Pause and take time to ask your team, partner or children a few questions about how they feel and what they need right now.
That’s what a new initiative, called The Human Card, wants New Zealanders to do over the coming weeks and months, as we emerge from one of the most challenging periods in our collective history.
Friends and colleagues Jane Willersdorf and Megan Borrie, of business coaching consultancy B-Collective, developed The Human Card – a series of digital cards that act as conversation starters – in response to the worry, uncertainty and disconnection their clients told them they were experiencing.
The simple questions – in decks of between 8 and 12 cards, co-created with Auckland psychotherapist Jayne Pollock – encourage “genuine, meaningful conversations that help people make little shifts,” Borrie says. Covering questions from “where can our business be most profitable?” to “what do you want our time together to look like?” there are decks for individuals, teams, those in relationships, and there are questions kids can answer too.
Willersdorf says it was important to add families into the mix because the fear and tension that exists for business leaders and teams is also filtering down into relationships and family life. “It’s a really confusing time for so many of us,” she says. “Personally, I’ll be doing Zoom sessions and video meetings with clients, trying to remain calm and maintain some level of professionalism while my kids are in the next room playing cushion wars. Some families are experiencing strain on their relationship, clinginess with their children, arguments, or have kids that aren’t responding well to remote learning. Or, we’re asking children to get on with schoolwork, then five minutes later handing them the iPad because we have a meeting.”
Prototyping the cards became a focus for Willersdorf and Borrie who both felt that, when launched, they could help workplaces and families feeling similar pressure. Accessing the expertise of psychotherapist Pollock was integral, and her clinical experience helped shape each question to draw out responses and encourage conversation. There are also downloadable resources such as action plans and journals to take the conversation further. ”Helping people have conversations and get them talking about the real issues they’re facing right now really matters,” says Pollock.
As a starting point, the questions are key, agrees Borrie – deceptively simple, and really effective. “Questions take us forward,” she explains. “They help us to see something we haven’t. And if we’re seeing something we haven’t, then we’re growing. There’s a massive amount of stress on business leaders right now in a multitude of areas – cash, people, progress. And the truth is, none of us is an expert at this and we’re all making it up and learning as we go.”
Willersdorf says using the cards to harness the power of conversation is a straightforward and simple first step any business owner, team leader, or family member can take themselves. “For me, it’s the unsaid that is dangerous – in any situation. These questions aren’t necessarily clever or unique, but they are carefully designed to pull walls down quickly and aim to encourage others to start talking and just say exactly what they’re thinking.
“Our hope is that we’ll gain feedback, iterate and grow the collection of card decks as we go – tackling real issues we are all facing one question at a time.”
To purchase or gift a deck of digital cards for $12, or all five decks for $30, visit b-collective.com.