Conversations on Healing

Dr. Lynne Hurdle

Embracing Hard Conversations: How We Deal with Conflict and Racism

Communication expert and conflict resolution strategist

Dr. Lynne Hurdle is a communication expert and conflict resolution strategist, as well as a diversity and inclusion facilitator and speaker. She has over 40 years of experience in the field and combines culture and conflict to create dynamic leadership models. Lynne specializes in utilizing creative processes to teach everyday skills that can be used to navigate difficult conversations and create more effective leaders. She is the author of the best selling book, Closing Conflict for Leaders, which offers authentic and actionable ways for leaders to resolve conflict. Lynne designed an online forum, The Soul of Conflict Summit, where she creates healthy dialogue around conflict and healing inner wounds.

In today’s episode, host Shay Beider talks with Dr. Lynne Hurdle to discuss conflict resolution using her CORE acronym: Communication, Objectivity, Resolving Conflicts and Executing Excellence. They discuss the importance of communication in uncomfortable situations and how being present and engaging in problem solving can be of benefit. Lynne shares that embracing conversation around conflict is key and plays a crucial role in diversity and inclusion. They also dive into how conflict and discrimination can be amplified in the workplace when people are not consciously engaging in open dialogue and learning. Finally, Lynne shares some of her powerful personal experiences and explains valuable lessons she has learned along the way.

Show Notes:

Introduction (00:00:02): Welcome to the Conversations on Healing Podcast, where host Shay Bieder speaks with renowned healthcare leaders, practitioners, and thought leaders to explore the world of wellness, the incredible powers of self-care, and what it truly means to heal today. Join us on this journey to become more whole healed and connected.

Shay Beider (00:00:31): Hello everyone. Thanks for joining me for this episode of The Conversations on Healing Podcast. I’m host Shay Bieder, and I have the great pleasure of introducing you to today’s guest, Dr. Lynne Maureen Hurdle. She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and her very special touch to every client she works with, and I think you’ll just love hearing her beautiful personality come through in our conversation. Dr. Hurdle is a communication expert and a conflict resolution strategist. She also focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a facilitator, speaker, and leadership coach, she has more than 40 years of experience in the field and believes that helping people transform their lives really begins. First by looking within. Lynne is a speaker who delivered a TEDx women presentation entitled The Weight of Hate, and she is also the author of the bestselling book, “Closing Conflict for Leaders”, which we will discuss in the podcast.

(00:01:39): And she uses this to work with leaders so they can become more skillful in navigating conflict in the workplace. Lynne has been featured in Forbes, red Book, thrive Global, and on local television shows and international podcasts. In today’s episode, Lynne shares some of the core conflict resolution skills that she’s found to be valuable for leaders to use both in the way that they practice their own work and with their colleagues. Core is an acronym that Lynne uses. It stands for Communication Objectivity, resolving Conflicts, and Executing Excellence, and you’ll learn lots more about that in the show. Lynne also discusses the importance of identifying how conflicts were historically resolved in our own family environments because then this helps us to understand the way that we might be triggered in the workplace. She also dives into the ways that culture and context connect to conflict resolution, and we discuss the importance of having difficult conversations even about things that we think maybe we don’t know how to navigate, like racism. And she really emphasizes the importance of using conflict resolution skills to support having those hard conversations. We talk about how people experience and hold trauma in their own lives, and then how this needs to be addressed so that there can be intergenerational healing. I am just overjoyed to invite you into this thoughtful and meaningful conversation with Lynne. So it is my great pleasure to invite you to this episode of our Conversations on Healing podcast.

(00:03:31): Welcome, Lynne. It’s a delight to have you on the Conversations on Healing podcast. Thanks for joining me.

Lynne Hurdle (00:03:37): Oh, it’s my pleasure and my honor to do that.

Shay (00:03:42): We are gonna get into some really fun topics today. I had the opportunity to read your book, “Closing Conflict for Leaders”, and so we’re gonna spend some time today talking about conflict and how we best deal with it in our life, both professionally, but also how the roots of it live in our personal stories. And I also really love some of the work that you’re doing around how we deal with these skills in terms of race and racism. So we’ll also dive into that a bit. And I love, one of the things I loved in the book is you, you said very clearly how conflict is really at heart about communication. And so today, you know, at heart we’re really talking about how do we commute, how do we best communicate with one another? Um, so I thought it might be nice, you know, you got into this work in an interesting way, kind of you, I loved you talk about in the book how you were very interested in performing and entertainment and you were headed in that direction, and then in college your life really took a turn cuz you started to learn about sort of conflict resolution and some of these skills and got quite drawn into that.

(00:04:59): Um, so maybe we can start a little bit with, you know, how you got drawn into this and then I’d love for you to share some of the core principles in conflict resolution with our listeners.

Lynne (00:05:12): Beautiful, thank you. Um, so I got into this, uh, as you said, I really wanted to be an entertainer. I knew that since I was three years old. And, uh, and, and the funny thing is when I, uh, went to Syracuse University and there’s a story that happens before that that I will tell, but when I went there and I did go as a theater major and then changed my major to non-violent Conflict and change, which was a new program that they had, and we were studying, uh, you know, all the peacemakers, you know, Dr. King and Gandhi, and we were studying the movements and all the techniques around non-violent conflict and change. And we would have these homework assignments and I would come and I would, I would make this whole scenario of the, the characters and I would dress up and that. And so one of my professors said, I really think you’re in the wrong major.

(00:06:20): I really think you should be in theater . So I had to laugh because I said, well, what that really picked up in me was I really want to be able to use some of my entertainment skills in the work that I do. And that was sort of the beginning of me putting together workshops. But I wanna go back and tell you how I got into it really, because it was, uh, quite spiritual actually. And I was not spiritual at the time, but when I was 17 years old, I was, uh, attending the high School of Music and Art in New York City. It was in Manhattan. I lived in the Bronx and I lived in the up, uh, the Northwest Bronx. My parents had moved, my sister and I there when I was seven and she was eight. And we lived in the South Bronx, which was almost all African American families.

