Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.

What It Takes For Leadership To Foster a Consent Culture with Dr. Lauren Appio

March 20, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 56
What It Takes For Leadership To Foster a Consent Culture with Dr. Lauren Appio
Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
More Info
Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
What It Takes For Leadership To Foster a Consent Culture with Dr. Lauren Appio
Mar 20, 2023 Episode 56
Russel Lolacher

In this episode of Relationships at Work, host Russel Lolacher chats with speaker and psychologist Dr. Lauren Appio on creating and fostering a consent culture in the workplace to give employees agency and choice. 

Lauren shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • What consent culture actually is.
  • The importance of fostering this type of culture
  • What a consent culture looks like through the hiring process. 
  • The four areas of work it takes to build a consent culture
  • How leaders get this type of culture wrong and why

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, host Russel Lolacher chats with speaker and psychologist Dr. Lauren Appio on creating and fostering a consent culture in the workplace to give employees agency and choice. 

Lauren shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • What consent culture actually is.
  • The importance of fostering this type of culture
  • What a consent culture looks like through the hiring process. 
  • The four areas of work it takes to build a consent culture
  • How leaders get this type of culture wrong and why

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher
And on the podcast today, it's Dr. Lauren Appio. And here's why she is awesome. She's an executive coach, speaker and licensed psychologist providing psychotherapy, career coaching, organizational consulting. For more than a decade, her thoughts and work have been featured in Huffington Post New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, I'm going to run out of breath saying things, I knew I had to chat with her as her Instagram could literally be our shared motto, which is let's make work less shitty for each other. Hello, Lauren.

Lauren Appio 
Hi, Russel, how you doing today?

Russel Lolacher
I'm very good. I have to start off all things. What's your best or worst employee experience, Lauren?

Lauren Appio
So my best employee experience was I... I'm a psychologist, as you mentioned, I did my training out in California, and a college counseling center. And I loved and I'm from New Jersey, did my training in New York. And so I loved sort of getting to know the, like, regional cultural differences. And one of the things that I really, really enjoyed was, whenever there were like, milestones for people, either people were retiring, or having, you know, a baby or things, you know, we would take time out of the day and have a little party and people would write songs, you know, based on, you know, like country roads or other, you know, famous songs, they would write songs for people and sing them playing instruments, and I just thought it was so sweet and fun. And completely, unlike anything that would have happened in my, like training sites, you know, in Manhattan. And so I really enjoyed that, and found that to be, you know, really nice, and it would happen during the work day. So it wasn't like people were expected to stay after or anything like that. So it's fun. My worst work experience was pretty much what motivated me to start my private practice and do a lot of the work that I do on my Instagram, which was in a college counseling center, you know, after I had graduated, it was deeply understaffed. And, really, I mean, we were functioning almost like a psyche are, where we were, you know, really trying to support students through myriad of psychological crises, without the resources to do so. And when we were burnt out, and having wild case loads, and, you know, really feeling scared about our capacity to really support our students, you know, we were getting messages from the administration, like, well, if you cared about the students, you would make it work. And I just found that to be so deeply insulting. And so I felt so completely, like, you have no idea who I am, if you're saying that to me, and to us, and, and so that's when I started making my exit plan of I, you know, I can't I can't do this, I can't not only feel so completely burnt out and scared going to work, but then also feel so fundamentally disrespected, as, as an employee, and as a, you know, as a person. So that was the worst, and was really the catalyst for a lot of the work that I do you now.

Russel Lolacher 
How polar opposite, can you get? Literally. Kumbaya literally is being sung at work.

Lauren Appio
Yes, I know, I know. And, of course, you know, that workplace wasn't perfect, either. But I do think one of the things that I really valued about that other workplace is that there was a real sort of intentional focus on, for example, naming regional cultural differences. One of the things that my supervisor said to me when I first started, because I was very, I was noticing these things, and very worried that I would be perceived as rude or, you know, something. And she was like, Well, you know, rudeness, and feeling that way, those are often related to cultural differences. And I think, you know, if you're feeling that way, let's talk about and there was just a real openness to kind of just discussing difference and individual differences. And so I really loved that and really appreciated that about them.

Russel Lolacher
That plays nicely into our topic today, which is consent culture. Yes. And I am a big, big person when it comes to defining things because I think we throw around terms far too often that we never actually define or even define it as per that particular organization. Yeah. So we kind of have a, I mean, we're not talking about it as per an organization, but I am curious how you would define consent culture.

