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Wendy Closson on Mindfulness and Effective Communication

| Podcast with Wendy Closson Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 18 Followers on Jan 15, 2018 |

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In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Wendy Closson about her journey of recovery from contracting a rare, deadly form of cancer to leading to the Optimize You track at QCon New York

Key Takeaways

  • The impact of contracting a rare form of cancer
  • The combination of things that together make a difference to survival rates
  • The five things that will impact your life for the better: Change the way you speak, think, feel, actions and attitude
  • The feedback loop – how you speak influences how you think which influences how you feel and nonviolent communication makes this a positive cycle
  • Different people have different needs and styles so find what works for you – use the tools that will help you fly
  • Consciousness is your awareness of yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, your attitude; how is the way you’re speaking planting seeds for tomorrow
  • 0:30 Introductions
  • 1:15 Contracting a rare and deadly form of cancer
  • 1:45Inspiration from the book Anticancer – things that people do that help them survive
  • 2:20 The combination of things that together make a difference to survival rates
  • 2:38 The combination of lifestyle elements that contribute to cancer
  • 3:24 Using Nonviolent Communication to think and speak clearer
  • 3:50 Going back into programming and bringing the ideas from mindfulness and other areas into her work
  • 4:28 The focus of the Optimizing You track at QCon New York
  • 4:48 Experiment with yourself – find what works best for you
  • 4:51 The five things that will impact your life for the better: Change the way you speak, think, feel, actions and attitude
  • 4:58 These are areas you can control
  • 5:15 Don’t try to change what is outside because the patterns are likely to repeat unless you change yourself first
  • 5:42 Introducing Nonviolent Communication
  • 6:10 Nonviolent Communication removes the judgement from communication
  • 6:40 An example of how judgement pervades our communication
  • 7:10 Communicate the feeling not the judgement in order to maintain empathy
  • 7:25 Feelings and needs are universal
  • 7:45 This approach is structured and has a formula but the impact is far more than the formula
  • 8:03 Using nonviolent communication to explore your own underlying feelings and be able to articulate them
  • 8:20 Using prompt cards to help clarify the actual emotion you feel
  • 8:40 Using nonviolent communication influences your behaviour and your mindset
  • 9:05 The feedback loop – how you speak influences how you think which influences how you feel and nonviolent communication makes this a positive cycle
  • 9:15 This is very hard and requires active concentration to achieve – try to find a pair to work with you on it
  • 10:05 Tools to change your attitudes
  • 10:25 Meditation is one technique and there are many ways to meditate, find one that works best for you
  • 10:55 How habits are wired into our reptilian brain and you can rewire it
  • 11:04 You can train your own attitude – make conscious choices about how you want to feel
  • 11:15 Make small changes which are sustainable rather than trying large changes which quickly become demotivational when you don’t sustain them
  • 11:40 Small language changes make a difference to attitude – use positive framing (example: instead of “don’t throw that away” say “keep this”, use “could” instead of “should”)
  • 12:10 Why this matters to technologists – miscommunication is a major problem
  • 12:15 Time spent building the wrong thing is wasted, and poor communication frequently results in misunderstanding what the actual needs are
  • 12:32 Software is abstract and you need empathy in order to understand your users’ needs
  • 12:44 Churning out lots of code that doesn’t create value is useless
  • 12:57 The wide range of communication activities we are involved in when building software and why empathy and collaboration matter
  • 13:25 Different people have different needs and styles so find what works for you – use the tools that will help you fly
  • 13:50 Always be a sceptic – find what works for you
  • 14:10 Practical things you can do
  • 14:15 Go for a walk, take a break
  • 14:22 Take an active assessment of yourself regularly – how are you feeling?
  • 14:33 What’s your breathing like – deep or shallow?
  • 14:50 The impact of stress on the sympathetic nervous system
  • 14:59 For technologists, stress responses are constantly being triggered and that impacts your breathing
  • 15:07 Your breath is a good measure of how you’re feeling
  • 15:10 Describing the four parts of your breath and how they influence you
  • 15:40 Being aware of your breath can help understand your state of mind
  • 15:44 Awareness is hard to achieve because of the constant distractions you face, and this impacts your ability to make good decisions
  • 16:00 In order to make good decisions you need to be in a calm, non-stressed state
  • 16:15 Mindfulness is being conscious of yourself in different levels
  • 16:38 Consciousness is your awareness of yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, your attitude; how is the way you’re speaking planting seeds for tomorrow
  • 16:57 To achieve this you need to be constantly aware and actively making decisions about how you will react and respond to events around you
  • 17:05 Most of our decision making is not conscious in this context – it’s either automatic or charged by past history
  • 17:25 When you become more conscious, life flows better and you make better decisions, are more aligned with what brings you joy and with the people who bring joy to you
  • 18:14 Try to be open to different tools, without attachment, experiment and find what works best for you
  • 18:24 Treat it as a spike – do a spike of some kind of practice which you think could help you, then measure the result
  • 18:40 There is very little risk in trying new practices
  • 19:10 Change is going to happen when you try new things

Mentioned:

About QCon

QCon is a practitioner-driven conference designed for technical team leads, architects, and project managers who influence software innovation in their teams. QCon takes place 7 times per year in London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Beijing & Shanghai. QCon New York is at its 7th Edition and will take place Jun 27-29, 2018. 100+ expert practitioner speakers, 800+ attendees and 15 tracks will cover topics driving the evolution of software development today. Visit to qconnewyork.com get more details.

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