From Roundtable to Dinner Table

emotional intelligence mindful leadership Nov 18, 2020

In a podcast interview, I was recently asked if I could describe 2020 as a drink, what would it be?  

Taking a big swig of what you thought was water, but it turns out to be warm vodka. 

I hope that made you smile because I know the thought of how to approach the holidays amid an unrelenting pandemic and feisty politics has doubled the thinking lines on your lovely face. 

Exhale, relax your jaw, soften your eyebrows, now,  keep reading…

Why did I have you do this small exercise? Well, going in with a tense perspective isn’t going to do you any good in deciding how to approach holiday gatherings and the conversations that come with them. I share this same advice with healthcare leaders participating in my firm’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion roundtables, thought leaders in Houston looking to bridge the impact gap between their work and the BIPOC community. 

Bridging any gap comes with a series of conversations that you think will be uncomfortable only because they are hard to navigate - sounds like the holidays, doesn’t it? 

I tell ya’ all the time, the same person who stands in the bedroom stands in the boardroom, well, today I’m going to equip your voice for the holidays by sharing practices I use when onboarding teams to communicate inclusively. 

Revealing relevant opportunities that elevate equity is key. These opportunities are really about being an independent thinker who uses her voice to make sure her work doesn’t contribute to replicating the systems that increase entry barriers for women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. 

When it comes to this holiday season, there are a few entry barriers that might be necessary for you, my dear independent thinker. Suppose you’re ready to commit to a virtual gathering and possibly let some folks down in your family, or you know there is a feisty cousin or uncle with a totally different point of view. In that case, I’m here to reveal a few opportunities for that conversation and your #WOWkit


Prepare yourself.  It’s impossible to silence your values in 2020; this includes conversations with family members of a different view and temperament. Remember, your ultimate goal is to create impact, not to argue. When emotions are high, it’s the time to generate empathy, so when all has settled in the future, there is trust to have the critical conversation that will truly be heard, and hopefully, face-to-face. When you feel yourself getting worked up, ask yourself this one question: what is this really achieving? 

  • If that doesn’t work, here are three more questions to ground you: 
  • What am I thinking?
  • What am I feeling?
  • What am I doing, or what do I want to do with this moment? 


Facts or Feelings? Apply both to the conversation, but before you do, take this piece of advice with you - statements rooted in feelings “I just don’t feel…” will evoke an emotional response. Emotions based on facts and followed up by a question allow an excellent opening for others to be heard, and for you to ultimately communicate your decision, “I noticed cases are up in our area, how do you think we should…” 

I’ve got more to help you prepare your voice for the holiday season on the podcast today. Check out Episode 28: From Roundtable to Dinner Table.  

Stay well, dear friend and check in on your perspective more often than not; your voice will make an impact. Remember, you’re playing chess, not checkers, and sometimes a move in what seems to be the opposite direction is really aligning you for the win.

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