Jun 19, 2023 | Podcast, Your Business

The Power of Presence with Dave Tierney

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About the episode:

Welcome to today’s episode of the Prosperous Empath podcast. I am excited to have Dave Tierney join me as we delve beyond the realm of business for empaths and recognize the complex connections between the personal and professional sides of ourselves. We acknowledge that our actions and presence in one aspect of life profoundly impact who we become and how we engage with others in other aspects. As empaths, our businesses thrive on the foundation of relationships – enduring, genuine connections that hold immense value. This conversation is a treasure trove of invaluable insights that will empower you to cultivate and nurture profound relationships in your own lives, too. It summarizes the essence of how we, as empaths, can genuinely prosper and flourish. Tune in and discover how you can embrace your empathic nature, cultivate meaningful relationships, and unlock a world of abundant possibilities. 

Topics discussed:

  • Dave’s perspective on creating a secure presence
  • The role of nervous system regulation in Dave’s work and what it means to really hold space
  • The benefits of asking more, deeper questions
  • The key ingredients for nurturing a strong relationship, especially in times of social isolation
  • The strengthening effect of harsh feedback on trust within relationships and mastering the art of giving feedback
  • Dave’s insights as a pastor and how he stays grounded in his beliefs and values
  • The importance of creating a commitment of lifelong learning and growth
  • The factors that contribute to Dave’s success as a prosperous empath

About Dave:

Bank presidents, corporate vice presidents, sales clerks, human resource agents, custodians, car wash attendants, teachers, students, engaged couples, stay at home parents, and others have benefited from coaching and consulting with Dave Tierney. He brings a natural non-judging curiosity to these conversations helping individuals ponder their point of view through simple inquisitive questions. He  has served communities in Washington, DC, Maryland, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, Ireland, and Scotland as a minister, coach, consultant, and community volunteer. He holds both  BA and Mdiv degrees and is a certified life coach. Dave has been a full time pastor since 1986.

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Episode Resources:

Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

Catherine A. Wood  00:02

Dave, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Dave Tierney  00:06

Hey, I’m excited to be here also.

Catherine A. Wood  00:09

I must trying to remember when we first met one another, I think it may have been 2018. But that

Dave Tierney  00:18

at least 20 2018 Maybe in the fall or in the spring of 2019. Somewhere in that.

Catherine A. Wood  00:27

Very cool. Well, I

Dave Tierney  00:28

love the endemic.

Catherine A. Wood  00:29

Yeah, pre pandemic.

Dave Tierney  00:31

That’s what we’re actually referring to our time anymore, right? Pre pandemic post pandemic?

Catherine A. Wood  00:38

Yeah. Well, I’ll be excited to kind of weave that into our conversation feels very applicable to what we’re going to talk about today. But before we get ahead of ourselves, for my listeners, Dave and I initially met at a coaching preview session for the for accomplishment coaching, which I was a coach trainer for at the time. And Dave was coming as a visitor to attend. And I don’t know, David, I think we just had a connection, a natural connection. And it’s been fun to stay in touch over these years.

Dave Tierney  01:09

It has been it has been we had that breakout session afterwards. That was very enlightening. Yeah. Just how much you noticed, of the room and people. It’s pretty impressed by that.

Catherine A. Wood  01:25

Well, thank you for that. Absolutely. Well, before we get ahead of ourselves, why don’t we start I’d love to invite you to share your pronouns and, and your story, I’d love to start there, you’re welcome to share as little or as much as you want.

Dave Tierney  01:41

He Hill, I was born in Washington, DC grew up in that area, have lived in Minneapolis, Texas, moved back to Baltimore, 20. Some years ago, I’ve been married for 37 years, to my wife, Lisa, we have four adult children and two grandchildren and one grandchild is just a week and a half old now. So that’s pretty exciting. deletions. So that’s really you know, and one of the things I just love about this time of, of life is that I just have such a good relationship with my children as adults. Because there are times that when they were teenagers, I wasn’t so sure about it. But but as you know, as adults, my actually my daughter the other day said, you know, Dad, as you’re getting older, you’re getting cooler, I said, I think it’s that you’re getting older, and you’re recognizing how cool I’ve always been. So I’ve also been a pastor, a full time pastor for 37 years. And pastored in Minneapolis, and in Baltimore, in a little bit of Washington, DC. So, so kind of hung out with a lot of people, and in a variety of life situations.

Catherine A. Wood  02:59

I bet I wish that I could have come to service with you before I headed up to up the coast, but who knows, maybe one day.

Dave Tierney  03:10

But anyway, that’s kind of that sums me up. And, you know, I’ve enjoyed, you know, some of the things that we talked about the belt, being safe, presents safe space. And that has always been a very important aspect in my life. You know, really as a young man, you know, when I was my, my childhood was a little rough, a little bit abuse. And that’s where I found in the church a very safe space for me. And I really appreciated that. And and really, it just became part organic of who I am. I haven’t always been a safe presence. And not always a safe presence now but really work at trying to be that with people.

Catherine A. Wood  04:00

Well, I love I love that. That’s the topic that kind of emerged for this conversation because I think being the idea of being a safe presence, as a coach, as a pastor, as a healer, is of the son of supreme importance. And so I wonder, maybe we could just start with some context setting when you say safe presence, what does that mean to you?