Lauren Appio
So, I mean, that is a big question. And I think it starts with this idea that essentially, most of us don't consent to work. Most of us have to work. We have to work to pay our bills. If we stopped working, you know, and I know and I'm talking to you, you're in Canada.

Russel Lolacher
Yes, I am yeah.

Lauren Appio
Okay. So I'm in the US. And so our, you know, our support systems are a bit different between our two countries. But overall, right people, you know, there's no guaranteed income, there's no, you know, there's no way for people to pay their bills in the US, our health insurance is tied to our employment for most working people. And so we have to write, we don't, most of us don't have a choice. And we don't even think about having a choice of do I want to do I want to work and earn money for a living, do I want to make other contributions to my community. And so starting from that premise that the system of employment in a capitalist society world is inherently coercive, we, I like to think about consent culture at work is being really really intentional about paying attention to power differences, paying attention to the ways that we have and use our authority and influence with each other. And really maximizing people's ability to truly have choice to truly be able to say yes or no, to the work that they do, the way that they engage with their work, the amount of work that they take on, and the relationships that they have with their colleagues.

Russel Lolacher
So why is this so important? Because you're gonna have people listening to this going, Yeah, I pay you to do a thing, you do a thing? Why is this to be more than that?

Lauren Appio
Yeah, and so there are plenty of people who make a great business case for things like psychological safety at work. And, you know, I'm I'm much more in the business of, I think when we don't pay attention to these dynamics, we run the risk of really creating or exacerbating mental health difficulties among ourselves and our colleagues. We, you know, I think you can't like, you can't go on the internet without seeing news stories about rampant burnout, about increasing, you know, just all kinds of negative health outcomes. For people, there are stories about workers quiet quitting, there's always like a new term about how people are trying to manage their relationship to work. And so you know, that old idea of like, pay to do a job, do it or leave, if you don't care about the people who work with you. And for you, you know, I don't know how to make you do that. But I think, you know, we we, as a society have a vested interest in having, you know, healthy people and people who can show up and do their work well, and also have a life outside of work. And, you know, to have that kind of experience together as a society just benefits all of us. So I yeah, I'm one of those people. That's like, you know, I hate making the business case for this, because it's sort of just the right thing to do. But it is effective, right, we see that psychological safety improves, like creativity on teams, trust, there are productivity outcomes associated with it, because when you feel safe, you're freed up, when you don't feel safe, you're scared. That's not great for, you know, creative thinking, motivation, you know, fear and shame are not great motivators, despite what people may think. And so, you know, there are a lot of just wide ranging benefits to thinking about how we can have more of a consent culture in our workplaces.

Russel Lolacher
So what does that look like? For a first impression, I know we're sort of being very high level with what an organization should sort of best practices ish. But it's that first impression for a new employee walking into a new organization, a new culture? How do they know as part of the onboarding process in the hiring process, that they're entering into a consent culture?

Lauren Appio
So I mean, I think it does start from the very first interaction that a potential employee has I mean, Russel, I have to give you a lot of credit, because I appreciated you know, from the very beginning of our interactions, I think that you did a lot of things to demonstrate that you were being intentionally thoughtful about. Any potential questions or concerns that I might have about us, you know, having this conversation working together, you know, there's a real proactive sense of, like we were just talking about earlier, like, you can curse on this podcast and this is, this is what you can expect. These are the questions that I asked, you know, really providing people with information to put them at ease. You know, I'm a big fan of in the interview process, you're rooting for your, your candidate you're not trying to to trip them up. So anything from really making sure people have a clear sense of where they're supposed to be at what time and how they can get there and how they can troubleshoot if they're having difficulties finding where they're supposed to be, who they can contact, really doing a lot to make sure that, you know, from a communication standpoint, you're letting people know the full range of their options. And then also how you respond to people when, especially when things go wrong, right? If you have somebody who walks into an interview, and they're late because of something, you know, are you sort of punishing them for that? Or are you demonstrating some understanding, really, kind of with the hope of, you know, we're gonna get this back on track? And, you know, let's get comfortable. Let's talk. So you're not being punitive when things are going wrong? You know, those are some of the initial things that I encourage people to look at have, you know, do you feel like you have a sense, a clearer sense of your options, a clearer sense of how things are expected to go and what happens if things go wrong?

