When authentic relating doesn’t work with your dad

relating languages Nov 08, 2021

“My dad has a sort of wall around going deep. i will open up to him about how i am feeling, and he will kind of judge me for my struggles. He sees emotions and pain as weakness. I don’t really know how to talk to him, we just small talk and it is draining for me... maybe I simply don’t have his consent to go deep with him! He doesn’t really open to anyone or know how to, or that it is safe and important to... he is sort of old/traditional in a way of seeing what strength means.” - Abby

What does strength mean?

While women are taught to pay attention to and respond to others’ emotions - what I would call the “External” focus of any Relating Language - men, especially those of older generations, were taught to ignore these emotions. Seeing them in other men was taboo; seeing them in oneself, just as much so. Better to repress than to express was the battle cry of masculinity, causing anger - a less repressible emotion, and a less...

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Life and Death: A Games Night Plan

authentic relating Oct 19, 2021

I planned to write, this week, about the Authentic Leadership and Facilitation Training. Of anything I've created that is the most involved and Sara-esq program, a synthesis of 3 years of facilitation experience. My underlying hope was that some of you might even want to attend. We were meant to do two trainings this month - one in Austin Nov. 21-23, one in Baton Rouge Nov. 14-16. Then, two nights ago, the woman who was organizing the Baton Rouge training called to tell me her son (a core and much-loved member of the Austin authentic and Ecstatic Dance communities) had been killed in Houston, on his way to Louisiana's first Games Night.

Writing this, I feel a cold, spacious depth in my chest. A heaviness in my eyes. Tired, resigned, and sad.

I went to Burning Man, a few months ago, with the intent of experiencing and accepting the cycle of life and death. I wanted to be surrounded by an explosion of exquisite creativity. I wanted to know that all that beauty was going to end. When...

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The Art of Mourning

I still think about my second boyfriend.

I had just moved to Texas. I met him at a country dancing bar one of my first nights out in town. I was 17; I snuck in on a fake ID, fingers crossed for the chance to experience “adulting”.

He was a cowboy from the hill country. I had never fallen so hard for anybody. I would bike multiple times a week across town, 45 minutes up a huge hill to land sweaty and delighted at his Christian university and spend a couple hours talking, playing ping-pong, and listening to him play guitar.

He called me one day as I was preparing to go to class. “It’s over,” he said. “Do you want to talk about it?”

I was in shock. “No,” I said, and hung up the phone. Then I knelt down, my head in my hands, there on the sidewalk. It took me many months to feel okay again.

The cowboy still comes to my mind sometimes. Not because I miss him or want to be back together — I don’t feel like we ever really...

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Context, Content, & Concern: A Conflict Resolution Framework with Sara Ness

conflict connection Sep 16, 2021

Unless you just don't talk to anyone, ever (or you only talk about the weather), conflict is an inevitable part of life. We've all developed ways and tools to deal, avoid, navigate, or perhaps instigate over the course of our lives -- some helpful, some not so much. 

But what about when the conflict threatens our connection?

Authentic Relating can be applied to just about every context in our lives, and conflict might be one of the more potent places to bring the practice. AuthRev's Chief Catalyst Sara Ness has been sharing this new framework in her Sensemaking 101 work with RebelWisdom, and it's a really potent way to approach conversations that might be ripe for conflict. Have a look.


You'll learn...

  • How creating shared context can help prevent conflict in the first place
  • Why "Steel Manning" someone's perspective is the new (and way more helpful) "Straw Manning" 
  • Why bombarding someone with content and facts might be completely missing the point
  • How to better...
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The Path of the Paradoxical Leader

authentic leadership Jul 26, 2021

Do you ever get the sense that something is happening around you, maybe even because of you, and everybody else knows it - except for you?

A few months ago, our strategist and marketer Mel decided to go full-time with her own project. We were all very sad to lose her, but I was delighted when another great prospect popped up for the role just a few weeks later: my old friend and collaborator Jason Digges.

When Mel was leaving, she wanted to place our company on good footing. She started working with me and AuthRev's operations mistress, Laura, to take over the leadership. Laura hadn't led before. But I wasn't going to do it solo, right?

Jason joined us a month later. He was relieved to find out that Laura and I were co-leading the company. However, while we were fantastic collaborators on the operations front, Laura and I didn't do well in the joint CEO role. She stepped down. As a result, Jason started to get cold feet, because nobody was going to be in the leadership role - I...

