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Lean In For Connection

Group Program Resources

Downloading Zoom: For the first time (on a computer)

  1. Open an internet browser (i.e. safari, chrome, internet explorer)
  2. Go
  3. Follow instructions provided in pop-ups to successfully download.
  4. You can choose to make a free account if you wish, but this is not necessary.
  5. When prompted allow Zoom to have access to your webcam and microphone.

On an iPhone/iPad:

  1. Open the App store.
  2. Download app.
  3. You will have to give Zoom permission to access your microphone and camera when it asks.
  4. You can choose to make a free account if you wish, but this is not necessary.

To enter a meeting:

  1. Click the link provided in the email – this should automatically open Zoom and prompt you enter a password.                         
    • If this does not work, you can manually open the Zoom app:
      • Click “join a meeting”
      • Enter the meeting ID code
      • Enter password
  2. You can find the password in the email – it is located under the meeting ID code.
  3. When prompted, allow Zoom to have access to your webcam and microphone.
  4. If you are using a iPhone/iPad, you will need to use audio wifi to use the microphone – when prompted, select Yes.
  5. You will then enter a virtual “Waiting Room”.
  6. Group facilitators will then bring you into the room.

Features of Zoom: Computer

  1. There is a mute button that can be found in the left-hand corner of the screen. The lead facilitators will ensure that everyone is muted during specific times in the group.
  2. In order to be heard, you will have to click this button to “unmute” yourself.
  3. It is most helpful to view the group in “gallery mode”. This can be found in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and will look like a 3×3 grid of blocks
  4. There is also a chat function for if you feel that you wish to add something. This can be found at the bottom of the screen.
  5. There are reaction buttons that can be used to raise a hand, clap or put a thumbs up.
  6. When the meeting is completed the facilitator will end the meeting. If you need to leave the meeting earlier there is a leave meeting option on the bottom right hand corner of the screen

The Lean In for Connection program is an 8 week series open to those with a willingness to learn strategies to safely develop connections, build skills to navigate difficult interactions or people and to reinforce healthy community engagement.

The program will draw from Traumatology Institute training curriculum (i.e., Traumatic Loneliness, DATS, Feel Heard & Understood); Non-Violent Communication approaches by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg; Bene Browns research on Shame, love and belonging; the Action for Happiness program; Dr. Daniel Fisher’s work on Open Dialogue and Emotional CPR; Dianne Poole Heller on Attachment and Trauma; Understanding of Dr. Webb’s Childhood Emotional Neglect and Conflict Resolution skills.

In each group, we will cover the following:

  • An idea or concept for reflection
  • An illustrative video or experience/story
  • Experiential practice(s) something to make the concept real on a personal level
  • Downloads, links, videos and support materials for ongoing practice

Attachment is at the core of our capacity to heal. Connecting to others in a safe and meaningful way is nourishing in ways that cannot be denied. If we begin our lives with caregivers who are able to lean toward us with attention, kindness, consistency and compassion we grow in our ability to handle the demands of life. If we are neglected, traumatized, abused and disrespected our capacity to deal with life, build meaningful connections and handle demands becomes limited or impaired.

Complete the 10 Capacities of the Real Self  Click HERE (this will be repeated at the beginning and end of the 8 sessions, so please hang onto your scores before and after as this will be your way of tracking your own personal progress in the program).


Attachment Theory: Our connection bonds from early development are crucial to our future relationships.

Traumatic Loneliness & Emotional Neglect

Starting with leaning in and learning about attachment – Connection Exercise: Diane Poole Heller.


Attachment and the Strange Situation Classification (SSC) how attachment might vary.

Henry Harlow and the Nature of Love.

What really matters to you and what makes life meaningful? If more stuff and distractions do not work, why not, and if not then what does? However, when our ability to form deep and meaningful connections we sometimes place too much focus on filling our lives with meaningless distractions, purchasing goods, overworking, etc., only to find that somehow we are simply not satisfied. When we cannot feel OK with finding activities that move us into relationship with others, we need to spend some time reflecting on why this is and what we are missing as a result of this. Are you lonely, feel disengaged, uncomfortable being who you are and letting others see you for who you are then this lays a foundation of deep despair.