Russel Lolacher
One of the things that frustrates me the most is those that look at time, less compassionately, especially in the hiring process, because they'll either go, we want the best candidates and give you the questions, 15 minutes before the interview, yes. Or they give you a written assignment with two days to do it during a work day where you don't have a mental capacity to do it after work. Because you're burned out from 8-9-10 hours of work of a job you're trying to get out of.

Lauren Appio
Yes. There's such a clear lack of empathy or understanding for what the applicants are going through in order to participate in the interview. And also, I mean, just real poor decision making and judgment around like, how does that actually show you who is quote, the best person for the job, which is sort of like a bullshit thing anyway, because there are going to be many great people for this particular role, who would approach the role in any number of wonderful ways. And so, you know, like, I agree with you, I'm a big fan of like, give people some of the interview questions in advance, give people the interview questions that you're really interested in in advance. This is just good across the board. It's good for, you know, candidates who may be our multilingual neurodivergent candidates. It's it's good across the board. So yes, I agree. 100% of like, why are we burdening people? We're already hazing people into the organization? That's not a great thing.

Russel Lolacher
It's a big difference between wanting employees to thrive versus wanting them to survive.

Lauren Appio
Exactly.

Russel Lolacher
Ohhh, that's a bumper sticker. Damn, that's a good one.

Lauren Appio
Put that on a t-shirt, Russel. I mean, it's it's exactly it. And you know, right. I think the other thing that I think about when it comes to consent culture, that is really challenging in its implementation is that it really requires a lot of ideological shifts, for many of us in what we expect about work in general, like people expect to be hazed. In an interview, you know, people expect that you're going to go in and get grilled. Or that you have to jump through hoops and, you know, have seven rounds of an interview or something ridiculous, in order to get this very prized, you know, opportunity. And for us to reconsider, like, why why do we do that? Who does that serve? How does that actually get you any information? You know, are we just doing this because of some outdated, like control and command kinds of ideas that we have about what it means to engage in a work relationship? You know, I just think we can really do it differently. But it does require fundamentally questioning our assumptions about what work workplaces and career mean.

Russel Lolacher
When we first started having the conversation of setting up this this conversation, you brought up the idea of consent culture, being closely connected with trauma informed workplaces? What does that mean when you mean trauma informed?

Lauren Appio
So I think a lot of people say trauma informed workplaces, they're talking about how the employees of a workplace often teachers, counselors, other nonprofit workers, people, often in sort of caregiving, health care or helping professions, how we can be trauma informed for the people we serve, how we can understand the symptoms and behaviors of people who are experiencing PTSD, complex trauma, or other mental health issues, that we're aware of the frequency with which traumatic events happen For people across the board, everything from, you know, childhood abuse to experiences with racism and poverty and oppression to, you know, combat experiences and car accidents, to be aware of the fact that there are so many things that happen that can impact people's mental health, and their their capacity and functioning over the lifespan, and to really be considered about how the operations and the policies and practices of our organization should not replicate traumatic, traumatizing sorts of experiences. So we want to really emphasize agency and choice for the people that we serve as they connect with us and move through our organization. What people often find is that the employees have said organization, you know, they may be asked to be trauma informed for the people that they serve, but then they are not treated as employees with that same trauma informed lens. And so employees also have experiences of trauma or other mental health difficulties that can impact the range of their capacity and functioning over the course of their time in the organization, they also really need to experience agency and choice and empowerment in, in relationship to their work. And so many of those, those considerations are not made, right? How many of us have been in workplaces where we've been told that we have to do things we're not comfortable with, or take on more work than we're comfortable with, and, and really feel powerless, about how to do that, because, you know, we either do it, or we pension potentially risk getting fired, or we don't get promoted, that there are all of these risks. And, you know, for anybody, that's a frustrating experience, but if you also have a real history of disempowering experiences, it can be, you know, extremely, extremely, you know, people demonize the word triggering, but in this case, really it it can be very much eliciting of, of serious panic, and, you know, other other symptoms that make it really, really hard to potentially function at work or at home, or you're functioning, but it's, it's burning you out, and really, really affecting you negatively. And so, you know, my my hope, and one of the messages I have is, you know, if your organization cares about making a difference out in the world, start at home, whatever difference you're trying to make out in the world, how can you make that difference for the people that you employ? You know, do your employees have that sense of empowerment? Do they feel valued and respected? Do they feel like they have choice choice an option? You know, do they feel like they can say yes to things or no to things without consequence? How do you handle when people say no to things that have to get done? You know, what are the processes you have as an organization to, to address that, and being really intentional about those kinds of things?