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The Paradox of Leadership: Authentic Revolution founder Sara Ness, Seek Healing founder Jennifer Nicolaisen, and Authentic Relating Toronto founder Taylor Barratt

authentic leadership Jul 02, 2021

How do we make sense of what it means to be a leader?

Below, you'll find a lengthy discussion between Authentic Revolution founder Sara Ness, Seek Healing founder Jennifer Nicolaisen, and Authentic Relating Toronto founder Taylor Barratt on the topic of community and business leadership. We go into everything from the inevitability of becoming a guru, to the lessons religion can teach us about successful (or unsuccessful) community leadership.


Video highlights:

- Bringing the relational and the collaborative into the world of business, family, and finance
- How becoming a guru is inevitable in communities of belonging
- What makes the difference between a dysfunctional cult and a transcendent community, and why we often can’t tell the difference
- 2,000 years of wisdom in 20 minutes

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Taking Authentic Facilitation to the Workplace

It's one thing to bring Authentic Relating skills into your relationship, your family, and your living room.


It's another thing entirely to bring it into the workplace, board room, and company culture!


To find out how it works, Jason Digges spoke to Carrie Patrick, Senior Organizational Development Strategist at Dell, and one of the best Authentic Relating facilitators we know. 



You'll learn about...

  • Why experiential learning can jumpstart the desired changes in company culture that theory just can't
  • The importance of balancing AR games with numbers and stats in the workplace context
  • How to translate AR for the workplace to get past any hesitancy around "self-help" culture
  • Why "playing it safe" is the absolute wrong approach


Tune in & start envisioning how you could bring Authentic Relating into new contexts!

Foundations of Facilitation begins Tuesday, June 1st at 11am EST, 5pm Eastern European time, and runs for 12 weeks! 


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The Relating Languages Part 2: Stress and Safety in Connection

by Sara Ness

Why is it that sometimes we can be our “best selves” — grounded, connected, and aware — and sometimes, we’re a total relational mess?

Personality typing systems give us a general concept of who we are. I’m an “Enneagram 7” — enthusiastic, scattered, and adventuresome. I’m an “ENFP” — extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and prospecting. These systems have helped me understand myself, but they sometimes break down in relationship to other humans. Then, I seem to be not one type but many.

Why do I sometimes feel extroverted, and other times want to hide? Why am I intuitive when I feel clear on my role, and totally blocked when the situation feels chaotic or unclear?

I think we need a new system to complement those we have. A system that deals specifically with communication types, and how they change, and how they interact. A system that I call the Relating Languages.

In this article, I’ll talk...

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The Relating Languages Part 1, or Why We Don’t All Just Get Along


by Sara Ness

Hi, I’m Sara, and I am an awkwardvert.

An awkwardvert (self-titled) is a mix of extrovert tendencies with a lot of social anxiety. I want to meet you, but I also want to run away. I have always struggled with, and searched for, answers to the following questions:

What are the rules for relating? The unspoken social norms that everyone seems to understand? The right words to use? The right activities to offer? The amount I should speak, or listen?

These constant curiosities led me to become a connection teacher. Who better to teach communication than someone who has parsed it out of need? I teach mostly through facilitation, leading others to discover their own norms and way of being. Over the last decade, I’ve found something interesting.

I tried to come up with universal “rules” of behavior. Yet, people are different (profound realization, I know). Some like small talk, some judge it. Some ask questions, some never do. Some don’t seem...

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What does “Authentic” mean?

by Sara Ness


“It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” — Abraham Harold Maslow


What does authentic mean?

Is authenticity total honesty in all your words and actions? Is it following your impulses, your emotions, or your beliefs? Is it integrity? Is it a popular word that writers use to get more hits on Google?

I’ve spent the past seven years teaching authentic connection. I’ve worked with thousands of students across multiple countries, and one constant issue participants run into is “finding their authentic truth.” 


What Does Authentic Mean, And Why Is It So Hard To Find?

So really, what does authentic mean? Why does it seem so difficult to find “true authenticity”?

Imagine a city. 

It’s huge, sprawling, filled with alleyways and shops that you could never explore in a year of looking. The city has many entrances. It belongs to you,...

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