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#014 – The Neuroscience of Effective Leadership Communication (with Special Guest Lindsay Lapaquette)


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Podcast Transcript


Welcome to the Working Well Podcast. I’m Tim Borys CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance. On the Working Well Podcast we dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the world. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping make life more awesome at work and home.

Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs.


Lindsay Lapaquette works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former speech language pathologist with a master’s of applied science, Lindsay harnesses, her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent of two neurodivergent children and the premature loss of both of her parents. Along with an unquenchable thirst for learning Lindsay brings to her work extensive experience in emotional regulation, trauma informed deescalation, collaborative problem solving mindfulness, cultural proficiency, and non-violent communication.

She is passionate about helping people foster a deeper connection to both themselves and others.


Lindsay welcome to the Working Well Podcast. So awesome to have you on the show, I’m really excited to chat with you about the neuroscience of effective leadership communication. Before we dive in, how things been the last 15 months for you? I know it’s been to put it mildly a crazy year in a bit. What, what does life look like these days?

It, it has been a crazy year and I think certainly a lot of the concepts are going to talk about it can certainly link to them as we’re going through, because I think a lot of the challenges that I’ve been experiencing personally, you know, at home, in my business challenges that that businesses are going through.

So on a personal level we have been homeschooling the kids as you know, as with many business, certainly took a hit as the pandemic started off and I had to. Pivot, like so many, say, you know, put a lot of time and energy into reflecting on my business model. And I’m really happy with the direction that, that things have changed too, but it’s certainly been a lot of work and a certain amount of stress.

And like I said, I find my clients have been experienced, experiencing similar, similar challenges themselves in the past year and a half.

Absolutely. And as an expert on communication, it’s every time you open your newsfeed, it must be like, ah, here’s another example of what we talk about.

Yes. The pandemic has certainly highlighted our communication challenges. And I will say that in the first few weeks, just to observe what was going on on a communication level on social media, I thought I just need to step back because this is intense and it has settled somewhat, but I think some of the nuances of those challenges, preexisted the pandemic and continue to today.

Sure. And just put a magnifying glass up to the things that weren’t working and made it that much worse. Now we’re 15 months into it, what things have you seen that are resolved or better resolved and that people have adapted and done really well with what are some of the wins?

Great question. Well, so I think in my perspective, the pandemic has certainly brought a lot of awareness. I think, to people around where their real priorities are in life around. Where they are happy, you know, the things that they don’t want to settle for any more. I think both on an employee level and on a business, you know, on a leadership level too, I think it’s really led people to ask themselves those hard questions and stop sort of just making decisions in that rote automatic way that a lot of us were prior to the pandemic. And my hope is that as this settles, we’ll take those lessons forward.

Yeah. And we’re seeing that I guess come to a head a little bit over these next few months when businesses are starting to bring people back into the office and some companies are starting to mandate. People have to be back in the office a certain days per week. And there’s a new term that was coined to, by a researcher I think, or professor. And they said it, they called it the, was it. I can’t remember the great like that the great recession, but the great quitting, basically up to 40% of people want to switch jobs because people haven’t wanted to transition during this pandemic.

And now as things open up the, they feel there’s a little more security and there’s going to be the, the great transition. I think it was called because so many people are going to be looking for new jobs and companies that aren’t flexible. Having people back to the office are at much higher risk of losing employees. Then a huge part of that. It goes back to communication. So what have you seen around how people are communicating? There was some, some of those challenges.

Well, so if I can actually, just before responding to that, say that there was research within, I’d say the first three months of the pandemic, at least here in Quebec saying that 42% of people were looking to potentially change jobs at the end of the pandemic. And that was a year ago. And so the challenges have been there. I would say they preexisted the pandemic and It’s just that now that things have settled those organizations who haven’t made the shift to look at how they need to shift doing things are the ones who are going to, I think, bear the brunt of that, unfortunately.

In terms of how, how it’s being communicated. I mean, I think there’s a lot of variability, you know, across different organizations that I do think some have really realized that they need to implement a more flexible. Model with employees that they need to slow things down to understand, you know, where the challenges are, where the barriers are. And then there’s others where just sort of going full steam ahead without necessarily regard for the impact of that. I will admit those are typically not the organizations who, who want to work with somebody like, like me. Because often they’re, they’re so sort of stuck in. You know, implementing the plan as is, they don’t necessarily see or I guess maybe prioritize the impact of that.

