Interview with Vals Fauquier
Guiding Principles for Rich Conversations
Vals Fauquier, Director of an academy offering self-empowerment courses in North America, joins Lessons in Awareness on a set of Guiding Principles for transformative conversations.
How can we move from experiencing difficult conversations, to a more powerful and positive experience?
When we enter conversations around paradigm shifts, change management, idea creation or problem-solving, we often enter these conversations caught in politics, perceptions (real or perceived), or undisclosed assumptions about each other, or the topic itself. I believe we can appeal to people’s more “noble” nature, and I believe people want to express from this side of their nature. It’s a wise, knowing, compassionate, and courageous aspect of themselves. Problem is, we are all human and often caught in fears or uncertainty. Yet I’ve seen it time and time again: we have a side of us that can step forward in co-creation, co-operation, and compassion.
How do we do that?
A collective agreement at the beginning that is upheld and embraced by all, has a far better chance of producing what everyone actually wants to contribute to. We need to put the heart back into the conversation before we begin our task, to avoid the pressures and traps just mentioned. And then, we must agree together to nurture those core values.
One key is to come from a place of pure curiosity. When we approach conversations with curiosity, we can’t be in judgement. We can be incredibly involved, inquisitive, upfront –open. Some of the best meetings I’ve ever participated in have been held with long moments of silence. No need for an immediate answer; no pressure. Just curiosity.
Have you experienced this – when conversations or meetings go sideways?
Many times, in the many organizations in which I have served, or led. My current organization is tackling a new co-creative, rotating leadership model that I am super excited about. That’s why I wrote some Guiding Principles and involved our community in co-creating them. We wrote them together with a consciousness that will serve us as we evolve.
Where did your inspiration for these Guiding Principles come from?
I was inspired by the Fierce Conversations model offered by Susan Scott. A truly excellent piece of work. And I also admire Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea’s PeerSpirit Circles. Both are based in taking conscious steps or acts when coming together. Both also talk of the courage that it takes to have authentic dialogue; to “step out from behind the conversation”, as Susan Scott suggests.
Last year I decided to tailor these concepts to the needs of our academy. We have some pretty amazing teachers and leaders, and I am delighted that they have embraced the concept wholeheartedly.
What have been some of your greatest “lessons in awareness” as a leader?
Several things. One, I’ve learned that you can lead by example and have a following that will respect you, yet to harness their passion and mentor them toward their own leadership, truly successful outcomes must include speaking and functioning from the heart. That means remembering who we really are – and I mean all the time. That’s the glue that will hold it all together.
Another big lesson for me, was to realize with a certainty, that people have much more to offer than is intitally obvious to others. Hidden talents and underlying passions abound. If I, as a leader, can create a trusting, safe place for them to dialogue or express, that’s the best gift I can give others as a leader.
Great leaders want their people to succeed on all levels. And they never forget that.
- Download a copy of Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations
- Download a copy of Vals Guiding Principles. Visit her site.
- Enjoy this meditation on The Noble Self: