#30 What engages people with Kathy Ball-Toncic

Kathy Ball-Toncic


Kathy Ball-Toncic, worked in financial services for 18 years, now works full-time to inspire people to truly live their lives. Kathy talks about what engages people, provides several examples of creating connection, and gives reasons why we should encourage emotions in the workplace.


What engages people?


[1:49] When we speak authentically from passion, and not from ego but rather from our unique selves, our unique view of the world then we’re begin to create engagement. What we’re not doing in those times is trying to win or prove something or be better or smarter or brighter. We are not comparing ourselves to someone else or even to ourselves or to some standard we’ve set out there.

“I can’t engage with others until I feel fully engaged with myself.”


Does engagement come from a very clean space?


[3:08] It’s actually a very messy space, and our goal is to stay connected and feel the messiness of this space. We can feel nervous, angry, or tense, then we have to commit to return to that clean space. We can’t get there unless we acknowledge our feelings.


Can you give an example of how we create separation?



I believe that none of us are out there to create separation. Maybe on a bad day, but genuinely, we are wired to create connections with each other. We are tribal beings. We survive through connection.


An example is if you’re sitting in a meeting talking about what you read and not connected to how you perceived the article, or don’t include your point of view then you are not talking about what you have learnt, but talking about what you have read. And when you keep them separate them from yourself, then its tricky to connect with others.

When we try to be better, faster, smarter than the other we don’t connect.


 If I keep my learnings separate from me, then I am separate from me, and therefore it’s difficult to connect with other people.


On the surface, these conversations look like they’re going somewhere because there’s so much information exchanged. At the same time, there’s no connection between the people.


[7:47] It’s because we’re not connecting with the people, we’re connecting with a thing. We are stuck in our ego and comparing ourselves to others.


How do we create a connection?


[8:29] It’s one of those things that is common sense but not common practice. In the real workplace, we often are measured by what we do. We have things like KPIs and need to prove our worth not only to keep our jobs but maybe also to get a promotion.


“It’s not about overcoming our feelings, it’s about integrating them. I am a whole person. I’m not perfect and the day I can be okay about that with myself that I can make mistakes and that I need help we start to create connection. If we come in with a shield, we’re not only creating separation, we’re sending a message to people that we don’t need them.”


We need cracks to allow light to come in.

We need cracks to allow other people to come in.

We accept those cracks in us with compassion for ourselves, compassion for the other person, full acceptance, and even joy that we can’t do this alone.

Very often in this world, we believe that if we allow emotions to come in, we won’t make the right choices. We shut off the emotional channel and stop feeling in the workplace.


[11:27] We even get told not to be emotional. Kathy is a very emotional person, and says it took her a long time to sit in a tough meeting and not show emotion. That whole time, she would be completely separate from everything that was going on. There would be whole conversations that she would miss because she was so focused on not feeling her feelings.


The assumption is often that if we get into emotional discussions, we’re not going to get anything done. Kathy asserts that it’s the exact opposite. When there’s tension in the room and we don’t talk about it, so many of us resort to blame because that feels like our way out. Even if we blame other people internally, we are still building such separation.


Three key points from Kathy


  1. Recognise the feelings that we have inside of us. Label them for yourself and for others.
  2. If you have assumptions about emotions in the workplace, go test it out.
  3. Take responsibility for whatever part you’re playing, and check what feelings are there before getting into blame.


If we don’t see ourselves as part of the problem, we cannot see ourselves as part of the solution.


Can you give one concrete tip of how we can create connection?


[19:57] We should all signal connection, i.e. give a little nod or smile or raise your eyebrows or say tell me more any micro queues through spoken words or body language to indicate connection is important.

It’s actually as simple as tapping into our childlike curiosity. It’s not about interrogating, it’s about keeping in mind how you want other to feel.

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