Dirty Salad Club: Reflections On 1,391 Minutes Of Community, Collaboration & Conversation

Whew. We made it to the end of the year. The past 21 months (has it really been that long?!) have been tough on so many of us – but one thing that has kept us going throughout has been the insights, the conversations and the community we’ve built up around the Dirty Salad Club.

So, given that it’s the end of the year and the perfect time for a little bit of reflection, we thought we’d take the opportunity to review our favourite sessions, celebrate all our wonderful speakers, and get ourselves ready for another year of Dirty Salad Club in 2022!

What is the Dirty Salad Club?

If you’re new around here and haven’t heard of the Dirty Salad Club, you might be a little confused… Dirty Salad Club? Do we gather together and eat unwashed lettuce?

No, thankfully that’s not what Dirty Salad Club is about!

Back in March 2020, when the pandemic first started and we were all thrown into those “unprecedented” times, we started Dirty Salad Club as a way of building connections with our peers. Dirty Salad Club started as a series of webinars where we gather together over Zoom and share industry insights with each other. We wanted it to be a safe space, where we could be among our peers: coaches, psychologists, L&D professionals, HR professionals – anyone working with people in the business world.

But why ‘Dirty Salad Club’?

(There’s some logic behind our madness, we promise!)

Dirty – because the Club is a place where we can be open and honest and vulnerable.

Salad – because the Club is good for you! It’s a portion of good, hearty veg, for your brain.

Club – well, because we’re a club! We’re a community, a group, a gathering – whatever you want to call it, we’re it.

And it’s turned into so much more than we could’ve hoped for! In an industry where collaboration and learning from each other hasn’t been the “traditional” way of doing things, Dirty Salad Club has become a safe, supportive space where we can test things out, make mistakes, and take our learnings into our client work and beyond.

Dirty Salad Club: In Numbers

The Dirty Salad Club started in March 2020 and we’re thrilled that it’s gone from strength to strength ever since – in large part thanks to the community we’ve built and the speakers who’ve given their time and insights so generously to the Club.

In 2021, we’ve enjoyed:

  • 12 sessions, covering everything from organisational change to trust to technostress;
  • Insights from 12 engaging hosts; and
  • 543 minutes (over 9 hours!) of psychology-based goodness!

In fact, since its inaugural gathering in March 2020, we’ve enjoyed over 23 hours of Dirty Salad Club – and we’ve loved every minute!

2021’s Psychology Insights

2021, just like 2020, brought challenges and ups-and-downs and a huge heap of uncertainty. In the world of business psychology, the realisation that virtual working is here to stay and the immense challenges that brings with it dominated a lot of the industry’s focus – and many of our Dirty Salad Club sessions drew on that same theme.

In our final (festive!) session of the year, we gathered the KinchLyons team together to share with the Club our personal highlights of the year’s sessions – which was no mean feat, let us tell you! With such a huge variety of insights to choose from, we struggled to pick out our favourites, but each of us identified one session that gave us inspiration or techniques that we’re still carrying with us today.

Alan’s favourite: Conscious Communication In The Virtual Workplace, with Neil Curran

Alan kicked off the session with his favourite Dirty Salad Club session so far: Conscious Communication In The Virtual Workplace with Neil Curran of Lower The Tone.

Neil’s session covered a huge amount of super valuable information, all focusing on how we can be (and encourage our clients to be) more conscious of the way we show up virtually. You can watch the full session here:

When we were thrust into virtual communication (via Zoom, email, Slack, whatever your technology of choice!) last year, we all dealt with it the best we could. But even self-confessed communication experts struggled. Communicating via remote systems is challenging and unlike anything that we, as humans, are used to.

Without the in-person relationships, contextual information and body language to rely on, virtual communications nudged many of us to default to unconscious communication – where we aren’t consciously aware of our communications, our emotions, or how we’re coming across to others.

For Alan, this session highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence even more. Coaching leaders and high potentials to be aware of and manage their emotions in the workplace is one thing – but Alan is keen to encourage us all to consider the impact of EI in the virtual world, too. By bringing our awareness to our emotions and how we manage them, we are better able to show up consciously in the virtual world – and better able to communicate our true intentions to our virtual audiences.