Dave Tierney  04:26

You know, that’s that is an important aspect because what is a safe presence? When I just put it down to a very succinct definition is I will always try to have your best interest at heart. I will see you with dignity I will respect your opinion. I will treat you with civility and if need be, we can have difficult and hard conversations there. will have no effect on how I feel about you as a person. Part of being a safe presence also is and it’s difficult because when we were talking about how I noticed, what you noticed was our faces kind of give us a way. Right. And as people were talking to that breakout question, that breakout session, you said, Okay, Dave, I like to hear what you’re saying, because you’ve made some interesting facial gestures, I was like, oh, I need to be careful about that. Right. And that’s because I didn’t think I was being paid attention to. And because it was my conversation. And, you know, we need to be very careful how we respond. And, and I think a safe person doesn’t react, but they respond. You know, we all have things, we all have these trigger words, topics, whatever that want us to have that knee jerk reaction. I find knee jerk reactions never worked that well, when you’re dealing with people. But if you can just stop and pause, really listen to what they’re saying. Trying to understand what they are saying. Which is very important. And a lot of people feel like, if you are trying to understand what they’re saying, then you’re agreeing with them. That’s, that’s not true. You don’t have to agree with them, but you should try to understand and then respond. You know, there’s something about that pause. That helps to gather your thoughts.

Catherine A. Wood  06:47

I think that’s such an important point, the idea that, you know, when we’re creating safety for others to process, anything, really, you know, their celebrations, their challenges all of it. That as, as the holders of space, it’s so necessary to pause and take a moment because I think we so often react from our own inner interior world, versus honoring space for them to process their own internal world. And I think something that comes to mind for me, as you say, that is the idea of nervous system regulation. And having the capacity to, to note our own internal responses, and to be able to regulate within us if we, you know, if we feel protective or defensive or irritable and you know, as an empath, to also to be able to discern what’s mine versus what am I put potentially projecting from them? I wonder how that I wonder how nervous system regulation plays into your work, and into your capacity to hold space?

Dave Tierney  07:56

Yeah, as you’re talking a little bit about that. I’m thinking about emotional intelligence, right, understanding our perspective. And it is dangerous, when you say the danger in having the best interest of the best, the best interest of the other person at heart is you need to make sure it’s their best interest, not your best interest. So you need you need to be able to speak into their life for them, not for yourself. And you have to be aware of your preferences. You have to be aware of really your your, your traditions, your beliefs, how you tend to respond to things, you have to really think through of what are your values and not try to project those on to somebody else? That’s really difficult. That’s, that’s so difficult. But it is giving them that ability to find things on their own, to really express things on their own. I think part of it too, is that we have to come to an understanding that it’s okay for them to be wrong about something. And it’s even more okay for us to be wrong about something. We have this whole idea that we have to be right now, maybe some things there are things that need to be addressed that way but most of life things we can give grace and kindness and space. And sometimes the truth is in the middle. Right. So I hope that answered your question. But those are things You said I found that are very important for providing that safe presence for somebody.

Catherine A. Wood  10:08

You know, I was just thinking, your work as you’re thinking of your work as you’re speaking. And, you know, there’s some extra layers in your work because, you know, as a coach, I, I’m only responsible for my client. So I have their goals in mind. And, you know, they’re declared and objective and smart, but you, you might be working with some Congress, or congregants, and then there’s their family. So I wonder, I wonder, how do you how do you? How do you honor their best interests? How I’m curious how that, how that plays out.

Dave Tierney  10:53

So you know, when somebody comes to talk to me in a pastoral role, you know, we, I listen to what they have to say, I give guidance. You because that’s what they’re asking for his guidance. So it’d be spiritual guidance, or, but I also make sure they know. Nothing gets shared outside of that role. And it is hard sometimes, because you know, like a spouse who comes well, I know, so and so was talking to you. And they said that they brought this up to you. And they said, it was okay for me to talk to you about that. I went. I don’t know that.

Catherine A. Wood  11:36

I appreciate that.

Dave Tierney  11:37

Yeah. They look at me. Well, I just told you, yet I still don’t know that.

Catherine A. Wood  11:44

Well, so that actually makes me think about your coach training. Because when we first met you were considering training to also have the coach certification. And you’ve since you’ve since done that, so how does your pastoral care and the ways in which you support your congregants? How has it changed now that you have the coach training as well?

Dave Tierney  12:06

Oh, I ask a lot more questions. Instead of giving that direction? I ask a whole lot more questions. And, you know, one of the things I have to remind them is, and I think coaches have to do this anyway. You have to remind the person my questions are curiosity at work, not questioning what you’re doing as far as a judgment or a disapproval or because sometimes, while you’re asking a lot of questions, well, yeah, that’s, that’s the point of coaching. It’s to help you get right down to the very core of what you want. And then allowing you to create some growth steps out of that. What is the next thing? I’ve had some people just leave. Wow, that was just kind of relentless to questions. And I don’t mean to be relentless. But sometimes, you have to be a little relentless. But I’ve found that they really appreciate it. Because they’ll come back and they say, you know, I’ve been reflecting lose questions, you’ve made me think so much deeper. And you’re part of it is you have to just let them go. You, you as a pastor, you’re supposed to shepherd them some and but as a coach, I’m not shepherding. You know, I’m just holding them may, if we have an agreement, hold them accountable for their next steps. So sometimes it gets a little Bert blurred in a pastoral role. But when I work with people that are outside the church, as a coach, it doesn’t get blurred at all. I find that fascinating, actually, that I don’t blur those things. I do. Do a lot of self talk about don’t give advice. Don’t say anything, don’t give advice, just ask questions. But that’s because I’m recognizing my own preferences.

