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March 1, 2021

Happy little girl with a pink shirt, pointing at you, grinning so big her teeth are showing

 Do your introductions make people feel special?


In this newsletter…

  • Invitations & Announcements
  • Catalytic Thinking Exercise: A Simple Tip for Making Powerful Introductions
  • Resources to Further Your Practice
  • Thread of the Week: From the Catalytic Thinking Facebook Group

Invitations & Announcements:

Naming this newsletter:
Recently, our readers have suggested we name this newsletter. Suggestions have included Create the Future and Catalyst, as well as just our name – Creating the Future. What ideas do you have? What name evokes your experience of this newsletter? Send us a note and let us know!

Volunteer Opportunity:
If you have wanted to experience Catalytic Thinking in real time, this is the opportunity for you – volunteering as a documentarian for meetings at Creating the Future! Learn more here.

Upcoming Catalytic Thinking Conversations:
On Monday, March 8th, Creating the Future will continue to use Catalytic Thinking to design our board recruitment process. If that topic interests you, watch or join in alongside us! Details - including links to our discussion so far - are here.

A Simple Tip for Making Powerful Introductions
Watch any meeting at Creating the Future and you'll notice something not commonly experienced in the work world: Our meetings are structured to honor the humanity of each person.

Rather than relying on the individual personality of whoever is running the meeting, being human with each other is baked into the systems we employ to run all our meetings.

Those systems include taking time to share what has been meaningful in our lives, as well as intentionally setting aside time for reflection. And if someone arrives late, they can count on the facilitator taking a moment to bring them up to speed, so they can be at their best to contribute.

One system people often remark about is how we introduce each other. To accomplish great results together, people need to know and trust each other. And we can jumpstart those relationships right from the start by the way we introduce each other.

Unfortunately, the way we all commonly introduce ourselves does little to accomplish that. 

I’m Mary, I’m the CEO of the XYZ group.
I’m Marco, I run the X program at ABC Company.

When everyone is finished going around the table, we still know nothing about Mary or Marco as people – or anyone else!

The following is a simple formula for making your introductions more meaningful. And while we are focused here on work meetings, remember that we can make any of our encounters more human, simply by using our introductions to honor each of the people we are introducing to each other.

Try this:
The next time you have a first meeting with a new team, try this script for helping people feel instantly comfortable and honored.

1) Say that person’s first name and last name.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh! Of course I’ll say their name!” But how often do we begin introducing someone only to realize we have no idea how to pronounce their name? Or we aren’t sure what name they like to use. Does their business card say Elizabeth but they prefer Liz?

If it is possible to get this information before the meeting, do so. That alone goes a long way to someone feeling heard and seen. If it is not possible to do ahead of time, ask that person to clarify right from the start. Then remember what they said, and practice getting their name right.

2) Name the organization that person is affiliated with.
You don’t have to note their position at the organization, but it is often helpful for others to know people’s work affiliation.

3) Why are you excited they are there?
This is where the fun starts. Normally we might hear, “This is Alicia Hernandez. She is here today representing the food bank. Alicia, tell us something about yourself!”

Now look what happens when you introduce Alicia by noting why you are glad she is at the meeting.

I’m happy to introduce Alicia Hernandez. She is here today representing the food bank, and I am so happy she is with us. Alicia and I met a year ago, working on a project, and I found her energy to be infectious. I especially loved how Alicia was able to see the whole context of the issue, to help keep us grounded. Alicia, could you tell us something about yourself?

Imagine how Alicia will feel, hearing what you admire about her. And imagine how everyone else will have a head-start on getting to know what is special about each person in the room!

4) Self-introduction
Now that you have set the stage, you can ask that person to introduce themselves. Ask them to share why they are eager to be at the meeting / on the team. Or perhaps have them share something that has been meaningful in their life recently. This brings that person’s whole self into the room vs. just their resume.

If a team is going to work together for a while, taking this time up front lays the groundwork for how folks will be with each other from that moment forward. As you begin to create the relationships that lead to trust and strong communication, you will be paving the way for your work together to go smoothly and joyfully from that point forward.

Catalytic Thinking reminds us that the most important conditions for success are those that bring out the best in people. That is why the investment of time in building relationships is a staple of all our work at Creating the Future.

Resources to Support Your Practice:

  • Watch: The beginning of this meeting demonstrates the kinds of introductions described in this newsletter – especially Step 3 above. Watch here…
  • Watch: Listen to Hank Green explain the power of focusing on what’s been awesome in our lives and beyond. Listen here…
  • Read: A step-by-step look at the practice of Reflection – a people-centered way to close out your meetings. Read here…

Thread of the Week:
The Catalytic Thinking in Action group on Facebook is a place for connecting and practicing with people like you who are experimenting with these practices. This week, we came back to this question from one of our members…

I have been applying Catalytic Thinking to my dad’s business after he was diagnosed with dementia. His business partners do not get along with each other, and nothing I’ve tried has broken the bitterness between them. Ideas anyone?

Join the group, and see how Catalytic Thinking helped unravel this sticky situation. Join here…

Help Keep Our Programs Freely Available
Most of the programs at Creating the Future are free or low cost, with liberal tuition assistance when they aren’t.

If you find our programs of benefit, we hope you will consider contributing, to help keep these programs available to as many people as possible.   Donate here ...

eJournal Archives:
If you’re new to our eJournal, or just want to remind yourself of past practice exercises we’ve shared, check out our eJournal archives here.

Creating the Future's Mission
Teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in,
to create a future different from our past -
all by changing the questions they ask.

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