, it makes absolute sense to me because you can feel very exposing and, and people don’t, aren’t ready in, initially at least to be that open with each other because they’re taught not to be, or they might be bullied or shamed or whatever.

[00:24:11] So it’s a bit of a process, which is why we start with the insights discovery, and we begin with, let’s see if you become more aware of who you are. Because a lot of us begin with the the sort of thing. It’s like, oh, I am who I am and I wish everybody was like me. But actually when we see that, it wouldn’t really be useful if we were all exactly the same, you know, you need difference. You need difference in boardrooms, you need difference in decisions. Like if I’m left on my own to sort of make a decision, I will focus on the people aspect, but actually I need somebody to be focused on the outcomes. I need somebody else to focus on the details. I need somebody else to focus on the ideas, so I can come up with ideas, you know.

[00:24:50] So, so there’s something about appreciating difference. So become aware of who you are. We do it through the profiles. We then go through different kinds of assessments and practices. So you come aware, oh Yeah, no, this is really hard, but you find this really easy. So more self-awareness in how we turn up in the first place. Then our programs tend to get sort of, you know, again, bringing in other kind of systems and models from, from therapy, but in a way that works for business, sort of gets to the heart of it.

[00:25:23] There’s nothing more interesting than ourselves, you know? It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to and how modest they are, like, yeah, we are fascinated with ourselves, you know? And if you can begin to understand yourself, you begin to understand other people and the dynamics that are at work here and, and if you can do that in groups together where you work together, there’s something really safe and trusting, you know, like a foundation that gets set up. And then it’s possible to have more difficult conversations.

[00:25:51] Rachel: Yeah, it can be really, really powerful. I know that whenever I’ve sort of found out profiles my friends or, or people that I work with, it’s like, oh, that, that’s, that’s why that’s really helpful. And now we’ve not only understood more, but we’ve now got common language we can use to, to describe these things. And it’s, I never thought that before, that we are fascinated by ourselves. We, we are, we? It’s like, oh gosh, I just found this. Like, you think you’d know ’cause it is yourself, but that describes it. Maybe it’s about being able to put a model or a, a framework around it, which helps you under. Understand it more.

[00:26:25] And I, I think in healthcare it’s difficult. There’s not a lot of profiling done. I’d be quite surprised about practice who have got together, done any team development. And by the way, if you’re listening from a practice, get some profiling team development done. ’cause it is so helpful in terms of working with the team. But also the, the issue in healthcare is teams are often very, very, they’re not static, they’re moving around. So you’re getting different people so you don’t know them, they dunno who they are, people coming in, people working on the bank, people shifting in, people move around every six months. So it is really hard to go down that line all the time of, of, of knowing in depth everybody else’s profile. So you have to like insinuate from their behavior.

[00:27:03] Um, but I guess the first step is really understanding yourself. What, what can you do in the moment when you have noticed that something is wrong and you are feeling something bad. Most of us just feel it as, I don’t know, rage or whatever. How do you help people to really understand, well, okay, what is it that I’m thinking and feeling here so that I can then be congruent and, and let people know?

[00:27:27] Lasy: I, I mean, we do it in small steps of practice, but really, if I’m feeling rage, it’s probably really important. It begins with me and it’s like, what is it that I am struggling with? As opposed to, I want them to change. I want that thing not to have happened. So we really say, start with yourself. What is it? Because if you’re angry, something important out there is happening to you. Otherwise, you just pass it by or you just go have someone else’s issue.

[00:27:57] So begin with what’s happening. What is it that upsets me? What, what rule of mine are they breaking? Often is the way I think about it. So it can be two complete strangers, but they’re behaving in ways that I think the rule is we don’t do this to each other. So they’re breaking my rule, but the reality is when I stop and sort of engage with, I think, well, they might not even have that rule. Their rule might be, we fight this out, we move on. Um, so it’s a good thing to start with yourself and think, what’s happening here? What is making me angry? Or hurts or defensive, or whatever it is.

[00:28:32] Rachel: Does it help to try and get granular about the emotion that you’re feeling, or is that too difficult in the moment?