(00:07:17): And moving to northwest Bronx, there was predominantly, it was really all white when we first moved up there. And so that was when I was seven. And then at 17 I was on a bus on the way home from school and we were probably about a mile away from my home and the bus driver was just sitting there with the door closed and I didn’t understand what was going on. It was a crowded bus. So I went to look through the front window and there’s a, at least 50 young white males in red bandanas with baseball bats running toward the bus. And I looked around, as I said, the bus was crowded and I saw myself a teenager and the bus driver were the only African Americans on the bus. And I already knew what was coming because there’d been a lot of racial problems in the, in my neighborhood at that point.

(00:08:16): And when they got to the bus, they said, you know, get off the bus. And they were using the N word and the driver wouldn’t open the door. And so then they tried to turn the bus over and the only thing that saved us was a bus on the other side of the street that unfortunately was filled with African-American students from a high school that was not that far away. And they all ran over there. And I jumped off the bus with this poor terrified teenage teenager. It was his first week in the neighborhood. And he said, I, I don’t know how to get home. And I took him home and on my way, walking from his house to my own, I clearly heard a voice say, uh, I don’t know how, but I think I’m supposed to do something about bringing people together around this topic.

(00:09:10): I was like, what? I do not wanna do that. I wanna be a star , what is this about? But it was clear and I’d never had that happen to me before. And so, so then I, the next year I went to Syracuse University and then they started this new program. So it was, I was real clear that I was supposed to go into this program just based on that experience. And so here I was in the program learning about conflict resolution, but what I really had a fascination for was the different racial and cultural and ethnic experiences of people and how they connect to conflict.

Shay (00:09:56): Mm-hmm. . Absolutely. And I want us to spend some time talking about that in our conversation today cuz you’re very clear in your teaching and in your writing that we have to take these cultural contexts, you know, into account when we’re thinking about conflict because so much of, you know, how we communicate and how we see things is from the unique cultural lens of our, you know, story, our individual, um, family where we grew up, how we, you know, all of the influences that are in our immediate environment. So if you would, I think Lynne, um, it could be valuable for our listeners to learn a little bit of what you, you use the acronym CORE actually in your book, and maybe to, to share a little bit about that.

Lynne (00:10:45): Yeah. Um, you know, because I, I talk about the fact that as leaders especially, and we can be leaders in all kinds of areas of our lives, we often think of leaders as people who are in the workforce, right? And yes, my book, uh, speaks a lot toward those experiences, but really, leaders are parents, right? We can be leaders in our communities, but we need to have some core skills and we need them because as leaders, we need to set examples, , right? Uh, most of us do not get any kind of instruction, particularly around conflict resolution and being able to communicate well in that. And so as leaders, if we have these skills, then we’re not only just using them, but we’re modeling them for people. Right? So I actually am going to ask you to just do me a favor, and I’m gonna ask you if you’ll just read out CORE for me, because

Shay (00:11:54): Absolutely

Lynne (00:11:55): Specifically thank you. I specifically put it together in order for folks to understand that our CORE strengthens when we think about our body, right? Mm-hmm. . And so these are the skills that strengthen our core in communication.

Shay (00:12:12): Yes. So the C in this is communication, the O is objectivity, the R is resolving conflicts, and the e is executing excellence.

Lynne (00:12:27): Yeah. Yep. Thank you. I just love to hear it , the, the people. So communication, thank you. Because it’s amazing to me that people don’t recognize how important it is to communicate during conflict. Most people are avoiders, I will say about 70% of us. And so they don’t even realize by avoiding or ignoring, they’re already communicating. They’re communicating that they don’t want to deal with this or they don’t know how to deal with it. So when I say communication, I’m asking you to communicate in a way that says, I’m ready to engage in this conflict, and I want to do it in a way that we can hear each other, we can listen to each other, and that we can speak in ways that keep us in the conversation, even when it’s tough and move us forward towards some type of resolution. So we have to be willing to say, okay, let’s have the conversation.

(00:13:31): That’s really the first thing. And we have to do that early. Most people call me in when it’s , really, the fire has taken over and there is not much that people can do, but either run or fight. And so I come in in the middle of that. But what I ask leaders to do is to, to do something like prevention. So communicate all throughout with the folks that you need to communicate with. So getting them used to having conversations about not just the kinds of things that you may be disagreeing on, but the kinds of things that you agree on so that when conflict comes up, you know, we’re gonna communicate about it, we are going to talk about it. So good communication is really the first thing. And regular communication at that. The old project objectivity is, it’s a very difficult thing as a leader to have to stand back and be objective about what it is you are hearing and seeing before you, but you have to do that because otherwise you’re a human being.

(00:14:43): And what’s gonna happen is your emotions are going to come into play. They’re going to guide you to do and say things that may not be the best things to do and say in this situation. And so you are going to judge, you’re gonna have your opinions on what people are saying and why. And really none of that needs to be in the conversation. So being objective, understanding that everybody’s going to come from their perspective, that’s important. Knowing that everybody feels like their perspective is important and probably right. And so not judging that everybody is going to think that they know what the other person is thinking and how this is going to end up. And most people are thinking it’s gonna end up badly. And you’ve got to be the one to be able to sit back, let the conversation happen, get in there, ask some questions, making sure that folks are listening, making sure that you are listening, making sure that you are doing things like paraphrasing, which is really leads us into the R right?

(00:15:50): Being able to resolve it. But first really trying to get a handle on what it is people are in conflict about how they feel about it, and what they want to do about it. And in order to do that, you can’t be the one inserting your opinions and your judgments and your assumptions, and you, you have to be able to listen for when that’s happening and do as much as possible to guide people to stay away from those things themselves and to really communicate in ways that move the conversation forward. Mm-hmm. so forward to resolving conflict. People wanna jump to that from what, what happened. Then they would, okay, so here’s what we’re gonna do about it. Rather than really being able to allow people to talk and express how they’re feeling, what the reactions have been, oh, what is the story behind it for them and, and what it is they wanna do about it.

(00:16:46): And you have to allow all of that first before you move to, so then how do we resolve it? And really resolving it should consist of a lot of different ideas, right? If people are at the table, they’re gonna have different viewpoints. So I ask people to allow people to brainstorm, give people an opportunity to say what they think might be a, a good way to resolve it. And then ask them to, after listening to others how they might incorporate some of what other people have said in resolving it too. And just really moving forward, but also giving it the time we wanna rush to, because the feelings that come up, it’s like, Ugh, I hate that we’re in conflict. I really wanna move past this. So we wanna rush to just picking something as opposed to, sometimes you gotta say, you know what? I don’t think we’re going to resolve it today, but here’s what we did so far, right?