But when there’s not enough gathering of information from. All levels of the organization to understand, you know, how has this pandemic been impacting you? What, what is needed with a return to make you most successful in your role while also communicating the needs of the organization? And, and figuring out a way not to meet everyone’s needs, but to make decisions that take those factors into consideration. It’s I think certainly going to contribute to to much greater levels of unhappiness and turnover and burnout and all the rest.

Absolutely. Yeah. And how, what would you say about, you know, we hear, I guess a lot about values, mission, vision, values of a company. And for most companies, that’s some, you know, dusty plaque on a wall that no one’s actually set eyes on in years and most employees wouldn’t be able to talk tell the mission, vision, values of your organization. How have you seen the pandemic change that? Do you think that’s being communicated more or is it more showing the true colors of the organization, whether they’re being spoken about or not.

Hmm, that’s a good question. I mean, I think in some ways it really is showing the true colors of the organization, right. In terms of, if you look in the early days, right. In terms of how organizations were managing, you know, do we lay people off? Do we cut executive salaries? Do we allow work from home? Do we wait until the government mandates it? When there’s a case of COVID. If government restrictions allow us to keep everyone in the office, even if they feel unsafe, do we force them to, even if their work doesn’t actually require their physical presence or, you know, do we only look at that in the case where a physical presence is necessary, say, you know, in, in hospitals and other industries, of course.

And so I, you know, I think those kinds of, of factors are really showing what. The underlying values of the organization are regardless of what is written on paper. And I think that that was probably there to begin with, but with the stress levels people were experiencing and the realization of what it might be like. You know, be in that environment on a daily basis. It’s, it’s a wake up call to some of do I want to return back to that and, and you know, depending on what the organization is like and how that fit is for the individual that, that may feel like a perfect match, or it may feel like you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to set foot back in there again. But, you know, I think that that awakening moment is getting to step out of the really stressful situation to look at. Wow. Look how much different things could be.

Yeah. Awesome. And so how, how does that go? How does, how does that fit with neuroscience? Like what, what does the research say about how our brains are functioning and particularly during times of stress?

Hmm. Yeah. So I’ll absolutely walk you through the neuroscience of stress and the impact that has on communication. And I will say that this has all been present prior to the pandemic. I think the print pandemic has really just been the significant stressor that has made the impact so significant. And so basically our and I’ll do this in a nutshell, and it is as simple terms as possible, but our prefrontal cortex and, you know, sort of the, the frontal part of the brain, that’s responsible for all of our executive functioning skills. So things like. Problem solving you know, being able to see things from different angles, be really flexible in our thinking, come up with varied solutions to a problem such as what do I do when you know, it’s time to return people to the office and not everyone wants to, how can I think flexibly well still having some structure and meeting the needs of their organization. It involves skills. Impulse controls. So when I’m upset, am I impulsively lashing out at you? Or am I able to restrain my impulse and that kind of links, that example links to emotional regulation too.

Right? So when, when I’m experiencing intense emotions, do I have the skills to be able to kind of settle my body, even though I’m angry versus I get into a state where my anger makes it such that I’m so mobilized. My body is so mobilized that I’m communicating in a way that afterwards I kind of regret, you know? And so there’s all sorts of different skills, but those, those are the executive functioning skills. And then what happens is that. Under times of significant stress, the, the part of the brain that manages our emotions, the limbic system, which is the amygdala Migdal is part of the limbic system.

You know, it manages our fear response that becomes really activated and it can actually overshadow our ability to use our executive functioning skills. And so we start to not be able to tap into. Our impulse control, our flexible thinking, our problem solving and all of those skills as well. And then there’s also the brainstem, which can put us into fight flight freeze. Or now there’s a relatively new reaction called Fon where we’re, we’re just reacting without really reflecting. Right. It’s it’s all of these automatic reactions and. So what happens is when we’re under stress, because our executive functioning skills aren’t as accessible. We’re not as easily able to communicate with people in a way where we’re able to kind of step back and, and explore difference of opinion.

We’re able to respect that you might see things differently than myself. That doesn’t make you wrong, nor me. We’re able to work through problems together. And so really the neuroscience understanding the neuroscience of our stress response and putting in place strategies to manage and, and yeah. Sort of resolve that stress cycle that we experienced is part of what can help you show up and communicate in a way that is more collaborative versus just kind of unleashing your frustration on to someone else.

Awesome. Yeah, actually, I heard a great analogy from I’m going to forget the presenter’s name now, but he calls it dropping markers where you have normally, if you have a whole like humidity, when I’m old, old Crayola pencil, crayon box with all the whatever 64 colors. And so it when were calm and relaxed. And we’re in our element. We have access to the whole palette of options to choose from. We can be creative, but the more stressed we get, the more options get taken out of that.