As Brene Brown (researcher and storyteller) shares on her very popular Ted Talk “The power of vulnerability” is that “connection is why we are here” … “it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. Yet there are so many ways in which we feel unsafe connecting with others and where we feel excluded, ashamed, vulnerable and betrayed.


The power of vulnerability – Brene Brown – Ted Talk

Listening to Shame – Brene Brown – Ted Talk


Action for Happiness Course-Ground Rules

Actions for Happiness

7 Lessons Learned From Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

With an increasingly individualistic and self-serving set-up to our communities/organizations/workplaces how do we reconnect to our deeper longing for meaningful connection rather than competition? If relationships are so important than how can we find the route to these more meaningful and deeper connections?


Dr. Daniel Fisher’s work on Open Dialogue and Emotional CPR – Use of a Reflecting Team to create healthy and open dialogue!

Practice Session Questions from OBSERVATION

  1. What do you see that works?
  2. What do you see that does not work?
  3. What do you notice in this scenario between friends?
  4. What did the reflectors observe that is important?
  5. What can you learn from this?

E-CPR – Stands for:

  • Connect
  • EmPower
  • ReVitalize


Emotional CPR with Dr. Daniel Fisher

Emotional CPR home page

No matter how hard we try, things WILL go badly! Seriously, is there anyone who has had a life without disagreement? It simply cannot happen. We all have our own perspectives. Sometimes, our communication is less than perfect. At times, when we are tired, hungry, anxious or distracted this can lead to poor listening; angry or anxious outbursts that we later regret; or to misinterpretation or miscommunication.

So we need skills to help us navigate when communication goes poorly. We need to find a way to preserve our relationships when we or those we are interacting with are unable to communicate in a way that enhances communication. We need to find a way through anger, hurt, sadness, confusion and miscommunication.

Non-Violent Communication AKA Healthy Communication GUIDE

There are 4 components and 2 guidelines to this process:

Four components:

  1. Observation
  2. Feeling
  3. Needs
  4. Requests

Two Guidelines:

  1. Empathy
  2. Honesty

The basic outline of the model is the following:

When I see that______________

I feel ______________

because my need for ________________ is/is not met.

Would you be willing to __________________?


Defusing Anger Video using DATS

Practice through these steps: Differentiate – Acknowledge – Solution Focused


Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg:

Nonviolent communication-a-language-of-life-marshall-b-rosenberg from hajnali3

Non-Violent Communication – Hand-outs

We’re a social species and most of us know that our connections with others are vitally important. But what really affects our relationships and are there practical things we can do to enhance them?

Having great daily tools for really listening can be a power strategy for staying connected and deepening our connections. Here is one power strategy for communicating through hot discussions or just topics where we really want to ensure that the person we are sharing with can deeply hear and we can feel the generosity of being listened to.


Attachment Theory: Being a Good Listener


Feeling Heard & Understood – Exercise: Click HERE

Anger Meditation for Self-Wisdom and Insight By Thich Naht Hahn

Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh:

So we are in the process of building some powerful skills for communicating. What about times when we get triggered and simply cannot listen? How do we get FOCUSED and skilled at our communication with others?

The materials that follow are powerful FOCUSING drills to help you de-tangle the times when you get triggered by others by developing the skill to remain clearly situated inside yourself and separated from what is your stuff and what belongs to someone else.


How to Remain Calm with others

The Real Reason you get Irritated with others


Focusing Drills – adapted from TI-1001 Traumatology Institute manual: Click HERE

Research shows that isolation is more of a risk factor for illness and shortened life expectancy than cigarette smoking or drinking! This says a lot about the buffering element of connection with others. So even for those “non-joiners” it is time to consider what it means to join.

Not that I would suggest, joining just for the sake of joining. It is crucial to choose interests that are well … interesting to you. There would be a higher likelihood of meeting people who are excited by the same/similar things and shared interest can be a good first stage of connecting. In addition, there are loads of strong reasons to engage in activities that will be challenging and inspiring to a degree that really fits you as a person. Mihaly Cskiszentmihaly is a Psychologist who became quite well known for his work on the concept of Flow. His work relates well to engaging in life activities around you!.


Flow by Mihaly Cskiszentmihaly

The Real Reason you get Irritated with others


Connections Exercise: Keep FLOW in mind when you contemplate what to do next and activities to join Click HERE


Meet-Up Groups

This session brings together everything we’ve covered during the course. It aims to inspire each of us to live in a way that contributes to a happier world, not just for ourselves but for others too..

