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Episode 036: A Conversation on Difficult Conversations with Stephanie Chin, Part 2

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In Part Two of their conversation, Sarah Noll Wilson and guest Stephanie Chin discuss how preparation can help us when we are faced with difficult conversations. Stephanie leads Sarah through a live role-playing exercise to highlight the value of practice.

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Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations where each week we explore a topic to help us have more powerful conversations with ourselves and with others. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson. Now before we get into part two of my conversation with Stephanie Chin, I have a favor. If you haven’t, we would love for you to rate, review and subscribe to the show on your preferred podcast platform. The more reviews we have, the more visibility we can gain. And the more we can bring on amazing guests like Stephanie. So we appreciate you taking the time to do that. Now, let’s get into part two of our conversation with Stephanie Chin. Now this week, we’re doing something a little bit different, because we’re actually going to roleplay a real situation a real conversation that I’m having to wrestle with. And we’re both going to take turns playing the person having to deliver the conversation. We’re doing this for a couple of reasons. One, it gives us a chance to show what it’s like to wrestle with these conversations. And two, it helps you see how different people approach it so you can hear a different language. So I’m so excited for you to hear part two of my conversation with Stephanie Chin.

So for those of you who are listening, right now, we’re recording this just after us in the US celebrating Thanksgiving. So what I want to explore with Steph is to talk about knowing that there’s going to be interactions coming up not just with holidays, but just, you know, social gatherings. Whether it’s with family, whether it’s with friends of just, you know, how how do we talk about – when we have a need and so my need is I want to have some expectations of how we’re showing up, especially because COVID is still very much a thing. And so let’s see, where do I want to start with this? Do you want me to start with like telling the experience? Or do we want to talk about like scenarios that I’m anticipating that I struggle with?

Stephanie Chin
Let’s start with the activity. And for folks who are listening, I really asked Sarah to struggle with me on this podcast so that we can demonstrate the work that it takes. And also the thoughtfulness behind consent. And so this is something we’ll go into, but the – I love food analogies so let me say, Sarah wants to agree what’s on the menu when she meets up with folks, right? What do we agree to? What are the things that we can expect? How do we get to shared expectations, because so often we get into a place where we’re already there, somebody’s already ordered for us and we found out we didn’t like it. And so we’re going to try to figure out what’s a good way that will help us in any conversation. But we often start with things like family and Thanksgiving and holidays and things like that because a lot of are the things that show up at work started at home. And every holiday movie is about how your family is loving and drives you crazy. And so it’s a great context to talk about how do you set boundaries with the people who are honestly the most important people in your life. And you’re the least likely to let them go, and the most likely to keep them if they don’t operate like you do. Because we choose our friends, we choose our workplaces. We choose where we live now. We don’t choose who our family is and so this is a great conversation to have. So Sarah, if you want to set us up with the scenario and then you can pretend like I’m a someone and start going.

Sarah Noll Wilson
So the first would be like in preparation for coming together particularly if it’s like we’re all going to be staying at the same house for five days. So you know, this is so just to like level set some some context that it isn’t like, oh, we’re gonna get together for dinner and see each other for two to three hours. This is we’re going to be existing in each other space for four to five days. You just want me to like – see I feel like if so now like so much now I have like better strategies. I feel like I need to be like here’s how I messed it up the first time.

Stephanie Chin
Well, because you’ve thought about it this will give folks language –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie Chin
I also don’t have to respond nicely.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs) True. Truth.

Stephanie Chin
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And then I’ll just like shut down, like okay.

Stephanie Chin
But that’s what you have to work through. Right? So the the practice should always be harder. And this is me prepping you write. The practice should always be harder than the actual – and that’s what makes practice helpful because then once you go through it, you’re like, “Oh, the real stuff is going to be easy.”

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. So hey Steph, I know we’re going to be, you know, staying at mom and dads for, you know, four to five days. I, you know, was hoping that we could talk about what kind of precautions we want to take to make sure that we’re both coming into that space as safe as possible related to COVID. Would you be open to having that conversation?

Stephanie Chin
Where’s this coming from?

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, I don’t want to get COVID again, like that’s, you know, it’s, uh, I don’t want to get it again. And mom and dad have largely avoided it. So I would like to do whatever we can to to keep them safe. So here’s what I would like, is that if we would be willing to test ahead of time, I know that that’s not 100% guarantee that that means that we’re negative, right? Things can always come up. But it is, for me, it feels like if we can at least do everything we can. And then if we still get it, at least we did our best. Like, would that be okay with you all to test ahead of time?