So essentially we end up with one or two things, and those are typically those deep ingrained habits that, you know, fight or flight or something that we’re not able to. Speak the nuances of what we’re saying. And yeah. So I think that’s yeah. Fits exactly with how you mentioned about the neuroscience and how our brain works.

Well, and if I can add to that, so I think it can be cumulative so chronic over time. And I think the analogy you just shared can probably apply to both of the examples I’m going to share, but it can be cumulative. So that over time we’ve experienced so many chronic stressors that we get down to only having two markers. And I wake up every day with only two markers to use or, and so then, you know, we need to look at. How, how do I, what do I need to put in place to to get those markers back, I guess, or, or, you know, in my work, I call it the reactive zone of communication and the receptive zone of communication. And so when you have a lot of markers, you would be in a receptive zone and when you start to only have a few markers left year, you’re in a more reactive zone, so it can be chronic or it can also be you know, you wake up with, I don’t know, twenty-five markers, and then there’s an accident on the highway. And I dunno, your, your project, you realize that the deliverable hasn’t come in and now you can’t, you know, all of those things and those markers are slowly going away throughout the day.

And so I think when we look at stress management and the impact on communication, we have to look at it both in a sort of short term timeline of how do I, how do I, what do I need to put in place to manage that on a short term scale, but also long-term based on the pilot of the chronic stressors. And I think that’s where the pandemic has really taken away. A lot of markers from a lot of people that haven’t thought in them.

Yeah. And that’s actually a great point because I tend to always think of that analogy on, you know, if my wife and I have an argument or something, it’s like that acute situation where you get reactive or defensive and all of a sudden, a bunch of markers drop and it can take a bit of time to pick them back up. But you make a great point. Yeah. If it’s, if people are continually in that stress response, They’re never able to pick up the markers. They don’t even know the markers are dropped. It’s just like they’ve got, they’re holding this one marker really tight. And it’s like, this is what I, this is what I’ve got and I’m protecting it with my life.

And that’s a perfect example because look at how, when you only have one marker, now you’re not as flexibly thinking. Yes. I could color in another color because all you can think of is. Oh, my goodness. I only have one marker left. I have to protect this with my life. And so if you look, you know, to extrapolate to a business context if you’re looking for instance, at the impact of the pandemic on different people how many markers that has taken may depend on, you know, somebody who absolutely loved working from home, they might come back with more markers than they had before.

Whereas someone else may through various experiences through the pandemic financial impacts you know, problems with their children, somebody dying from COVID other things perhaps not related to COVID even may have taken a lot more markers. And I think there’s a, a bit of a focus in our society on how it’s entirely the individual’s responsibility to get their markers back. Right. And so you, you just need to do more of that. Or you aren’t prioritizing yourself enough. And I think all those things are important and they’re absolutely a piece of the puzzle. But I think from an employer’s perspective, it’s also looking at are the requirements that I’m expecting already taking away a lot of markers from this person.

So if somebody is way more effective working from home, then I’m taking markers away already, or if someone’s way more effective in the office. That I’m taking markers away, you know, making them work at home in a context where it’s safe to come back. And so that’s where I think looking at the, not the absolute individual needs of every single person in every single context, but trying to get a grasp on what takes away markers overall, what gives them back? Is there a hybrid solution? Then the individual has more markers left to go to yoga, to also add more markers to their box. So, you know, I think that sort of a joint focus on how to set this up in a way that meets everyone’s needs a bit better gets the best outcomes ultimately.

Yeah. And that’s you, that leads into, I guess the next thing there’s always that saying that people don’t quit their job. They quit their leader. And so what can leaders do to better that communication or improve that communication?

Yeah. So I’ll say that in my experience, I find that when people reach out to me for my services, Quite often, they’re already coming with a predetermined idea of, of what they want and what, what is going to best support their team. Let’s say, or sometimes themselves that’s a different scenario. And often when I start to explore, there hasn’t necessarily been a lot of work done around trying to understand what is it that the employees actually. Want, or what are the, what are the challenges from their perspective? So even if you look at it in terms of conflict, so not necessarily pandemic related, although I do think the pandemic has because we are under more stress lead to more conflict.

