Agnieszka Jaros and Romaine Johnstone, the PWN co-VPs Professional Development, hosted a session on the hot topic of conflicts, in English, on December 12th. The workshop was kindly hosted by the PWN partner TF1 and took place in a very cosy “common” room on the top floor of the building’s gorgeous Atrium, Porte de Saint Cloud. It was the perfect venue for the small group of curious 10 PWN members who braved the delays in public transport linked to the nearby ONE PLANET Summit and the metro strike ! The interactive workshop on this sensitive topic proved to be a great opportunity for connection and bonding. And for a brief introduction to a collective approach of conflict and how to address it. Participants expressed their appreciation of the experience and exchanged at length until we were “ejected” by the very patient security staff.
3 reasons for this success
1) Romaine, an ORSC© certified systemic coach whose approach is based on relationship intelligence (in other words on the relationship between people and with themselves) in both the private and corporate spheres, created the necessary conditions for us to feel relaxed, comfortable and, most importanbly, safe together. A few concentration and relaxation exercises enabled us to “land” and focus. We then engaged in a mingling exercise to create connection and share why we attend these PWN personal and professional development events.
2) A real co-construction of the workshop. Romaine then asked us to answer an essential question: “What atmosphere or culture would be essential to our work together tonight?” She explained that it was together, as a group, that we could learn through this exploration of toxins and that defining what was important to us as a group would help create the safe atmosphere we needed to make the most of our exchange on the sensitive topic of conflict. Our brainstorming bore its fruit and we agreed to respect the following values: trust and self-confidence, active listening without interpretation, non-judgement, confidentiality, daring and courage, benevolence. This “alliance”, enabled us to be free of any external or internal pressure and to be transparent, without fear of judgment. It was central to the success of the interactive exercises that followed.
3) The experiential approach to conflicts and the associated toxins. We knew of course that we would be discussing conflict but we had no idea how. We soon understood that this was not going to be yet another presentation on this familiar topic. Romaine invited us to actively consider our own behaviors in a situation of conflict. The ORSC© approach to conflict and its toxins is based in part on the research of Dr. John M. Gottman (Prof. of Psychology at the University of Washington), author amongst other works of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and founder of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute where he studied some 3000 relationships over four decades. We focused on what he has coined “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. What are they? Blame, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, the most common toxins found in conflict. And all relationships experience conflict.
Romaine asked us to explore the meaning of these toxins for us individually and to then think of a situation where we had experienced one of these four toxins. We did this, not sitting down but on the contrary on our feet, moving around the room, guided by our thoughts and emotions. We then explored a relationship where we personally were responsible for one of these toxins. Romaine encouraged us to represent or “embody” the emotions evoked by these toxins. It was a very interesting and powerful exercise.
We then explored a number of possible antidotes to these toxins and continued to share our thoughts, respecting our established “alliance”. Each of us read aloud the definition of a potential “antidote” to the toxin we were responsible for in the situation we had chosen, debating on the circumstances of its application. The experiential format and the proposed content definitely gave us food for thought and access to a few tools to explore in our own situations of conflict… and it kept us active and involved throughout the evening, in a non-threatening environment.
There were of course many more reasons for the success of this event, such as the active participation, commitment and curiosity of participants, Agnieszka’s professional and reassuring presence, Romaine’s coaching and communication skills and of course the macarons and champagne we enjoyed as we discussed our learnings and “take-aways” from this taster of the systemic approach to conflict. It gave us some solid tools to apply in both a professional and personal context. Having this new awareness will hopefully help those present to reflect on and improve over time their management of conflict :-)
On December 7th, Minimes was the place to be to attend the International Program event “Ask For More: Negotiate Your Salary”. Organized by Erin Douglas and Elsa Delpal, leaders of the program, the event united around 25 members and non-members, all keen to negotiate better the next day, week or year. The overall format was pretty simple but it perfectly suited the atmosphere: starting with some mingling time so everyone could get to know each other and have a drink, followed by speeches from the experts and ending with more networking, giving participants the chance to talk more about the topic.
One of the events we are most proud of at PWN Paris is our yearly Christmas Party. For this edition, Maison Baccarat accepted to receive us gladly, giving us the opportunity to welcome 150 participants - members, non-members and partners - to spend an incredible night.
On November 8th, the Career & Leadership Mentoring Program holds its second meeting, giving the chance to more than 60 women of all ages and coming from distinct sectors and industries to meet. This year, three other mentoring programs are offered by PWN Paris: Reverse Digital Mentoring, Diversity Mentoring and International Mentoring programs.
It is 7:30 pm when the participants enter in the beautiful room of Le Restaurant du Sénat. Some are members of PWN Paris, others not, but rapidly, they all sit and start to network, a glass of wine in the hand, impatient to listen to the special guest: Marie-Christine Levet. While the first course is brought to table, Françoise Derolez, co-president of PWN Paris, and Corinne Albert, VP events, give a welcoming speech and introduce the speaker who is then invited to take the floor.