Stephanie Chin
So, what you’re saying is, if I test positive, you don’t want to see me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, if you test positive I, yeah, I don’t want to spend time with you in person. We can spend time, virtually. But it’s not about not wanting to see you it’s just about not wanting to I mean, honestly, I don’t I don’t want to deal with losing three months of my life again, like I did this summer.

Stephanie Chin
Oh, so are you like blaming me for that?

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, I know, I’m not. I’m just I went through a really stressful situation and I don’t want that to happen with us because you are really important to me. And I want to avoid any kind of issues that could happen if we’re not on the same page.

Stephanie Chin
Oh, okay. How, how do you want to do this?

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, what I, you know, and I’m happy, happy to send tests, buy test because I know they’re not cheap, because we live in America where nothing’s covered medically, but, but if we just like, just test ahead of time, and, and just let each other know what the what the results are. And then obviously, if like, if, if somebody comes down with something, we just wear a mask, you know.

Stephanie Chin
So I just, I just want to say I just really liked to see you like I love to see your face, I love to give you a hug. So even if you get COVID, you know, I still want to see you like if I get it, that’s fine to me. So I understand you want me to test but like, come anyway, I just don’t want to miss you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And I appreciate that. I can’t, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I would it would be too heavy of a like ethical thing. I would never want to expose somebody and I would never want them to go through what I’ve either gone through or what I’ve seen other people go through so so while I appreciate that it’s like my act of love to keep those around me safe. And so I’m just I’m not if if I was positive, I would stay home. Because I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself anyway. And it just, the risks of – the risks that can come from long COVID from personal experience are too great and I care about you too much to take that risk with you.

Stephanie Chin
How do mom and dad feel about it?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, you know, like they want to stay safe. But Mom and Dad aren’t going to be the ones to enforce anything. So, you know, I think where their at now is like, well, we’re getting together, these are just the risks we take. And that’s that’s fine, but this is just where I’m at.

Stephanie Chin
Okay.

Sarah Noll Wilson
So will you do it?

Stephanie Chin
Sure. Send them to me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s interesting. So there’s people in my life. There’s, you know, family, friends who I know I could have that conversation and it’d be super easy, then, right? And then there’s people with whom I don’t know.

Stephanie Chin
So for the listeners, it sounds like we’re outside of the scenario.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh yeah, sorry. Now I’m outside of the scenario. (laughter) Thank you. Wait, wait, let’s wrap it up completely. I, I really appreciate you doing this. It. It means a lot to me that you’re willing to do this and I just want you to know how much I appreciate that you’re willing to meet me where I’m at so that we can –

Stephanie Chin
Well I love you, I’d do anything for you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I love you too. And this is where the theater person in me is like, “and scene.”

Stephanie Chin
Well, I’m like let’s unpack some of this.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s interesting because like, I mean, obviously, like roleplaying even as somebody who does theater and improvisation, it’s super uncomfortable, but it is so valuable. But what I was reflecting is, there are people who it’s like, Hey, we’re gonna test right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I’ve already got my bought, you know, or they’re sending me the picture before I do. And then there are people with whom you’re like, I don’t, you know, like, especially when, when we were taking a lot more precautions, it was like, and you know, and then and then there are people with whom you’re like, are they gonna, this is gonna be a thing, because it’s been a thing in the past and how do we navigate that?

Stephanie Chin
Well, I’m gonna inject some regionality in this, although this is broad strokes. I was living in San Francisco during the pandemic, which is very shut down, right. And very, like, we were not meeting up with each other, we’re only meeting up, like very cautious, and very judgy of people who didn’t get a vaccine. And then I have family in Ohio, where there are some precautions and my family, certainly, we’re all on the same page, which is very lucky. But like Ohio’s generally no masks, –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
Walk around no issues. And different people’s comfort levels really have to be negotiated much more in spaces where there’s a variety of responses.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
And I think especially during the pandemic, it has been very easy to take things personally, – like, “Oh, so you don’t want to see me then?” Right? But I want to see you and I’m willing to risk it, right. And that’s why I injected that because it can feel like a rejection of the time spent. And a part of me wonders, if you want to emphasize in this conversation, like, I really want to spend quality time with you where I’m not worried about getting sick. And I just don’t feel like I can do that if we don’t do some of these things. Because cuz I’m worried now, right? Like, I’m literally worried about getting COVID. But it’s also not just COVID.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right.

