So, she was named after Stevie Nicks, she’s managed dance studios (and successfully competed herself), and she lives to explain everything so thoroughly and correctly that she avoids communication disasters with her husband, her clients, and the universe! And she offers a tool called “a communication compass.”
Stevie Dawn Blakey is an entrepreneur dedicated to improving the lives of others through leadership development and was recently my podcast guest at https://eyimbook.com/podcasts/fill-episode-46/.
Even through the pandemic, she has remained dedicated to helping people find and chase their joy both at work and at home. She delivers fearless and engaging keynote presentations, training sessions, and personal coaching, and combines her education with humor to provide practical strategies to people struggling with communication and goals.
I wanted to know if there was a quality, a way, a secret to creating or becoming a good leader people want to follow. I entered our chat assuming we always think that everybody just thinks the way we think! But I discovered a big “NO.” Stevie explained, “Stuff going on in someone’s life will change the way they hear what you say. Even though you could say the exact same thing, two days in a row, if one day they were fine and the next day they had put their dog down, they’re going to respond two very different ways to that exact same conversation!”
The following are quoted excerpts about communication and leadership from our discussion…I hope you’ll be intrigued enough to listen to (or watch on YouTube) the entire chat.
When you interact with somebody, if you had to just base their mood on body language and facial expression and tone of voice, you give them a score between 1 and 10…how you think they’re feeling today. [If] people are having a bad day and you can tell immediately (Oh, they’re having a ‘3’ kind of day they’re like a ‘9’ today. Cool. Once you understand, it takes less than a millisecond to just look at somebody and understand their “emotional number.” Once you do that, [ask] how much are they really listening? Because the lower our number, the less we’re listening!
I don’t need to know why they’re having a tough day. I know that I’m going to need to communicate more. I’m going to have to say it more than once [or] maybe communicate it a different way. If they still seem upset, let’s try an emotional route. We’re going to have to do that because it doesn’t matter what we say. It only matters what they hear!
We worry way too much about what we’re saying and not nearly enough about what they’re hearing and that’s the change that can really make a difference.
If I know I’m having a bad day, I immediately reach out, reschedule, push things back because I know exactly [that] I’m not going to be listening in the way that I should be and [people] don’t deserve that. One of the things I love about being an entrepreneur is that can actually do that and nobody thinks it’s weird. Whereas like [in traditional] work, if every time you had a “3” day, you called in sick, etc., that isn’t going to happen. So, it works out a lot better when you’re your own boss. But I think being honest with yourself and then having self-awareness is one of the most critical pieces of any leader’s toolkit.
When I go into a conversation, I say to myself, “It’s not their fault,” and what I’m doing with that is a trigger phrase. And it releases them from blame of any of your own discomfort. Every single time before I get out of the car to interact with a new person or new group of people, I say, “It’s not their fault.” And what that does is release the blame. So that now I’m more able to listen to them because I’m not blaming them for my bad day! I can’t make everybody’s day better. I can, however, to the best of my ability not make their day any worse.
[On working with her husband…]
What expectations [does he] have of me? When we just say something offhanded like, “What are your expectations of me,” I feel like we need to clarify. And I think that’s the reason that we’re able to work 24/7 together and never get sick of each other and still vacation together and do all the other things because we’re really good at clarifying expectations, both personally and (big-time) professionally.
I think interpersonal relationships—all these skills and all these tools—work just as much as it does at work. We should probably focus more on the home ones first, because those are the people that have to put up with you the longest! Work people only have to deal with you eight hours a day. You know, if you’re walking out of the house pissed off every morning, [it’s probably] because you know your significant other didn’t get the drift of what you were trying to say.
[On working in the time of COVID]
In our time of quarantine, where people have to work from home…that was a big shift for people who [didn’t do] that before. I worked from home before, so it’s not really a change, and as a speaker where the majority of my income comes from being on stages at large events, my income stopped! I had to really pivot and really figure out what I was going to do. Oh my gosh, it’s a [significant] adjustment. But you’re still getting paid. As an entrepreneur, my adjustments are made while I’m not getting paid. And that’s a lot of just pressure. I will say I was not prepared for [it], and I’ve run a business before, but this time it was different.
So I learned to embrace and love webinars—if you’d asked me a year ago if I would ever love webinars, I would said you were crazy. Because it’s just not the same, not the same energy and all that. [But] now I do them every single week…multiple… and I love them. In fact, in some ways I will be kind of sad when we give them back because some of the things I don’t like are drives are long drives and commuting! I love to travel by plane and cruise ship, but cars are not my thing. Now…hey…I just have to walk five feet. It’s not bad. So I learned to embrace the webinar.
What COVID gave us was the removal of the excuse, “I don’t have time”. And I think that’s true. I think if you had asked me in January, February, I would have told you, I don’t have time to create online courses. I don’t have time to do webinars. I don’t have time to get an email list together, write an e-book. But now that’s not my excuse. I’ve got time!
By the way, I’m a wonderful dance teacher, not a wonderful dance studio owner! I learned this. And so I knew my next business would not be a dance studio. And oh my gosh, all of our dance studios around here have closed during COVID. It’s so sad.
[A final goal.]
We set goals for our health and our fitness. We set goals for our family. When was the last time you set a goal for your own happiness? I think we need to do that. I think that it needs to become something that we actually focus on and prioritize. And so I try and teach people that. Try to give them the skills to do that, whether it be in our group’s “transformational weekends,” which are now a virtual experience, or our “Joy Chaser Club,” which is a monthly online training system. Whether it be through our webinars or our workshops, it is just reminding people that they can write their own permission slip for life or for their joy and make sure that they set goals to achieve it.