Master the How: An Invitation for More Evolved Discussions and Connections

Master the How: An Invitation for More Evolved Discussions and Connections

By now, you have probably seen or heard about Senator Dianne Feinstein’s interaction with a group of youngsters who visited her office. You can watch it here, and I encourage you to do so before you continue reading:


First and foremost, I would like to thank Senator Feinstein for her years of service. I’d also like to thank the group who took the time and made the effort to travel to Washington and voice their views to her. Finally, I’d like to thank them all for being so exposed – allowing themselves to be filmed and seen by all through social media.

A Gift of Social Media

A gift of social media is that it is exposing how we relate with each other and how we behave with each other. The raw human exchange between the senator and the group is an invitation to reflect on our own behavior and to master the How of relating through the use of consciousness practices.

It takes skill to relate and to navigate the human condition while we’re relating – especially when we disagree. We have much to learn.

Also, it’s easy to judge the people in this video and villainize them, when, instead, this is an opportunity for us to wake up.

In the Spirit of Learning and Growing

In the spirit of learning and growing, here are some skills they could have employed paired with the relevant chapter(s) in my book, Evolution Revolution, so you can benefit from rich learning through witnessing the exchange.

THE PRACTICE OF PRESENCE: What I appreciate about this video is the rawness of humanity – you can see how everyone drifts in and out of presence, in and out of drama. It’s okay! To recognize if we are present or not requires skill and eventual mastery. See Chapters 1 through 4, and Chapter 19

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The topic of climate change rattles cages and instigates an intense emotional experience, and there was disagreement about that during the discussion. Learning how to use our feelings and incorporate them into an experience is healthy and will invite presence. Chapters 5 through 7, and Chapters 28 and 29

LEADING WITH POSITIVE ENERGY: Throughout the dialogue, what stands out as missing are appreciation and gratitude. Imagine if everyone started with gratitude for the sheer experience of being able to connect on such an important topic. See Chapter 18 and Bonus Chapter: Leading With Positive Energy (PDF)

IMPROV AS A PATH TO PRESENCE: One of the golden rules of improv is “Yes, and…” By responding to everything by adding to it rather than stonewalling, we are forced to listen. Watching this video, you don’t have to do much to notice the difference between “Yes, and…” vs. “No, but…” See Bonus Chapter: Improv as a Path to Presence (PDF)

CONSCIOUS LISTENING AND SPEAKING: One can see how a youngster might not feel seen, heard, or cared about by Senator Feinstein, and I imagine Senator Feinstein didn’t feel heard either. There was a lot of interrupting during the entire exchange – a lot of “talking over or talking past” each other. See Chapters 9 through 12

HOLDING A POSITION VS. CONSTANT LEARNING: Comments such as “I’ve been doing this for 25 years” can shut down innovative thinking by holding a position rather than being open. Even with 25 years on the job, there is always more to learn about the how of relating. See Chapter 12

PROJECTING: Frequently we deny parts of ourselves and ascribe them to others as a defense mechanism. We project any disowned parts of ourselves onto another; we deny some quality in ourselves, usually a negative one, and assign it to someone else. The projection of our unconscious qualities onto another is quite common.

The following comments by Senator Feinstein come across as projections:

“You know what’s interesting about this group? I’ve been doing this for 30 years; I know what I’m doing. You have come in here and say, “It has to be my way or the highway.” I don’t respond to that. I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality. And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”

Senator Feinstein says this with her arms folded in front of her, and with her tone, she comes across as defensive. See Chapters 9 and 11

FACILITATE PRESENCE – CONSCIOUSLY SET THE CONTAINER FOR HOW WE WILL INTERACT: The entire interchange took just under 12 minutes. With a brief 12-minute window and that many people, a strong intention is important – especially with children.

Furthermore, it’s very important to understand the biology of the human condition when interacting with a group of children. Presence is essential, as we are the only species that is born not fully developed.

From the University of Rochester Medical Center—

“The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently.

Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences.

Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part. In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing – and not necessarily at the same rate. That’s why when teens experience overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.”

Given the differences in adults’ and children’s biological and neurological development, a conscious individual is available to bring what is necessary to the interaction and bridge these gaps. Refer to my blog on facilitating presence: ”Leader As Coach” Is Dead - What’s the Alternative?

The What and The How

As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on the What – on getting things done, on achieving. I say, continue this!

There is also an opportunity to grow in the How. The human experience can be intense, and we can all benefit from becoming more masterful in how we relate – especially when we disagree.

This is the challenge of our lifetime.

My book Evolution Revolution: Conscious Leadership for an Information Age is your handbook on conscious connection and preventing drama. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15, Style Differences:

“One of the ways we create conflict with each other is we don’t try to understand how other people’s style preferences differ from ours. Instead of understanding and appreciating them, we complain because people aren’t ‘doing it the way that I want.’

No style preference is better than any other. We each have our preferences, our preferred way of how we like to get things done. We default to our preferences. You have probably heard about the importance of being in your strengths. Playing to your strengths is essential. Similarly, as I mentioned, aligning with your values is equally important.”

~Abigail Stason, Evolution Revolution.