[00:28:38] Lasy: I think it’s, you know, having, having a good vocabulary about feelings are great, but we start with the four main ones. So mad, glad, sad, and scared. You know, if you just stick with those, it’ll be off one of those branches because lots of people are not brought up with a big vocabulary, are not encouraged to kind of articulate their feelings, and so they operate on, on, you know, on visceral experiences or what they think about a situation. And so there’s a whole part of the human experience that isn’t accessible immediately to them with language.

[00:29:17] Rachel: And if you’re in a situation where you’re starting to feel like I’m, I’m feeling really cross here, or I’m feeling really scared, is then the time to then express that to the person, or is it better to go away, have a think about it, wait till you calm down and come back and do it at a later time?

[00:29:31] Lasy: I think it depends on who that person is, you know? Because if you get two people who are quite empathic together, you can trust that, you know, okay, I’m a bit raw. I dunno why I’m angry, but I can start to say it and that the other person will go, Okay, I can see that, and they can. Almost park a little bit of their own stuff to kind of work out and listen. Uh, whereas if you are in a situation where there’s less time and they don’t actually care, they just want you to get on with it, that’s not a good time to do it. So, so in that case, you know, it’s always somewhere in between those is. But main thing is not to deny it in yourself. It’s kind of go, this is what I’m feeling. Dunno what’s happening here, but, but I know this is true for me. And that’s the first step.

[00:30:13] Rachel: And then do you always have to do something about it?

[00:30:16] Lasy: Well, I guess the other thing we talk about is whether something’s persistent. So, you know, some things come and go, don’t they? And you don’t wanna be sort, you know, someone who’s constantly analyzing yourself. Unfortunately, lots of therapists tend to do that, and we’re so habitual in that and sort of get so used to doing. But no, like, you know, people who come from different disciplines and work and you don’t have time to do that.

[00:30:40] I think it’s more of a sort of fleeting awareness. But anything that’s peaking and then is repeated repeatedly doing that, then we call it persistent. It’s like, well, that probably is telling you, you need to pay attention and figure out what’s going on here.

[00:30:54] Rachel: And then how do you know if you need to deal with it yourself or if you need to raise it with that person?

[00:31:01] Lasy: I, I think if there’s any confusion. I often say to people, find somebody to talk to about it first. You know, if it’s not clear what’s yours, what’s theirs, like I said, sort of beginning practice, you know, just, just check and say, look, I don’t know. Were you feeling that if they saw it, you know, like, I’m feeling this, I don’t know what it’s about, but every time this person does that, it’s like, you know, or when that happens, you know, God, I’ve just such a strong, and then, and then find somebody to talk to.

[00:31:30] And sort of person you’re looking for is not somebody who goes, oh yeah, yeah, no, they’re terrible. It can be soothing for a second, but it’s not really helpful. It’s Kind of you’re trying to find someone, you help me work out what’s going on here because don’t quite know what’s happening.

[00:31:43] And then, you know, you can go to even the most difficult people with a sense of, okay, I know what, but bit’s mine, you know, but what, what’s between us here? What’s happening for you? Am I setting you off? Which is very possible too. ’cause often that’s the mix. I’m not talking to somebody about their weekend and, you know, how’s their, their granny who’s sick, they don’t even wanna talk about that. They just wanna come in and get on with the work. And I’m going whoa. And they’re irritated with me and I’m sort of going, what the hell? Like, geez, like this would be people for us, you know? So we’re starting from the wrong place to start with, and we are making sense of the behavior we see.

[00:32:21] Rachel: That’s quite a high level skill though, isn’t it? To go and actually raise it a different time with someone who has sort of. Irritated you or, or upset you or, or something like that? I mean, how, how do you even start those conversations off?

[00:32:35] Lasy: So then we do whole sessions on feedback and you know how important it is and how to do it well. So I guess what we call it is, and used to call it, and I, I think the phrase is still around. We create learning environments, learning organizations. And particularly, you know, with the internet, with the change the internet brings is really important that we’re constantly learning because the environments outside are changing so fast.

[00:33:01] You know, if you are not catching up and if you are waiting for the message to come from on top downwards, you’re just not gonna be responsive quickly enough. And that’s why lots of companies went outta business in the early noughties and late nineties, was because, you know, people from all around the business were having conversations that they couldn’t control. And not just were people inside the business, but what everybody and customers could see it and, you know, new employees could see things. And so, Yeah.