Stephanie Chin
And you didn’t raise that in the conversation of like, hey, one things I’ve just realized is, there’s so many other times we can see each other. Right? If someone’s sick, there’s – let’s not – let’s avoid the public health hazard of someone else getting it right. We’ve seen it with all the preschoolers, they get they send it to everyone. Everyone gets it. Right? And I like to inject some humor in that too, right. Like,my nephew’s in kindergarten, so he’s getting everyone sick all over the place? Well, let’s not spread that around. Right.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s, it’s interesting, because like when it comes to, you know, like asking people to put on masks like that’s something – you know that – and I’ll just say this, and I’m really I appreciate that you spoke to the regionality – so for people who are listening from other countries, so I’m based in Iowa. Iowa was very much you’re on your own. And for the vast majority, the majority of people, even during the heat of the pandemic, like, in the worst of it, we’re not wearing masks, and, and so then you feel isolated, and you feel like, – I felt isol – you know, like, excluded, isolated, and not knowing. Whereas when I got together with friends from other cities, it was like, why are we even you don’t even need to ask me this, of course, this is what we’re going to do. So I think that’s, I appreciate you bringing in that context. So people understand my scenario. And yeah, I mean, you’re, you know, like, I feel like, every time I go home, there’s this like, and I can exist with you wearing a mask, and I can, and we can sit and chat, and I can still coexist with you. And we can do a lot of similar things. Like if we know that it’s not positive, like there’s a lot we can do. And you know, and something that I do share with like, folks is I used to be sick all the time. And when I say that, I mean, I would probably spend four to six months out of the year dealing with some kind of sinus infection, some kind of cold, some kind of whatever, right? Because I traveled a lot. I mean, like, and I’m with folks when you talk about kids and I know you have right niblings too anytime you go home for the holidays, Nick and I are just like, we know we’re leaving sick, like this is just like, we don’t hang out with a three-year-old and we don’t pick something up. But just this like a new rule. I mean, like, that’s part of it, too. And one of the things I want to share with folks that was I think, is such an important concept that you’re bringing to this work. That is that idea of consent, right consent in having the conversation. Consent and how we move forward and like, you know, because it’s so often we think about consent only in terms of sexual intimacy. And while it’s really critical there, I’ve been really pondering that, since you first brought that up in a previous conversation of, you know, realizing that the situation in which I caught COVID. I assumed, like I assumed agreement and consent of how we are going to exist. And, and that was an assumption I made that was inaccurate. And so I’d love to, like, I want I would love to hear more from you about that idea. Because I, you know, somebody who studies relationships and conversations, and how do we have difficult conversations? It was the first time I’ve come across somebody talking about the idea of consent in nonsexual situations. And I think it’s such an important perspective.

Stephanie Chin
Yeah. Well, and like consent ends up being very tricky, because you want two consenting partners, right? And what does that look like, and who wants to have what conversation. And I was just a presenter on an ERG meeting for a company, and the way I spoke of it was like, if you’re sharing a bowl of food, like you’re sharing a conversation, if I spice it up to my level, and you don’t like spicy, that’s not fair to you, if you have to, like, eat something that’s too spicy for you. Right? Um, also, if I just leave it bland, and I don’t get to enjoy it because we don’t have the same spice level, how do we figure out how to like, get two side bowls and I can add the space? Or whatever that looks like? Or, you know, how do we make it in a way that we both agree on what what’s going to happen? And consent is really important to just be clear, right? So I’m gonna go back to clear and caring? What are we trying to do? What are we trying to say? What’s important? We all have assumptions? Like, I always go back to the game of telephone from childhood, which I don’t know if kids play now I doubt it. But – Telestrations –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Telestrations – I was going to say – we just had a healthy game of telestration.