Because it is the last week, I would open this up for open discussion without a lot of structure.

The primary topics are as follows:

  1. What are you taking away from this group (what did you learn)?
  2. What did we miss covering that you would like us to add?
  3. How do you imagine your world being healthier and more satisfying?
  4. What were your favorite resources/videos?
  5. What were the resources that you felt were not helpful?
  6. What do we need to know!

Complete the 10 Capacities of the Real Self Click HERE (this is the re-test. Did your scores change from the first time you scored this scale?)

  1. Traumatic Loneliness video-
  2. Get the Emotional Neglect questionnaire and Traumatic Loneliness Article FREE here:
  3. DATS video – (see ADDENDUM 1)
  5. Dr Daniel Fisher’s – Heartbeats of Hope and Emotional CPR
  6. Ground Rules for Action

Ground Rules

The Action for Happiness course is open to all and designed so that it can be set up and run by local volunteers who support the aims of Action for Happiness. Because we are using this approach, it is important that all participants agree to some ground rules to respect and support each other. These will help ensure that the course runs smoothly and remains true to its underlying principles.

  1. We welcome different perspectives. The course welcomes people from all backgrounds and points of view. There are no single right answers to these questions and all constructive perspectives are welcome.
  2. We are supportive and friendly. The general spirit of the course is one where we treat each other in a supportive and friendly way. We may not always agree with each other, but we always treat each other the way we would like to be treated ourselves.
  3. We let everyone have a voice. We respect each other by giving everybody the chance to contribute, listening to each other and not dominating or disrupting the conversation.
  4. We use the expertise in the room. Although the course includes expert views and carefully designed materials, the real expertise is here in the room too. Our facilitator’s role is to lead the session, not act as the expert. We can all contribute to each others learning and what we get out depends on what we put in.
  5. We share a bit of ourselves. We are each willing to share some of our unique personal perspectives. This is NOT group therapy and no-one should feel under pressure to say anything. But the best conversations tend to happen when we’re willing to reveal a bit about ourselves and share how we feel inside, not just our intellectual ideas.
  6. We act with integrity. We respect other people’s confidentiality and trust others to do the same for us. We are willing to speak up if we feel other members of the group are not keeping to the spirit of the course or not showing respect for other participants..
  7. We are present. We avoid distractions from phones or other devices so we can stay present in the room and give our whole selves during each session. We try not to derail the conversation and respect each other by allowing sessions to start and end on time.

All participants have a responsibility to ensure these ground rules are observed. If anyone feels they are not, they are encouraged to raise this in the group in a constructive way.


How to Defuse an Angry Person – use the DATS approach

Interacting with an angry or distressed person can evoke a ton of emotions inside of you. Maybe you feel guilty, hurt, afraid or thrown off balance. Having a simple set of intentional steps can put you back in an empowered role

From this place, you can stay connected and engage in solutions that work. I developed the DATS approach to manage challenging interactions and I draw from this every day in my work and personal life as well.

DATS stands for Differentiate, Acknowledge, Transfer and Solution-Focused. Here are the DATS Steps for you to use:

DIFFERENTIATE: You are a separate person and whatever the individual is saying to you has more to do with them than it does with you. They are bringing the issue; you are the witness. Side-step anger by not engaging at that level. Instead, make the choice to come from a place of understanding, support and non-reactivity.

ACKNOWLEDGE: Become a master at recognizing what the real heart of the matter is and acknowledge the feelings that go along with it. Most people coming from a place of anger are feeling vulnerable and upset. Recognize this. Here is where empathy and good listening skills are key. This is not about simply agreeing with the person, or condoning bad behavior or verbal aggression. Simply recognize the pain point. For example, you might genuinely say, “Sounds like this has been frustrating for you”, or whatever else might be true in that moment. However, don’t get stuck here because once you have accurately captured the experience of the other person, it is time to move forward toward the transfer stage.

TRANSFER: The previous two steps are designed to perform initial prevention of emotional escalation. The Transfer stage is used to shift the focus back onto the topic of the individual’s concern. So, here, you need to correctly capture what has happened that is the source of the problem. Make a simple statement to capture what you think you heard them tell you about the problem. Then repeat this back until you can both agree on what it is.