Alan’s Key Takeaways:

  1. Virtual communication needs a rethink. If the last year-and-a-bit have shown us anything, it’s that we can’t copy-and-paste communication strategies from real life into virtual life.
  2. In the middle of joy and fear, there is improvisation. And it’s that improvisation that can be a direct route to psychological safety.
  3. Conscious communication, in real life and in virtual life, can transform our experiences and those of our audience. By being intentional about the way we show up and being positive with our communications, we can more effectively communicate even in the virtual world.

With virtual communications going nowhere any time soon, we still have a lot of re-learning to do when it comes to conscious communication – but Neil’s insight is a great place to start!

Billy’s favourite: Let’s Talk Time: exploring and managing our own relationships with time, with Jennifer Dowling

Billy’s highlight of this year’s Dirty Salad Club is Jennifer Dowling’s session on time, back in January of this year. Jennifer, who is Director of Train Remote, is a specialist in remote and flexible working, so her insights into time, decision making and how we can work at the organisational and individual level to increase productivity were hugely valuable. 

As we all experience first-hand, time management can be an immense challenge for many of us. And while the pandemic and the increase in WFH has caused an even bigger challenge for many, some have thrived under these remote conditions. So what psychological factors go into our relationship with time and how effective we are at managing it?

Something that is often overlooked in the world of time management and productivity ‘hacks’ is the impact of the organisation on an individual’s relationship with time. Within an organisation, as Jennifer explained, there are both time structures (written rules or procedures relating to time, like start times, finish times, budget cycles, etc.) and time norms (unwritten cultural practices, like whether meetings start on time or not, or whether it’s the norm to email colleagues outside of working hours).

These structures and norms either hinder or support an individual in having effective time management skills, depending on their individual relationship with time.

On an individual level, our approach to time management depends on three factors, says Jennifer:

  1. Are you temporally aware? Being temporally aware and seeing time as a finite resource makes you more likely to be conscious of how you’re using your time
  2. Are you a segmenter or an integrator? Segmenters keep things separate, carving out blocks of time for a single task. Integrators are more flexible with blending tasks throughout time, meaning work blends with life more often.
  3. Do you have temporal efficacy? What level of control do you believe you have over your time?

Considering these factors in conjunction with the organisational factors helps us, as coaches, to really understand how to help coachees to manage their time better – on terms that work for them.

 Billy’s Key Takeaways:

  1. Organisational time structures and time norms either hinder or assist individuals in having effective time management skills.
  2. Time management is not a one-size-fits-all thing: there’s not a single methodology that will work for everybody in every organisation.
  3. At its core, time management is a decision-making process, which means it can be conscious or subconscious. Bringing awareness to the subconscious decisions we make about our time is key in developing sustainable time management skills.

Time management, particularly for leaders, is always on the coaching agenda – so huge thanks to Jennifer for sharing her insight!

Tanya’s favourite: Creating A Compelling Vision For Your Future, Justine McGrath

Tanya’s stand-out Dirty Salad Club session was Justine McGrath’s session on creating a compelling vision for your future. For Tanya, this came at a really great time, as many of her clients were finding things a bit more challenging than usual, a bit more of a slog than usual, and struggling to see a future that wasn’t dominated by the dreaded C-word… But Justine, of ProACTive Coaching, helped to create a way forward.

When we’re preoccupied with the present (such as when there’s a global pandemic infiltrating every part of our lives…), our sense of time becomes distorted. We focus heavily on the present situation, what we can and can’t do right now, and, if we are somehow able to project into the future, we do so with the negative skew that the present situation is giving us.

Something that we, as psychologists and coaches, do a lot is to talk about the impact of self-talk – but what Tanya found novel about Justine’s session is the idea that our self-talk and our identity narrative can be consciously divided into past, present and future.

By encouraging that distinction in ourselves and our coachees, we can start to reduce the emphasis we’re placing on the present – and allow ourselves to start thinking about the future. The present is transitive, and by simply changing the language we use in our self-talk in the present moment, we can encourage our subconscious minds to start believing that the future can be different – and it’s something that Tanya has been incorporating into her coaching practise ever since!

