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How to Be a More Effective, Authentic, and Inclusive Communicator with Dr. Amber L. Wright

How to Be a More Effective, Authentic, and Inclusive Communicator with Dr. Amber L. Wright
How to Be a More Effective, Authentic, and Inclusive Communicator with Dr. Amber L. Wright

With the right communication skills, you can bring who you truly are with you wherever you go. But if you’re not a natural conversationalist (or even if you are), you need the appropriate tools and strategies to help you feel seen, heard, and valued by those around you.

That’s where Dr. Amber L. Wright comes in. She’s a communications expert, a speaker, and an executive life coach. Amber’s also a great model herself for demonstrating wonderful communication skills for relationship building. She’s joined me for a dynamic and insightful conversation on how words well said can lead to deeper relationships and self-awareness.

In this episode of the Branding Room Only podcast, you’ll get a masterclass on communicating effectively and authentically in interpersonal communication. We’ll also dive into the importance of inclusivity in your communication, dialing down the ego when collaborating on a team, and so much more!

2:18 – Amber’s personal brand definition, superpowers, favorite Nelson Mandela and Bible quotes, and hype songs

8:03 – Why communication has been the throughline for Amber from a young age

11:56 – The key to deepening your relationships and improving your communication

16:02 – How Amber’s concept of interpersonal communications applies to her personal brand and how she shows up when communicating

22:48 – How Amber’s conversation cards focus on helping individuals become better communicators

28:37 – How to foster understanding and connection with people who aren’t like you through communication

33:45 – Why apology as a communication tool can be challenging and the need to manage the ego when you’re part of a team

40:12 – Amber’s current focus on fun and finding things she wants to do

43:36 – How Amber is making sure that entrepreneurship doesn’t cause a loss of herself and how she displays an abundant mindset in her work

47:58 – What makes people want to gather around Amber for a Branding Room Only experience

 

Connect With Dr. Amber L. Wright

Dr. Amber L. Wright is a relationship communication expert and founder of Words Well Said, a personal development company that helps organizations do a better job at making their people feel seen, heard, and valued. As an executive coach and speaker, she guides leaders toward expressing their highest selves with authentic authority and grace. Her popular TEDx Talk entitled, “Ask Better Questions to Build Better Connections,” has inspired people all over the world to become stronger communicators in their everyday lives. She has been mentioned in Fast Company, Essence, and Mashable, and is the creator of Can We Talk? Cards — 50 questions designed to help you take the guesswork out of small talk.

Words Well Said

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Mentioned In How to Be a More Effective, Authentic, and Inclusive Communicator with Dr. Amber L. Wright 

“Leadership Lessons from The Greatest Night in Pop” by Dr. Amber L. Wright

Ask Better Questions to Build Better Connections | Amber L. Wright | TEDxCSULB

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to www.paulaedgar.com or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Welcome to The Branding Room Only Podcast where we share career stories, strategies, and lessons learned on how industry leaders and influencers have built their personal brands. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Hey y’all, get ready for a masterclass in communicating. I really, really, really loved this conversation with Dr. Amber L. Wright. She is authentic. She is clear. She is a wonderful weaver of advice, strategy, and just communication generally.

I got so much out of this conversation. I can’t wait to hear what you get out of it. Make sure you look at the show notes afterwards. Of course, please send me an email and let me know what you thought about the conversation.

Hi everybody, it’s Paula Edgar, your host of Branding Room Only, and I’m so excited today for our guest, Dr. Amber L. Wright. She is a communications expert, a speaker, and an executive life coach.

Her work is designed to give you words well said for life well lived. Come on through with that. Welcome to the Branding Room, Dr. Wright. May I call you Amber?

Dr. Amber Wright: Sure, yes, darling. You can call me Amber.

Paula Edgar: I’m so excited to have you on today. Everybody, as usual, I love to kiki with my friends on this podcast. While we have not met in person, we have been friends online for a very long time. It’s exciting to have you join us for a conversation.