(00:17:40): This is really good work in, in moving us forward. And so let’s get together again and decide when that again is and keep the conversation toward how do we get this resolved. And then in all of this executing excellence. I, I, I know that people don’t talk about that a lot, but I have seen some leaders who are just excellent at helping people have the kinds of conversations that we need to have in resolving conflicts. And I, and I want people to aspire to that excellence as opposed to, let’s just get this done, or let’s just get through this people, which is a lot of what I hear and see because we don’t like conflict, but how do we do this excellently and how do we inspire as leaders, the others in the conflict who want to be excellent at not only resolving this conflict, but any others that might come up because they will come up. And if we can, I know people don’t wanna hear this look forward to the conversations where we are talking about conflict and, and resolving it. Well then we are gonna want to do it ex excellently, right? We’re gonna want to execute that excellence. And so that one for me is, is, is very key because it in essence, lays the foundation really for everything else. Like, how do I put our best effort forward in doing this and not just brush it off.

Shay (00:19:16): Mm-hmm. , so many good, uh, thoughts and, you know, core, um, kind of concepts and ideas and what you’re sharing there, Lynne. And, you know, obviously just highlighting a few of the things, you know, not, not avoiding conflict is really valuable. What you’re seeing is that roughly 70% of people naturally want to avoid conflict, but in so doing, they’re actually communicating something. And that in your experience, it’s better, you know, to go ahead and move forward in a respectful way. Um, and like you said, maybe dosing it where you don’t, you know, try to resolve everything all in one session. Um, so there’s also some strategy around that. And you also raised for me in talking about how we resolve conflict, just remembering about Marshall Rosenberg’s work, uh, Marshall Rosenberg’s work on non-violent communication and how, you know, they look at it from a needs perspective that we each have, you know, these core needs that we’re operating from.

(00:20:23): And that then the strategies for how we get those needs met can be very different. So what’s nice about that is, you know, when you identify the core needs, you don’t have to get locked in the strategy of like, how we resolve it, because there’s probably, in many cases, many different ways that you could resolve it and still get those core needs met. Um, so I always liked that body of work, and I think, you know, obviously in that field of compassionate communication or nonviolent communication, Marshall Rosenberg was one of the early pioneers who really looked at, you know, how do we have these hard and empathic conversations, um, and, and keep ourselves somewhat flexible without getting too rigid at times.

Lynne (00:21:10): Yeah. And I also feel like I do a lot of work around listening beneath the words, because when we start to talk about needs in the beginning, folks don’t always have the language for what they really need, right? So they may say, uh, some basic things, right? I really need, I need her to stop interrupting me all of the time. And so what’s underneath that for you? And so we draw that out. Maybe it’s a respect, maybe it’s being valued, uh, but in that it’s a wider lens of how you get to that place, right? It’s not just, okay, so, uh, so okay, I’ll stop interrupting you, but, but that’s really not what this is about. Yes, please stop interrupting her, but what else is she really communicating that she really needs Elle? And so really listening beneath the words, the feelings often betray us, I will say, right? Uh, and I say that in a good way, that when you’re really listening for those feelings, uh, you can tell that it’s deeper than that, right? You can tell that if you just leave with that solution or solution similar to that, this is only going to happen again because you haven’t gotten to the root of, of what in the essence of what the person needs.

Shay (00:22:40): And I, I also thought it was really incredible how in your book you talk about for years you were sort of implementing, you know, some of these conflict resolution strategies and you just weren’t getting the kind of outcomes that you really wanted, but you were trying to figure out why. And then once you started having children and were applying a lot of it within your own family system, you came to deepen your understanding. It seemed, um, that this is all contextualized within our personal family histories and how we grew up and how we experienced conflict and how it was managed has a huge impact on then how we respond and show up, and where we get triggered or quickly reactive in workplace conflicts or in, you know, social conflict in other parts of our lives. And so I thought that was such a pivotal piece for our listeners that if we could each identify our own sort of, you know, conflict histories, right? And so I thought that might be a nice piece for you to share a little more about like what you’ve learned in that regard.

Lynne (00:23:48): Yeah. I always start off when I, when I coach clients in particular, or even when I do workshops, I always start off with, you know, please think about and then share how the people who raised you did conflict, because that’s where you first learned something about it. And as I said before, even if you, uh, if the folks who raised you were running away and never really had conversations, they’ve communicated something to you about how they feel about conflict and how to engage in conflict. And so I always ask them there and very, very, very few of us have grown up. In fact, I’ve probably heard on one, I can count on one hand the times I’ve heard people say, oh, my parents were great, or The people who raised me were great with conflict. They brought us to the table, you know, that great dinner table conversation.

(00:24:45): Most people either had avoiders, right in their, in, in being raised around conflict. Silence is a big one that people, uh, you know, parents or folks who raised them would be silent and give you the silent treatment, or they tried to pretend like everything was perfect, and so you never even heard any arguments. Or the other end is they were arguing all the time. Um, it was explosive. Unfortunately, for some folks it was even violent. And, but it is really rare to hear someone who grew up even now, right? Because my audiences are all different age ranges. And even now, it’s rare to hear someone who grew up in a household or in wherever you grew up, it’s group homes, wherever, right? That where people really said, okay, we gotta talk to each other around this conflict to resolve it. So that to me, starts us off with, okay, so then what did you learn from that?

(00:25:52): And what did you bring forward with you? And even when we have sufficient skills, we’ve learned conflict resolution skills along the way, if we’re not really paying attention to what comes up within us naturally when conflict arises, we could do the same kinds of things that the folks who raised us did. Right? Or the adults who were around us in our upbringing did. And I know for myself, , you know, I had years of conflict resolution work and skills and workshops and, you know, when I became a parent and I thought I was doing it well, and for the most part I was, but, you know, raise children in a conflict resolution household and they will hold a mirror up to you. And so I I remember telling my sons, you know, like, you really gotta listen to me. And, um, going on and doing the whole mother’s speech around, listening to me and blah, blah, blah.