Stephanie Chin
It’s a game. But, like, never does someone get exactly the same message that you sent. And so the check back is really important. And so the importance of consent is, I want to have this conversation, or do you? Are you in a place to? – but I’ve also brought up to some folks, like, who usually gets to control when they have the conversations, right? Those with more power. And so yes, consent, and if you tend to be someone who gets to have the conversations you want to have when you want to have them, try having some more conversations where you don’t. Let the other person lead, especially a person who you have noticed in other interactions, other people don’t consent to hearing, because we’re missing a lot in those conversations. But I think the importance of it is, you’re not going to have the conversation you want to have if I don’t want to have it with you. So there is no conversation without my willing participation. It’s just you talking at me? Or doing something to me? And vice versa. Right. And so the importance of consent is, it’s not a productive conversation, if one of us is unwilling in it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s – I mean, and that’s, you know, – so I’ll give a little bit of just like, very high level, like background on the scenario that happened with us was going on vacation with family. We’re all staying in a cabin together, thinking that we are in agreement with what precautions we are going to take, or what precautions we’re going to take when somebody gets sick. And I’ll own that I wasn’t as clear, in my concern, for a number of reasons, both internal and managing external relationships, right. I mean, and this is part of the, when you have a culture of avoidance, and avoidance, and when I say avoidance, avoidance isn’t just difficult conversations, it can also be avoidance of any kind of intimate conversation. Even just as simple as saying, I love you, and I care about you. In our situation, it wasn’t just that we got COVID. It was how it was treated. It was how, you know, we felt like we were treated and the precautions that wasn’t taken. And there needed to be a conversation afterwards because there was some pretty significant damage done to the relationship. And that was something that we were very thoughtful about, like, how can we have this conversation in a way that we’ll both feel good about it? You know, it could have been really easy to lash out and be like – well, you did this and you did this and you did this – and it was like no, we really we do value you. You talked about the email, like that was a circumstance where I was like, – We, I can’t have that conversation right now. I’m too angry still. And I’m weak, like, I’m weak from having a really pretty, pretty serious COVID. And I’m, and I’m too angry, and finding a place and you know, and so with this particular family member, it was like, I just want it to be this person and this person, it’s like, okay, then let’s meet in the middle. And I think that, that is something that I’ve learned on my journey. And why I really resonate and appreciate that language of consent is, so often I mean, like you said, it’s like, you’re you either are talking at someone, someone’s unwilling, they’re not ready. Or we’re avoiding it, and then we’re leaving and damage is done. But that also just goes back to that first point you made of like, when we can come from a place of care. And again, like reminding ourselves, I care about this person, I care about you, I care about our relationship, I care about your ability to grow, is so it’s so important. And I want to make sure that we don’t roll over. I mean, there’s, you know, that I think that’s a really provocative and important challenge you put out, so I don’t want to miss it. Of if you’re somebody who often gets to drive the conversation, if you’re somebody who, right, like if you’re a manager, like look at your look at your world, there’s places in my life where I know, I can drive the conversations, and there’s places where I don’t feel like I can. And I love that challenge that you put out of like, don’t – and really seek out who are the people that people aren’t listening to, which goes back to your point that you made earlier, which is relationships are a privilege, that can get us access to things, that can impact how we feel about ourselves, that can impact our access to opportunities and all of that. So I wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose, lose that really important challenge of how do we how do we step into different roles than we’re used to stepping into?

Stephanie Chin
So can I try the exercise?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
Then let’s let’s recap on what we’d like about what each one did. So Sarah, I’m so excited. So scene starting, right? Ah, Sarah, I’m so excited to see you for the holidays. I’m excited. We’re gonna get to spend a bunch of days together. How are you feeling?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Good. I’d spend too long I can’t wait. I got dips made. You know, –

Stephanie Chin
There you go. I’ll eat them. I’ve got the mouth. (laughter) So there are a couple of things that I was thinking about. Just like, you know me. I’m a worrier. So do you mind if we talk about some things? So that I can like, come in and feeling just as excited as I’m feeling right now?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, sure. What’s on your mind?

Stephanie Chin
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Cue my inner like, oh, shit, what’s coming?

Stephanie Chin
Right. And I say that, because I want you to be prepared for this conversation. But it’s not a big deal. It’s really just, you know, last time, I got really sick, and I really don’t want to be sick, or get anyone else sick. And I also want to check with other folks about how they feel if someone gets sick. How do you feel about what that process looks like, given last time and how things turned out?

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, you know, that’s kind of the risk we take when we get together stuff. I mean, we’re all agreeing to be together. And so part of that is accepting that we might get sick as a result.

Stephanie Chin
Well, I so appreciate the time that we have together. And I don’t think that we have to see each other only because it’s the holidays, but we can see each other when we’re well. And I don’t want to be someone who gets someone sick. I have this really big fear of being patient zero. I actually know someone who is patient zero – so you remember the swine flu?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
When I was in grad school, I knew the student who brought it to the school. And so I just have this fear of like spreading it around and I worry about mom and dad and I don’t want to be the person who brings it to them, or other people that I interact with and like I also don’t want to get it if I can see you another time when everyone’s feeling healthy. And so I was really hoping that we could all test just to like, give ourselves some peace of mind and give me some peace of mind. If we could test the day before we arrive and send everyone funny pictures like next our silly faces of our test results so that – um, if someone’s sick, I might just decide to come meet up with y’all another time.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, I know I’ve go the sniffles right now, but I’m sure it’s just allergies. I mean, it’s just allergies.

