*Don’t wanna read this whole blog? Skip to the end to look for what’s to come in Salon-land. I think you’re gonna like it.

January’s Salon topic was on Voice. Outloud voice. Inside voice. Authentic voice. It was a rich conversation and a wonderfully warm, provocative evening where many voices were insightful and heard.

Here’s a little sampling of what we covered. For those who were there and not, I hope you find this useful.

My initial thoughts
Voice can live in various domains: Body, mind and spirit.

Body: Where does your voice live in your body? What moods and actions are available to you pending whether your voice is in your throat or deep in your belly?

Mind: How mindful are you when you speak? Of the other person? Your shared outcomes/commitments? Your body? Your impact?

Spirit: What are your intentions when you use your voice? What do your heart and spirit want to communicate? When do you go silent and why?

From the Community
Jen Barth (@JenUnplugged on Twitter) kicked off the evening by reminding us that when we don’t know what to say we often end up saying too much. In the end, it’s totally not effective (and sometimes slightly annoying. ☺).

Amelia J-Lewis (@AmeliaJL) shared with us her practice of speaking into a mirror the words she plans to communicate to another party, that way she is forced to hear how they sound coming out of her mouth. Too harsh? Not enough? I plan to take on this practice myself.

Marsha Shenk (@MarshaShenk) shared with us perhaps one of the most potent points of the evenings: We humans are driven by social pain. She says we humans will avoid pain at most costs. Like, for me, whether I was in the French Bakery unleashing on the man who said yes and meant no, or going silent with my housesitter– the source of action was the same– I was trying to avoid my own pain/shame/upset.

We were lucky enough to have a few social media and PR experts in the room (@KristaFoxwell, @KimBrater, @JenUnplugged, @Mary_Rarick, @ThisKat, @GinaRau, @AmeliaJL, @PemaTeeter) who reminded us, among other things, that times have changed when it comes to using our voice publically. We must take a stand, make our opinion clear and be concise.

The Common Thread
Inside all that stimulating conversation, a juicy inquiry persisted:
What’s the difference between authenticity and honesty? Should I just “be myself” and not worry if it hurts people’s feelings or gets them fired? How do I make an impact but not compromise who I am?

The answer (if we can even say there is one) is complex:
First, it’s important to look at our competing commitments and concerns.
– We have all kinds of dark side (less or unconscious) commitments that run us like a g6 but we are completely blind/unconscious to: we care about looking good, not looking bad, not hurting people, avoiding pain, surviving, not being dominated or dominating so that we ensure we are not hurt. To name a few.
– But then we have our conscious commitments as well: making the client happy, making sure we are happy, doing good work up to our standards, ensuring our kids, friends, neighbors, partners, coworkers are well, having our finances work, our life work, our communities work. The list goes on, right?

These commitments battle each other and we end up in a situation like a few of our guests that evening– making a brave move for the sake of our higher or conscious commitment yet only hours later be grabbed by our feelings that come from our less or unconscious commitments (hope I didn’t sound too arrogant, hope I don’t get him fired, I don’t want to feel bad about this, etc.) Thank you ladies for sharing so openly and giving us all an opportunity to learn here.

The Antidote?
Bring mindfulness to your commitments. What’s driving you? Remember: the goal is not to somehow disappear all those very human and lower-self concerns. The goal is to be present to them and not let them run you like a wild pony. Elevate yourself to your greater commitment, your shared commitment and let your voice operate and sing from there.

You Are Like An Old Rock. Really, You Are.
Be clear that whatever style voice you have (direct, bold, shy, soft, or like me, both at different times)- that voice is not your authentic self, it’s not who you are. That’s just the way you got SHAPED over the past couple of decades, like water dripping on a rock over time makes a rough edge or a soft one. The rock itself is much more than it’s shape. It’s a quartz or granite, it’s blue, black, white…the dna is different for every one. The essence of you is like that, too. You are so much more than your style; your rough or soft edge.

Finding your authentic voice is not about just saying what’s in your head or telling it like it is. It’s about uncovering the ways that you have shaped yourself over time. It’s about looking in your heart for your shared commitments (whether it’s with a lover, a child or a colleague).

Giving up your “style” of communication doesn’t mean you’d be compromising who you are or losing your “authentic voice”. In fact, just the opposite, giving up your patterned ways of being (harsh, bold, direct, shy) likely means revealing MORE of your authentic self. And that’s vulnerable! BUT, it’s like a magnet. Be brave and in turn, people will move toward you and not away from you (despite what your survival brain wants you to think).

Check out these examples of vulnerable, clear, authentic voices:

    Pema Teeter (@Pemateeter) is always revealing her humanity, her vulnerability through her writing.
    Mark Silver. Oh Mark. I love him. Few people are as practiced at peeling away old ways of beings to come back to his vulnerable essence. Check him out.

All these folks reveal their humanity and we love them for it. Their voices are clear and strong and totally authentic, not because of the results they are producing or how good they look or how “honest” their feedback is, but because of the their way of being- vulnerable and courageous.

So…thank you to all the women who joined the Salon Tuesday evening and made your voice heard. You made the evening so wonderful and for that, I’m grateful.

Share the Love
Please share the Salons with your friends. It’s you and your community that make them not only possible, but really special.

Winter Retreat
Winter Retreat information and registration is here. Early bird ends January 28th but I’d caution you not to wait too long if you’d like to register. There is limited space and I’ve had a few registrations this week. Also, I offer one partial scholarship per retreat. It’s not been spoken for yet. If you are interested in this, contact me directly.

New Salon Stuff Coming soon!
45 or better? A Salon just for women who are at a different stage in their life than the 30-somethings. You’ve asked and I’ve heard your request. Let’s do it!

Uber Salon! Do you love the Salons? Hanging out with great women, discussing hot topics and sipping wine? Want more? Look for the Uber Salon that will last for hours, include foot rubs and champagne and maybe even a little take-home workbook.

Big, big love,

P.S. Wanna chat more on this topic? Leave a comment below. Or, use #voice on Twitter.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    How I wish I could attend your salons! Especially love the idea of the 45 or Better version. That? Might entice me to come for a visit all the way from Vancouver :)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alyssa Agee, Regina Perata. Regina Perata said: Wanna hear what we talked about at the last Salon? Maybe even see your name in print? Check it out! http://bit.ly/igAn2c […]

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