But often there’s this, this notion of you know, the team needs to develop X skills so that they can deal with conflict more effectively. And sometimes the issue is a bit bigger than that. And so really the biggest thing I would suggest is before getting to the solution, explore what the actual problem is with all of the parties involved and do it in a way that is truly open-minded to actually identify the real underlying barriers. And that’s hard because we’re most often all a part of it. And we don’t necessarily like to hold the pieces that we are a part of, because that takes, that takes vulnerability. It takes accepting, you know, our imperfections, but if, until we’re really looking at. All of the pieces, including our own, my experience is that we’re doing patchwork and band-aids, and it actually not, it it’s almost worse than doing nothing because the team has hoped that things may change. And then the deflation after of, oh, we learned these new skills, but we can’t implement them because You know, the, the, the, what, when we try to implement these changes for shut down and then they’re even more deflated then when nothing was being done.

Yeah. There’s a lot of, well, we see that on the wellness side all the time, companies talk a good game about wellness and then certain programs try and get implemented. People learn new skills. They want to engage with the program and it gets shut down. Right. A leader, a department or even the unwritten rules in the company of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Yeah, well, yeah, go ahead. So I was gonna say, and I also don’t believe, you know, I don’t think it’s feasible to never implement anything until all of the kinks are worked out. You know what I’m I’m, I’m guessing you would agree with me on that. And then, so I certainly don’t mean. You know, don’t take steps towards resolving issues until you fully discovered every little element and have the ten-year plan of how you’re going to resolve that because that’s just a whole other basket of problems.

But I think, I think both create both sort of extremes of quick fix, resolve this now plan it all out and only implement it. Once we have it all figured out cause different, but similar just as many, I shouldn’t say problems. And so sort of that middle ground of explore a bit fine, you know, the next solution, test it out, see how it works, regroup, you know, assess what worked, what didn’t, it’s that continuous process. I think of gathering feedback from everyone that really leads you to kind of better resolve more of these challenges in a sustainable fashion.

And how does that, I guess, what, what best practices have you seen for companies to help provide some of that? I guess the best, best skills to teach leaders, how to communicate more effectively? Because I know in my experience, there are some leaders that are amazing communicators and in the same company, at the same level, in that company, you can have someone else that their department’s a train wreck because they’re. They’re not communicating things well, and as a, as an executive leader, looking at call it middle level managers, how do you make sure the communication skills are being developed, but also that there’s some consistency across the explore employee experience in the organization?

Hmm. Yeah. That’s a great question. I like the way you frame that, because I do think so my experience has shown me that when. When I’m involved without executive buy-in. Now that does not necessarily mean that they need to be present and participating in every step of what is done. But when there’s not actual, buy-in true. Buy-in not just I’ll sign the check, but I actually want it to to improve this. And again, we’ll reflect on if there’s things I need to do where the organization needs to do to support that. Then it, then it’s just money spent. And so when, when there’s an actual. I guess belief or buy-in that communication skills are a big foundation to not only in, you know, employee wellbeing, but, but outcomes, right?

Because if you think of all the the time spent people navigating conflict, people complaining in the hallways are on one-on-one zoom calls. That’s, that’s a big cost. And again, both on a, I’d say a personal level in terms of the stress that adds to individuals and many individuals, but, but also to the bottom line.

So when there’s, when there’s a true buy to that being important to me, that’s the biggest key. And then you can look at okay, what. You know, where is the organization now? You know, has there never been any anything done in this regard? Well, that team is going to start at a different level than a team who has been focusing on this for, for 10 years.

And now we’re looking at getting into really refined you know, specific situations that different people are struggling with differently. And so I think really, again, looking at first doing an, a needs analysis of. Where, where are people, what is the biggest need? What are the resources available?

You know? And so are we talking, starting with. Training on I, and again, on what level, you know, based on what, what challenges are present and what strengths are there. Are we looking at a combination of, you know, training and ongoing individualized coaching? And so I think it really depends on the nuances and then just biting off a piece at a time, you know?

So it doesn’t mean even if you identify that yes, this team could use. You know this bigger, I’ll say quote, unquote intervention. It doesn’t mean that has to be done today. But really again, I guess it comes back to the same answer of not jumping in too quick with a solution until you’ve identified.

What, what is the best value for your money? Because at the end of the day if you’re spending money on. Support that isn’t a good fit for your teams. They’re not going to really implement the change. They haven’t bought into the process. And you’re going to conclude that that was no good. Whereas maybe the mismatch was more the fit of what kind of support was needed from the beginning.

Yeah. And so on that note, what are some of the key categories of training that companies make? Pursue you, you had mentioned or individualized coaching what, what other areas are key things that you see the company’s benefit? Hmm. So, I mean, I have a, you know, I have a training format that I use that has four different set.

So my, my model of communication for leadership is the first module is knowing yourself. Right? So understanding what factors make you more reactive in your communication. And this is very individualized, right? So what is going to take markers away from me? And make me more reactive is going to be different than you Tim or other people listening.