(00:26:52): And then my oldest son, they listen. They sit back, they listen, they learned, right? And then my oldest son says, Hey, wait a minute, now that you’re finished, uh, I just wanna say that if you want us to listen to you, you need to listen to us better . Oh my goodness. Okay, here’s some feedback. And, and you know, the, the other thing that, that I love about that particular story is that it also really falls into cultural, right? Because that I said is something that I love and that the connection between culture and conflict is like, to me, they’re cousins. They really sit right next to each other on, sometimes on top of each other. And culturally, I would’ve never been able to say that to my mom or my dad. Uh, my dad might’ve done better with it. That definitely not my mom or any adult around me, right?

(00:27:46): But, uh, because culturally, particularly the culture I grew up in, it’s African American culture and southern based at that, there is no way that a child gets to talk most of the time anyway in general, but certainly not be able to talk what we would call talking back to, right? Your, your, your mother, especially like that. But I really wanted that kind of open communication. As long as my sons are respectful mm-hmm. , uh, if that’s what they felt and that’s what they saw observed, then that’s good feedback from me because I wanna get better at this and I want folks to want to get better at it as well. And so, as you said, right, that’s parenting in that way allowed me to really use the skills and kind of mold them and shape them in my own life. And once I started talking about and teaching from that experience, I found that people thought it was more real, right?

(00:28:52): Because sometimes people walk away, or a lot of times people will walk away from workshops like, yeah, that’s good, that’s all well and good, but I live in the real world and that’s not gonna work right in the real world which I live. So to be able to share my stories of how it actually works in the real world, or how I tweak it to work in the real world, uh, it just got so much more mileage with folks and they would really start talking about how they tried it and, and used it in, um, and how it was changing their lives.

Shay (00:29:25): That’s great. And you know, I think these cultural patterns, um, they’re deep in us and often we’re not conscious at all. I remember a communication researcher, I heard her interviewed and she recorded, I, I believe it was actually herself and her husband having a conversation with another couple. And it was just like a casual, like they were having dinner together. But because she was a communication researcher, for some reason, they had agreed to allow their conversation to be recorded, kind of, you know, as an experiment. And, um, she and her husband, as I recall, they were from New York, and they had a certain way of communicating that she later describes as a lot of interruption, like that they would, their style was very quick to interrupt. And that actually, if you didn’t do that, the person was like, why aren’t they doing that? Cuz that was their cultural norm in terms of communication.

(00:30:16): And she said the other couple that they were, um, having dinner with was from the Midwest. And they were, they had a very different style of communication from where they grew up in their family and everything, where they would intentionally, there would be a pause, and that pause was then respected, and then there was like an indication of, okay, after the pause, then that’s when you come in. And she talked about how they were both communicating with such different styles, and both of them noticing like, why isn’t the other one doing this thing that’s familiar to me, ? Just because, you know, that’s what they knew. And I thought it was just such a great illustration of the things we do in our communication patterns that we’ve just learned, you know, from our family and where we come from that we don’t necessarily hold a lot of awareness around until we’re communicating with someone with a different style or, you know, training from their early life and what a huge effect that can have on the success of our communication.

Lynne (00:31:16): I love and, you know, start smiling a lot. Those are my favorite kinds of stories because I know, I know what’s going on. You know, it’s just like different cultural patterns. And then people are like, what is, what is wrong with these folks? Right? Or these folks are so rude, or these folks are just sitting there , they don’t know how to engage in, in a good fighter . So, uh, but it’s absolutely true. There are so many different cultural norms and, and patterns, and they go on right in front of us and they really can make conflict, uh, communicating and conflict challenging. But if we understand first of all that they exist, and second of all that, uh, that everybody really does have them in a, in their own way, and that we have to pay attention and even ask questions about them, right?

(00:32:08): As long as we can do those things, then we are going to get better at conflict. But if we don’t learn this and we continue to ignore what’s happening right in front of us, then folks go away very frustrated and even angry, right? Because they feel like they weren’t heard, they weren’t listened to, they didn’t get anywhere. Uh, I, I know as you said, there are cultures that you interrupt. That’s what you do , right? Nobody expects to finish a sentence. You get in there , and, and you say what you have to say. And even the culture of having a very large family, it, it has nothing to do with ethnicity sometimes that it could be that I, I wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise, right? If I didn’t jump in. Cause I had so many siblings. And, and I love that.

(00:32:51): And one of the funniest things that happened in a workshop for me was, um, there was very multiethnic workshop, and I was talking about culture and conflict, and I talked about respect because one of the things that I know about respect is that as soon as people say, you know, I want respect, as soon as that word hits the table, people shake their heads. Like they know exactly what the person is talking about. But respect shows up very differently for a lot of different people. And, uh, and culturally respect is different. So I talked about that, and there was a gentleman and he said, oh my God, thank you for saying that. And I was like, why? He said, because I don’t know if you notice, he said, I’m from Pakistan. He says, I don’t know if you notice, but I’ve been doing this the whole time you were speaking. And I said, you actually, I hadn’t noticed. He said, well, because in my country, you’re a professor, you’re somebody who I, who is esteemed. And so I show you respect by not looking you in the eye. You know? That’s how I show you respect. And then I remember, oh, I’m in this country. So, and you show respect by looking them in the eye. So he said, but so naturally I keep doing this. And then I remember ,

Shay (00:34:07): But it’s all down and up and down like a bombing.

Lynne (00:34:10): My head is going up and down,

Shay (00:34:13): Oh goodness, that must have been very difficult for him to listen.

Lynn (00:34:17): That’s what I said. I said, oh my gosh, I’m sorry. Such a burden, right? To, but naturally we do what we grew up with, right? And what we’re accustomed to. And then, but he was very a good example. Yeah, it wasn’t easy, but he was a good example of, oh, I’ve learned, I’m in the United States. I’d have to look them in the eye. So we can learn like what other people do, and we can learn ways to try to incorporate that into the conversation that we’re having to try to resolve the conflict.

Shay (00:34:51): Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. So Lynne, you have created an on the matter of race summit to have difficult conversations about race and racism. And I’m interested to hear how you feel these conflict resolution principles that you’ve worked with for, you know, 30 plus years in your career apply to healing the racism that is in our world.