Catherine A. Wood  14:01

Yeah. It is so important. And also mean something that I always try to do is, you know, it’s our agenda when we’re offering advice as coaches, it’s typically our agenda, right? So our worldview, our perspective, our experience, which doesn’t leave as much space for them to process and discern their own. So I always try to be responsible for naming it, and also giving them permission whether they want to hear it.

Dave Tierney  14:30

Well, I do that too. I’ll just say something like if they seem a little stuck, and I think I have something I may I just share something with you said, you know, this is my story, or this is my thought not yours, but maybe this will help trigger something for you or you know, act as a catalyst for you to start thinking through things. You know, a lot of times I tell people, it’s okay to just come up with what you think are the dumbest things on earth to say, because sometimes when I say Things that don’t don’t sound very well, you know, well thought out. It gives birth to something that is well thought out. You know, a lot of times when I’m talking to people to and coaching, I just tell them I said, I’m just giving you space to think out loud. In a non judgmental, safe environment. You can say whatever’s on your heart. And you will get no judgment from me. I

Catherine A. Wood  15:25

think that’s a huge part of being a safe presence is the judgmental free space. Yeah.

Dave Tierney  15:32

Yeah, since we talked, there is another aspect of being the safe presence that came, came to my mind as I was listening to another podcast. And I’d like to share that a little bit. Because, you know, when we talked about being the safe presence, a lot of times we talked about coaching or counseling or when somebody is going through a difficult time. But I really hadn’t thought really through the safe presence when you’re going through good time. And how important that is. There’s a guy named Martin, study, Seligman, and he, he does a lot of things about optimism. And he talked about healthy responding. I love that idea. Healthy responding, so not just, and studies have shown that it’s not just in difficult times, but actually what builds better relationships is healthy responding in good times.


So what does that look like?

Dave Tierney  16:31

Okay, so it’s interesting. So, so he talks about this, if you just kind of do a block diagram, okay. So you have on the left hand side, the vertical, you have active responding, then below is passive responding. Then on the then on the left hand side, you also had destructive, on the horizontal, destructive and constructive. So you have active, destructive, passive, destructive, active, constructive, passive, constructive. I know that sounds a little confusing, but it actually is fascinating when he was explaining it. So I’ll give you just my own illustration of this. Let’s say you’re there, your spouse comes down and says, You won’t believe this. I just won a baking contest, or Martha Stewart show or whatever, you know, some cooking show, and I’m going on TV, I’m going to fly there and be a part of it. And I’m so excited. Okay, so act of destructive responding would be really? Did they actually taste what you bait? I wouldn’t get your hopes up about being invited back, you know, that would be active, destructive. Passive destructive would be Hmm. So do you have to pay for the flight? So you’re not really being critical of what they did. But they’re, you’re wondering what are their critical, negative aspects, you know, that are going to be entailed to this. And act passive constructive response would be? That is really good. So what’s for dinner tonight? You know, and I think that’s where we get into the danger part. That’s kind of that that doesn’t help the relationship doesn’t hurt relationship, but doesn’t really help that relationship. But an active constructive response would show that you actually were paying attention. Oh, are you talking about your Irish cheesecake recipe? Yes, I, of course, you would have won for that. That is so amazing. Oh, they’re gonna love that. You know, we should we should go out and celebrate. Because I knew you could I knew you could win this.

Catherine A. Wood  19:02

Couple of elements of the active constructive that I appreciate. And then I’ve also heard shared over the years, is that the the willingness to be specific, share specific feedback about what they’re celebrating actually deepens the celebratory feelings.

Dave Tierney  19:20

Right? Right. And that takes practice. And it takes awareness. But the show, but the studies have demonstrated that’s what really builds strong relationships. Now, the passive constructive is kind of neutral, passive, destructive, active, destructive, of course, not neutral and kind of negative. And it’s actually just taken time to bear witness to that person that they matter and what they do matters, which is really a great gift that we can give to people But you matter. Right? Totally.

Catherine A. Wood  20:03

So I, I, you know, I have some selfish reasons for why I’m so excited to have this topic with you. But before I share them, you know, I’m mindful that in your note you, you mentioned that you wanted to talk about this topic because you shared a couple sermons about being a safe presence, and that they were deeply resonant with your congregation. And I’m wondering, you know, what inspired you to want to talk about this in your sermon like, Why? Why is this? Why does it seem so relevant in your world right now.