Amber has been somebody who has, without probably knowing for sure, done a lot in my life, meaning helping me communicate with people better and also just be there as someone who I could rely on online. Especially in these days where you can’t rely on a lot of people online, that feels good to me. So I’m glad to have you on the podcast today.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, Paula. Now, okay, we can’t start with, y’all can’t have me over here weeping. Thank you for that. That really means a lot to me. Thank you. I feel like I know you because I do, but like, I don’t at the same time.

Paula Edgar: All of that, exactly. It’s just like, “Where did you live again?”

Dr. Amber Wright: It’s been literal years, but we have to change that. We’re going to meet very soon.

Paula Edgar: Absolutely. All right, now, first question up is, what is personal brand to you? What does that mean? How do you define it?

Dr. Amber Wright: I define a personal brand as the way in which people experience you. I heard my husband say on a call once, I caught him talking about me, he said, “Amber, my wife is not someone that you meet, you experience her.”

Paula Edgar: He’s 100% right. Exactly, because, and I mean, obviously this is a testament to it because I haven’t met you, but I have experienced you, can you high-five to him when he gets home on that one?

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, shout out to him. That’s what I think a personal brand is. It’s the way that people are able to describe how they experience you.

Paula Edgar: Exactly as that. Let me ask you this: How do you describe yourself in three words or short phrases?

Dr. Amber Wright: Let’s see. I describe myself as a beacon of truth.

Paula Edgar: That’s exactly three words. I love it.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, a beacon of truth.

Paula Edgar: Everybody, she’s got me speechless for a minute. Hold on. Okay, I love that.

Dr. Amber Wright: I can share more about why I feel that way, but that is how I see myself.

Paula Edgar: Please, no, share as much as you like. Why do you feel that way?

Dr. Amber Wright: I think that because of my work in communication, and I always say that my superpowers are my way with words and my way with people, so when you bring them together, that’s when you really see me do what I feel I was made to do. A lot of that comes by way of helping people name what their truth is. That’s hard to do. It’s hard. That’s why I do what I do.

Paula Edgar: A beacon of truth indeed. Well, do you have a favorite quote or a motto that you love?

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, I think for a long time, for me, “It always seems impossible until it’s done” by Nelson Mandela was my favorite quote because sometimes we can be faced with things that feel so insurmountable that it’s just like, “How am I going to get through this?” but you look up one day and then it’s done, it feels complete.

I think in this season in my life, “Ask, seek, and knock,” in the Bible, Matthew 7:7, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.” Those three words, ask, seek, and knock, spell the word ASK so when I realized that, I was like, “Oh, God is so meta. He really wants us to just ask for what we want.” That is a practice that defines my life.

Paula Edgar: Ask, seek, and knock.

Dr. Amber Wright: Ask, seek, and knock spell the word ASK.

Paula Edgar: Love that.

Dr. Amber Wright: For our video viewers, I got it tattooed on my wrist some years ago as a reminder to ask for what I really need and for what I want. At a time when I really needed some help, I asked for it and he answered my prayer, so.

Paula Edgar: It’s like Luvvie Ajayi Jones, she has a prayer that she says that she shares whenever she’s going to something new, which is “May the helpers find me.” It just resonated so deeply for me because I think we have some similarities and it can be challenging for the people who are the doers to be the askers.

We need to ask because we can’t do it all. So I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Okay, on the flip side, what is your hype song? When they are going to get full on Dr. Amber L. Wright, what song is playing when you walk into the room? Or, maybe and, if you’re having a bad day, what song are you playing? That could be the same song or different songs.

Dr. Amber Wright: Sure. I mean, honestly, I’m a hype member. Anything Beyonce is going to fit the bill. But if I had to pick one, I would probably say Diva.

Paula Edgar: Mm-hmm. Yeah. [inaudible] song.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah. That’s when she was really just getting to talk her talk. I love that. I love the vibe of that, especially if you have a speaking engagement or something and you’re walking out and the song is familiar and she’s really super swaggy. I think that that would be a hype song for me for sure.