[00:33:28] So feedback is, and, and creating a, an environment where feedback is healthy and it’s considered as a part of let’s all try and learn and move faster together and be responsive, um, so it’s a whole other layer of, of learning that we bring into organizations.

[00:33:45] Rachel: I’m just, uh, sitting here chuckling ’cause I know that a lot of the listeners are working in organizations that they might pay lip service to yeah, we’re a learning organization, we want all the feedback, but what actually happens is that feedback is weaponized and Datix, Datix, you Datix someone, you put in a, some feedback about them, which is really like I Datixed you and blah, blah, blah. And, and then they, and then the management just comes because they just wanna make the problem go away and blah, blah, blah. And If you can’t change the environment in which you’re working, but actually you really subscribe to these principles, what are you left with? What can, what can you do?

[00:34:20] Lasy: I think you still can do it and, and, you know, and I see people doing it really well. Like I might work coaching one-to-one with somebody and they, they can still go back and use the skills well. So we call them three part statements and we call them I statements.

[00:34:36] Um, so the first part is to start with I. And you don’t start with I think your, your, your whatever, you know, uh, you start with I am feeling. So we begin with what happened. So when you know you were in that room and you were saying, or expressing whatever you were saying, so, you don’t start with when you slammed the door, you don’t dramatize it. That’s the first thing, ’cause the minute we go across that line into you did wrong, that person’s starting to reload. They’re starting to defend. They’re starting to come up with why you are wrong. So it’s really important in the first part of that I statement to say, like, when, when we were in the room and that kicked off just something simple, like without making it the other person’s fault, avoid the blame.

[00:35:27] And the second part of the I statement is, I felt scared, And you can think left on its own, you know, another person might go, well, tough. So that’s why the third part is really important. And the reason I’m telling you this is because we need to work closely together, and I need us to be able to have, you know, meetings together with this person or whatever. I’m, I’m imagining a scenario. I dunno if it’s coming across.

[00:35:54] So that’s why the three parts of that, uh, feedback are really important and that you stay on your side of the line when you’re offering them.

[00:36:02] Rachel: So the first part is describe what’s hap what’s happened. Describe the behavior in as neutral a term as possible. So,

[00:36:09] Lasy: It doesn’t have to be so blunt, but it’s definitely not blaming the person. It’s not laying it all on them.

[00:36:15] Rachel: So, you know, there were raised voices in the room or, you know, when there was a, a bit of an argument or what, whatever.

[00:36:20] Lasy: Or you seemed angry when you seemed angry there, like, you know, as opposed to you lost your head.

[00:36:25] Rachel: Yes, you were an idiot. When you were being an idiot, the rest of us felt you were a tail idiot. Yeah. Anyway, um, so then you say, so this is what happened. This is what we saw, then I felt. And that, that’s nice, isn’t it? Because, it’s unarguable. Nobody can say, no you didn’t. Whether it was right or wrong to fit well, not right or wrong, but whether it was the appropriate response or not, that’s, that’s just what happened, right? And then, and the reason is because, so you’re sort of saying about then what you need and what the impact was. And that there’s a reason for doing this. You’re not just trying to hurt their feelings by giving them the feedback.

[00:37:03] Lasy: Yeah. You’re not just trying to change them so that it’s all my way or their way or the other person’s way is ’cause I, I, the reason I’m, I’m sort of bringing this is ’cause I think it’s important ’cause it impacts our work this way. And I want our work, you know, the intention is always there. I want to improve how we do things, you know, we want to be learning, and, and it needs both people to be on board to do that.

[00:37:26] Rachel: and this, that sort of statement takes a lot of preparation. I’m thinking,

[00:37:30] Lasy: You get really good at it. I mean, you know, I’ve worked with organizations, they get really good at it and people get really good at hearing it, you know. And I always say to people, you don’t have to follow swallow, sorry, swallow feedback whole, ’cause part of it is about the other person, but that’s not the same as ignoring the impact. Because f it’s affecting how we work and we care about how we work, then that’s really important that we address that bit.