So it’s not for me. The key is not being prescriptive in. This is how to manage a team, but rather walk people through the self reflections of how does this impact me personally, in my leadership role. And so once they have a better grasp on understanding themselves and their strengths and weaknesses within communication as a leader, the next step is looking at managing reactions, right?

So. Where where are my strengths and weaknesses? What kind of tools can I put in place to manage my reactions now? Not my emotions because emotions are there to tell us something is not working. So it’s not that you can’t be upset. It’s again, being able to settle yourself. You can deal with it more effectively.

And also how do you manage reactions in others? Right. So that person who comes into the office disgruntled and ranting and raving, and this is something that comes up a lot with leaders, you know how I just want to close the door and kick them out because they’re always complaining. So how do I manage my reactions and others?

The next step is Understanding others. So there, we really look at communication skills to approach difference of opinion in conflict, with curiosity and without judgment, and to look at how to create connection first so that we can work together while also sending. And then the last part is adapting leadership, and that really looks at understanding executive functioning better.

How does that impact my work? How does that impact the team team members work? Where is there a Mich mismatch that’s affecting performance? And so really where people start, whether they do that whole program, whether they do pieces of it kind of depends on the discussion I’ll have with clients from the get, go and see.

Where, you know, if we’re doing a training, it’s where sort of the majority of people and then sometimes there is coaching or group sort of debrief sessions in between where we look at you know, questions and answers and problem solving around specific challenges and how to apply the information there.

Because I think that a piece that’s often missing with training is the training is delivered. And then. When you try to implement and get stuck, you don’t know where to go. And so there’s, there’s lots of different options in terms of, I think, where to start lack of communication. But my, my reflection is that very often people want to start at a very surface level.

So for instance, you know, do setting norms around them, we email and when we slack and when we do zoom calls and it’s not that those norms aren’t important to establish, but that doesn’t really resolve a true communication. Challenge where people feel that their needs aren’t being taken into consideration.

It just outlines more policies. So starting the other way. And from that, then you’ll get a lot of clarity on what kind of policies and procedures need to be in place to support the very needs within the organization. Okay. And with, in terms of different levels in the organization, different people.

Training programs for that. Like, one of the things we chatted about before is positional power and the impact of that on communication. So if you’re coming from the C-suite, what is your communication? Savers is a middle level manager or an entry level, line level employee. Yeah. So I will say that I’m asked this question a lot in terms of you know, in fact, I was recently speaking with somebody that I’m on the verge of doing some, some ongoing work with about you know, can you do one training on how to manage and one training on how to you know, manage down and one training on how to manage sort of laterally across the organization.

And my response was that. In my opinion, there are some nuances in the challenges, but the skills required to do so are actually not that different because it comes down to noticing your own patterns with that positional power within the organization. So for instance when somebody who’s in a position of authority, Challenges something you say dismisses you you know, doesn’t, doesn’t leave space for your voice.

How does that impact you? Do you. Continue to stay calm and advocate. Do you shut down? Do you become really aggressive and belligerent? And then in turn, how do you interact when you’re the person in a position of authority? And I find that what most people notice if they start to really look at their patterns is that there are times when yeah.

Or not times there are, there are differences in how they’ll respond based on where they are in that, that hierarchy of authority. And so starting to notice. How that impacts our communication is pretty powerful. And I’ll give you an example from my personal life. This is something I’ve worked on a lot, myself personally, and yet, for some reason, when I am in a healthcare setting and I come from healthcare.

But when I am with my kids navigating health issues, I find it much more difficult when I’m with a doctor who is dismissive of my concerns to not get really irritated because it has happened to me a lot. And then I do not advocate as well. And so now knowing that, and it’s been a while I’ve known that it is, you know, I can remind myself in that moment that the, you know, the, the way the communication is going, I have a tendency to.

And it depends on the personality. You know, sometimes I just give up and sometimes I really get into arguing, but neither is ideal to resolve the problem. And so having that awareness is really key to be able to. Do what you need to get back to that receptive zone of communication and work through that problem a bit, a bit better.

So it’s not so much that there’s different training programs for different levels. It’s more I would say depending on whether you spend a lot of time in the organ, you know, your, your role is at the executive level and you’ve maybe been socialized. That leadership is done through authority. That may be something you’re more accustomed to versus if you you know, are in a position where you’ve been socialized to to, to do what authority says, you know, well, and you know, this amazing information and very important for people in organizations.

