Ep 228 Making a Great Ask and Listening to Learn: A Conversation with Lynn Harden, Leadership Coach & Mentor for Principals

 In Podcast

Today I am sharing a recent conversation with Lynn Hardin.  Lynn is a retired principal from public education.  She served over 20 years in a large urban school district in Southern California.  She built 3 award winning elementary schools – in fact – Americas Best Urban School 2019 and she is the recipient of the National Principal Certificate for Equity and Excellence from NCUST.  She is a certified life and leadership coach for school administrators and today she shared some really great nuggets on how to make a great ask, listening to learn, and the importance of communication in your work and personal life.

In This Episode:

  • Making a great ask to get more of what you want in life
  • Ask better questions get better answers
  • The importance of listening to learn
  • Keys to ensuring clear communication
  • Dareen Hardy and the Compound Effect
  • Keystone Habits
  • Connect with Lynn: lynn@lynnhardin.com IG: _Lynnhardin

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Transcribed by OtterAi with minimal edits:

You are listening to the it’s your time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Bouruqe and today’s episode I’m discussing making a great ask and listening to learn with Lynn harden. Unknown Speaker 0:13 Welcome to the It’s Your Time Podcast, the podcast where busy professionals like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule so you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place.

0:35 Hello, hello. Hello. Welcome back to the podcast friends. Here we are with another one of our amazing March lineups. Just as a reminder, my birthday is this month and I thought it would be so much fun to give you a gift each week, and share conversations with powerful women who can help you in a variety of ways. And today, I am sharing a recent conversation with Lynn harden. Lynn as a retired principal from public education, she served over 20 years in a large urban school district in Southern California. She built three award winning elementary schools and fact she was America’s best urban school and 2019 and is the recipient of the national principals certificate for equity and excellence from NC U. S. T. She is a certified life and leadership coach for school administrators. And today she shared some really great nuggets on how to make a great ask listening to learn and the importance of communication in your work and personal life. So without further ado, please take a listen. Lynn, thank you so much for being here today. Can you start by introducing yourself to the listeners and maybe talk a little bit about who you help and any other goodness that you see fit to share.


Thank you so much for having me today. My name is Lynn Hardin, I am the host of the podcast, the principal purpose podcast. And who I serve is educators who are interested in relieving chronic stress and anxiety so they can live healthier and happier lives. My I was a teacher for five years, and a principal of an elementary school for 19. And today, I’m a certified life coach and who I serve is educators, I coach educators. Oh, that’s so great. And I think it’s such an important area for stress and burnout and overwhelm. And I see that theme also in, in our careers in my industry as well. So I know whatever you have to share is going to be very important today. I know we were going to dive into the topics of how to do a great ask and listening to learn, which I think both are super important, not only in sales, part of what we do also is teach some of our doctors and patients. So can you maybe talk a little bit about the we’ll start with the great ask and what that means to you? Unknown Speaker 3:13 Well, a great ask is, I would say that where I learned it was the first time I where I learned how to do a great ask was my marriage was in trouble. I was a principal, a leader, very masculine, very demanding type of role. And what I would do is I thought that I was asking for what I needed. But what I was really doing was making demands. I didn’t understand what partnership was. And I would say that my husband might have described it as 

3:52 I was nagging more than asking for what I needed. And I really thought that I was just asking for what I needed. So I I’ve always been interested in personal development. And my husband was I would say he was out the door. He was the he goes, I’ve been to Vietnam, raised children. He goes, 

4:13 I love you. But life is too short to be nagged and not understand what it is that you need or what you want. Really only wanted to do is to make me happy and I just all you heard was nagging. And so I learned how to do what a great is called getting a great ask. And you know, I learned how to do this with is horses of all things. Really. Yeah, horses are they don’t? Well, obviously they don’t have language. They’re the they’re the most spiritual creatures I’ve ever encountered. And they also are experts at partnership. They are reading your you’re not listening to the words. They are reading your intention and your vibe and your pressure to ask for what you need. 

