Clear Communication Starts with Self Awareness with Monique Russell on Carry On Friends the Caribbean Americna Podcast

Ep.122: Clear Communication Starts with Self-Awareness

Bahamian American Monique Russell MSC is an International Teacher, and Executive Communications Coach based in Atlanta, GA where she teaches effective communication strategies. Monique believes that knowing how to communicate confidently begins from the inside.
Key takeaways:
  • Start where you can get in to start developing your emotional intelligence, building self awareness by using the  journal, or the DISC assessment.
  • Communication and Emotional intelligence starts at home. What we bring into work is based on what we’ve absorbed, observed and absorbed at home and subconsciously unconsciously bring some of these behaviors at work.
  • If you want to truly be a manager at work, you have to do people development, and people development starts with you. If you can’t develop yourself, you cannot develop other people.

Support Carry On Friends

Shop Carry On Friends

On Social @carryonfriends – Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Enjoyed the show? Please remember to leave a rating and review in Apple Podcasts


Kerry-Ann: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Carry On Friends, the Caribbean American podcast. And, as always, I’m excited that you’re listening. My guest today is Monique Russell Monique, welcome to the Carry On Friends family. How are you this morning? 

Monique Russell: I am fabulous. Thank you for having me on the show Kerry-Ann. 

Kerry-Ann: Glad that you are here. So why don’t you tell the people in the community a little bit about who you are Caribbean country, you represent and all that good stuff.

Monique Russell: Okay. Sure. So I am from the beautiful islands of the Bahamas, and also Nigeria. I’m a mom, I’m a wife. These days I go by an executive communications coach, professional speaker, corporate trainer, focusing on communication skills, and leadership skills. So pretty much anything that you need to have a positive and productive relationship. I help individuals and teams learn How to use communication tools effectively.

Kerry-Ann: So, that sounds like a lot of interesting work that you’re doing. And, you know, a lot of people talk about communications, you know, tools communication Coach, what exactly? First of all, tell me why you chose to do this as you know, a career profession, and then just kind of break that down because, you know, Coach, you know, or skills or how do you work with companies specifically, and within those organization teams, the teams to help them with the tool, the communications tools that you said that give them a positive and productive relationship? So the first question, how did you get to be involved in this what was what led you to do this work?

Monique Russell: Okay, so, I would say that this profession sort of chose me if you will, ever since I was a little girl When I was five years old, I started speaking, I started getting on stage working in plays. And, you know, I just loved that whole aspect of performing I would read in church. And you know, I think that when I started, and I can only say this now in retrospect, so obviously, when it was happening, I didn’t know this is where I would land or this is what I would be doing, because we evolved. But I left the islands I went to school to study communications with the idea that I’m going to be on TV, I’m going to be investigating stories. I went into broadcast journalism, and I continue to get my graduate degrees also in communications, but different aspects in marketing and in public relations and Kerry-Ann let me tell you, I think I apply to over 100 jobs. I thought that all I needed to do was get my credentials. And that was it. I would be set life would be grand, but I’m sorry to say it didn’t work out that way. It was hard for me to break in and then the opportunities that did come across my way they were like $12,000 a year. And hello, I had student loans. I also had my first child at that time, and I had to take care of responsibilities. So throughout the whole journey of life, I just started where I could get in and I started in executive support. I didn’t want to be there. I was like, this is where this is not what I went to school for. I was just going to be in here temporary and jump out. But throughout that whole process, what I realized was that was sort of my hands on practical training. Because when you are in executive support, nobody considers you to be a threat, but you are able to see what works and what doesn’t work as it relates to how leaders carry themselves and how they gain respect and having that communications background. It was just a compliment because I wanted to be in everything. Anyway, I wanted to be in the know, I was often asked how to handle complex issues, employee engagement issues, and I loved it. So I would say that sort of the was the foundational trajectory of what I was doing and, and then I started freelancing on the side. So I freelance on the side, I was doing everything and anything under the sun, if it looked and smelled like communications, editing and writing, PR whatever I was doing it and what I learned from that experience was that I there was some things that I liked and some things that I didn’t like. And only I would say within recent years where I started getting coaching and started investing in myself and in going to therapy that I was able to see why I was so passionate about helping people have positive and productive relationships, not just at work, but at home because I would see the challenges of the home life come in and spill into the workplace. And I would be sitting there in cubicle Ville, thinking about all the trainings that I could put people through that would help them while I was doing my work is this was something that was birthed through my experiences.