Lynne (00:35:17): Yeah, thank you. It is, first of all, I will have to say that I am surprised at times at how well these techniques really work when we start talking about racism. So for on the matter of race, this was something that I was asked to put together by two women who were colleagues and friends and former clients who wanted to work with me again. And they’re white women. And one of the things that was happening for them is that they were, for the first time in their lives, they were in a, a, a business group where they started to have friendships with people of color. They had grown up in all white communities and chose to live there and, you know, be in families there. And they had no idea about racism in terms of the way it impacted the lives of people of color.

(00:36:13): And they were starting to hear the experiences from their friends, and they were either not believing it or they really were clueless, and they couldn’t participate in a conversation at all. And that really was hurtful for them. They, they said, we know it’s us. We, we are not saying it’s them, that they’re making things up. We’re saying, we honestly don’t know about racism, but we wanna learn about it and we wanna learn what we can do about it. And so I put together a group that started with eight white people, and we not only learn history and learn about what are the events that are taking place that have to do with racism and learn what systemic racism is, but there’s conversation around how we learn from a, a racist system, all these different, uh, beliefs. We get all of these messages that where, uh, that begin to sit inside of us and we begin to act from that space.

(00:37:27): And in particular, white people don’t come together to talk about racism. And so things like being able to investigate your feelings, which is a very real skill in conflict resolution, right? To, to know what it is you’re feeling and to investigate why, where does that come from? That’s really deep work. And then how does it apply to how you see the world, how you act in the world, and for, uh, for white people, how you uphold the practices and the policies of a racist system consciously and subconsciously, because a lot of it is subconscious because the messages are so deep for us. So there’s a, there’s real opportunity to, to do deep listening to also be able to share in a way where, uh, you know, I don’t, uh, I don’t say you have to say it, so I’m not offended. I actually will say as difficult as it is hear sometimes I think it’s important for you to say it the way it’s coming up for you so that we can analyze like, where’s that come from, what that’s about?

(00:38:43): And get feedback, which is another really important part of conflict resolution, is being able to hear feedback, right? Uh, that is so difficult for folks. One of the most stressful times for people in the workforce is when it’s review time, right? When it’s evaluation that it’s just like, people do not hear feedback as feedback. They hear it as criticism and they take it to heart. And I’ll say the flip side to that is a lot of us don’t know how to give feedback, uh, except in critical ways, right? Where we we’re really criticizing people as opposed to giving them things that can help them to grow. And so we, we do that in one matter of race, and it has become a real safe haven for, for white people to come to, to talk about. But I also have just started this year, we’ve been requested to come into, to give the skills and to do some of the work that we do in, on the matter of race with, uh, multiracial multiethnic groups.

(00:39:52): And so talking about systemic racism and how it affects all of us, uh, even, uh, people within your own racial group can think thoughts about people within your same group that are negative because of the messages that come to us and the kinds of things that get done as a part of a, a racist system. And so being able to, to talk about that with folks and help, help them examine, right, what are those messages and, and how much they’ve bought into them and, and how they affect the actions and their thoughts and the beliefs of others has been really powerful for people because we’re not asked to really look at that. We, especially when we get around people who agree with us, right? Yes, this group is that way, , right? All you need is just one person. And then you don’t have to examine what you’re really thinking about and where that came from, and whether or not that’s actually true.

(00:40:57): So to have the opportunity to sit in, to do that with others who are willing to do the work, and then to be able to, to talk through, to, uh, to resolution and resolute, you are trying to resolve some of these things for you so that you’re not going out there and continuing to perpetuate racist beliefs and, and actions, right? And it’s been extremely powerful. We’ve been doing it for three and a half years. The, uh, the on mat of race journeys, which are six months at a time, uh, for different levels of the journey. And, uh, and I’ll say we have a 90% retention, right? People go on to the next level after a six month journey with us, because I know they’re learning a lot. But I also know that we are providing a safe space for the conversations to happen in the ways that they need to happen.

(00:41:54): And it is something that I think is critically missing from this country. And yes, of course it’d be hard to organize national conversations, but I don’t believe we’ve ever truly made an effort to really try to do that. And so, uh, offering it up is, is my way of trying to start those conversations in communities that just aren’t having them. And because fortunately we are, uh, zoom, right? We can go to all over the country, and we even had a UK group, this was the last year of our UK group, or we had a UK group for three years, right? So it’s, it’s phenomenal when you are willing to engage, when you make the commitment to engage, that even the tough conversations like racism can be had in ways where people can shift and, and move forward. But you have to be willing to engage.

(00:43:00): And there’s so much fear when it comes to talking about racism, you know, uh, white people who wanna do the right thing and then are afraid. And, and people of color too. Like I don’t want to, uh, say the wrong thing or if people are passionate in the way that they respond, and that gets interpreted as anger, and sometimes people are angry. Uh, but there’s a container for that as well, if we really understand how to have these difficult conversations. And I’ll say one more thing, and that is that it, I’m, I’m, I’ll use the word concerns. It concerns me that we have diversity, inclusion, and belonging workshops before we teach people how to just have basic conversations when there’s a conflict. The most heated conversations we have tend to be around race and certainly issues of inclusion and belonging. And we put people together in a workshop.

(00:44:04): And I’m not, I am not saying it, it’s not good to have the workshops. I’m really not. But I’m also saying that one of the things that I see quite often is people just really don’t know how to have a conversation on difficult topic, but we want them to talk about these issues. And, and so in on the matter of race, we role play how to have the conversation, whether it’s with your family members, whether it’s with your children, with, uh, with your neighbors, whatever it is. We use the skills of conflict resolution to role play the conversations that you want to have with folks around this issue.

Shay (00:44:43): Mm-hmm. I think that’s such an important point, Lynne, because that’s also, you know, incredibly practical, right? Like, how do we actually move through this? Which is such a, like you said, it’s, it’s one of the most challenging conversations for many people to engage in. And so, you know, that practical piece of skill development around how we deal with conflict gives us a foundation for then how to have these hard conversations around race. Um, and also that makes me think about, I believe it’s in Resmaa Menakem’s work where he talks about how this, in his view, racism is like a nine generational healing curve. Um, and as I understand it, his reasoning behind that is it’s embodied. It’s embodied. And so, you know, I love when you combine the kind of that vision he has around embodiment and how we work with this in our bodies and heal it within our bodies.