5:00 So you cannot be demanding or nagging to a 2000 pound animal, they’ll just stand there and look at you like, what? So what I learned from horses is that you first you start when you want to ask, you started kind of a lower from one to 10, a lower pressure, maybe have three. And you just give a simple statement of is I need. Unknown Speaker 5:25 And you give a description of what it would look like or not look like when or how often. And then you describe what it would provide for you. Unknown Speaker 5:36 And then the partnership question is, what do you need to give me what I’m asking for? And then you release? So I’ll give an example. Because it’s going to be very foreign. I think to me, I think it could be foreign to a lot of women who were were culturally taught

5:55 TV programs, my husband and I were watching a commercial. It’s like, there they go, making the man look stupid again, because she was complaining coffee’s not a breakfast item. And I was like, it’s so interesting how Unknown Speaker 6:11 in TVs and movies, they still pit testosterone brain against estrogen brain and don’t honor our differences. So in asking for great ask for honest and honoring differences. So for like, I used to complain or nag about the trash being taken out. It used to just drive me crazy. I have all these big men, I have a husband and two sons, and why aren’t they taking the trash? Can’t they see me standing by this trash stomping my feet, or, you know, complaining, I would complain a lot, oh, the trash is horrible. I just, I can’t believe I have to take the trash out again. So I did this was one of my boys. And I said, I need the trash taken out. And what it would look like is that, pick up the trash out of the trash, take it to the side of the house and throw it into the big bin, and then come back and put a fresh bag in. Unknown Speaker 7:08 And what this would provide for me, which is what’s so important, because others want to know, they don’t want, they want to know that they that you’re giving something what it would provide. And so what it would provide for me is a sense of ease, a sense of beauty, a sense of I can’t stand the smell, and gross pneus of the trash. So it would give me peace of mind and calm. 

7:32 And then the partnership question. I say what do you need to give me what I’m asking for? 

7:39 I said, well just tell me when it’s full, to say, Jonathan, the trash is full. And I have to tell you to this day, 25 years later, I’ve never taken the trash out. And it’s evolved into Now it’s interesting. When Jonathan comes into the house, he just kind of checks the trash on his own now. But if I want it taken out, all I have to ask is because that’s what he needed for me. Not nagging, not a demand. So it’s about having that conversation. So that I started great ask yes. And it’s so important. You touched on a few things. I think initially, my brain for the great ask went to work stuff. But I love incorporating professional and personal information here. And I think so many women also just think, or at least I’m speaking for myself, they should know, right? Like, they should know that the garbage is overflowing. So just take it out, I shouldn’t have to ask you to do that. So I think it’s important what you’re offering up like a very simple process to be able to get more of what you want. And to your point, if your husband wants to make you happy, like, why not have that communication, so that he has that information. And because you and I as women an estrogen brain in utero, our little brains were soaked in estrogen. Whereas my husband’s a little brain was soaked in testosterone. So we actually have very different brains. And we perceive things different we process things differently. We take in things different. So you and I speak can’t Michelle, I could hit I could not say it. I could say you know my favorite flowers, tulips and you would know to get those for my birthday. Okay, I men do not speak Hent they don’t hit. So the way this translates professionally, is to honor who you’re talking to. You made some time and there is a there’s the male and female brain but there’s also masculine and feminine. So I would use this in work, I would honor who I’m talking to. If I’m talking to another woman or a young girl, I know that I don’t really have to be I can just kind of sit around and we talk over each other. Whereas if I’m talking to a young student who is a man or I’m talking to a male teacher 