But now where I focus primarily because I was able to be blessed to have more clarity on why I’m doing what I’m doing and who I’m supposed to help and why I’m supposed to serve, which ultimately is the family unit. When you look at the grand scheme of things, the family is our foundation the family is our springboard. And our families are made up of many different, you know, many different ways. But in terms of a healthy society, the family is where it starts. And so people always ask me why you want to help family so much, why, why, why, why, why? And I just thought that this was part of what I wanted to do. When I left I was like, this is this is communications. This is what I studied. This is what I want to do. This is what I love to do, bringing out the truth investigating stories, but it wasn’t until I went through my own process that I was forced to examine my own Life and sort of connect the dots between my purpose work or what I’m doing, and how it connected to me personally, when I was growing up, so, you know, I didn’t feel like I fit in, I was in the home with my mom, I step dad and my brothers. And we have different dads; I didn’t meet my biological dad until I was eight. And that’s a whole different story. But pretty much I started to examine my own life in different areas throughout my life journey to say, wow, this is why I am so passionate about making sure that we have the right tools, the communications tools, so that we could have good relationships not just at work, but also at home because they both coincide. We just don’t take you know, we don’t wear a jacket or we don’t wear a hat that says okay, this is my home life. This is my professional life. We can separate some things but ultimately we are the same person. We’re just one person and we carry those things over into each area or each quadrant.

So these days what I do in terms of corporate work is I, I do group trainings, I do corporate training workshops that focus on things like emotional intelligence. I did a summit last weekend, weekend before last on was the diversity summit where we spoke about taking the blinders off and having emotional intelligence for the practical leader. And the other night, I did a training as well for women, businesswomen, corporate women, helping them to discover who they are internally, you know, maximizing their negotiation strategies by building their internal confidence. So confidence building skills for professional women, and then of course, the public speaking aspect, and presentation skills. I always love using public speaking as a tool to help individuals enhance their self-awareness because I go deeper. I don’t just say okay, we’re just going to do this outline or we’re going to figure on how to say it, but I use it from a holistic aspect, where once you’re done with that process, you learn about yourself. But then you also have the skills for the rest of your life when you are listening and paying attention to what’s being said and not being said, and how you’re going to respond, not just in your professional arena, but also on the home front.

Kerry-Ann: Wow. All right, you said a lot. And I was taking notes, because I wanted you to finish your thoughts. So first comments, we have some things in common in terms of growing up and growing up. I spent a lot of time on my performances were always in church. So I was Sunday school teacher for most of my life at church. And every event, they had a church back in Jamaica, I was there I had to read some poem, I have to do something. So you know, I recognize later in life that my grandmother used where she had access and opportunity to, to give me a way to learn whatever she saw in me to learn so public speaking or you know, all those things happened in church for me so and what you don’t recognize that’s what they’re doing until later. But then it was like why I have to go every time like somebody else can do it right. So that was always my in my head because you cannot dare say this out loud. Right. And, um, the other thing I learned from that experience, which I’ve really appreciated late in life, especially as I went through, you know, the grieving process for my grandmother was, you know, someone said, Boy, you know, Kerry, I love talking to you because even though you know, I have this thing like believe those who believe in you, and that really came from my grandmother and people said, well, it’s your grandmother, and, of course, she’s going to believe in you and I said, Well, the what I learned from the strictness of Caribbean parents is I didn’t want to go up on stage I didn’t want to be doing administrative work at Sunday school I didn’t want to be teaching Sunday school, but I dare not tell her that’s number one, right and some people might say, well, she wasn’t allowing you to express how you felt. But this is how I processed how she taught me two I realized that even though I didn’t want to do it, I better do it to the best of my ability, right? So I learned to lean in that even though I didn’t see it for myself, I leaned in and did the best that I could even though I was like, I’m just doing this because grandma said to do it and if even if I don’t want to do it, I better do it the way that she know I can do it, you know what I mean? So leaning into an over time I feel I realized this so I’m I didn’t realize this when I was five six, I realized this closer to you know, the past two years or so like grieving her. That is Even though someone says, you know, Kerry-Ann, I think you should be doing this. And I’m like, I don’t really see it. And if it’s something that I feel like you know what it may, they may be a possibility I lean into it and I’ll try to do it doubting it all the way but I’m still going to try to give it my best. So I thought when you said that I thought was very interesting how, you know, as Caribbean people church is where a lot of us hone or the skills that we know have so that was very interesting that you say that we should probably do like figure out a little deeper the role church plays in the other skills we develop over live over time.

The second thing that you said, which is very interesting, was start where I can get in, right? And it’s, it’s really the managing of expectations because I really want to focus on the professional life. And we’re going to come back to this but I just want to highlight where you said that start where I can get In, because you went to school, you got all this degree, you got everything and you couldn’t find what you needed. And I’ve said this on the show, I’ve had guests on the show, there’s nothing wrong with education as a people, we love it. But I think in today’s changing society, we have to start where we can get in and not always think that going back to school, unless you’re a doctor, or you’re in the finance industry, you know, you have to get in somewhere and start, and it may not be what you thought it was going to look like in college. But I like that. So we’re going to get back to that. And the other theme, I was picking up from everything that you said, communication starts at home. So let’s start there. Because you, you, you you’re saying that home is the foundation and communication starts at home and then this is probably how some of us show up at work. But here’s what someone’s thinking. We have good communication at work, it’s stupid people at work don’t know how to communicate. Right? So I have broughtupsy I have good communication; I can’t fix people at work it. So it’s like the analogy, everybody else is a bad driver. You’re not the bad driver.