(00:45:46): And then you blend that with what you’re describing around, we build a skillset around how to have hard conversations so that we can hold that container, like you’re saying, when there is anger, when there is, you know, strong intense emotion that arises justifiably, right? But you still need some skill to know how to be present with that. Um, and so I’m very interested in, you know, these kind of, I think of them as sort of practical approaches. So of how we actually get through this as human beings. And I think you’re on the matter of race summit is a really good example of it. Because if we’re not creating opportunities where people who have white skin can learn more about that privilege, that is allowing them us to not have these hard conversations, then there’s a layer of blindness and ignorance, right? That’s being held to uphold a privilege, a system of privilege. And so, um, I, I think it’s, it’s very important work that you’re doing on both fronts there.

Lynne (00:46:56): Thank you. And I love Resmaa’s work, and actually in our level three, we introduce folks to Resmaa’s work because of the, there is so much misunderstanding about what people are, uh, seeing right before our eyes in terms of people having within them, right? Holding within their bodies this intergenerational trauma, and how having not healed any of that, none of it, right? Um, we are seeing the results, right? We seeing people who are really struggling in trouble, who, uh, may hate their own selves, right? Uh, particularly we’ve been told in the black community, right? That we are not just less than, but that our skin color is a real problem. Mm-hmm. . And so when you receive messages like that generation after generation after generation, like what are you holding within your body around that? And then how do you then react to other people who look like you? I mean, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of conversation about this fear that white people have that, uh, that some white people have, right? That black people don’t like them or will turn their anger on them. And I will say to you that with without healing the intergenerational trauma that’s within us, we’re much more likely to turn it on ourselves, right? Because that message gets, um, implanted in us as well as it does ho honestly, globally.

Shay (00:48:40): Globally. Globally. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And I was just thinking about your story, Lynne, that you shared earlier in our conversation about the experience you had on the bus. And when you think about, you know, you had a moment where you were very fortunate to be able to move outta that situation. But as you know, I’m, I’m assuming here all of those other children that those that group, that mob went to harm those teenagers th think of all the trauma stories that were created that day. That’s right. And so, yes, trauma is a huge part of the legacy of racism, right? Like, just right there, that one moment that you were a part of all of those trauma stories, your trauma story, the other man on the bus with you, and then all of those other teens, I mean, you can only guess at how difficult that must have been for all of them. And so, you know, an addressing of that trauma seems essential as part of the healing

Lynne (00:49:42): It does. And we’re not doing enough on that, you know? Uh, certainly that’s a conversation that most people, uh, no matter what your, uh, background is that most people are not hearing, right. And certainly have been taught and understood. And, and I do wanna say in terms of that trauma, that young man we’re still friends to this day. He ended up going to Syracuse as well. And he, every time we happened to just either be in the same space or I was, came back and did workshops, and he still lives there and has his own radio show, he would always introduce, this is the woman that saved my life. plain and simple. This is the woman that saved my life when I wrote my book. And I, uh, chose to use the story. He reached out and he said, you know, I really appreciate that you put the story in there because I really needed to go back and see if the way I experienced it was the way that you experienced it.

(00:50:38): And we, he said it was pretty close right at all those years ago. I’m talking about, I was 17, right? But it was so good and healing for us to put our stories together with one another. What did you remember? What did you know? What did you, he had found out some backstory to that day as to why this was happening. And for me, I didn’t even look into the backstory cuz I was so used to this happening by that point in my neighborhood, right? This was not the first thing that ever happened around mobs or groups of, of white, uh, kids coming after us and all. So it was just a very healing thing because we hadn’t talked to anybody about, I didn’t even tell my parents about that. My sister didn’t find out until she read my book.

Shay (00:51:28): That says so much right there, Lynne. It really does. You know, that I think the things we hold to ourselves, cuz we don’t, for all sorts of reasons have the space to even share them in the, you know, in the world, right? And there’s all sorts of reasons for that.

Lynne (00:51:49): Yeah. And I think about now, we are all experiencing so much trauma. We can video anything and play it, write and, uh, and where are we using any kinds of skills to process what it is that we’re looking at? I, I was very encouraged, as sad as it is by the so many women in particular, but a lot of people of color who were posting when, um, Tyree Nichols was killed. And they were saying, please do not post the video. Please do not watch the video. And it was the first time that I’d seen that because, you know, there’s been so many videos and I appreciated that what they were trying to do was to, to talk about the fact that there is trauma and that that trauma needs to be healed and it doesn’t need to be compounded on with what else is there, right?

(00:52:50): So you’re gonna watch this video, and I know people wanted to do it out of respect for his mom, and I get that, you know, she wanted the world to see, but to take care of ourselves, right? And that’s something that’s also a part of, of my book too, is like self-care when it comes, self-care is a part of a conflict resolution. It just is. And people don’t talk about that. And people come to the table in all kinds of, uh, mental and emotional and physical states. And sometimes those are, those are not the best states to be in, for them to be, to engage in a way where they’re going to start to try to communicate what’s going on for them and start to work toward resolving conflict. So really, I talk about that, and it’s a big part of our, on the matter of race work too, because you can burn out very quickly, very easily, and especially when you are watching, right?

(00:53:50): You’re exposed to so much in the media, uh, just if you are a news person, I’m not a news person, but I have to pay attention because I teach this work. But that alone, in my opinion these days is trauma. Watching the news may inform you, but they really do look for some of the most traumatic stories mm-hmm. and, and they sit, they sit within us, they stay with us. And so I talk about that as a part of conflict resolution. What are you doing for your self care? They’re people that say, have said to me, I don’t have five minutes to spend on me. You don’t have five minutes.

Shay (00:54:30): Oh dear , that’s not gonna work. That’s not sustainable.

Lynne (00:54:34): It’s not, it’s not sustainable. You know? Uh, I worked with teachers in schools and they’re the, they’re the biggest ones of, you know, there’s so much to do and we just, we have to be there for the kids. And so, or then we were there for our own kids or families or whatever. So no, when I would say, you can’t spend, I don’t have five minutes to spend on me. Oh no, we have to change that.

Shay (00:54:58): You have to change that. Yeah.

Lynne (00:55:00): Yeah.