Russel Lolacher
I want to get into the mindset tactic shift when it comes to trying to make your organization, a consent culture, because there's a lot of emerging leaders that, especially once you look at that, look, listen to this podcast, who are we can do better? We know we can do better, I don't want to do what the old person at the top has done before. So how do we build a consent culture you I love this post on Instagram, where you kind of broke it down into four areas. And I want to get that granular, because I think it's important to attack it from those four areas. So it was individual work, interpersonal work, institutional practices, and coersive ideologies and norms. Can you sort of walk me through that?

Lauren Appio
Yeah. So that's a framework called the four "I"s that I did not make up. But that seems to be you know, if anyone has the citation for that, let us know. It's one of those things that seems to be kind of like called different names in different industries. But looking at the issue across these different domains helps us to be really, just really thorough. So the individual domain is looking at, you know, what can I do as a person? What's the internal work that I can do as a person towards building a consent culture? And so what that looks like for leaders is to with, you know, with peers with a therapist with coach, do some take some inventory of your own history of empowerment or disempowerment. What has it been like for you in your life to say no to attitude thing? Have you have you had experiences where you weren't allowed to say no? How have you been able to say no at work? And you know, as I write in that post, if you've never even considered saying, No, that might be a no, it might mean that you really haven't felt like you can say no to things or, or, you know, really, really consider what is in your best interest, or what is in your bandwidth that maybe you really felt compelled to meet the needs or expectations of the people that you've worked for. But looking at this across all different domains in your family life and your community, in school, etc. The other internal work is really getting a sense of your own coercion and control patterns, you know, what is it that you do, when you are trying to get somebody to do something you want them to do? What do you do when you want to change somebody's mind? What happens inside of you, when someone tells you no, or when someone is doing something you don't want them to do? And I say, in that post to coercion, and control is a spectrum, I think, you know, many of your listeners are probably not, you know, slamming people up against walls. But micromanaging, for example, is a control tactic, right? It's a way of trying to get people to behave in a way that you want them to behave, and not really trusting them to, you know, engage in the behaviors that they might choose, and then working with them if there are consequences to that behavior, or etc. So really getting a sense of how that plays out for you. What are the feelings that come up? What are the thoughts, and then what are, you know, the behaviors or the urges that you have in those moments. And then the other internal work is to really, really build your stress management and self soothing skills. So that when you have those experiences, when you have the urge to jump in, and really, you know, potentially push somebody to to do something you want them to do, or, you know, you keep coming back up. And like after someone has said no, or I don't have the bandwidth for that, and you keep coming back over and over again, and trying to kind of push them into it, that you can kind of soothe your own reactivity or your own sort of urgency that you have in that moment, and be able to think a little bit more collaboratively or or cooperatively about the issue at hand. The other important thing about being able to manage your own reactivity is that if you if your colleagues are afraid of you, if they're afraid of upsetting you, if they're afraid of making you angry, if they're afraid that you're going to be so stressed out that you're going to crumble, that will also in its own way, encourage them to maybe not say no as often to you or to over work on your behalf. And so it's important to be able to kind of have the emotional resources and get the support you need in order to do that, so that people know feel safe around you. So that's just one domain. As I take a breath, to think about the next ones. So there's a lot of internal work that can happen. But then as we move on to the next domain, the interpersonal domain, of course, that is what can we do in our relationships with each other, to work towards a conservative culture? For leaders, I often encourage them, you know, as they're doing this internal work, to anticipate times during the year or interactions where they that people may feel a little bit more more pressure or stress, which I think in those situations, you know that there is more risk for coercion or potentially abuses of power, when you know, people who were approaching a deadline or, you know, it's a busy time of year. And so kind of being able to bring up in those times like, hey, you know, we're approaching this deadline, tensions are high. Let's try to remember, you know, how we want to treat each other during, you know, this time if you're starting to feel pressured by me and my expectations, or you know, I see that happening. We want to address it because ultimately, like, yes, we're gonna meet this deadline, but how we treat each other is just as important as how we get there. If you are as a leader, going through some kind of personal loss, or there's, you know, you know, on your team, right, somebody might be avoiding you a little bit because they haven't gotten report to you or something. Instead of Just sort of letting that be you intentionally kind of proactively have a conversation with that person and say, you know, I know you're working on this report. And I want you to know that even while this is outstanding, I'm still here to support you, or I'm still here to, you know, if you need additional resources, so that they're not, they don't feel like they have to do this quid pro quo thing where they can only ask for something of you, if they get the thing done that you need from them. Or, you know, they're not trying to overwork for you, because they want to compensate for the fact that you're going through this, like personal stress that you have. And so there's really the work of doing the internal work, and then being able as a leader to kind of name and notice potential dynamics that could create, you know, the risk of coercion. Other big things are, you know, as a leader, you've got to address and take seriously reports of sexual harassment, micro aggressions, bias, and discrimination. These are all of course, abuses of power, and things that contribute to a lack of safety at work. And I think they're often complex and still really need to be dealt with, consistently, because, obviously, leadership comes from the top on this if leaders aren't doing that, and these things don't really get dealt with. But I think the other things are what, like what I said, that you've done here in our relationship in doing this podcast is letting people know about their options up front. I, you know, I know that the the statement like, hey, I need this, it's okay, if if you can't do that, or it's okay, if not kind of gets also vilified as this like, overly deferential thing, I actually really like it. I like, if you can give people if remind people that they haven't out remind people that they have multiple options in how they respond to requests. Those kinds of things are sort of the interpersonal aspects that I would encourage leaders to focus on,