Dave Tierney  20:39

So when I do messages at my church, there are two ways that I do them. So I’ll do a topical message. I’ll just pick a topic that I think the congregation needs to hear. But I also will take a book of the Bible. From time to time, usually once a year, I’ll take a book of the Bible. And I’ll just, we’ll just go verse by verse through it. I don’t know I when I was thumbing through some books in some of the books, the Bible was praying about it. It’s trying to think and I thought, I think I’ll do First Samuel. Okay. That’s an Old Testament book that most people would go, you’ve got to be kidding me. Right. You’re going to do First Samuel? Yeah, I think I’ll do First Samuel. Well, it all fits right in with First Samuel. The story starts off with this woman named Hannah. She’s married to Elkanah. He also has another wife. I don’t know why anybody wants to spouses. But you know, he has another spouse. Pana Hannah couldn’t have a child Peninnah made fun of her. I had a whole bunch of kids would make fun of Hannah Elkanah would come to her says, Well, I don’t understand why you’re crying. Why aren’t you eating? Why aren’t you crying? I mean, this is this question year after year after year. little slow on the uptake, right. And, and he goes, and then he finally says, really? What the worst thing anybody can say? Where you have me? Aren’t I worth 10? Sons? I don’t think so. What happened was, as I’m studying this, I heard this podcast about constructive, destructive, active, passive, responding, and was like, where there it is. And, and when she did have a child, which carries on in First Samuel chapter two, you can see how they were the Elijah priest and Elkanah, the husband actually were active construction, constructive in responding to her. So when you look at chapter one, I mean, she’s crying, she finally leaves her home, she goes to the tabernacle, which is like a church service. She goes to the church, she’s praying, but she’s weeping, you know, probably that weepy eyed snot filled prayer, you know, praying. And the priest comes out and accuses her of being a drunk. That’s not safe. Here. She went to a place she thought was a safe space. And she got accused of being a drunk. I can’t even imagine what she must have felt. Here. First, she’s in her own home, that wasn’t safe. She wasn’t getting the support that she really needed. She went to the one place where she thought what she would find support and safety. And he, he really rebuked her for being a drunk. Now, to Eli’s credit, when she says, Oh, no, no, no, I’m not drunk. I’m not drunk. He did a one ad. And, and bluster. So it just seemed to fit right with, with I’ve always kind of appreciate it. And until I really started digging in the First Samuel, I never saw it. So that’s, that’s why I did the sermons on it just it fits so well.

Catherine A. Wood  24:15

I mean, I’m also I really appreciate that. And I appreciate you sharing that story. And I’ll have to admit, I don’t know if I’ve read for Samuel. But But I think given the times that we’re in, you know, we’re still in this post, pandemic world. And I, I read this article recently about kind of what we’re experiencing as a collective right now. And I think she said it better than I’ve read recently, and she shared she was like, you know, we’re all experiencing this collective trauma right now in the world that we don’t have research to explain that we don’t have history to tell us how it Going, that we don’t have the support to process what we’re experiencing and, you know, everywhere around us, we’re seeing people not wanting to go back to work, resigning, quiet quitting, there’s just there is such this collective shift in our workforce. And I think that it is absolutely creating this ripple effect in some of our primary relationships because we’re not doing that internal work to heal our own trauma individually or collectively. And so, not surprisingly, and very naturally, in fact, it’s coming out sideways at the people that we love and depend on most

Dave Tierney  25:39

right now. We’ve become so more isolated, right? I think the pandemic really heightened that isolation for us probably made us wonder what we were doing. Also, you know, how we are spending our lives I, I have noticed, you know, church attendance hasn’t regained like it was but they watch online. Okay, it’s not the same as being present. I’m not quite sure how to how to reach out to that, or, you know, helping people with that. It is all new territory. There’s just a comfort of being alone now. And we can have our social media that allows us to have our friends and our enemies and, and video games and TV. Just cocooning.

Catherine A. Wood  26:57

Yeah, it’s interesting, you use the word comfortable. And it feels more like coping?

Dave Tierney  27:08

Yeah, I think maybe so. But we can be very comfortable when, in our, in our dilemmas, right. Because it’s what we know.

Catherine A. Wood  27:19

Absolutely. I mean, I think, you know, even just reflecting on my own experience, I’m an introvert by any definition, but I certainly became even more introverted and more of a homebody during the pandemic, and, and thrived in that capacity to be honest, like, I had my husband working from home. So I have my two dogs and my husband and my garden and nature, like, by any standard, I was, I was cared for. And yet, after the pandemic, I really recognized a void in my social world, really needing more of that connection. And, and mean, I shared with you before we started recording that, you know, I’ve been dealing with some sickness in my immediate family lately. And I made a personal commitment that I was going to spend even more time with friends, and get outside of the house even more, because, you know, that’s really what my heart was needing not to process any more alone with my dogs. They’re my loves. But truly, I needed more laughter and social connection, connection and and it made a huge difference. So I think there really is this kind of, we all need to be really looking at, you know, how are we coping versus how are we caring for ourselves?

