3 tools for better convos

Mar 28, 2024

Do you ever feel like you’re doing your best to be the best, human centered leader you can be…

…but for some reason, you’re still feeling like you’re failing?

You’re doing your best to:

  • be transparent and open
  • ensure that everyone feels safe and doesn’t experience harm
  • make sure every voice feels valued and heard


but for some reason, even though you have the best intentions, you’re getting feedback that your impact was harmful.


If you’ve had this experience, I want you to know you’re not alone.

This is unfortunately so common, and it’s something I work with individuals, and organizations with every day.

I recently worked with an organization who was experiencing massive communication breakdowns, and as we were wrapping up our work for the week, I asked the staff a simple, but often overlooked question:

“What do you need?”

More specifically, I wanted to understand what they need to feel safe, respected and valued when they communicate with leadership.

In a surprising turn of events, quite a few of the things they shared were techniques they’d learned from interacting with…me.

So, I wanted to take a second to share some of my personal techniques for communicating as a human-centered leader, because I know you’re always looking for ways you can be a safe, more supportive leader as well.


1. Reflect and confirm what you’ve heard

After the individual is done speaking I share what I heard, and then ask them “is that correct, or did you mean something different?”

This tool has a few purposes:

✨It lets the other person know I was paying attention

✨It confirms for them that i truly heard and understand them

✨It clears up any misunderstandings

✨It ensures that once I respond, I’m responding to what they actually said, instead of what I interpreted them as saying

The most important piece here, however, is that it really helps the other person feel like I’m present, and that they’ve been seen & heard.


2. Respond with “yes, and” instead of “yeah, but”

This is a small shift that makes a huge impact.

When you respond to someone with “yeah but” it signals that you disagree with them and their opinion (which you totally might!)

When you switch to “yes, and” you signal that their thoughts or opinions are valid AND you’d like to build upon them by adding a different perspective.

It’s affirming and collaborative, instead of dissenting and oppositional – which supports you in building your relationship with the individual instead of breaking it down.


3. Respond with “Heard.”

I typically follow this up with even more specific, affirming words in regards to what the other individuals said, so that they are 100% sure that I truly do hear and understand them.

An example of this might look like, “Heard. The expectations of leaders of color do feel impossible to navigate.”

Again this is another simple shift, but one that supports you to affirm the other individual and communicate that you are truly present with the other person and hearing what they’re saying.




These are three tools that work for me, and also worked for the individuals in this organization.

That being said, not all leaders and organizations are created equal.

What’s right for me and this organization may not be right for you as a leader, and the team you’re leading.

This is why it’s so important to, instead of trying to follow copy and pasted advice, to get support in finding your unique communication style that honors:

✅ your natural way of communicating

✅ your culture

✅ your values and beliefs

✅ your needs

✅ the needs of your team and organization


👆🏿 This is a hard balance to find, but it is possible.

With just a bit of work, you can go from communication breakdowns to your staff saying this to you:

“This is the safest I’ve ever felt at work”


And you’ll feel the exact same way.

I know, because this is real feedback I’ve received time and time again after I’ve supported leaders to create safer work environments – and if you let me, I can support you to do the same, too.

If you’re a leader of color, I can work with you via 1:1 coaching to support you to improve your communication so that you can finally feel confident that your impact matches your intent.


If you need support at the organizational level, I can created a custom experience to support you to:

❤️ repair and heal past harms

❤️ learn how to communicate safely and healthily moving forward

❤️ cultivate long term communication guidelines, structures, and practices that are sustainable and support your organization for years to come


If you’d like to learn more, you can schedule a time to discuss how I might support your organization here.

(and yes, I can support you org even if there are white folks involved, too!)

It’s time for you and your team to experience feeling safe and held at work.

If you’re ready for that, too, reach out to discuss either 1:1 leadership coaching or organizational support.




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