I, you know, this is the working world podcast and it goes back to employee health and wellbeing. And, you know, I see a direct link, but a lot of people, I think sometimes think, why are you talking about communication on a wellness podcast, but this is the foundation of people get upset and frustrated and disgruntled at they’re at work.

And one of the. Key components of wellness is organizational. Do people feel they have a voice and a purpose at work? And if, if they’re struggling to communicate that or not feeling that from leadership or even peers, then yeah, absolutely. That increases stress. It increases burnout all kinds of negative health consequences come from.

And so in terms of overall communication, how, how do you see that affecting employee performance and organizational performance? Well, I’m biased obviously since communication is my, is my field and I will never the less say that to me. In my opinion and, and research does support this. It has a huge, huge impact.

And so research actually shows that in organization now this is pre COVID. So I’m scared to see what the numbers will look like today. But that three hours employees spend three hours of work. A week in conflict with others. And so if you start to do the math of how, how much that costs across an organization, we’re talking massive amounts of money, right?

And so if you were to say to a CEO, Hey, how about, you know, just for fun, you start giving everybody three hours of extra paid vacation a week. You’re going to get resistance to that most likely, right. If you’re just throwing that idea out. And yet the reality is that that money is being spent right. On people in conflict.

And so that’s time at the office, but then, you know, as you’ve referenced the, the weight of unresolved conflicts, so not conflict conflict in itself is not a problem because that’s. I think necessary to work out issues. It’s unproductive conflict that doesn’t get resolved. And so I think everybody can identify with the situation in their life, probably bazillions of situations in their life, where there has been a conflict of the office.

That they have taken home complained about for a couple hours to their partner or their friend or on social media returned. The next day, talked about it in the hall, been really frustrated. And, and that, if you think of how, how your body felt, how your stress levels felt, how you slept, when that was going on, that’s an impact on our wellness.

And, and I think the other problem is that when that is. Well, that’s a, one-off fine. It’s stressful. It gets resolved. We move on when it’s chronic, it gets our bodies to get back to the neuroscience. It gets our bodies in a state where that stress response is chronically activated and we can’t as easily.

Resolve that stress cycle. And so then the, the long-term impact on, on performance and wellbeing just starts to, it’s like to make it a negative spiral. Like it that’s we talk about that on the health the physical side, the stress hormones, the all the impact it has on even this at the cellular.

Yeah, you’re not as resilient physically or mentally in that situation. And the longer that persists the steeper, the decline. And we’re seeing that we’re seeing that so much every day, because 15 months into this, so many issues haven’t been resolved, there’s just been stress was already one of them.

Impactful things on health, pre pandemic. And now we’ve had 15 months of like everything loaded on again, and that’s not being resolved. People are less active. They’re not moving their body as much. They’re staring at a screen all day, not taking care of themselves. Not communicating as well as saying he shouldn’t and they’re crankier because of all that.

So I hear myself when you’re saying that, you know, I used to go to the gym five times a week. I meditated all the time. Like I had all the life strategies in place and now. I still work out, but not as intensely as before I skip it more often, the kids are home we’re homeschooling. And so in terms of my own reactivity, you know, the first six months of the pandemic felt like a vacation.

I loved the work from home. Awesome. And then as we started experiencing some other stressors, some health issues in our kids, I could feel my reactive zone getting larger. And so the things that would irritate me I would get irritated more quickly. I was having a harder time, you know, staying on top of things.

Cause again, your executive functioning is getting fuzzier. And so, you know, to just loop back to what you were saying, I think there’s a perception that. Yay. The pandemic is going to be over. We’re all going to run back to the office and everything will just go back to the way it was. And I actually think that’s really, really not logical thinking because some people are coming in in a much more heightened state of stress.

And I would say that some of the. In, in situations where people have not felt well supported by the organizational where they felt that their current challenges were not understood. So I’ve certainly heard a lot of people talking about how performance expert expectations. Didn’t change, even though, you know, people had kids at home and all sorts of challenges, there’s a resentment that has not been cleared because you haven’t had the conversations you need to.

And so I think we need to really keep that in mind, as we transitioned back to the office, that those unresolved issues need to be brought to the forefront front, or they’re going to continue to simmer underground until. Until a fire starts and I’m actually just thinking there were some kids playing fireworks in our park last weekend and as they went off, we were like, oh, it’s dangerous.

And like 40 minutes later, I looked outside to a fire. It took 40 minutes of, you know, the embers in the garbage before that fire. Sparked and the park was on fire. We had to call nine 11 that’s what’s going to happen in organizations, but it might not take 40 minutes. It may take months and months. And then the problem is often we won’t look at what we want to do to resolve it until the whole park is on fire.