Dave Tierney  28:46

Right, right. I’m a pretty high introvert when you do like a Myers Briggs or any other studies, I always come out as a pretty high introvert. And a friend of mine, who’s a psychologist, he said that a lot of people don’t recognize that introverts actually need people more than extroverts, which I’ve never heard that before. And he goes, Oh, yeah, you need it. You need to get out, you know, out of the room, you need to be out among people. He’s really been an introvert is that’s where you’re getting your energy and recharging. But you just can’t stay in the recharge or to hold time you have to get out. And I recognize some of that, when, when the quarantine happened, I created my quarantine. Okay, my quarantine. Were for people outside of my home, that we would limit our contact with others so that we could get together. I mean, we’d get together at a park or something like outside and we were trying to be careful because nobody knew what to do during the pandemic. And so we would we would meet in the parks, we’d have lunch together, we would chat but keep our social distancing. And actually, physical distancing is a better term, social distancing, I think kind of gave us that mentality of actually social and we can’t socialize at all. But you can if you kept your distance that really helped. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know. I mean, I had my wife, I had the kids I had my dog. That was two dogs at that time, which was great. But I really need it. The some outside contact, and I was able to able to do that. I think we really forget how much we need others. We are social creatures. We are not built to be loners. Even loners are not built to be loners. We need one another. In you, we need people who want the best of us. And who can speak hard truth to us that you know that that’s welcome. It may not be pleasant, but it should always be welcomed. And and you know, I can listen to somebody say something harsh, hard. Maybe it’s a better word difficult maybe about something in me that they saw that maybe I wasn’t aware of. If I knew that they have my best interest, I can especially see that they’re a little hesitant to share it. I I really appreciate that. Now they’re gleeful for sharing it. Not so appreciative of that. So you know, that’s but you don’t want that kind of friend either. Right? Like, oh, let me tell you what’s wrong with you. Now, that’s not being safe? And I don’t know, I think the friendships that we maintain so important. What is the old saying we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with? I don’t know if that’s always true. But I think that’s a lot of time. True.

Catherine A. Wood  32:15

Yeah, you shared some real gems there. I mean, I, I love, I love that quote. And I think it is important to be really intentional around who you’re surrounding yourself with, what are their beliefs? What are what are they standing for, how are they exhibiting courage or bravery are really embodying the values, and the values and just beliefs that are important to you and perhaps shared or different, but you can respect and, and admire. And I love, I love that the piece that you just shared about, you know, how when how when the people we trust, have something have some hard feedback to say to us and they can, they can acknowledge the difficulty, or perhaps it’s vulnerable or uncomfortable for them. Or even if they can preface it with, gosh, I have something to share with you. And I’m, you know, a little uncomfortable sharing it. Or I’m not sure if you’re open to hearing this, or in a place in your life where you’re ready to hear this. Are you open to some, you know, hard feedback? And then giving them the opportunity to say yes or no, I think that to your point earlier, it really deepens trust in those relationships.

Dave Tierney  33:38

When I talked to my friends, sometimes when they see something I really want to express to them I say I I say I really have some something difficult to share for me and for you. It’s not anything I want to really do. But can we talk about that just a little bit. And they so appreciative about that. And when they respond in the same way up to me, I really do appreciate that. Maybe not at the very moment. But oftentimes soon after. And I think we need that. A friend of mine, he gave me he was going through a workshop and he was supposed to ask everybody tell me five good things about me and five bad things about me and went Oh, bad is such a terrible word. Can we change it the challenging things about you? And I I asked him later on how he liked that exercise because he had to ask 15 people to do that. I’m like, I want to hear your 45 Bad mean. Yeah. 15 Yeah. 45 bad things about be a 65 bad things about me. And he says Yeah, it was difficult. Yeah, it was it was not easy. And I said, I think they should have asked five good things to challenges, right? Because we always obsess about the, about the things that are being criticized.

Catherine A. Wood  35:19

Yeah, that’s interesting, because I do a similar exercise with clients. But I, I only ask my clients to get external feedback around their strengths and their gifts and their essence qualities, because typically, you know, we’re very well practiced in speaking to our fear based qualities or our areas for growth, you know, we’re typically in better relationship with those aspects of ourselves than we are with our greatness. So, yeah, that’s interesting.

Dave Tierney  35:52

Yeah, he, he did say that it was good. It was hard to hear. But he said, What was very interesting was there’s a variety of things and the good. But almost everyone was unanimous in the five challenges. I thought, wow, I don’t know that I’m brave enough to do that, you know. And I try to be mindful that if because part of my job, I have to do staff reviews. And remember, with one staff member, you know, this was years and years and years ago, I went through the review talked about things I was really impressed about. And they said, Okay, so I’m going to talk about some things that I want you to work on. But this is what I need you to do. And I reached down that PIP brought out a beach ball. This is the good that you have done. This is impressive. I put on the table, then I reached down and took out a little ping pong ball, these are the things you need to work on. Look at the difference. Big beach ball good. This challenge, I know you you’re going to get you’re going to obsess about the ping pong ball, don’t obsess about the ping pong ball, pay attention to the ping pong ball, but don’t obsess about it. And that person was really appreciative of that illustration, in which I stole it from somebody else, because that’s what she’s supposed to do. Take a good idea and make it yours. But I thought it was such a profound thing to help this person who I knew would be difficult, you would obsess about the couple of little things that that person needed to work on. And they found it affirming. I think it’s part of trying to be a safe presence too.

Catherine A. Wood  37:48

I definitely think there’s an art and giving feedback. And doing it effectively so that your feedback can be received and heard. One of the ways I’ve shifted my giving feedback over the years is I start with what worked well, which I think is very normal. I think we all do that. But rather than rather than let me press pause for a second delivery. I used to share feedback by saying what worked and what didn’t work. And for me, that was always hard to hear what didn’t work. So I’ve shifted it over the years to say what worked, and what I’d like to hear even more of. So essentially, it’s like, what can you expand on? Like, what can you lean into? What can you bring more of? So it it just feels like it’s so much more of an encouraging and an expansive way to share feedback, versus to deconstruct or to break down someone? Yeah.