Gosh, I think it really just depends on the day. When I was in the 10th grade, I had a friend call me a human jukebox. I’m the type of person that thinks in song lyrics and I speak in analogies. Questions that require me to pick a song are very difficult because it’s like, “Well, what genre are we talking? Yacht rock? Are we talking R&B? Are we talking worship if I’m feeling sad?” So that could go anywhere. But probably anything by Stevie is going to pick me right on up when I need it.

Paula Edgar: As, for me, by Stevie Wonder is an elevator for me.

Dr. Amber Wright: It’s a thing.

Paula Edgar: It’s going to do the thing.

Dr. Amber Wright: It’s immersive. That song is like a blanket that just envelops you and that’s the beauty of Stevie’s work.

Paula Edgar: I would agree, I would agree. It’s always very funny to me because of all the questions that I send for my guests, this one gets the most pushback. People are like, “I can’t pick a song.” I’m like, “I mean, I get it,” and I’m like, “But I got a song.” Yeah, I need to have a song. I want to have a song because we’re making a mixtape.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, I love that.

Paula Edgar: Yes. We’re adding some Stevie in there and some Beyonce, which she’s obviously already in there.

Dr. Amber Wright: Right, I’m sure.

Paula Edgar: Clearly. Okay, tell me, where did you grow up and how did that shape your brand?

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, man, I am a person that likes to describe myself as being from everywhere. I was born in Southern California. I spent parts of my youth in Dallas, Texas, and also in Miami, Florida. My last year of high school, I went back to California where I lived for the last forever, until during the pandemic I moved to Georgia.

Even though they were difficult for me, moved into three different high schools in three different states, which is a lot of moving in a very short amount of time, as challenging as those experiences were, they taught me how to say, “Hi, my name is Amber, what’s your name?”

If I didn’t want to sit in the cafeteria by myself, always being the new girl, I had to learn how to make friends and to do that very quickly. That’s something that serves me to this day.

Paula Edgar: What part of Southern California are you from?

Dr. Amber Wright: Long Beach. I was born in San Pedro, so that’s specific to people who live there, but Long Beach is the city that raised me.

Paula Edgar: Hey, LBC, okay, [inaudible] represent.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yup.

Paula Edgar: I love it. Okay, so tell me about your career journey.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, girl. That’s two podcast episodes. Long story longer, so communication has been the throughline to all of my work from the beginning. I’m a first-generation college student and while I was in college, just figuring things out for myself, I took a couple of column classes, and one of my professors that I had had twice, she’s like, “Amber, did you know we had a major?” and I was like, “No, I didn’t know.”

I was going to be a liberal studies major. I looked into it and I switched, and that was probably the best decision of my young adult life. I felt like I learned so much about myself studying communication.

So I got my master’s. My bachelor’s is in speech communication. My master’s is in interpersonal communication because I’m really fascinated by communication and relationships. I always say on podcasts, I was the varsity captain of team do too much. I was doing a lot of things. I’ve worked in higher ed for a long time, both as faculty and staff.

Oh, gosh, 12 years ago now, I started my business. I’ve not always worked in the business full-time. That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship, you can make it what you want to. But after being a professor for eight years, I just decided that I was ready to expand my classroom.

I feel like I’m doing the same thing that I’m doing when I was a public speaking and interpersonal professor. But now my students are global corporations, if you will, and in my coaching practice. My career journey has taken a lot of ebbs and flows, but helping people become more effective communicators so that way, they can have more fruitful relationships and a healthier, happier life has been hands down my mission.

Paula Edgar: I mean, as somebody who obviously studies personal branding so much that she has a podcast about it, what I love about you, you talk in clear snippets. I’m like, “It’s going to be so hard for them to pull out which clips to choose because you have so many good ones.”

I’ve been sitting here, this is totally and completely unfair, but people judge, I’m waiting for it for you to be like, “Um.” I’m sitting here and you have not. Again, only because it’s what you do.

I know already that you do this well because I’ve seen you speak and I’ve seen you interact and I’ve seen you on Instagram live and all those things. But for the folks who are on, y’all know I have a very high standard for who and what I do on the podcast.

Dr. Amber Wright: So high standard.