So my suggestion is. Do that now preventatively it’ll cost you way less money than waiting for the huge fire, because people aren’t going to want to leave the same way and they’ll feel more supported and you’re not going to be dealing with as many burnouts. And again, the performance impact of, of not addressing it.

Yeah. Excellent. And so what you know, I mentioned it a bit earlier, but what can companies do to. Help with this. We mentioned some training around leadership communication at around the various, the four points that you’d mentioned. What other, what other strategies and tools do companies have at their disposal to help with this stop the fire like smokey the bear.

Yeah. Well, I mean, so I think part of it is, is, you know, deciding that this is a priority, right? That, that this is something we’re going to focus on. Outside of that, I would really say from a leadership perspective that. Modeling, what you want to see put in place is, is really important. And so starting to look at yourself, right?

Where, where does my communication miss the mark? And, and the reality is that no one it’s not possible to always listen to everyone else, perfectly, you know, paint this, this. Picture that just is not realistic. We’re human. So it’s not so much about trying to communicate perfectly in all scenarios, but rather looking at what are the factors that impact my ability to listen to complaints within the team to set limits as I need to you know, to be equally respectful of everyone’s opinion.

And once I’ve identified. Where I’m not quite as strong, also looking at where, where do I do really well? Like what scenarios make it really easy for me to communicate effectively with my team and how can I bring more of that into what I’m doing. And I think that’s where that customization of. You know, people learning the skills, but then figuring out how do I implement this in a way that works for me is key.

And so by, by realizing, you know, so for instance, let me make this a bit more calm. I am someone that if I have back to back to back meetings, I get into the reactive zone. Not even because I’m angry, but because my body just gets into a state of hyper arousal, that’s just, I know that about myself. I wish it weren’t the case.

It’s the way my body works. And so I know that I need to take time during my day. To settle myself. I know that if I’m going to have a really difficult meeting where I disagree with someone and I have to work something hard at it. Don’t do it coming off another zoom call, take five minutes and just breathe and, you know, set your intention to be able to go into there and listen.

So little things like that sometimes can, can be a huge impact, can have a huge impact on how we’re then able to connect with our team members. And not only does it help us, but I think it models to them, the behaviors that they can be trying to also. Be able to sh you know, work on those, those same skills in the workplace.

Well, that’s perfect example is what you said earlier is one of the first steps is knowing yourself, knowing, knowing exactly what you need to do to get into the right mindset, to have tough conversations, or how to set up your day effectively to make sure you have energy and focus and enthusiasm to tackle what you need to tackle.

Yeah, that’s something that we talk with companies a lot about on the, on the wellness side is helping put those tools in place. And I’ve got, let me see in the corner down here, I’ve got my kettlebells and my roller, and like literally I’m in my office here. And if I have a couple minutes and I’m like going stir crazy, I will do a couple of kettlebell exercises.

I’ll do a stretch. I’ll grab the roller and go into the other room. Roll and go for a walk or something, because for me, that’s something that helps me refocus. And if it’s 30 seconds or it’s five minutes, I come back feeling like a new person. And I think again, there people try and put it into this box that applies to everyone and not, not everyone is.

The same. So we have to be able to make know that well, and again, if you look at our stress responses, so you and I are both members of the, of caps, the Canadian association of professional speakers. And I had the chance to speak on stage as a rising star, maybe two, three years ago. And as we were waiting to go on stage I had.

Headphones on and was listening to calm music, because I know that I have a tendency to get hyper aroused and I talk too fast. I forget what I wanted to say. And I get very scattered. And one of the other speakers who was about to go on said to me, oh, you need to get up and do jumping jacks. And like, you know, we’ll do a chant.

And I was like, no, no, no, no. That’s, that’s not good for me now for me to say to him, no, you need to do it my way. You know, so my stress response is I get on a state of hyper arousal, my nervous system, whereas he may get into a state state of hypo arousal where he kind of starts to shut down and maybe he needs things to alert the body and wake himself up to refocus.

And so that’s where I think that You know, leaving space for individuals to adapt. They know, I, you know, if they need a Walker, they need, you know, you know, whatnot. And I think sometimes we perceive those needs as well. You’re just trying to take it advantage because you already went for a walk two hours ago when the reality is, if I need a 10 minute walk to focus.

You’re going to get more out of me than if I just sit at my computer, trying to make myself focus for three hours. So I think it’s a shift of mindset on a, on a leadership level. Yeah, absolutely. And on the note of the headphones on with the relaxing music, I’m more metallic versus Kenny G. So yeah, I’d be like, okay.