Shay (00:55:01): Yeah. I’m curious, Lynne, you know, from this work that you’ve done now for, for many years, what it has taught you about healing and what it means to heal?

Lynne (00:55:15): Uh, well, first of all, that we are not doing enough healing. That’s number one. Uh, and I think that what I see in the world, uh, particularly around the big or heavy things, right, is that people want to deal with the here and now and forget about what has happened in the past. And you absolutely cannot do that. It doesn’t mean that you have to harp on it, and you have to keep constantly reminding people of the mistakes that they made in the past. I’m not talking about that, but I do think you have to teach them. I do think that you have to ask people to be accountable for them in order to heal, but there has to be processes in place to do healing. And again, that to me comes with things like communication. I, things like I love that we sat in some silence and, um, did some breathing or just really tried to focus within.

(00:56:27): I think that that’s important work that doesn’t get done enough. When you look within, what do you see and what are the deeper reasons of why you are where you are when it comes to this particular conflict? Why, what are the deeper reasons for why in this country we are where we are when it comes to all of the isms, as far as I’m concerned, right? Uh, racism being a very strong foundation for everything else that we are ailing from. So I do see that people want resolution, but I don’t see enough people wanting healing. They want this to stop. Let’s just end it. Say it’s over. Uh, give, pay you your money or whatever it is or set when it comes to reparations. Nobody wants to pay reparations, talk to black folk. But, but, you know, let’s just, can we just shake hands? Can we just, can you get an apology?

(00:57:26): And I’m not downplaying any of that, but I’m saying real healing doesn’t come just from that. It really comes from a much deeper look within, uh, and as I said, just owning, right? Yeah, I said that right? And here’s where that came from. And so how do we make this right? How do we heal this thing between us and then allowing a healing? I see that on the other end too. People holding onto things, right? Even when someone’s extending the hand to say, I want to heal it, they don’t wanna let go of it. And people come to me all the time, I don’t know how to let go of a grudge. Like, I’m really, really good at holding a grudge. Well, what is it serving you? It’s serving something in you otherwise you could let it go. And so we have to do the deeper work of finding out what it’s serving.

(00:58:18): It comes to this conflict. What are the things that, that were really painful for you? What it, where does it strike you? What are the needs? What are the values, right? Uh, values are such a hidden thing for folks. Uh, I do a listening activity around listening for, uh, what people need, what people value. Because value is often the place where it starts for folks, right? If I value honesty, and you are, uh, I caught you in a lie, or you’re constantly lying, right? It’s not that you lie to me. It started with my value of honesty and what that means for me in the way that I conduct my life, in the way that I expect, expect other people to conduct their lives. Values are very strong. My value is family, right? The value is culture. You do not upset the culture. I use a term that I coin called breaking culture, and oh my goodness, I had to, uh, great culture and I upset so many people within my African American culture because there are things that I just could no longer cosign and go along with.

(00:59:34): I, I, I can’t do that. I love the culture, but I can no longer do that. Uh, I, I’ve done some controversial work around where I’ve come to, around spanking and oh my goodness, you know, just what that means and will I get excommunicated, things that I believe in? I know that other people are struggling with that as well. That there are some real strong cultural norms that you may have to break just those not the entire break free of the culture, but you may have to break in order for some healing to be done within you, and then hopefully within others as well. And, uh, and I do feel like in many cultures, there are some things that remain from things like racism, right? Uh, like sexism, like, um, um, homophobia. That there are things that, that remain from there that we have to break within our culture because these are the norms that are really hurting ourselves and others.

(01:00:48): And it’s difficult for people to, to do that and then forgive themselves or forgive others, right? And to be forgiven when we do that. But it, it is, uh, it is where we’ve got to move to if we are going to actually do some healing around this. And, and that’s not enough of the conversation. You can’t just, you can’t throw money at healing. I don’t, I don’t believe, I don’t believe you can throw money at healing. Do I believe that money can be a part of a solution toward healing? Yes. But I do not believe that money is the healing thing. Mm-hmm. , I think that you’ve got to get to being able to say, yes, we did that, or Yes, I did that. I own that. Uh, if I may, can I just say where it came from for me, right? Wrongly, but this is where it came from. Can I hear what it’s done to you? How do I then help you heal? Right? That’s, those are the things that are not being said, or at least not enough in my view.

Shay (01:02:08): Yeah. And, and to me, Lynne, it seems like those are the deeper level conversations that actually allow, you know, each of us to grow, right? Like that when you get into those deeper level conversations, it’s like everyone has an opportunity to grow, um, and, and to find their own, you know, sort of pathway towards healing. Because one of the things I’ve certainly seen over time is we don’t heal in the same ways. Like it’s, uh, you know, that it depends on how our story, how we were impacted uniquely. And yes, there are patterns in a healing process, but there’s also very unique fingerprints that, you know, linger within an individual. And so having some respect for both, you know, some of the understandable things that happen as we’re, have been harmed and we’re trying to find a way to heal, but also how it is, it, there’s a piece that’s very individual and giving room for that, for someone to say, this is how it impacted me uniquely, um, I think also really matters. And, um, so it’s, it’s, it’s so valuable that you’re getting, getting folks into the heart of these difficult conversations. It’s so valuable.

Lynne (01:03:25): Thank you for just what you said, uh, just resonated with me very deeply. I, I I a part of a lot of surface conversations, but when we really can look at the fact that there is a unique story there and that you, what needs to happen is, is uniquely for me. Right. And, uh, and can we have that conversation? People I hear will say, oh, it’s too late, too late. Uh, why is it too late? Uh, I don’t think that it’s too late. I, listen, I’m healing myself and my mom who’s been gone over 30 years by learning her story, by then putting it in place with how she treated me at times and thinking, wow. Like what, what was she, what was, what pain was she in? Where did that come from? Making those links. I think it’s too late when you decide you don’t wanna do anything about it, but I don’t think in most cases it’s too late. If it’s a, if it’s something horrific, you know, child abuse, things like that, then I, I can understand you not wanting to heal with that person, but there is still healing to be done for yourself from that so that then it doesn’t get played out on somebody else. Right. Um, in the future. But I do think that we don’t know how to heal and we have to make that a part of the conflict resolution process. Mm-hmm. , really.