Monique Russell: You’re hitting on so many things right now Kerry-Ann, I just like I don’t even know which went to go through but have so many aspects. So first one Well, I mean, yes, sometimes we think we have it all down pack. We are the ones that you know, we don’t have the problem. And that’s the biggest myth like that. That is a challenge for us. And I think even from just being a diaspora a person, there’s a challenge. There’s this mindset to that it’s us versus them and we’re better and they’re not then we’re right and they’re wrong. And then that type of thinking and that type of mindset will never get you what you need to get, especially if you want to move up in your company or if you want to get a promotion Because a lot of times I have people who tell me they want to get a promotion and we’re working through things, but they don’t like people. They don’t like people. They don’t want to connect with folks. They don’t want to hang out outside of work, but they want a promotion because they deserve it. No, you don’t want a promotion. You just want the extra money. So you need to start a side hustle. You have to understand how you’re

Kerry-Ann: Hold on. Oh, Jesus come. I mean, let me stop right there. So okay, you said something that I said to somebody the other day, that there are a lot of people who are managers, but managers inherent is people management. And a lot of people aren’t prepared to manage people. And you just said, people want a promotion, but they don’t like people or want to manage people, they just want more money. So if you want a promotion, which is technically you just want more money start a side hustle.

Monique Russell: That’s is. You can run on your own terms, and you could get the extra income that you’re looking for. Because you can’t do this thing without people development and people management you cannot, if you’re trying to move up.

Kerry-Ann: So again, sorry. If you want to move up in your company, if you want to get be a manager or you want to be next level you want if even if you’re not a manager, but if you’re a salesperson, level one and salesperson level to any level, you move up, even if it’s still there. So people development is inherent in any kind of promotion. And if you don’t want to develop, interact with people or can’t bother with people you I don’t want to say and this is the tricky part. You can get the promotion, but it may not work. Because then you’re going to have to be dealing with people and when you start dealing with people and people start complaining that they don’t like you then you go run into problems because you don’t like people so in inherent in any promotion There has to be some people development lord.

Monique Russell: And then let’s just keep it real, like you said, things are changing the whole workplace is changing. And people are having new levels of expectations. And if they don’t like you, they will leave. You know, CEOs are having challenges attracting and retaining talent. And that’s going to continue, especially with the pace of the gig economy and things, you know, new areas of work that we don’t even know that are going to be around in the next few years. So if you are not in that space of developing yourself, you will struggle and it’s not just the thing where you’ll struggle with others interpersonally, but you’re going to struggle with yourself. And you don’t want to put yourself under that type of stress. Because you know what’s going to happen in the body, you’re going to be having all of these ailments and that’s just not the type of life that you’re thinking that you want or you desire, because it gets so real. Quick 

Kerry-Ann: Okay, all right. So we’re going to go back because oh all right, so we’re going to go back to communication starts at home. So, you know, the first thing we talked about we get here we got here was like, Well, you know, I have great conversations with my family it’s just when I get to work those people don’t communicate well. So essentially, even if my coworkers or your anybody else’s co workers aren’t the best communication we still have to do a good job to make sure that we’re communicating with them to get our message across our to get whatever needs to happen, whether or not they’re good communicators or not. So we still have to have tools to communicate, regardless if they’re bad communicators. Okay, so what why does it start at home What do we do at home or what are we doing or what are we not doing at home that flows into work because you’re saying home is the foundation and a lot of that flows into work.

Monique Russell: So when I say that, I mean when we and I’m a mom, so I have two boys. And when we when I was growing up my mom, she was very strict by the way. So she would be around the house and she would be listening to all of these tapes and, you know, on the radio, turning the dial listening to things like Earl Nightingale, and on the health side, Jessie Brinkley only. But listen, she was in telling me that I need to sit down and listen to what she was. She was just listening to it on her own. She was developing herself. And back then I didn’t know I just thought she was just listening to some old people, old men on the radio. And she was just, you know, to me, it just was it seemed dull it seemed boring. But in later years, I realized that I was actually being exposed to the way she was developing herself and some of those seeds were being dropped into me as well. And The way that she approached our conversations, it was like she allowed us to have a voice and we were able to sit down and have conversations and share even though she was strict, she would allow us to have conversations and share but she, it wasn’t like she said, this is how you need to be as an individual.