And it could be that surprisingly, it actually calms me. To have like, at least gets my mind off. What’s distracting it. No, because it’s, so if you look at, if you look at regulation of the body you know, that loud music will alert the body and calming music will Sue that. So again, it depends on right now.

Does your body need to be alerted or does it need to be calmed and you know, your nervous system I’m talking here. I, you know, I think that letting people explore what works for them, then lets them find those things out. Like I would never listen to heavy metal before a big conversation because it would put me in a bad state, whereas you wouldn’t listen to common music, you know?

So it’s actually not complex, right. That, that costs no money. It’s again, it’s just shifting our thinking on it. Okay. Yeah. And, and having the employee training and development in place to help people understand that because while it’s common knowledge to us, it’s not to a lot of people. And a lot of people sit there and struggling as you use the perfect example of sitting at the computer I’ll drain day and trying to make themselves.

It’s like three people doing that day in and day out every day and wondering why they’re unproductive and they’re, they’re performing below expectations and their managers giving them performance reviews and things like that. And, and they’re like, I’m doing, I’m working hard. I’m trying to do this when it might be as simple as taking a step back, learning how to apply some of these principles and, and improving their performance dramatically with very little.

Effort put in in fact less effort. And I’ll say so again, the link back to communication is that the easiest way to discover that is rather than, you know, performance evaluations and telling people what they need to do to be more effective is exploring it with them, you know, Hey, what’s happening, what, you know, help walk them through the critical thinking process of identifying where the barriers are and what kind of supports could be tried.

Is is the easiest way to get to those solutions. And it doesn’t mean that you figure them out magically, but when the person affected is involved in the discussion, you know, if they’re not, you’re missing a huge part of the puzzle to begin with. So you’re, you’re already playing with, you know, 50% of the info that you need.

Yeah. Yeah. That basic going back to learning about the person, meeting them, where they’re at, helping them understand their needs and how you can help them. Meeting them where they’re at. That’s you got it. That’s the biggest key. Isn’t it? Very cool. Awesome. Well, I know we could literally chat forever. I, I, I love chatting with you.

Thank you so much for the insight and knowledge. What what’s one takeaway you want people to, to leave with? If you like, if they, it went in one ear and out the other and they have one thing they’re going to. Take away and walk away with at the end, that’s a value of what would you say is the number one thing for people to learn about the neuroscience of leadership and communication?

So I haven’t said this specifically, although I’ve alluded to it, but the biggest takeaway to me is that we can all make the decisions within our lives to start putting in place the changes needed to. Influence how communication works in the workplace. You know, situations that are not they’re causing stress to you by focusing yourself on identifying, you know, what tends to make you feel more reactive and what doesn’t learning skills to settle yourself, to be able to engage in those conversations in a way that gets to more productive results.

It does happen. Impact. And, and I think a lot of people sometimes feel like it’s too big of a beast, right? Sometimes these complex communication issues or you know, issues around people not feeling heard, but it it’ll really, it all starts with. Awesome. Thank you again, this has been fantastic and I know listeners will get tremendous value for we wrap up.

Where can people find you a website? Carrier pigeons. What’s the best place to find you? Hedwig’s owl Xander. My son has like this little daily calendar thing with all these funny stats on it. Apparently there is this fancy wedding in England where they wanted to have, they had an owl handler come in and to deliver the ring to the, and it was supposed to fly over the heads of the swoop over the heads of the people come up and land on the guy’s arm and deliver the rings. And it went straight up to the highest point in the church and fell asleep for like, oh my goodness. I was going to say, that sounds like a disaster.

Thankfully, they thought of it. And they had a backup pair of rings of these from the ceremony. He said it was like a massive fail in terms of the owl. I will share that with my kids. They’re big Harry Harry Potter fans. So I will share that. Yes. So you can’t, you can certainly try to send, how do we gone over failing that?

My website is So it’s a L I N D S a Y. L a P a Q U E T T I do have a little video e-course six modules on to help you free yourself from workplace conflict and confrontation. So you can check that out there. It’s on the homepage and feel free to to reach out and connect on LinkedIn also.

All right. Excellent. I will put those details in the show notes to make sure that everyone has a link that links directly to your website. But excellent. Thank you again so much. And I look forward to catching up again soon.

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Tim.


Thank you for listening to the Working Well Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your experiences and how you’ve applied tips from the show to your daily life.

So please keep us posted on your progress. To stay up to date with new episode releases, make sure to subscribe to a mailing list by emailing and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, thank you everyone for tuning in. And once again, I’m Tim Borys with FRESH! Wellness Group.

We’ll see you on the next episode.

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