Dave Tierney  38:58

Yeah. Because then then they just kind of, they could actually spiral out of control a little bit, or second guess everything they’re doing. And I don’t want that. And I’m fairly active with giving both positive and corrective feedback, you know, with my staff. It’s kind of funny, that it took them a little bit of time to get used to I’m very casual. You know, I’m kind of joking around. But if there’s an issue that comes up, which sometimes issues do come up that are very serious, I’ll come out and go so this is my serious voice. And so this conversation is going to be really difficult. And then I go I say what I need to say in this Okay, that’s it. So let’s go back to happy and and they just like, okay, you know, and then I’m not trying to you know, be dismissive or but I just wanted to show them that This is something that needs to be addressed because it’s out of the ordinary. Now, I think that’s the other issue that we have in be trying to be a safe space is that we, we are kind of wired to notice what’s wrong. And that’s not necessarily bad. There’s a book called exuberance. I don’t remember who wrote that I read that years and years ago. And it’s about they’ve done studies about our brains. So the lower function of our brains notices things that are wrong. Well, that’s important. That’s how we survive, right? So we notice, oh, you know, there’s that looks like the bridge is gone, we shouldn’t probably go down there, or that’s a dark alley, I don’t think I’m gonna go down there. Yeah, or you come home and your front door is open, when it shouldn’t be open, you probably just forgot to show that, well, maybe there’s somebody in there. So. So that’s a lower function of our brain, but to appreciate is a higher function of our brain. And it takes training. In the Bible, the apostle Paul talks about that whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, we’re supposed to focus on those things. And it is a training of constantly looking at building one another up, and not just making something up when you genuinely See something you just express. Hey, that was really great job. You did fantastic. And beans, as we talked before, being very specific about what you saw. And, but that takes some time, that does take some training. I think when I first started noticing this, so my my son, eldest son, he was just starting to learn to drive. And he was in the back of the van, and somebody cut me off and I and I was, I was unkind. I was a patient. And I just said, jerk. And he said, Hey, listening to you, it sounds like everybody is a bad driver. I thought, that’s interesting. Now, I wanted to tell you that what I did as a response to that was out of the nobleness of my heart, but it wasn’t, it was actually kind of, you’ve annoyed me, so I’m going to annoy you a little bit. And so for the next couple of weeks, whenever my oldest son was in the van with me, and we go, we would come to a stop stoplight. I mean, look, look at all the cars, they have stopped. Yay. Everybody ran on. Look, they’re going to green light. They’re going oh, now it’s our turn. Look, we’re all moving. Oh, did you see that guy use his turn signal? Good job with the turn signal. And he’s like, okay, okay. No. But as I was doing it, you know what I noticed? Most people are pretty good drivers. Yeah, they’re doing their stay in their lanes. They’re not veering all over the place. I mean, there’s a few, but overwhelming people drive pretty well. But sometimes we don’t think that do we? So salutely. And I think a lot of people do their jobs really well. But what gets the attention? Is when something’s not right. And I think that’s unfortunate. So I try to pay attention to what’s right, have to pay attention, what’s wrong to but but there’s so much more. That’s what’s right.

Catherine A. Wood  43:43

I love the piece about building each other up. I mean, I think that you’ve spoken to so many elements of building and creating a safe space, right, the idea of building each other up, sharing, active constructive feedback and communication. He bringing humility, prefacing, and asking for consent before sharing hard feedback. I also hear just the reminder to bring, you know, to bring our own vulnerability and sense of humor. So I want to I want to share with you why I personally was excited to have this conversation. And it’s because I run I run a mastermind for women entrepreneurs. And I love the transformation that is available in groups for so many of the reasons that you just said, because I think that when we build each other up, we can build faster and community than we can alone. I think we’re mirrors for one another. We can hold each other and carry each other forward when we don’t feel you know, strong enough to do so on our own and creating and maintaining a safe presence to Process people’s challenges and celebrate people’s wins requires a lot of Gosh, it requires a lot of vulnerability, it requires a lot of nervous system regulation, it requires a lot of humanity. And I think that I just, you know, I’ve learned a lot from myself over the years of running a group how to hold space, when people bring difficult challenges when there are feelings of comparing to one another’s journey. Or taking people’s comments personally, you know, like, I think there’s so many different, so many different elements that can either build and expand a community and create more safety in a group space, or, or take away from it. Right. So I wonder, you know, you create, you create safe, a safe presence for a whole congregation. So, I would love to hear your, your learnings over the years, you know, what, what has allowed you to, to stay grounded in your beliefs and your values and, and your faith in the presence of so many different life experiences.