Stephanie Chin
And there’s no harm in checking, right? Like, because we never know. And I have a bunch of work trips coming up and I don’t want to give it to someone else. I just am just very aware of that. And I think I’m a little bit nervous for our parents as well. So do you feel like it’s a big deal to check and to just take a test the day before, so that we have a little bit more information going in? And what I’m thinking right now is if someone happens to be sick, I will probably opt out. I’ll still send whatever I was supposed to send in. But in order to keep everyone safe, and then let’s like rescheduled to another time when folks are feeling better. How do you feel about that?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, I mean, if that’s if that’s what you need to feel better, that’s fine.

Stephanie Chin
Yeah. Um, do you want me to send you some tests, because I’m running out anyway, so I can drop some at your door. And I have a couple treats for you, as well.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, I love chocolate. So I’ll take – Yeah, that would be great. Thank you.

Stephanie Chin
Sounds great. Well, I will see you soon.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I look forward to it.

Stephanie Chin
I’ll talk to you later. Bye. Scene.

Sarah Noll Wilson
You know, I was like, really – in my head. I was just like, one, those are real things that have been responses. And then it’s like, you’re just overreacting. How would you – How would you – Ok, let’s take it back a second.

Stephanie Chin
Oh, I’m totally the overreactor in my family.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh yeah, I am too.

Stephanie Chin
We all know it. Right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
You’re overreacting. And it’s like, maybe and –

Stephanie Chin
Well this is who I am, right? This is what’s important to me. And like, I really love you. And I’m really excited to see you. And like, we all have different tolerances. And that’s one of the things my family has been on a journey on too is, like, I think when I was younger, there was kind of this, like, why are you responding so big? Right? Like, there was not an understanding, not a context for understanding. We didn’t have social emotional learning when I was growing up. And I have big emotions and big feelings. In positive like – I shouldn’t say positive – but in happy ways, like I have the roller coaster of feelings, and more of my siblings are more steady. And so just being like, this is who I am and I appreciate that you’ll do this thing for me, because I love you and this is important to me. Um, and I think sometimes you’re not going to get the response you want, like, it would have been totally okay if the other person said, you know, I’m not comfortable with that. And I were to say, Okay, I’m not gonna come this time, but I’d love to see you outdoors when the weather’s nicer because Iowa and Cleveland are both cold in the winter.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s interesting too, like in those moments from the standpoint of – one of the things I have to work through or have have had to work through for sure is really just owning these are my needs and being okay that your comfort, your needs, or even your values are different. Because there are times when it it felt personal of like you don’t care enough about me or the family to take even the basic precautions and like staying anchored and like this is just what I need. And setting that boundary and being okay with that boundary and you know, and boundaries, depending on your family, your history can be really scary. You know, but I think that that – I mean, there’s a couple of things that you said that I think were really lovely of – you know, me, I’m a worrier, cuz cuz sometimes there can be value of like, I don’t want to say play in lower status. That’s not what it is. But it’s like, I don’t know what the right language is?

Stephanie Chin
It’s owning that I am not like everyone else, right? Like, it’s identifying who you are. And you can call it whatever you want. But one of the reasons why I love like, assessment, personality assessments, which I can quibble about any of them, but what I like is it creates a shared expectation of I know if concerns you don’t have and that’s okay. And like, I’m not saying you have to have those concerns, or that you have to agree with my concerns. I just have them. And you know that I have them you know that it will be hard for me to participate if they are not honored. And we can all love each other in our own ways and have different needs – but I don’t like pepper soup that’s super spicy, right? Like that is not it’s not a value judgment. And I think very often we do take it as a value judgment of the people that we love. Right? That’s what all the holiday movies are about, right? Oh, you’re not like me and so you either judge who I am, right? You don’t like it because you’ve chosen to be something else, you don’t think it’s a good thing for me to be. But instead, it’s good for you, not for me, right? Don’t yuck someone else’s yum. And like, I know that this is something that’s important to me, I worry about this stuff. And I did. So I opted out of family holidays, for the first time in my entire life. I didn’t go home for some family holidays. And the whole family was like, come anyway, like, in a loving way. And I was like, you know what, if I fly there, and I get especially one of our older family members, or one of our young, one of the kids, one of the babies sick, I will feel bad. And I don’t want to be put in that position, not to mention all all the experiences that I’ve seen you go through with the COVID response and like how it continues to make you feel tired. So all of those things together, these are, these are the things I own as a part of myself. And I appreciate that you’re there for me and with me. Versus we should all believe this thing, which I think I love San Francisco, I’ve lived there many, many years. San Francisco’s are kind of like, how could you not have our value system? There must be something wrong with you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I think as humans, we get into the – Right? – yeah, I hear that. It’s just like – it’s the whole my island versus your – Like, duh, my preferences are great – for me. And so they must be great for other people. And I think that that’s a good, that’s a really good check, and a good practice of how do we own our needs and our values without making like judgments or expectations? And that was real hard, like in the heat of it, for both Nick and I to be like, “Are we are we? Are we the crazy? Like, are we in a like, you know, –