[00:37:56] Rachel: So what you’re saying, and I think this, I think this is key really, because we all fear feedback. We all fear getting feedback, because we feel it’s going to be a criticism which, which it often is, but that, and that’s fair enough. And we also think that to be a good person, we should accept it all and take it on board and learn through it and all that. But what you’re saying is what you’re getting is data, and you don’t have to agree with it or, or beat yourself up about it. But what you are learning from is that the impact that that had on somebody else.

[00:38:27] So I could have come in, been perfectly pleasant to you, and you got completely offended by me for, for no reason a cop that that’s totally your stuff. Now the feedback I’m getting is not ’cause I need to change myself at all, but it will help me understand how you tick a little bit more. So never again mention cats in your presence because one jumped on your head when you were three years old and that really triggers you. Nothing I’ve done wrong, but actually that’s really good data in the future if we are to work together.

[00:38:54] Lasy: Yeah, exactly. So absolutely. You don’t swallow it whole. You’re not bad. It is about the togetherness and about outcomes. We want to go forward together. We want to create learning environments.

[00:39:06] Rachel: Now I’m just thinking if I was on the end of getting some feedback like that, I would always want to explain myself and why I did stuff to make, to make that person understand me. So should I, if I was going to be a conscious leader, just sit there and go, thank you for letting me know. That’s really helpful. I will, you know, I, I, I absolutely take that and next time I will do something different, or should I say, well, that’s interesting you say that the reason I was angry at that point was because this was going through my head too, and so this is what I need as well? Or should I just actually let them have their say and take it on board and leave it?

[00:39:42] Lasy: So that’s where we do the next bit, is how to receive feedback. So that’s always another. So we try and use feedback for learning. You know, it, it’s very risky, isn’t it? It’s very risky to give somebody some feedback. You know, you’re, you’re. You’re risking that, you know, they, they won’t like you and you know, they’ll tell somebody about you and they’ll diminish the thing that you said you felt. So it’s really important that there’s some learning about how to receive feedback, and I think that’s why it’s a learning organization.

[00:40:12] So we, we say giving feedback is a really vulnerable place, and receiving feedback is a really vulnerable place. It’s very easy to think of it either as one or the other. And I think when we stop to think about that, the reality is it actually is a vulnerable place for both people. We only do it if we really care about the relationship and the outcome, ’cause otherwise it’s too risky.

[00:40:37] You know, and I, I think England, which I really love living here, but has a particular risk averse attitude to this. It’s kinda like, whoa, that’s very interesting. And we move on. Um, what you really think a field doesn’t happen or doesn’t get said.

[00:40:51] We talk about the collusion of mediocracy, where people don’t offer feedback. And there are many, many places, you know, families, relationships, organizations that become mediocre because we don’t allow this potential for growth. We don’t really say, and we can’t bear to hear, what is happening to, with, between us. So then there’s the learning about how to hear it.

[00:41:18] Rachel: and I think that’s really important. We, we fear giving that, I, I’d never thought of that before. You are, you are both in an equally vulnerable position, aren’t you? The, the, the receiver isn’t very, very vulnerable. We often so worried about setting them, but then it is all about us or is it all about them?

[00:41:35] And so many of us, there are, relationships are so important to us and things that we really care about, but we shy away from giving the feedback because they’re so important. Actually, what you are saying is it’s doubly important to give the feedback if it’s important.

[00:41:50] Lasy: Yeah. I mean, you will, won’t you? If something’s really building between you and another person you care about, you know, you either start to distance yourself and see them a little bit less, or you go and talk about it. So, so we only dare because we genuinely want to and we care.

[00:42:09] Rachel: When I think about my friends, I would much rather they came to me and had a difficult, awkward conversation and kept seeing me. I’d much rather that and it be uncomfortable for a bit than, yeah, they just gradually, someone gradually pulls away from you and or doesn’t work with you anymore, or doesn’t quite like, like doing that. And then, then, then you’ve got no data. You’ve got no ability to change your behavior, and that’s just a bit unfair it seems.