Dave Tierney  46:24

So, some of that is by not handling life experiences correctly, right? So you learn, I can see, when I was younger, it was very difficult because everybody, when you’re a pastor, everybody in the congregation sometimes will have lots of advice for you of how you should speak what you should say what you shouldn’t use what you know, what Bible you use, I mean, it’s just, and I took it also personal, you know, when I was, you know, in my 20s, like, Oh, my goodness, am I doing this right? Am I doing this wrong? I really had to just, and then I tried to be somebody I wasn’t. And that was just making me miserable. So I decided I have to be who I am. And, and when people would come with something, I I’d listened to them. I maybe there’s something in there that I would go, Yep, I see that. be unwilling to accept that criticism, or that advice. It took some time to be able to do that. I also learned that when somebody said, I need to come by to talk to you. I said, Can we can you just share what you would like to talk about? Because your mind could go to the negative so easily? What did I do wrong now? And so it helped me to be better prepared for them. And sometimes it wasn’t about anything except I just want to talk. Oh, okay, that’s great. But also had to come to understand whether that is or not that whatever their motivation is, I’m just going to assume that their motivation is good. Because sometimes when we think other people’s motivation is not good, that’s a more reflection on us. Is a verse Titus 115 says to the pure all thing is pure to the crop, nothing is pure. And the whole idea is basically like, if you tell the truth, do you think everybody tells the truth? If you tell lies, you think everybody else tells lies? So I had to really get ahead, get my head wrapped around within my expecting from them. And if I think they’re going to be negative, does that mean I’m negative? And you know what, sometimes I was. And I had to really work on that. train my mind not to be so negative. And so that was that was a hard learning experience. And now when I when I talk to people, I just, I tried to recognize their backgrounds, I try to recognize maybe their life experiences, what’s happening in their life right now. And when we, when we talk, I try to hold that and then Paul’s don’t respond. And they really try to control what my eyes are doing when they’re talking. Oh, Don’t roll your eyes. You don’t do that. You know, this was a bad habit. I had that I hadn’t really had a break. If somebody was saying something I disagreed with, I would just smile, but I would just start, I would just start shaking my head and was like, oh, no, no, no. So then they’re getting all worked up. So I just had a listen and, and, and really just value what they said. Even if I disagree with it, I’m gonna value with what they said because I’m gonna value that No. And I think that’s what comes across to the people that I, that a pastor. I’m not perfect at it by any stretch, but I do get a lot of affirmation that I listen and that I care for them. And that’s, that’s pretty humbling.

Catherine A. Wood  50:20

I think these I mean, you know, my audience are mostly empaths. And I think that this is such a powerful input for empaths as deep feelers and the deep processors that we are having that willingness to, not to take our clients or our friends or family member or loved ones, reactions, personally, to not make it about us to, to really create that space for them to process whatever they’re experiencing without making it ours to fix or solve or make, right or to apologize for, and, and so much of what you’re saying, I mean, it rings so true for me, you know, I, I’m conflict avoidant, and my husband is, is, you know, he has a healthy, a healthy expression of anger, which I’ve really come to appreciate over the years. And so much of the time, when he kind of gets angry about something, whatever it is, you know, it puts on sound like it’s about me or coming towards me, it’s it rarely, if ever, is. But over the years, and we’ve been together for over almost a decade now over the years, I’ve learned if I can just create space, and let him keep talking, and 99% of the time, if I just create that safety for him to continue processing, whatever there is for him to share the shares how it has nothing to do with me, and he’s really upset about, you know, fill in the blank. And I’m so grateful for the work that I’ve done within me over the years to be able to, to create that not only safe presence for him, but also that ability to deepen our relationship because every time I can handle his anger without taking it personal, I feel closer to him. And we do connect at a deep level and a deep a deeper level. And, and I learned from him at the same time, you know, I’m, I’m so grateful that I can now you know, be angry.

Dave Tierney  52:34

It’s okay to be angry

Catherine A. Wood  52:35

that it’s absolutely okay to be angry. And I, you know, can express it responsibly. And what a gift to have that full range of emotions, right?

Dave Tierney  52:47

Absolutely. And it is that holding no space. It’s difficult. And sometimes that just means being quiet. And, but you know, nature abhors a vacuum so we like to fill it in sometimes when I’m talking with somebody, I’ll just sit there I literally will count to 30 now 30 Seconds of Silence that’s a long time. But I do that when you dismiss smiling, allow them to just sit there and kind of well in what they just said they don’t need me the process, they’re probably wondering what’s he thinking but it’s okay. Let them process and really well safe person you are allow him to have that space. Yeah, that’s really good.

Catherine A. Wood  53:47

You know, I appreciate that. Thank you for saying so. And as you were just speaking, I was thinking about you know, in my continuing education for coaching over the years, like I’ve really come to appreciate the the energetic shifts, and how they how they support a client and accessing the, the core of what they want noticing the shifts in clients energy or the, the volume with which they speak or the tone with which they speak or changes in their, in their facial movements or their hands or crinkling of their eyes or, you know, their their mouth into a smile and just how much you know, as coaches sometimes I think we we just create space through through silence. But there’s so much wisdom in the silence if we’re willing to really tune in and, and and sit with it and allow our clients knowing to emerge and look for the hints in whatever way shape or form they emerge. Yep,

Dave Tierney  55:02

When I was thinking about the holding space, I really learned a lot, just not only with my wife, but my four children. I don’t have to fix things. You know, with my kids, especially in my wife, you know, if there’s something I want to, I’m a fixer, let’s fix this. And I would get frustrated with my kids mostly sweet when they were teenagers. But then all of a sudden, it dawned on me. They’re, their friends kind of did the same things. And I was so much more patient with them. And I gave so much more grace and space for them. But not for my own kids. So I backed off on that. So I just said, Okay, I’m gonna just give them more space. And I remember one of my other sons, he was talking to me a couple months ago. And I was just listening. But I’ll be really honest, in my mind, I’m thinking, well, we can fix it this way, this way, this way, this way, you know, I’m going down a checklist, this is what you need to do this, what you need to do this what you need to do, but I’m not saying any of them. I’m listening, and thinking, okay, don’t don’t say anything. He’s not asking you to fix it. He’s not asking you to fix it, just let them talk. And then he looked at me says, I know you don’t want to tell me how to fix it. But I really need you to. One amazing moment, that was because I figured out how to show my own kids that grace, I was showing everybody else. Because sometimes in our relationships with our spouses, with our children, with our parents, or with our siblings, we don’t show as much grace. I don’t know if it’s the proximity or that we think we should know better. I I’m not fully I don’t fully understand why. Why would we not show the same grace that we would show a stranger. And, and, you know, there’s a lot of practice that you can have in your own home, about how to be a safe person. So, so I appreciated that moment with my son.