Stephanie Chin
Feeling a little bit gaslit? Like, is there like, is there something wrong with my value system?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, you know, and also being frustrated of just like, you know, not necessarily to relive that but then you can insert that into whatever scenario, right? Like that happens. The other thing that you that you brought up, and you brought it up in mine, too, and I want to like I think it’s a really great perspective and practice to think about is examining – the language I would use is it is a rule or possibility? And, when you brought up like, hey, if we don’t get together for Christmas, or whatever holiday, like if we don’t get together, we can still see each other in other ways, or we can still – And I think that sometimes that becomes a trap too of we – especially again, when we think about traditions and rituals, whether they’re at work, whether they’re in our family, whether they’re with friends, is we they can feel so permanent, when they’re not necessarily and I mean, that’s definitely something we’re navigating is like what like my immediate family has been have been able to have a very, like, consistent tradition around Christmas. And now it’s changing because the family is changing. And that is caused, right, some tensions around it. But so I, I wanted to name that, like speaking, almost speaking to and challenging – this isn’t a rule that this is the only way we get to spend time together, even around right, like if it’s a holiday or you know.

Stephanie Chin
Well, I just want to say that practicing with someone, no matter who else helps you be ready. And too many times, we’re nervous about a conversation and we just talk about it in a way that is helpful, but it’s not as helpful as starting to use words because that’s where people who want a script will start to come around. Here’s the types of things I want to say or oh, I really liked it when you said that. And so I want to bring some of that into whatever conversation. You get new ideas when you do it with new people. That’s one of the particular values of roleplay is you hear the way someone else says something you’re like, I want to say something like that. That’s great. And I never would have thought of it without doing it as an interaction with someone else. That is different from – oh, have you thought about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, that’s a really great point and it – it allows you to be messy, and especially if you can be with somebody who’s like, “Hey, give me some rough (laughs) reactions.”

Stephanie Chin
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And like let me – you know, because that’s part of it too – we use the term like holding steady, meaning how do i sit in my discomfort right now? How do I sit in my – whatever it is, like I want to just flight out of here. I just want to like freeze or I want to, you know, but like, how do I stay anchored in this moment? And that is one thing that practicing with someone can also give you is not only helping give you the words, but like how do I work through the emotions of even what it’s like to talk about this.

Stephanie Chin
And I’m a big name it, like from Co-Active coaching, right? Their idea. So like, I’m gonna show up a little messy. Is that okay with you? I don’t know exactly what I want to say. But I know this is important that I know you’re more important than this. And I’ll say that, like my family loves being right. Like the, “Hey, I think it’s this or I think it’s that. This is the memory. Let’s google it to find out who’s right.” Like, love, love the triumph of being like, yeah, my memory was the best. But relationships aren’t about that. It’s about like, how we’re probably both right.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
But we are we’re looking at it from different angles and how you honor that space is really hard, when you’re also challenging something that is very different within it. But often I find that like, what’s based within the tradition, or the action is different from what the surface action is. So it’s tradition that we all come together on Christmas, could be, it’s a tradition that we all find time for each other. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, right? Or we do a zoom call, which a lot of families did. And you can still have time with each other actually, like my family has this massive group chain text that has the highest level of engagement we ever have had, right? Because after we all moved away from each other, we were never part of each other’s dailies. And so we only saw each other at the holidays. But now that we have this group texts, we I get 50 texts a day, like it’s 10 people or more on the texts. If a couple of people send something, it ends up being this whole conversation. It can sound like it’s ringing, right? But the connection is the tradition, the how can change. So I tried to think of it that way of like, there’s the activities of the tradition. But what is the core of the tradition is how you find space and time for each other.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s – no that that resonates real deeply with me right now because like, as we’re examining, basically moving from an entire lifetime of being able to be together on Christmas Day. I mean, it’s very fortunate, as big as my family is we’ve been able to navigate that. Well, you know, now we have family who lives away, who has littles, will be traveling to the the other side, across country. And I just had that aha, this weekend of like, what, what is it that we love to do? Because we can do that whenever let’s just like, like, what do we love? Like, what do we really want to do together? Like, ultimately, it’s that we want to spend time together. Have time to play games and right, like, enjoy a meal together. But mainly it’s time. So then it’s just like, well, okay, great. So what – let’s find another day that we can do that and navigate that. And I think that that, you know, again, that is a practice that when we’re applying it to something that’s very clear, right, like holidays, and how do we spend time together, but you can apply that to lots of situations of again – What is it that we’re really wanting? What is it that we really need in this moment? What are limitations we’re putting on that so we can meet each other in the moment. I love your analogy of like, we’re sharing soup, right? And if it’s too, too spicy, or or not enough, –