So what I observed I was observing her and then I was absorbing what she was doing and how she was raising me at the time. And a lot of times we take what we learn and we hear and all these stories that we just we grow up with stories in the islands you grow up you’re not supposed to back talk you are not supposed to have any idea on you know anything unless you’re asked you just do what you’re told there’s a lot of stories even around mental health and you know, you choose to go to a coach or a therapist and they call you crazy or you mad or you know, she cuckoo or something like that. So there’s a lot of stories that we hear that we hear from our parents, our aunties, uncles, grandmothers, and whoever that we carry in our mind that we’re just there. They’re underneath the radar of our conscious awareness. And we don’t know that they’re influencing how we behave. So you might, you might make your rice the same way your mom made the rice. And she may not have told you that’s how to make the rice but you just saw her do that and you picked it up. Or there could be other things where you’re just picking up subconsciously or you may say, I don’t like the way my parents did stuff. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to do things differently. That also impacts what we’re what we’re doing or what we learn at home. And then when we move into the whole workplace space, especially from a communication standpoint, if you haven’t been exposed to having open conversations, and you are you are having this mindset that there’s this hierarchy and you’re just supposed to do what You’re told, I mean, we have this whole notion that children are supposed to just listen. They’re not supposed to have any idea or we can apologize. Actually, I’ll tell you something. What happened to me Kerry-Ann my, my, my oldest son, he’s in college, and he, he bought a cup. He bought a cup for my youngest son, who’s 13 now, and he gave it to him. And one day I was getting ready to go out it must have been a weekend I think, and I needed to make my tea. It’s a one of those nice little mugs, and I made my tea and I put it inside the cup and I was getting ready to go, that’s it. And my youngest son is 13 he was like, why are you using my cup? And that’s my cup and I was like cup. This is my house, you know, you don’t have any cup. You don’t have any cup in here.

Monique Russell: You know, that type of thinking just automatically came up and so we had a disagreement, and I and I left with the cup, you know, I left with the cup. And later on, I was talking to my mom and I was like you believe you believe what this boy said, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And she said, you know what? You need to apologize. I said, what? Apologize. And so we talked it through. And she said, you know, that has sentimental value that his brother gave him. And so you have to think about, you know, what message you’re sending when you tell him even though that’s your house, even though you are, you know, the parent or whatever have you have to think about the message that you’re sending to him. And then you need to make it right. And you know what I did? I went and I said, you know what, Daniel? I said the other day, we had a disagreement, and you talk to me about your cup, and I want to let you know that I took the wrong approach. You’re right; this cup means something to you. And how would you feel how would you feel if I asked you if I was going to use your cup? Would that be something that you would be okay with? He was like, no problem. Mommy, you can use the cup. Anytime, no problem, you know, and so something as small as that something as simple as that, you know, it’s like, we have to prepare them. We have to start to model for them what we want them to be when they grow up as leaders as individuals, because if they’re only doing what they’re told, and they’re only listening and then not sharing their true feelings, how are you going to expect them to get into the workplace and now they have some issue with a colleague or a peer or a manager can’t deal with it. They can’t yeah; they haven’t had the practice, just like a fire drill, stop, drop roll. We haven’t had the practice or the exposure. Yeah. And that’s the same way with, with your relationships, your intimate personal relationships, there’s a lot of unlearning and on new ways of thinking that we have to embrace if we want to move up in life and achieve what we consider to be our own versions of success.

Kerry-Ann:  Yeah, you know what you’re talking about, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve talked about in various episodes and over time where, you know, or from a career perspective, I and I, and the reason why I told the story about my grandmother is, you know, she was strict is not that I couldn’t say grandma don’t want to do it. I don’t feel like doing it or anything. Because the truth is, I probably could have said it, maybe lost a tooth, but when if I was really honest about it, I was enjoying it. I was spending time with friends. Did it get exhausting at times? Because you didn’t you felt like you had more responsibility than your friends? Yes. But I think the challenge we have culturally is that exactly what you said when we go to work. It’s very hard to show up because we were trained to respect authority in a particular way. And respect authority meant that you couldn’t challenge. If there was something that was wrong, or you know, we will talk about our friends, Monique, they asked me something, I may have said, Oh, this makes sense, blah, blah, blah. So I’m telling you, what I’m seeing is, you know, is questionable in a scenario. And when that thing happened, Monique you see, you don’t, see that I told, yes, I told money, but whenever I didn’t voice, I didn’t voice that opinion with the rest of the team. So no one then knows my potential or no one will ever bring me into a room to have a conversation. So I could give them another perspective, because I’m only sharing my perspective with Monique, I’m not sharing it with the rest of the team. Because we’ve, you know, and this is not everyone, but for the most part, there’s similarities, not just in the Caribbean diaspora, but the African diaspora really