Tanya’s Key Takeaways:

  1. By simply adding the word ‘now’ into our self-talk (e.g. ‘that’s just the way I am now’), we can make a huge difference to our ability to visualise the future in a more positive light.
  2. What we tend to think of as the habits of ‘successful’ people, won’t necessarily work for us. When we’re visualising our futures, we need to consider habits that will help us reach our goals, not try to enforce other people’s strategies into our lives.
  3. It’s important to measure the gains, not the gaps; think in terms of progress, not perfection; see the glass as half full, not half empty. For us and our coachees, focusing on how far we’ve come, not how far we have left to go, will help us reach our goals.

Justine’s session left all of us, especially Tanya, feeling far more positive about our (albeit uncertain) future – which is no mean feat in today’s world!

Susan’s favourite: Refresh Your Listening Skills, with Eibhlin Johnston

Finally, Susan shared with us that her favourite Dirty Salad Club was Eibhlin Johnston’s session on listening. Coaches talk a lot about the power of active listening and the importance of developing listening skills – but for Susan, Eibhlin, who is Managing Director of The Resiliency Hub, led us through a session that brought that power home on a personal level.

Despite being coaches and people professionals, Eibhlin’s session highlighted that few of us are actually conscious of the type of listening we engage in and how well we actually listen to what’s being said to us. Particularly in a remote working world, we’re often aware of how many distractions there are around us: your audience’s eyes flit to the edge of the screen when a notification pops up, there’s surreptitious phone scrolling just out of the camera’s view, and many of us are trying to multitask during video meetings.

But, as humans, our desire to be really, truly heard is primal. It starts from the moment we’re born, when it’s vitally important for our cries to be heard by our caregivers. And it’s still with us in adulthood, too. Not being listened to actively often results in feelings of hurt, frustration and an increased sense of vulnerability.

Eibhlin explained to us that there are four types of listening we, as listeners, can be using – and how important it is for us to try to achieve the fourth type wherever possible:

  1. Distracted Listening: where external distractions (notifications, people around us, etc.) and internal distractions (thinking about what to have for lunch, daydreaming, etc.) dominate and very little information is taken in.
  2. Evaluating Listening: where we’re listening to the information being conveyed for the purposes of judging or evaluating the content. If it’s unconscious evaluating listening, our judgments and appraisals are often negative in nature.
  3. Paying Attention: where we’re making a conscious effort to concentrate and to understand the information we’re receiving.
  4. Deep Listening: where we’re stepping outside of our own minds to be fully present with the speaker.

The goal is to reach Deep Listening, where we’re able to put aside our judgements, our distractions and our own thoughts and fully immerse ourselves in the speaker’s language. It’s a rare thing to experience as a speaker, but, as coaches, something we should all be striving to give to our coachees!

Susan’s Key Takeaways:

  1. Being deeply listened to feels incredibly strange at first, because it’s unusual in today’s connected, digital world.
  2. BUT, once you’re able to lean into that vulnerability and trust that the listener is deeply connecting with you, it feels wonderful – and it’s something we should be aiming to provide for our coachees.
  3. Coachees need the space to embrace our deep listening. As coaches, we need to get comfortable with the gaps of silence that encourage coachees to speak on a deeper level – and resist the urge to interject.

Eibhlin’s session was incredibly helpful and something we’ll continue to bring into our coaching practises moving forwards!

2022, and beyond!

We can’t express our gratitude to every speaker, every attendee and every kind word that has made Dirty Salad Club the positive community it has become – and we can’t wait to get started with a fresh year of sessions in 2022!

As our Club member Fintan said, Dirty Salad Club is a place where we can try things, be open about our failures, and support each other in making the world of psychology a better place – so if you have a topic that you’re dying to share with the world, we’d love to have you as a speaker in 2022!

Whether you’ve spoken in the Club before, joined us for the odd session here or there, or never heard of it before, we’re welcome speakers from all walks of life to share your knowledge, insights and thoughts with us in a safe space. If you’d like to speak next year, drop us an email on info@kinchlyons.ie

And, if you just want to join us for the ride…

Join the Dirty Salad Club LinkedIn Group and follow us on Eventbrite to join our next event!