Stephanie Chin
Someone doesn’t like okra, right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. You know, and it’s – quick side note, but you were talking about like the example of, you know, I want to be able to order with you. I don’t want to show up and have it ordered. I had a situation where culturally where we were in the country where that was very, the problem is everything that got ordered could kill me with my shellfish allergy and so then it was I don’t want to be the picky – I’m not trying to be picky, but I can’t I will literally die if I eat this. Like, can – I need something else?

Stephanie Chin
I was recently asked question I get asked this question a lot. Like how do you help people who aren’t ready for this spicy conversations? And what I often say is, one-on-one, almost everyone I talked to is ready for spicy conversations. They just don’t want me to spice their meal.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(Laughs)

Stephanie Chin
They want to choose. So when we talk about the menu and consent, choice is an important element, if it feels like something is being forced upon us, which is I think part of the elements of what was hard for you when you got sick, like, there was no choice of yours involved to opt in or opt out. Right. And that is tough for folks. But most people aren’t thinking about the world that way when they’re interacting with folks. So they’re just not slowing down to be like, “Oh, is this an opt in opt out position?” There is this assumption that’s built in. And so it really is slowing down and being more cautious and conscientious about how other folks are going to respond. And like the rapid your worldview is not the only one out there.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And I think the other thing I just want to name that I think you do really well is like you also create an invitation. That there are times when – and that’s something that I’ve learned from you that I you know, do with my clients, it reinforces things that I’ve known, and it’s just this like, hey, I want to explore this with you can we can we talk about this? Again, that goes back to that opting in and opting out so people aren’t caught by surprise, they aren’t. – And again, this doesn’t – this can be something that’s difficult and a conflict or a disagreement or a hurt between two people. But this can also just go to – I mean, this is something that we’re continuing to try to – when I say we like – Nick and I were like talking a lot about gender roles. And we’re talking about intimacy and like and how to have more conversations like, you know, men to men, man to man from the standpoint of like, how do we talk about our emotions, like I mean, it can it can be conversations that – so I think I want to broaden it for folks because those – you know, it doesn’t always mean a disagreement, it often can mean a dis – but it doesn’t have to. And so like – that idea of an invitation one like readies yourself to be – What I love about it as a practice is it reminds you that they have a different perspective than you. It reminds you to be open to their perspective, right? It puts you into more of that curiosity place because it isn’t just you coming in and telling. And I think that these little, – they may seem really simple but they’re so powerful, because so many of us, that’s not how we interact. And it’s like, –

Stephanie Chin
Well, if you ever want to know what’s on someone’s mind, you can just be like, “Hey, how you doing?” And one of the things I talked about in leadership is you know, so many leaders were raised on the like, I have an open door policy, anyone can come in, and they go, who comes in? Does anyone? No, no one comes in? So when people do approach you, when did they do it? Oh, it’s when you’re out somewhere outside of your office? Have you thought about spending more time there? And they’re like, No. And I spend a lot of my time knocking on doors with invitations to join. And it is amazing how many people jump on board, when they’re invited to join.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And when they know there’ll be heard, right, like, I really want to hear your perspective and listening to it and all of that. Yeah.

Stephanie Chin
Oh, wait, you’re gonna listen and do something about it, and say that I matter. And say that I’m valuable when I haven’t felt very valued. And like, there’s a lot of things to learn in the workspace around, – you know, people, – I have had this tremendous career of long relationships with different people throughout my career that I can go back to. And I maintain those relationships, because people always knew I cared. I care about the work and about them as individuals, and I want them to do better work, not because they’re coming from a place of deficit, but I’m like, what is your level up progress, like, everybody wants to go to the next SuperMario level, they don’t want to just stay in the same one, whatever that means to them. And so it’s the listening, right? And so if you notice a lot of the things that I wanted to say when I practiced with you was how do you think, what do you feel? What did I – it’s more listening than telling or saying, but creating that space to be like, “This is important to me, is it important to you?” I do have a little card that I’m happy to share with you and your listeners that people can even print out put it – it’s the size of your credit card so that you can put it in your credit card holders behind your phones if you like. This is my niece’s artwork. And it really is just about making things easier and making people – what I find is very often what it is, is pent up demand to for a conversation that people are just waiting for someone to invite them to tap. Yeah,