Kerry-Ann: where it’s, this is just how we show up at work sometimes and there are exceptions, but it’s the most of the time, that’s what happened. And it affects the way we get our promotions, and how we communicate with our team members the level of frustration that we have. And then it makes it hard. It makes it very frustrating in our work life, because then the thing that I struggled with, which started Carry On Friends, and there was no one I could not find anyone that was saying this clearly, the level of and I’ve been seeing a lot the level of social, the this requirement to be nice at work. And I remember specifically, somebody was like, I was mean and I was like, I don’t even talk to you. So how am I mean? And I didn’t talk to her because I didn’t like her. You know, other than saying good morning or hello. There was no other reason for me to communicate with her because we weren’t on the same team. And when we did speak, I thought I was cordial. I had discussions but the challenge we have culturally, we don’t know how to be strategic. At the time when other people have agendas at work. We don’t like to play the fake game and the game at work. And that is kind of where culturally the challenges are. We don’t want to play the game because there’s a game that’s played at work. We don’t want to play the game. And because we don’t want to play the game, we’re off to the side. And then I recently read this article that you know, black women aren’t allowed to be introverts as much as I have the show I’m introvert, I, if I’m not having a conversation with you, I’m, for the most part, very quiet, just focus on doing my work. And if I’m not saying, Yes girl are talking about Honey, it’s almost like I’m not showing up as the black woman that they’re seeing on TV, and girlfriends or whatever, they have the stereotype of what we should be like in the office. And so these conversations are happening, in 2019 a whole five years after I had that experience at work, you know, so what happened to people five years ago, any of them Before that, who were struggling. And so these are like very important conversations to have when it comes to communication because it people quit work, because they’re like, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this. It’s too stressful. This is why a lot of you know, the largest segment of entrepreneurial aspirations are black women. And that’s the largest growing segment of entrepreneurs because they are, you know, we have legit struggles in corporate America. And there’s this, I don’t want to say undue but there’s this high requirement on socialization at work. It’s all you’re getting reviewed as how well you socialize with others, as opposed to how well you do your work. So where’s the balance in all of this, and how do we so going to communication, how do we communicate with our team in a way that is authentic to us? We’re telling the team what we need. And, you know, let’s jump to the other thing you said emotional intelligence. What role now does emotional intelligence play in communications but first define what it is and then how it plays a role in our communications at home and at work. 

Monique Russell: Okay, so so much so much said here Kerry-Ann very, very deep. So emotional intelligence in a nutshell is your, your ability to identify your emotions and manage them accordingly sort of in the moment but there’s four components your self-awareness, your self-management, your social skills and your relationship management. And pretty much your self-awareness is how you your strengths, your weaknesses, how you get along with others your energy cycles, we have energy cycles, your triggers your coping mechanisms. Self-management includes the coping mechanisms as well. So, you know, if you’re triggered by something or even understanding your stories, how are you going to shift your thinking from negative to positive one, something that might happen to you at work you might be ruminating And thinking about it for a week. But as you strengthen your awareness and your self management ability, it may not take you out for a week, it may take you out for two days, or it might, you know, bother you for an hour, or it might bother you for five minutes. That’s when you’re starting to develop this almost in the moment type of shift with your thinking and then your social skills. Of course, you know, how you’re getting along with others how you’re reading, most people want to start there that they just want to start there, how do I get them to listen to me? How do I get them to include me? How do I get them to, you know, respect me? How do I speak with authority and lead with executive presence? All of that people love to jump right there. They go to social skills, relationship management, but you cannot get there effectively without focusing on your self-awareness and understanding yourself. So when you understand yourself, I mean, at the very core, you’re already opening up yourself to understand other people. I mean, we have blind spots. And some people blind spots are so big that they just blind straight up blind, and they see everybody is out to get them. So I say in the workplace, it is absolutely essential. And if you don’t have the skills, it’s going to impede the way you connect with others you will be labeled in appropriately, you won’t be able to connect and you won’t be able to, you know, when you when you work on yourself, everybody around you wins your team wins your children, win you know your parents, win everybody around you can experience something different because you’re growing and working on yourself. When I work with I had a client who, you know, sort of the similar thing, you know, you, we have stories and we have beliefs. So if you’re walking into your environment that you’re already in the losing position because you’re a black woman or you’re a black person, you’re already going in with a different story. And so your brain is going to look for confirmation of what you think. And sometimes we can’t really tell I had a situation where there was there was an altercation, altercation, verbal altercation. And you know she felt like this was just because I was a black woman. But when we later realized that this was characteristic of this individual, because it was done all across, you know, all across to everyone else, it changed the perspective. And that’s not always the case, but sometimes it is. So I say, if you’re going to make up a story, if you have an encounter with someone and you say it’s because I did this, or I did that and you don’t know for sure, and you don’t have the evidence, and you just fill in the gaps or fill in the blank, fill in the blank with your own version, something that’s going to empower you instead of holding you back. Because if you think that it’s always something that’s negative, then it will it will hold you back from actually moving forward.

So you have to think about, what is the other person thinking, what are they seeing, and the best way for you to begin to do that is by learning about yourself. You could start with assessments, you can do therapy, you can do coaching, a lot of times, especially in the black community, these things are looked down upon negatively, oh, I don’t need coaching. I don’t need therapy, blah, blah, blah. But if you really look at it, the things that are good for us, they’re often positioned as wrong. They’re often positioned as, you know, separate or you would be in an outcast category, but the truth is, they are secret tools to maximize your individual performance and I know this to be true, and I know that even in in personal life. I’ll tell you why I met my biological dad at 8. And there were things that I expected or I wanted to connect with him, you know, daughter, daughter, Dad relationship, and he’s from Nigeria. I didn’t know all about the culture, I still was trying to connect and fit in there. And all throughout my life. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I heard my dad say, I love you for the very first time. And I was like; oh my God he said he loved me. And the thing about it is I had to get to a point of seeing him differently from what I expected from him as a father. And I was only able to see that when I started going deep within myself and I started to look not only just that, oh, what am I not having this connection with him, but looking at the behaviors and what sort of shaped those behaviors and then you see that okay, this is the way this individual shows love. This is the way this person expresses themselves, it doesn’t have to be my way or the highway. And it just opens your mind to have more diverse approaches and more diverse thinking, as you move throughout your days, and as you move throughout your relationships with your friends, with your friends, and also with your partner, 