10:00 If I, you know, I need to be out a few more details, but not too many, and be very specific about what I need. But then also ask them what they would need to get what I’m asking for. That is so important. I love that. And I think on the flip side of that, then is also the listening part, right listening to learn. So can you maybe expand on how you teach that also? Yes, I do, the way we traditionally listen, and I think you see a lot of it right now, in the news. And you also see, oh, I had this fantasy that if even there’s such a divide politically, if we used more listening to learn, we might be able to come together a little bit more. But this is how the survival survival brain listens. And I’ll do a little bit of anthropology 101 is that we are neurology or neuroscience 101, I mean, not even 101. Like, kindergarten level, we have parts of our brain. There’s one part that is, it’s the most primitive part of our brain that is all about survival. This part of our brain is constantly looking for danger, movement, wind, anything, any kind of movement, any kind of danger, any kind of challenge, anything hard anything, that could be a problem. And it’s going to have us either run from it, fight for it, fight with it, or, or freeze in order to survive. And we have very developed survival primitive parts of our brain because those are ancestors who didn’t have it there. They didn’t. They are no longer with it didn’t make it. So it’s been passed down. We have keen, survival brains. All right. And we really don’t hear in the last 100 years, we really don’t live in a culture of this that dangerous. However, this part of our brain is still looking for a job, it’s still looking for problems is still looking for challenge is still it hasn’t died off or atrophied like maybe, I don’t know, some of her appendix is our or there’s, you know, it has that hasn’t happened, if anything, it’s more keen and more interested. And then we have the other part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, which has to do with creativity and logic and analysis and coming up with solutions.

12:33 Well, this is what happens when, because we’re all human. We’re all human. Nobody rise above rises above that. We’re listening to someone talk. And the way we listen is from a survival part of our brain.

12:50 Do I agree? Or do I disagree with what they’re saying? Unknown Speaker 12:56 Because if we agree, okay, I’m safe. There’s not going to be a fight, there’s not going to be an argument, nobody’s going to pull out a club, and hit me over the head and and say, You’re an enemy. Unknown Speaker 13:12 We listen to we agree or disagree. Now, if they disagree, if we disagree with what they’re saying, our survival part of our brain just explodes. And we get a rush of cortisol, we get adrenaline, we get fear, we get stressed, we get anxiety, because we’ve trigger our very survival, there’s a part of our brain because I don’t agree with what you’re saying, that really believes I’m going to die. I’m gonna die. And I think I do believe that. That’s some of our problems right now, as we discuss differences. So what do you do about it? Instead? Well, there’s no way to stop listening, if you agree or disagree, because it is hardwired, we’re hardwired that way. Notice, am I agreeing or disagreeing with what they’re saying? Because you’ll, you’ll feel the emotion, you’ll feel the stress, you’ll feel the anxiety, you’ll want to get away. You’ll want to tell them to shut up or you know, stop talking. No, I don’t agree with this. Notice that you’re doing that. 

14:20 And be give yourself Grace give yourself forgiveness, just I have a my brains trying to keep me alive. Thank you very much, then there is to listen to learn. You may not agree or disagree with what they’re saying. But underneath it, this person is telling you their story. They’re telling them some they’re telling you something about themselves. They’re telling you what their innate values are. They’re telling you what their experience is. Maybe they’re telling you what they what’s important to them. And so I’m trying to think of some difficult convert Unknown Speaker 15:00 stations that because we in my family we were we have every political gamut, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, liberal conservative So, but we are all able to come together at a table because we’re listening to learn, like my son I did doesn’t even matter what he was talking about. I know that I don’t have those same thoughts of that same agreement. But what I was hearing him say what was important to him, what was important to him was honesty. What was important to him was justice, what was important to him was the freedom to express whatever it is that he wanted to express. And when I came at it, from that way, I was able to see him to hear him to love him to respect him and to value him, instead of in that survival brain where I’m like, stop talking. Right? You’re just talking about. So that is listening to learn, basically, rather than agree, disagree, you listen for what is underneath? What is underneath the surface? And I have to imagine because you mentioned difficult conversations, that being a leader for so many years, you must have implemented this in even the professional setting. Absolutely, absolutely. When you have to have those hard conversations about you know, someone’s made a mistake, or you need something different from them, or there’s something that’s unsatisfactory in their performance. I, Unknown Speaker 16:34 I would notice that they were agreeing or disagreeing with what I had to say. And but I would listen. And then it helped me guide my conversation by seeing what was underneath what was there first, just to notice that they were triggered and upset and, and honor that and let that be in the space. And then as they continue to talk to us, what was it not? I wouldn’t say use, but to integrate in my conversation, what was important to them? What was the value that was hurt? What What how do they feel disrespected? And to use that or to incorporate that to guide the conversation? And then would you say also, in those leadership positions, difficult conversations, you circle it back to using the s doing the great ask, like, once you listen to learn, and you give feedback? Yeah, I would expecially in student discipline, I would actually use all of these because these are communication tools. 