[00:42:33] Lasy: and, and that’s why, you know, that’s why we always say, all of us say, I’d much prefer if you told me. But in fact, it’s kind of scary to hear. Uh, and we think when somebody comes and if they’re too indirect, if they don’t do that simple, I three point, if they go, okay, I’ve been sitting on this for a while and I, I, you know, I, I didn’t wanna say to you and I don’t want you to get mad, and, you know, if you are the listener, you kind of going, oh shit, oh my God. Like, oh God, what about? You know, you’re beginning to build up like this sort of anticipation for some massive wallop. And often it’s something like you say you talked about cats and you didn’t know and it wasn’t intended that way.

[00:43:13] But the fear of alienating each other is, is really strong. And that’s because the human need is that, is that we do this together, we collaborate, we’ll do better together. Like it’s part of how we, uh, evolve is to do things together.

[00:43:28] Rachel: And what advice would you give to someone who needs to give feedback to someone but they are not a very nice person and you know that that is possibly gonna be weaponized against you?

[00:43:36] Lasy: I, I guess, you know, we’re talking the extreme situations. You know, I don’t wanna pick out any public figures, but I’m sure we can think of a few where you could give all the feedback you like and it’s not going to land and they’re not going to accept any sense of that there’s an us in this. It’s generally about them.

[00:43:54] So there may be situations where it’s not gonna turn out the way you want it. And then it’s a case of, okay, well what’s it like to carry that around? Or do you wanna stay in that relationship? Because there may be companies and relationships and stuff that it’s time to leave. But of course when we work in relationship, when we work in organizations, it’s about creating relationships and that learning organization together. And we all agree that’s what we want. We absolutely know these days that that’s what our companies need. So we all need to earn the salary here.

[00:44:26] So, you know, it, it’s kind of encouraging and practicing being allowed to make mistakes is a big part of this. You know, to improve and to get it wrong, and to feel scared of all those things being allowed. And ultimately you have a choice, you know. You, you can leave. That’s, that’s a possibility. You can distance yourself from that friend. it’s really worth thinking about what the cost is of not saying it as well as the cost of saying it.

[00:44:53] Rachel: Yeah, we just focus on the immediate cost, the immediate discomfort don’t we? Rather than the actual long-term thing. And actually, I, I am on a bit of a mission at the moment. People that I feel like might have upset or something’s gone on between us, I’m really trying to check it out and in a hundred percent of occasions that I had done that recently, the relationship is better afterwards, actually. Even if I’ve mucked, actually, even if I’ve completely effed it up in the moment, and I’ve gone, oh my god, I’m sorry. I meant to say this and it, well, what I was trying to do is fix it, they’ve gone, oh, don’t you know, it’s broken something and, and it’s just, so actually, even if you do muck it up, it’s retrievable because that is better than never having started or done anything in the first place.

[00:45:36] Lasy: I, I absolutely agree. It’s like when you, you know, the majority of people, and of course there are those people who are just not up for this, that’s, that’s true. Uh, but the majority of people, you know, just kind of go, oh God, I’m so glad you said it. I knew something was happening. I wonder what happened. And it’s such a, it’s, it’s such a pleasure, isn’t it, when somebody’s dared with you as well, you think, God, you must really care. I didn’t realize I mattered that much. God, I didn’t realize I was that powerful, or God, I was so unaware of that. So,

[00:46:08] Rachel: That’s a nice way of thinking about it. If someone’s coming to give you feedback, that means they really, they care enough about you to to do it. They care enough about the relationship, otherwise they just would’ve just got gone off. Wouldn’t they just avoided you, right?

[00:46:21] Lasy: And I think that’s why when We bring programs into companies, they’re gradual. You know, they’re gradual. You know, you couldn’t come in and just go wallop, let’s do feedback because, and I do know that some consultancies do do that you know, and just do one-offs and stuff. But the safety is so important, I dunno if you know the Lencioni stuff. Safety, gotta create it.

[00:46:42] Rachel: Five Dysfunctions of a Team. You need to read it if you lead any sort of team. There’s a tiny little bit, it’s not very long is it, but talks about how the reason we, one of the main dysfunctions of a team is a fear of conflict. And we fear most teams don’t have enough conflict because we don’t trust each other enough.