Catherine A. Wood  57:33

What a beautiful, what a beautiful example of all of the work that you had done in order to get to that place where you’re, you could give the space and the grace for your son to really ask for what he needed versus decide for him. Yeah,

Dave Tierney  57:48

it was nice. It was good.

Catherine A. Wood  57:50

Well done.

Dave Tierney  57:53

10 years ago, 15 years ago, I probably would have been, this is how we’re gonna fix it. This is the you know, yeah, lifelong learning, right. That’s what we should be doing.

Catherine A. Wood  58:06

Totally. And those old habits, you know, they they linger, like I, I certainly can appreciate for me. Whereas I no longer, you know, fix my husband’s challenges or offer him offering offer him my master coach insights. You know, I’ve learned to really create that space for him. But now as my parents age, and I’m taking, you know, more of a role in their care. I certainly noticed those old habits show up there. And I’m having to relearn those same learnings in in these new and new places.

Dave Tierney  58:50

Yeah, you have to keep learning. Absolutely. Learning.

Catherine A. Wood  58:57

Well, I ever appreciated this conversation so much.

Dave Tierney  59:01

Thank you for letting me come on.

Catherine A. Wood  59:03

You know, it’s a this is a very different topic in conversation than I usually talk about in the podcast. Usually, we talk all about business for empaths. But I think what I appreciate is how interconnected this conversation is, with empaths being able to prosper and thrive because you know, we don’t operate in in our in vacuums in our lives, how we show up in one area of love of life affects who we be and affects how we show up everywhere else. And, you know, for empaths like so much of our businesses run on relationships and the the ability to maintain lasting, authentic deep ones and this conversation is such a powerful one. Just filled with gold for how, how our listeners can do just that. So thank you for sharing your brilliance and your ministry with us. And I, I’d love to ask you the question I asked all my guests, which is what has supported you and becoming a prosperous empath?

Dave Tierney  1:00:12

Well, certainly my wife has been really huge in that, you know, helping me understand who I am, and affirming. And also a couple of things. But number one, in all of that is really having people around me that are healthy, healthy for me, that can speak into my life, that can remind me of my strengths, when sometimes I doubt my strengths that can come alongside me and let me have space to vent or to really run my ideas pass them. I love the idea that sometimes my idea when you share it, you immediately know Oh, that’s a terrible idea. You’re in your head. It sounds okay. But as soon as you say it in front of somebody else, you Yeah, that’s just that good. You know, and they just, they just go with it. And I love that. So that’s really important. Then the other thing is, I try to listen to podcasts that really speak to me, and on a variety of topics. And even from people whose viewpoints I would probably disagree with. That’s a huge thing. And then I like biographies, I read biographies all the time, and I just lately have been falling in love with these people that I’ve been reading about. And I’m like, wow, and the sensitivities that some of them have. People that you would be surprised at as being a kind of impact empathetic, empathic in their nature. And, and they really can inspire me to be a better person, and to be more sensitive to those people around me. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I love

Catherine A. Wood  1:02:10

that. Those are some very new answers for the podcast, but the one that really kind of screamed out to me was the willingness to surround ourselves with healthy people. And I think that is so important, especially for empaths.

Dave Tierney  1:02:28

I call them my lifelines. Yeah. People that I know I can count on.

Catherine A. Wood  1:02:34

Love it. Well, thank you so much, Dave. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Dave Tierney  1:02:40

Good to see you again.

Catherine A. Wood  1:02:41



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Exploring Sensitive Leadership with Nina Khoo

On this week’s episode of the Prosperous Empath®, we’ll explore how to effectively lead as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), mitigate challenges, and work with your strengths. I’m thrilled to sit down with Nina Khoo, a Sensitive Leadership Coach and a Master NLP Coach who helps HSPs understand and embrace their unique wiring so they can become confident and empathetic leaders. It’s common for Highly Sensitive People to believe that they’re not capable of effective leadership and struggle with overwhelm, perfectionism, and second-guessing. Nina and I uncover how our greatest strengths can sometimes be the traits we feel most self-conscious about and pose a central question: How does a Highly Sensitive Person protect their gifts as a leader? As an empath and an HSP, your brain is physiologically wired to take more information in and process it more deeply, which can be an incredibly powerful leadership skill. Yet, it can also lead to overwhelm and self-criticism. Through our conversation, you’ll learn how to approach leadership in a more sensitive, empathetic, and compassionate way so you can own your gifts and make a bigger difference in the world  

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The Prosperous Empath® Podcast is produced by Heart Centered Podcasting.

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