Kerry-Ann:  you know, there’s a theme that has been coming up, I did an episode with a childhood friend of mine called Mark and he was like, you have to know who you are, in order to be confident or whatever that you have to have, like, self awareness, right? And so instead of communication starts at home, it’s almost like emotional intelligence begins at home. And it’s hard because we’ve spent most of our lives under the culture under which we grew up. So now it’s not it’s we’re exercising a muscle that is not natural to most of us in terms of how We communicate how we go deep and understand how we feel about a particular thing. What triggers us, you know, how do we react about certain things? So, so that’s one way. So with the work of doing the self-awareness, and communications, because we could have a whole series on communication, or whole podcast dedicated to communication. And I think the one thing that I know from experience, it takes time, and we’re, and we’re in a society where we want instant results. So it’s, that’s the challenging part about communication. And I think, from my experience, I should say, because it’s a trial and error in terms of what works with one person may not work with another person in the same company on the same team. And understanding that and that could be culturally when you know, our parents, just issued One rule and everybody fall in line brother and sister everybody fell in line, you know, and we subconsciously make one communication and expect that everybody gets it. And while you’re Caribbean or African brother and sister at work gets it, your non-Caribbean or African brothers sister won’t get it. So it’s understanding that the things that we do, like you said, the things that we do at work are a lot of times, unconsciously or subconscious from what we are learning at home, or what we’ve learned at home.

Monique Russell:  Yeah Definitely. 

Kerry-Ann: So that is how communication starts at home because we take behaviors, whether and you said something amazing. You observe and absorb. And we take that with us and so our brain goes into autopilot because our brain is like okay, cues, cues, cues. Oh, I know what this is. So autopilot and then we subconsciously do the things that we’ve seen. Or have experienced and expect like, wait a minute, this is I don’t understand how did they not get what I was trying to say? So I’ll give you a perfect example of that. So when I first came to this country, we, we, we, we bit, I shouldn’t say that I was I was about 13,14. And we were on a trip. And I remember the young lady very clearly, and something happened. And I told her, oh, hush, and she, you know, I said, Oh my God hush, and then I just walked and did whatever. And at the end of the day, there was this big drama because she said, I did something I didn’t I didn’t say sorry. I’m sorry. I told her hush, like, I don’t I mean, it’s funny now but I was like, I said hush, you know, but, I mean, literally when that incident happened, I was but a year in the country. So in my head hush, was, you know, hush is a multipurpose word, but in that context, it meant I’m sorry, right? Whereas for her hush meant Be quiet, you know, so it was just like, no, you know, so there was a good thing was my Caribbean classmates they understood, and then someone had to tell her, and I have to say, I’m sorry, I hated saying it because I was like all of this drama, and she was emotional about it. But I, I had an adverse reaction to the whole thing. I said, You know, I, I have some broughtupsy I told her hush, you know, but it’s like the, you know, at 14 versus where I am now is like that self awareness to say how I communicate is not the way someone else might communicate. And I have to be clear, not in my language, but in a language that they understand. And we don’t we like you said, we don’t get to learn those tools. So what are some tools that people can just do something really simple, that can help people communicate a little better or maybe, maybe become a bit more self-aware? About what they are doing or how they feel because I think we might have to just do another show, because I think this conversation was more about, we were on a lot of things we were talking about communication starts at home, but then self-emotional intelligence starts at home. We talked about self-awareness. We talk about wanting promotion and people development. We talked about so many layers that impact a professional, and how do we dissect different all of these different areas that are really happening simultaneously? So let’s start with on this journey, let’s say we’re starting this is the first and maybe another journey. What’s one tool that people can use to kind of work towards building their emotional intelligence muscle?

Monique Russell: So I use a personality assessment in my practice called DISC. DISC… 

Kerry-Ann: Ooh, I’ve done that. So you know, it was interesting. Did it Alright, so I’m a I’m an assessment junkie to the point and I’m a nerd, I’ll tell you how much of a nerd I am. So I have a little spreadsheet of all the assessments that I’ve taken. Some of them are paid, some of them are free. And then I create columns like so disc, career leaders, one and a few others the date I took it, and, you know, try to pick out common themes. I can line it up and see, oh, here’s the pattern here, right? Because in some ways, so disc is one I went on a job interview in 2015 and the company right then and there, the owner was like, Oh, my gosh, I like you. I really want you to do let’s he administered the disc exam. Because everyone in the company had disc and you walk by people’s cubicles. You saw their disc profile on the outside of their cubicles, because then that should tell you how this person communicates. Right? So this was 2015. So that’s how I got it done. I’m sure four years later, I’ve an I think that’s the thing about these things because you’ve grown. While I love personality, or all these assessments, I always think that as you grow, they kind of they you won’t drastically shift, but you might find you go up in some go down and others as you move through life, but yes, my profile.