17:37 I use this in every aspect of the job. And then after listening, and maybe after allowing that cortisol and adrenaline and just being okay, that they are activated, that they’re unhappy and not feeling threatened by it, because that’s another thing. We they were able being survival brain can get upset that somebody else is upset. But just staying grounded, and listening and honoring and giving grace to both of us. And then being able to say, I hear what you’re saying, This is what I need, I need this to happen. And this is what it will provide. Unknown Speaker 18:17 Like this, I need this change to happen in your behavior, or instruction. And what it will provide is a more positive school culture will build relationships within your team. So I let them know what I need. And I might even better be very specific. 

18:35 With when you speak to this person. Unknown Speaker 18:41 Use more listening rather than words. And you know, think think before you speak, you know, might be more specific, I’m drawing a blank on an example. But I would be very specific about what I needed. And then what it would provide positive school culture. And then I asked them, Is there anything you need for me to get what I’m asking for? And I can, and I gotta tell you, I never was able to guess what they needed. I would have always guessed wrong, I that was not the time to lay a bet on what they were saying. Because each one of us is so unique. And I would honor that. Whatever it is I needed, because that’s partnership. And I think that’s so important that two things kind of write that we can’t expect people to read our minds. And we can also not be expected to read their minds, right? That is the communication process. And I know, both of us are big into communication. Sometimes people say maybe knee a little bit too much. But I do think it’s so important to keep everyone on the same page. Can you maybe speak to how you think communication skills and tools really help people not only to excel in the career, but maybe to decrease some of that stress and overwhelm because you’ve talked a lot about the cortisol levels. And I think when we communicate more like we can take it all down

20:00 notch? Unknown Speaker 20:01 I thank you, I think it has to do my what I would call emotional intelligence is that 

20:10 communicating? 

20:13 Even communicating with yourself, just being aware of what you’re thinking and if it is a safe person, Unknown Speaker 20:22 if it is your boss, hopefully, I would think that you develop that kind of relationship, you can express what your thoughts are. But then communicating what your you are feeling, and communicating with even yourself what it is that you’re feeling, and and just letting it be there. letting it be letting it Unknown Speaker 20:48 What does it taste like? What does it feel like? Where is it in my body? Like if you’re in a meeting, if you’re in a meeting, and you’re triggered by something, I hate that word triggered, but I can’t think of another another word, you have a reaction to what somebody else says or does before you express yourself and communicate in any way because nobody likes to be to come out to be come out with a lot of a number 10 energy. I’m gonna tell you horses do not especially, but no one does. And you say I am upset, I’m angry, I’m frightened, whatever it is. And give yourself that time because emotions are just vibrations. Nobody died from a feeling no one has ever died. You’re in the medical field, right? Nobody every physician here would take nobody’s ever died from my feeling. But you can. What is it? I’m feeling angry? Where is it? My body? This is literally 30 seconds? Where is it in my body? What is what color? Is it? What shape? Is it? What does it look like? It’s just a vibration allow it to be. And if you the higher your emotional intelligence is, the more apt you are to be comfortable with emotions and let them just pass through your communication will improve 1,000% Because you’re not coming at, you’re not expressing yourself with emotions that just needed to pass through and didn’t need to be in the conversation. And love that. And I think them, one of the themes that you’ve talked about in all of the questions is just allowing those moments, right to be able to like, gain some self awareness and to be able to allow the grace for both yourself. And the person that you’re communicating with. That’s so important. And I think, especially in this industry, it’s like a busy badge of honor. So everybody’s like, don’t go and go and go and go, like just take a minute 30 seconds, you just not even a minute, that’s all and I’ve been doing a lot of research on chronic chronic stress. And anxiety and stress and anxiety on their own aren’t necessarily bad things, but it’s when it becomes chronic. And one of the ways to the simplest ways to prevent it from becoming chronic is taking moments to be still Unknown Speaker 23:14 be still Unknown Speaker 23:16 be present. You see how just shifted for you and I because we were present. And still, and it doesn’t have to be hours and hours like a Buddhist monk, you know, it can literally be just a minute or two. Just take a take a pause and be still. And that doesn’t allow those emotions to go through. Yes. And I think that’s so important for people to hear. Because I know when I first started this, and people talked about slowing down in order to speed up and just take a minute and I’m like, I don’t have a minute to do that. Like you people are crazy. But now I have also like seeing the research and seeing clients have such great results. And it’s so important that we do that for not only ourselves, I think but like for everyone else around us to benefit just to take the minute