Sarah Noll Wilson
We will definitely post that resource that you’re talking about because it lists a couple of really great statements and questions and things you can be thinking about, in the show notes. And then I mean, we’re coming up on our time Steph. This has been an absolute treat – been a long time coming. I mean, we can – we have lots of episodes in us and so this isn’t the last you’re going to be hearing from from Stephanie, for sure. But as we wind down our time, I want to ask you to share with us the question that we asked everyone, “What’s a conversation you’ve had with yourself or with someone else that was transformative?”

Stephanie Chin
Well, I already spoke to one which is really the, like how you say things, can invite someone into a conversation or not. And I make the reference point of I knew a guy who just said things poorly, but had really good intentions. But he’d be like, “Stephanie, you don’t look good in a dress, you look good in pants, wear more pants.” And like, he should have just said like, I love you in pants. That could have been it. So like, that has been a really big point for me, as well as – if we use Myers Briggs, I’m naturally an ISTJ. But really the value of people’s feelings and how we should think about those has been another really transformative thing, like how people feel about something really predicts more about how they’re going to respond than how they think about something.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Love that. For people who are listening and who are like, I want to have more spice in my conversations, what’s the best way to connect with you?

Stephanie Chin
So on my LinkedIn profile, which is Stephanie Chin, Chief of Spice, it’s Spicy Conversations. People can schedule time with me on my Calendly, for free,for ease. I love talking with folks. And really everything’s about listening, as the leader. And you can follow my content along that way or on Facebook, I’m actually in the process – Previously, all of my work has been with people I already knew, and I’m starting to build a brand around it. And so I’ll be building more things. But that’s great. My Twitter is Chin Thoughts. And I’m building out the Spicy Conversations one, and there’s a Facebook page as well. So there’s gonna be multiple places on social media that folks can connect with me. And the easiest thing is, if you want to talk and we’ve never talked before, scheduled time using my Calendly, which is directly linked on my LinkedIn profile.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Beautiful. We’ll post all of those. And just to reiterate when she says, yeah, no, just do it. She means it.

Stephanie Chin
Yeah. Particularly young professionals who don’t do it because you’re afraid.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, no, that’s a good good call out. Stephanie, you’ve been a treat today and a gift in my life. And I’m so excited that we got to be in conversation today and to introduce our listeners to you and I look forward to future conversations. Thank you so deeply for the impact that you continue to have on me and engaging in these conversations together.

Stephanie Chin
Thank you for inviting me, and I’m looking forward to more spicy conversations with you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Our guest this week, has been Stephanie Chin as we complete our two part series on having spicy conversations. There’s so many notes that I took and a couple that are standing out for me is one, just reminding ourselves that we may never know the whole story of what someone’s bringing to the table. And the other is just that how do I continue to invite people into conversations? And we’d love to hear what resonated for you. What are you thinking or doing differently as a result of our time together? So you can reach out to us at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. Or you can find me on social media where my DMs are always open. And if you’d like to find out more about our work, and how we can help your team have the conversations that matter. Check us out at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com.

Also, if you haven’t, pick up a copy of my latest book, Don’t Feed the Elephants! wherever books are sold. And if you’d like to support the show, there’s two ways you can do it. First, rate and review and subscribe to the show on your podcast platform of choice. This can be Apple’s Podcast, this could be Spotify, this could be Google. But the more reviews we get, the more we show up and the more we can invite amazing guests like Stephanie so please make sure to rate and review the show if you haven’t already.

You can become a patron. You can go to patreon.com/conversations on conversations where your financial support will support the team that makes this podcast possible. Speaking of the team I want to give a big shout out to our incredible group that makes this podcast possible. To our producer Nick Wilson, sound editor Drew Noll, transcriptionist Becky Reinert, marketing consultant Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson, and the rest of the SNoWCo. crew.

And just a big final thank you to Stephanie Chin for joining us and suggesting that we did a real time roleplay so that we could show people what it looks like to struggle through it and the value of being able to talk out a conversation before you have it. This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you so much for listening. And remember, when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and others, we can change the world. So with that, please be well, rest, rehydrate and we’ll see you again next week.

 

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Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

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