Russel Lolacher
you know, that we talk about this stuff, but the bad leaders are the ones that are never listening to this podcast. They're the ones that aren't going to the workshops, where they actually need to learn these things. So how are they getting this wrong, Lauren?

Lauren Appio
Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh, Russel, I have like about 18 thoughts that are going through my mind. So they're getting this wrong, I think in some ways, which kind of brings us to like one of the other four eyes, the ideological level is that they have beliefs, these taken for granted trues that we kind of all inherit in our, you know, cultural conditioning, that they they really just expect to have power over people, right? Like some managers think that being a manager means that you have a right to have power over the people that you that report to you, you know that it makes you a tyrant what you say goes that's that's a that's a cultural inheritance of domination and command and control culture, that will affect how they experience people who make mistakes, who have changes in their capacity or bandwidth, who are reporting things like discrimination or sexual harassment. And they're, they're seeing sort of everything through this lens of domination of inferiority and superiority, which makes it hard for them to recognize that everybody has rights, including the people who report to them.

Russel Lolacher
So you're in an organization and you're noticing this is not a consent culture. This is not pretty much the example you gave of a bad employee experience. Yeah. If you don't feel like that you have influence from a leadership top down environment. How do you ask for a consent culture within the organization you work?

Lauren Appio
So it's a hard question, because I don't want to say that people can't have power or influence in those situations. But I'm also really reluctant to encourage people to care more about an issue than the leaders do themselves, because I do worry about people taking on sort of like a Sisyphean battle here of having to try to push something through or try to organize around something that you They don't have a lot of support for. But I do think that the biggest thing is to build a network of support of other colleagues who may feel the same way. Because that really that's, that's always going to be your best bet is to organize within the workplace to consolidate the power that you have with each other and say, you know, this is, these are the things we're noticing that are not working here. And we really want to emphasize practices and policies in this organization, that give people more autonomy, that give people more of a sense of choice that create systems that kind of recognize people's humaneness. And so that means that if one person needs to tap out what happens next to other people, how do we redistribute work, you know, in a, in an equitable way, in a way that is manageable and sustainable? How do we design workflows to be more sustainable? And I think your best bet is to do it together.

Russel Lolacher
Conversations around workplace culture has certainly, thankfully, finally freaking started being a little bit more. I mean, I literally started this podcast a year and a half ago, because nobody was talking about it. I'm like, Well, fuck it, I'll just I'll jump in the arena. But thankfully, you know, it's it's getting there. But looking, looking at institutional practices is one of those eyes you brought up earlier? Yeah. Can we be hopeful at all? Lauren here, like, are we getting to a place we've got generations basically saying they don't want to put up with crap that you and I put up with? Should we be looking at a bright future? Or do we still have a long road ahead of us for a consent culture.