Monique Russell: Yeah, so and I agree I agree with you because here’s the thing I always tell people this, the assessments are the starting points, their conversation pieces that help you get greater clarity about how you’re wired to communicate, and then give you clarity about how the people around you also communicate, but they’re not the end all be all because they don’t measure your values. They don’t measure your motivations. You know, they don’t measure your stressors. That’s just one piece to the pie. But if we’re talking about something practical that people can start with, then I would suggest that and then also guided reflection. I mean, sometimes we move in so quickly and so fast that we don’t really stop to think about how did my day go? Or you, you may be in a high, positive emotional state at 11am. And then 130, you feel like crap, stop and think, Okay, what happened? Who did I interact with? How did that make me feel? What did I say? What did I not say? Because a lot of times when we are working, we’re just we gotta move to the next meeting, meeting, meeting, meeting, or, or task. And then we leave and we start the whole thing over again with our families, but we don’t really stop and think about what’s going on. Was I hungry? Was I angry? Was I lonely? Was I tired? That’s halt. You know, those are critical pieces in the whole emotional intelligence and self awareness package, but I definitely can’t go into a whole lot but I would just leave with those two starting points guided reflection, just paying attention to some of your physiological states, because your physiological state influences your emotional state, you hungry, you going into a big meeting, and you have to do a presentation, trust me, something may tick you off very quickly or faster than if you went into there with a full stomach or if you’re tired. Oh my gosh, and you’re trying to have a serious conversation is the wrong time.

Kerry-Ann:  You know, when you said guided reflections, I was sitting here so a few years ago, I did a Carry On Friends journal, and I’m like, I need to update it, but I have extras. And it was how to get people to write I’m big on writing, right? So self-reflection is huge, huge, like I journal almost every day. And there was a point in my life I stopped journaling because I was in the depths of my grief. So I couldn’t even write, even when that was probably the time I should have written but you know, during that time, I had conversations. And you know, I had some like writing cues for people and one of the things it was just like to begin writing or the reflection, what have I learned today? How can this help me grow? How will I apply this to my life? How will this help me in the future? Or maybe what is frustrating me right now? What triggered it? How will I address it? So I have a couple of these journals. And if you’re interested, send me an email, hello at carry on friends com and I’ll give away maybe two or three guys can start the self reflection that will help you be better communications communicators, because I think it’s so important to, to, you know, I don’t want to say control our message, but be aware of what we are saying and there’s times when, you know, I was talking to a friend, and you know, today’s what, yeah, Saturday, so it was Thursday. And I was telling her with social media, you know, and I’m not blaming social media because before social media, if I had an issue with Monique Right to in today’s culture, if I have an issue with Monique, I’ma go on Twitter and I’ma go on Facebook, and I’m gonna go on Instagram. And I’m just gonna say some people don’t know how to do this. Right? Whereas, you know, before social media, you I’m not saying you couldn’t say some people, but Monique would almost always be in the vicinity, right? Because I wouldn’t say it unless she’s close by enough for me to say it because I want her to hear it. Versus when you do that in social media kind of baiting a crowd. And you know, almost always I gave her the example like if you saw somebody and you wanted to argue or fight, there’s usually somebody who was like, come on now, big woman and you have to figure it out, you know, like back in the Caribbean, you know, somebody, you have some people who are egging on to fight on somebody always like, No, you guys need to sit down and talk about it, blah, blah, blah. In social media, it’s very hard to hear that voice of reason in the crowd of people. So Do we do we do we fight, right? You know, and, and a lot of times it’s the unchecked emotion, the impulses that we have. And I feel like journaling even though people say I don’t like to write, I think a journal is like no one’s checking your work. No one’s checking your punctuation, no one checking your spelling. You don’t have to have pretty writing you just have to get the emotions out. And however you get the emotions out is important in a in a constructive way. So that’s just my opinion on writing. I am big on journaling. I’m big on if it’s just a one line. I am upset because there are some days that my entries aren’t four or five pages is just like I’m so annoyed. I’m annoyed because x y&z and I can’t even write anymore the way how I’m annoyed. And that’s it. You know?

Monique Russell: We are so similar we I journal every day, same here some days is just two words. Some days it’s 10 pages. 