24:07 I had a teacher in my last school who was very interested in mindfulness. And this is we always had growth mindset versus fixed mindset. But it wasn’t mindfulness. It was more like a bulletin board thing and a book that you got in professional development. I would not say that it was no that’s the truth. And what she what she began her day with her students with a there was a kit that she had for kids on mindfulness. And she would they would take a moment to transition where they would be still and she would read you know a very short one or two sentence meditation so that all the entire space the container all the kids, everyone was present and still and then they began their day.

24:59 That’s it Unknown Speaker 25:00 Hey viewers, it really impacted the academics, it really impacted her student behaviors. It was such a simple tool that we  25:13 that when the survival brain is in, you need to run, there’s a saber toothed Tiger chasing you is very difficult to tell that brain, okay? Take a pause, take a moment be still. And And yet, what happens when we do that is we move from the primitive brain into the prefrontal cortex, and we get present. And that’s where all the goodies live. That’s where all the solutions creativity, inspiration, logical next steps. So if I can give your listeners any motivation, that’s where the goodies are, if you can just stop be still your brain will shift. And I think it’s important too, that you’re pointing out, it does not have to be that you sit there all day and just stare out the window, starting with one minute and Darren Hardy talks about that. And the compound effect is that it will just eventually add up. And I was just taking a peloton ride recently where they talked about Keystone Habits, which reminded me of this, what you’re talking about for the teacher, where if you start implementing one little habit, the effect that it has on so many other areas of your life, like her taking a moment for the mindfulness, and that being reflected in the academics like that’s the that is the goodies, right that that’s all this? Oh,

26:29 have we missed anything here today? No, gosh, we’ve covered a lot. We know, this was fun. Thank you. There are so much I love it. And we will put all of the links in the notes. But where can people find you for more information? My mom, my name is Lynn Harden, Li n en hardI, and I’m on Instagram as _lynhardin on Facebook is Lynn Harden. In I do have a website. That’s Lynn Hardin. And I work with educators for chronic stress and anxiety, specifically helping school leaders help with retention of their teachers and to improve their positive school environment. Because remember, the survival blank, survival brain, if you stay there long enough, you’re gonna run run so far, you quit your job. So I support them and support teachers, and stay in for many of us. This is our life purpose. And so I’m there and I also have a podcast called The principal purpose podcast. And I don’t talk to educators necessarily. I’m talking from people, men and women from all industries. Because I think that we’re all having the same human experience. And we can learn from each other and certainly learn from other industries. Absolutely. I could not agree more. I feel like that work is so important across the board. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Well, there you go. Lots of amazing information from Lynn. And I really love the idea of using all of these skills in your personal and professional life. It is so important that we know what we want both aspects of our lives to look like and live in a way that exemplifies it. So be sure to reach out to Lynn www.lynnharden.com. And as always, I will have the links in the show notes and I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode. So please tag me on Instagram at MichelleBourquecoaching and let me know what resonates

Okay, that’s what I have for you today. Take what works leave what doesn’t and let’s meet back here next week for another opportunity for transformation. Make it a great day take care

28:51 Did you know you can take this work to a deeper level with me one on one, go to Michelle Bourque coaching.com, and click on get started to begin



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