[00:46:58] Lasy: And if you don’t have that healthy conflict, you don’t get to a place where you’ve actually agreed anything. And then when it goes wrong, it’s always, well, I didn’t really agree with it, but you didn’t speak up. It’s like, Hmm, didn’t trust you. Didn’t think I could. So building that foundation much, much better.

[00:47:14] Rachel: You’ve just described 95% of all the healthcare teams I’ve ever come across, and when we give them that Lencioni model, it’s like, oh, you know that. And because the main issue is everyone is so nice. Like, we’ve got this toxic culture, but we’re all really nice, so we don’t quite understand what’s gone on. Yeah, because you are so scared of upsetting everybody, no one is conflicting well, or giving feedback and ev all the bad behaviors are continuing, but you’re being nice about it and oh my goodness, it’s like. we need you, Lasy.

[00:47:41] Lasy: I would love to do some work. I, I know that Insights Discovery do have done a lot of work with, um, the NHS and found it really useful actually. So, you know, they’re already at least done that

[00:47:53] Rachel: yeah. So people get in, get in touch with, get in touch with Lasy. Get in touch with us. Because I think the more, because if you understand each other, like you are 90% of the way there, aren’t you actually?

[00:48:04] Lasy: It is transformational. Honestly, Rachel, when I go into companies and they go, oh, well, I don’t think this guy would be into that or that person, no, they’re too busy. And it’s sort of, um, intoxicating because actually at the basis we’re just people who wanna go in and find an easy place to work like that, an easy atmosphere, not necessarily easy work. Who wanna get along, and it’s so much more safe and rich and achieving when everybody’s doing it.

[00:48:30] Rachel: Totally. And the work these days is so hard and the demand’s so overwhelming that if you’ve got a good functioning team that all love and trust each other, it just makes the work okay.

[00:48:40] Lasy: Well, absolutely it makes the work. Okay. And then when you go home, you’re just in a better state of mind, aren’t you? Rather than carrying all the stuff that you can’t unload it or can’t really deal with at work, yeah.

[00:48:49] Rachel: So important. Oh, we can talk about this forever, but we are outta time.

[00:48:53] Lasy, if someone was to say to you, okay, what? Just gimme three quick top tips on how I can have these conversations that I need and be more congruent or empathetic or have more unconditional positive regard, what would your three top tips be?

[00:49:07] Lasy: I would say read Brenny Brown, uh, daring Greatly, first and foremost. Secondly, look up Carl Rogers the core conditions. It’s a beautiful read. It’s simple, and yet, you know it’s about the practice. I think you just need to do those two things, first of all, and if you get an insights profile, it’s really rich because unlike many profiles, you know, it can really get down to the, the sort of quirks of our, our personalities. It sort of picks up those things as well.

[00:49:37] Rachel: And where can some, if someone wanted to read more into that, where could they, where would you suggest they started?

[00:49:42] Lasy: All available on the insights. You know, we’ve gotta practice so we can recommend people if they want. Obviously you can work with me, but you know, it’s about getting the right person for them as opposed to it.

[00:49:53] Rachel: And I think insights is really powerful. And there’s other profiles as well, I think, and anything that helps you understand yourself, it’s just, um, just really helpful. I’ve done Enneagram recently. We’ve done something called the GC Index, which is a new, new thing come out, which is very interesting one. So all sorts of fascinating stuff. Um, and I need to go back to insights. I’d love to go back to that and explore it a little bit more. But Lasy, if people wanted to get a hold of you, how can they, how can they do that?

[00:50:20] Lasy: it’s obviously Conscious Business People. Limited is the company and the website. My email is Lasy, LASY, dot lawless @gmail.com. So send me any queries, questions, looking for information. I’m really happy to help point in the right direction.

[00:50:37] Rachel: Brilliant. Thank you. And I’d love to get you back on the podcast so there’s all sorts we can talk about, talk about relationships and trauma and all that sort of stuff. So will, will you come back?

[00:50:45] Lasy: Love to, love to. Rachel, it’s been great.

[00:50:47] Rachel: Thank you so much. Speak soon.

[00:50:49] Lasy: Bye-Bye. Go well.

[00:50:50] Rachel: Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it via the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com. I love to hear from you. And finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.