Shay (01:05:09): Mm-hmm. Yeah. I love that. Well, I think this whole skillset and what you’re teaching just brings so much to the fore for, you know, some of the, the tools around like how we can begin to do this better and how we can support one another. I really love how you talk about listening, you know, beyond the words, you know, because our words, they’re not telling the whole story. They’re telling, uh, a small part of the story. And, um, I remember hearing, I think it was Carl Rogers, um, you know, famous therapist. People said the way he listened, it was like he could hear what you weren’t even saying, you know, cuz he just listened with such a depth. And to me, that’s the kind of listening that you’re talking about. You know, it’s a full form of listening that’s really trying to get at the heart of what that person needs to be heard around and what they want to express.

Lynne (01:06:08): Yeah. The heart speaks if we, what We’ve not been trained to really listen to it. And most people only listen up to the point in which we wish to interrupt the other person. So that really is harmful in, in the work of resolving conflict or engaging in conflict. Uh, because there, we also are testing the waters a lot of times. Is it safe for me to reveal and be vulnerable? We’re, we’re, uh, pushing up against the social and cultural norms is, uh, are, are men, those who identify as men, right? Are they able, should they be able to cry or to, uh, talk about their feelings or to be vulnerable? And so the words don’t often communicate what’s really going on, listening beneath them and getting people then to go deeper so that they can actually find the words to articulate what it is that’s really going on for them.

(01:07:14): That’s important. The power of silence. Not enough is said about that. Uh, there are cultures that get, uh, this, um, this name of being passive, right? Uh, often people will equate that with Asian cultures, but really the work is being done in silence. The power of being able to sit and feel, to think, absorb process, what is happening before us, what is not being said? What are what the person is genuinely trying to communicate and is communicating. Body language communicates a lot is, well, you know, uh, the nonverbals are powerful and in silence you can really start to take that in. We don’t do enough with that either. We don’t honor the power of being able to be silent in the healing and to, uh, to moan, to groan the, what that means in, in, in healing ourselves and, and processing and feeling the pain, the cultures that have been taught to just push on and, you know, you don’t have time for it and or it’s, uh, don’t in, uh, embarrass someone else by saying it, by naming it. There’s , there’s, so you can tell I’m fascinated with culture, uh, because it, it, it’s powerful and we just don’t give it the credit for how much it is a part of our lives. And in particular, when we have conflict, it shows up so brilliantly and so clearly if we really understand it and are listening and watching for it.

Shay (01:09:00): Mm-hmm. I would add, uh, two things to that Lynne. One is a lot of times when we do healing work, when the trauma occurred very early, like when we were still, you know, in infancy or in kind of a preverbal state, um, really the only way to heal is in that space of, that lives outside of language, right? And so that’s an important piece to understand that some wounds by their very nature go beyond language because they were experienced pre verbally. And so, uh, a way into those to meet someone where they are in that healing process is to accompany them from that nonverbal space. And um, and then the other piece that I’ve kind of learned over time, just people have taught it to me, is there’s also a soul level place. It’s a, you know, a deep, deep, deep, deep place that lives inside of each one of us that’s also way beyond words or language as we would, you know, think of it. And there are very often healing moments that by necessity, cuz they’re coming from that soul level landscape need to be expressed non-verbally without words. They need to be expressed in other ways. Um, and so I think that, you know, is a is another piece that’s very helpful to understand in healing processes, that there’s all sorts of healing that lives outside of language.

Lynne (01:10:29): That’s so interesting because six years ago I did a summit called the Soul of Conflict Summit, healing Old Wounds. And that’s exactly where I was going. I was like, this stuff lives in the soul and, and we need to get to that place. And I had speakers that came in and talked about it from all different perspectives, but, uh, thank you for saying that because, uh, people just really don’t understand how deep this is. And conflict in particular really is in the soul as well. I mean, we, we hold it there. Uh, sometimes we come with it here, I believe, right? And that gets worked out hopefully through whatever we experience in this, in this lifetime. But it is that deep and, and we need to be letting folks know that you can explore it on that level as well. And, and that’s what my summit was really about, was that we are talking about words a lot, but as you said, there’s the preverbal time in our life and the wounds are there, there is the nonverbal, there are of folks who communicate from different abilities. And then those, those abilities, other abilities are sharpened because of that. And so how do we get them also to that place? Uh, so it’s a lot to be explored.

Shay (01:12:01): It’s a lot to be explored. . It’s a, a big journey ahead of us. Lynne. Well, I just wanted to give you an opportunity as we kind of bring our conversation to a close, if there’s anything else that feels important to you to add to our, our dialogue or share with our listeners, I just wanna give you a chance for that.

Lynne (01:12:23): Yeah. I, I, I love, my mission really is to provide healing, right? For people. I, I love it to be a a million people who are healed through conversation, right? Uh, through and conversation and communication really right on all of the levels. Um, but particularly in a deeper way, uh, one conversation, one, um, healing at a time, right? That we have to though learn how not to fear conflict. The conflict really is here and my belief to teach us something about ourselves that we need to know in order to move forward in ways that create change, whether it’s within ourselves or within others or within the society, the world, right? But it is here to teach us that. And we, we need to learn to embrace it for what it can do, right? And, and all that it can connect us to. And we need to understand that it’s not going away .

(01:13:38): And so let’s, let’s really learn about it. Let’s get curious about who we are in conflict, who others are in conflict, and what’s the, the, the most excellent way to resolve it on all levels, right? So, uh, it’s more than just learning how to talk to someone. It it is, it is such deep work. And I, and I tell you, I do not get to talk much about the depth of it with a lot of people because they wanna just go for like the skills and the techniques and I get it. But this has just been a conversation that has taken me very deep within myself, I have to say. So I hope that that others experiencing it can, uh, feel that within themselves as well.

Shay (01:14:25): Mm-hmm. Thank you, Lynne. I feel similarly, I will have a lot to reflect on from from this experience together, really. So I appre I appreciate so much who you are, the work that you’ve committed yourself to doing in the world for many years now and, and all of the energy, and for some reason the word ambition, I don’t know why is coming to, you know, that you bring to what you’re doing next and you know, the next stage of, of growth and healing and uh, conflict resolution. So thank you for all of it.

Lynne (01:15:01): Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.