Kerry-Ann: yes. Yes. And it’s like, you know, it’s this place to catch your thoughts in a way that you know, sometimes you don’t want to tell a friend because, you know, sometimes it’s like, oh god, I don’t feel like explaining it to you, right? So it’s like I look at the journal as an extension of myself, it’s like if I wanted to talk, I would be talking to myself through the journal. So I am happy to give away as a three or four email to start the process of self-awareness and reflection. Because I think it’s so important. And you know, even if you’re going through therapy, or you’re considering therapy, you know, use it as an opportunity to write through the emotions of why or why not what’s stopping you, because I have other prompts in there, but I love prompts. I love prompts because they get you thinking, you know, it’s like 

Monique Russell: yes, that’s definitely I love it too in it and I thought Totally agree with you in that’s an excellent, excellent resource for people to get started. I mean, so they, they could start with their assessments; they could start with the journal. And those are the beginning points. So when you talk about people going on social media and saying so and so some people this and some people that, then that’s another aspect of communication, where you’re talking about how to communicate assertively, right, so you’re, you’re in denial, or you’re avoiding, or you’re the humor person who always has to make a joke about when it’s time to talk about something serious, serious, that those type of things come with additional training and awareness as well. But the start the starting points; definitely, I would say start with that journal. Start with an assessment before in the workplace, bring in training solutions that actually address the issues multicultural awareness training, so that you know that okay, You have different people in your team, let’s learn how things are done in different areas. Emotional Intelligence training as well. Those things just help to bring awareness to the team because now we’re learning together and we’re growing together. It’s not just one person it’s like okay, we all now understand now this is why you act the way you act

Kerry-Ann: all right and so to wrap this up, I’m bring it full circle start where I can get in initially, we started that conversation based on profession, and, you know, finding the job and where we’ve landed is where I can get in, which is we’re going to start with the journal. So if you’re interested in the journal, and I’m giving away three or four copies of the journal, and you can email Hello at carry on friends, or you could get the disc assessment. So that’s starting where you can get in to start developing your emotional intelligence, building self-awareness, and that episode I did with Mark a few episodes ago. It’s like really knowing who you are, and how that helps to, I don’t want to say control your emotions, but that episode he was more about like, I don’t let certain things bother me. You know, like, I don’t, I don’t beat my child. And I’m not judging people who beat the child. He’s just like, I know why I don’t do it. I’m not going to judge you. But if you do it, I know I don’t do it. And that’s a level of self-awareness that it’s personal to him because it’s self-awareness, right? But you have to be confident in who you are and what you’re about. So even if somebody else isn’t about that, it’s not going to waver you very much because it’s whatever it is, it’s you know who you are. So that’s interest. So that’s starting where you can get in the journal, or the disc assessment. We initially said communication starts at home and that’s because we observe and we absorb, and it now is emotional intelligence start at home. What we bring into work is based on what we’ve absorbed, observed and absorbed at home and subconsciously unconsciously bring some of these behaviors at work. And we have to again, go back to being self aware, managing checking, are we perceptive of other people? Do we are we aware? Do we have the cultural intelligence, the multicultural intelligence? So we covered a lot here and not even touched really, you know, a good chunk of it is just really a tip. So I’m just kind of bringing everything full circle. And then I think the other thing that we touched on which is important is if you want to truly be a manager at work, stay at your company because you have no interest in starting a side hustle. Then you have to develop your people. You have to do people development, and people development starts with you. You don’t start with developing other people because if you can’t develop yourself, you can develop other people because a lot of the coaching that happens is based on personal experiences so even in this conversation, Monique and I are sharing our own personal journeys or toward self-awareness. And we use those very stories to connect with the people who we’re developing because there I don’t know if about your Monique, but there’s always a story that happened to us that we can pull it out when somebody’s having that experience. So if you’re truly and if you don’t want people development, but you want more money than a side hustle is for you, right? But if you truly want to stay at your company and be a manager, you have hopes of being the VP CEO or one day the owner then you have to get into people development and people development starts with you. I don’t think I’m missing anything else. I think I want to stop right here. So

Monique Russell: Oh, my God, this is awesome. Kerry-Ann so much to unpack. I see why you don’t have scripted questions because it just uncovers so much

Kerry-Ann: yes, yes. I think it’s the beauty of a conversation where you are I’m open to the possibilities of where the conversation goes, right? And even in a previous episode that just got launched, I came in with, okay, I have this idea of this is where I want the conversation to go. And it was the first time I thought I knew where the conversation Well, maybe not the first time, but it was like one of the first times I was very clear where I think this conversation is going to go based on what I thought I knew. And the conversation went a different way, because I didn’t know. And so it’s always this place of, I don’t have questions. Unless you’re a doctor, or you’re in finance, I might have specific questions that require you to make sure that you’re covering legal analysis in some way. But I think the beauty is uncovering what I don’t know and asking questions that the audience can’t get to ask because I’m the one talking to you. So yes, I love it. And this is communication, the essence of it, right? Just kind of hearing what the person have to say, taking notes while you’re talking and then going back to these questions to say Hmm. So you said this let’s unpack that. So I think it’s, you know, what we do or what I do with your what I love is just the possibility of being open, not just being open to the possibilities of what blossoms from a conversation.

Monique Russell: Definitely, definitely. 

Kerry-Ann: So I thank you for being on the show. Tell everyone where they could find you.

Monique Russell: You can find me at clear communication that’s my website and I’m over the Internet says clear communication coach. So LinkedIn, I play over there several times a week so clear communication coach Monique Russell on LinkedIn and I’m also on Facebook, Instagram, their communication coach,

Kerry-Ann: Awesome. All right, Monique. This is not going to be the last time we hear from you. I am sure of it. So I like I like to say at the end of the show, walk good


Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.