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a foreign concept and a threat. This is the point where I am often invited to come in and start coaching individuals on the team who might be labeled as bullies, micromanagers, people who never collaborate, or people who don’t listen. We learn our relationship algorithms as children and bring those lessons into adulthood. Depending on our historical data points, opportunities to grow, and willingness to change, we adapt, shift, or mostly stay the same as adults. So how can we change if we don’t like our relationship algorithm — or someone else’s for that matter?

HOW TO SHIFT SHAME Those with avoidant relationship styles act as though they are not interested in inclusion as a defense mechanism because they know that being open to inclusion also makes them vulnerable to exclusion. When we focus on shifting shame, we create an opening to inclusion. In order to shift shame, we must bring our attention back to our

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY SHIFTING SHAME? The nervous system can only handle small changes at a time. In this article, we use the phrase shifting shame to mean making small, manageable changes to how shame influences our approach to inclusion, as opposed to the phrase transforming shame, which might imply dramatic changes.


Q2 / SPRING 2019


neuroception. Everyone’s threshold of belonging may be different, but everyone’s neuroception can be rewired. I define belonging as the ability to create safety for oneself, and as Brené Brown says, “our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” Shifting shame requires a particular skill set, one that can be developed with diligence, patience, and persistence. It requires willingness to look beyond the mask of what is presented as a problem and connect to what a person is actually seeking. Not very long ago, I was coaching the “head of people” at a well-known startup. About two months into our coaching, my client asked me to come speak to the people team as well as the CEO about trust. During the meeting, I was explaining the different stages of the nervous system while writing on the white board. All of a sudden, I heard behind me, “Wow, your hand-writing is really shitty.” Just take a moment to imagine being in the room with all of us. How would you feel hearing that comment? What might you sense in your body? Might you feel some anxiety, discomfort, or curiosity to see how I was going to react? When I heard this comment, I was certainly surprised and caught off guard. I took a deep breath, slowly turned around to face everyone in the room, looked my client in the eye with a smile, and said, “Tell me what’s going on for you right now.” She replied, “Well, I am frustrated because I can’t read your handwriting and I know what you have to say is valuable. I want to make sure that we’re not wasting anyone’s time today.” In that one sentence, she told me everything I needed to know. Her frustration indicated to me that she was triggered, and she was feeling excluded because she did not understand what I was trying to convey.


She needed a sense of clarity. To be able to shift shame, one must hone the ability to take a trigger, which is usually masked in exclusion behaviors, and gracefully transition focus to the underlying problem, as I did when I took time out to get an explanation from that client. When we start to sort for needs, we get to the core of the issue. These needs are usually emotional ones: respect, trust, connection, and feeling welcomed and accepted. Needs are the roots of our feelings. When our needs are not met in the moment, our feelings become the indicators that let us know something is amiss. As we become masterful in surfacing needs during a conversation, we begin to easily shift shame and create a greater sense of belonging for ourselves and others. This skill set is so powerful that it not only rewires the individual’s neuroception over time, but it also begins to allow for the possibility of inclusion during the conversation. When one’s neuroception is rewired toward inclusion, the nervous system automatically adopts new levels of comfort, ease, and peace. One experiences completely new levels of safety, self-acceptance, and connection within oneself and with others.

Rajkumari Neogy is the creator of the Disruptive Diversity Boot Camp and iRestart, a research-based framework that optimizes team performance by integrating diverse mindsets, as well as the author of “The WIT Factor: Shifting the Workplace Paradigm by Becoming Your Optimal Self.”

Profile for Conscious Company

Conscious Company Magazine | Spring 2019  

The Q2/Spring 2019 issue of Conscious Company is all about the racial wealth gap, diversity as a competitive differentiator, game-changing f...

Conscious Company Magazine | Spring 2019  

The Q2/Spring 2019 issue of Conscious Company is all about the racial wealth gap, diversity as a competitive differentiator, game-changing f...