Lauren Appio
I think there's always good reason to be hopeful. I do think that, you know, the more people are putting up with the same shit that we have all put up with for generations, that it's going to force workplaces to change. And we are, we're seeing that, I think we are up against a lot of really big, you know, we're up against capitalism, we're up against colonialism, we're up against all of these major, major forces that really perpetuate that sort of domination, command and control culture. But I do think that there are a lot of very well intentioned people, I think there are a lot of leaders who are trying to do this differently. And there are ways to do it better. There are absolutely ways to do it better to have really clear policies and practices in place to be responsive to feed back to, to be a humble leader. You know, there, there are ways to do to pay people really well. So that you like, you know, people, people, that's what people are motivated by. And so you're paying people well, you're engaging them, you know, there are there are good ways that we can do this, to make it better, even in a flawed system. But yeah, it's gonna require it's gonna require a lot of us doing it together. And I and I'm excited by things like seeing, you know, Amazon workers, unionized. I mean, these are, there's, there is room to be hopeful, and there is a long way to go.

Russel Lolacher
I had an amazing conversation recently with a leader, where she was self described "Old School", where she says she didn't she was really struggling with remote work and flexible work. Because in her world, it's always been if I can't see you, I can't build a relationship, or build a culture or bounce off of a culture with you, unless we're all physically in the same space. However, she had her own daughter who's like, I never want to go into work ever, ever. Why would I need to go into work? I can do any my work from anywhere in the world. So she was identifying first that she knew she was old school, but also identifying that she needed to learn and that maybe, maybe the world isn't so black and white from what she was taught. So though she wasn't at a tipping point yet, she certainly was open to the conversation and understanding she might not have all the answers. So I big smile on my face like I was the real that conversation even happens, and hope it happens more often. In your work. Have you enjoyed those light bulb moments where you can see organizations shift a little bit more to that consent culture?

Lauren Appio
Yeah, and I mean, everything from as simple as there was an organization I worked with that was I mean, I don't want to give too much information, but it was, you know, it was a little bit more of like a startup culture and so Those things were like, seemingly super flexible, right, you know, the unlimited PTO, you know, and they didn't have a specific parental leave policy, because they were basically like, oh, you know, people can take whatever time they need, or like, we'll figure that out as we get to it. And, and, you know, from their perspective, that created the most flexibility and was sort of the best course of action. But when really what that would potentially mean is, you know, anybody who is potentially applying for that role will see that there's no parental leave policy and be like, Oh, no way, like I, you know, I'm not doing that, or it requires potentially a pregnant person, or people through the organization, to have to advocate for themselves around what they're going to need, which means that there, there can be worrying about risking discrimination, all kinds of things. And so, you know, one of the things that we talked about was, actually, when you have, you can have really clear, generous policies, that creates more safety for people, they know what to expect, if they need more or less, or whatever the case might be, then, you know, you that's part of building a culture around, you know, people feeling like they can, they can speak up without retaliation or discrimination. That's that piece, but having the really specific, generous policies is really where you need to start. And seeing them, like very quickly adopt, you know, the parental leave policy that was super inclusive of birthing parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, you know, parents of all genders, you know, it was able, they were able to kind of add more structure that still connected with their values. And I was just like, this is a beautiful thing to witness. And so I do, I absolutely think people really, a lot of people really want to do this. But it either feels too overwhelming, or they feel like it's not possible. And it really just requires holding the time, space, energy and resources to really thinking through it in a very practical way, at least from an institutional policy perspective. And there are plenty of people who are doing this work, there are plenty of amazing, you know, consultants, researchers, scholars, intellectuals, who, you know, have great ideas around this. And it's really just a matter of taking the time to implement it.

Russel Lolacher
I have to wrap it up with the most important question I asked. But it's not really but it's a nice capper for the day. What's one simple action, Lauren, that people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Lauren Appio
So part of me was dreading this question a little bit, because, you know, I have like 18 things of varying levels of complexity that I could share, but I figured I would let it be a game time decision. And I think, from our conversation today, what I would really encourage especially leaders, but anyone in the workplace is when you are, you know, interacting with your colleagues to kind of have this question in the back of your mind of, you know, am I aware of the power influence or authority I have with this person? And am I engaging ethically with that in mind? Am I trying to change their mind? Am I trying to make them do something different? Or am I trying to have a conversation collaboratively about a solution that will meet both of our needs?

Russel Lolacher
That's Lauren Appio. She's an executive coach, speaker, licensed psychologist, trying to help us all create a content culture con, consent culture and probably helped me speak better, and you know, make work less shitty for each other. Thanks so much, Lauren.

Lauren Appio
Yes. Russel, thank you so much for having me. I could talk with you about this all day.