Paula Edgar: I am sitting here very much in awe of what you do and how you do it because it seems so effortless to you, but communication is hard.

Dr. Amber Wright: It’s hard, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Paula Edgar: It is hard. Talk to me about your TEDx talk. It was about building better connections, we’re going to definitely have it in the show notes, but give me a snippet of what that means for people connecting globally and what you want to people to take away from that.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, thank you for this question. Also, the teacher in me wants to say that anyone who listens to this episode and consumes it, I hope that I’m modeling what we want for guests on this podcast is to be concise. Concision is your friend, brevity is your friend. I try to model the things that I teach people how to do, and then you’re also just really great at this too, Paula.

My TEDx is called Ask Better Questions to Build Better Connections. I love that talk so much, not even because I wrote it and I worked so hard on it and I delivered it, but it’s really, really good because if you ever apply for a TEDx or you get an interview–

Paula Edgar: I want to know more.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yes, we’re going to call that in for you. They’re going to ask you, “What is your idea and why is it worth spreading?” What I love about that second question is, everybody has ideas, but not all of them are worth spreading.

In thinking about that, I had to think critically about that. What I decided that I wanted to say in my idea was that we have to ask better questions to build better connections.

I say in the talk that relationships are life’s greatest currency. If you want to be interpersonally wealthy, meaning robust, healthy, rich in your relationships, then you’ve got to be a good communicator. I stand by that. I believe that. I do speak in these little clips and I like to say that the quality of our lives is directly influenced by our ability to communicate with confidence and with clarity. Period. But where do we go to learn to do that?

Paula Edgar: I don’t know, but tell the people because–

Dr. Amber Wright: Come to me.

Paula Edgar: Right, [inaudible] you.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, but you know what I’m saying? We don’t always know, and I always say, whether our relationships succeed or fail, it almost always comes back to something that someone did or did not say.

Whether somebody broke your heart or you had a friendship breakup which can be harder than a divorce sometimes, if you were a real good girlfriend, it’s like, “Oh, I lost my left arm,” so how do we communicate about those things? In the talk, I wanted to offer it as a bit of a reminder and a guide that a lot of that comes by way of how we’re asking questions of each other.

Paula Edgar: It’s true. There are not many times, I don’t bring my therapist into my conversations because she [inaudible] every day by talking to me. But she reminds me that when you’re in a conflict with someone, you don’t ask them why. You don’t say, “Why did you do X?” because it’s accusatory and people do this.

She says, “You bring more of how you experience what happened, and then prompt what may have brought for them.” It’s the hardest thing. We’re both married, I’m always like, “When you left the refrigerator open, I felt [inaudible]”

Dr. Amber Wright: Come out with your “I” statement.

Paula Edgar: Yeah. Can you tell me more about why the refrigerator might be open? I’m like, “I’m not going to start with why but I’m going to get the why in there.” But it’s true, we care for each other with the way we communicate too.

Dr. Amber Wright: Absolutely.

Paula Edgar: When you’re not direct, which doesn’t mean mean, it is challenging to both you and to them because they’re not hearing the real part of it and you are not being able to share your real purpose, intent, etc. I love that you shared that because it’s really, really important for us how do we spread a question so we can get better answers and have better relationships. Love that.

Dr. Amber Wright: Something worth thinking about.

Paula Edgar: How do you apply this concept of interpersonal communications and communicating generally to your personal brand and how folks should really think about how they show up when they’re communicating?

Dr. Amber Wright: For me, that came by way of being mindful of how I’m showing up online. It’s not even just an online thing. It’s really, again, just how are you showing up in any room that you sit in? I’m just intentional about being myself.

After having so many jobs, I mean, I’ve worked in The Big Three, I’ve worked in higher ed, like I said before, I’ve worked in corporate, and then now as an entrepreneur, I do others around me a disservice when I’m not my true self in these spaces. But I know how to be different versions of myself.

Now, communication is contextual. How I might talk to you might be different than the way that I might talk to my kid, for example, because the context is different, but inherently, you’re both experiencing me in a genuine way. So I think that when it comes to my personal brand, I want that to be in alignment, because I am the face of my brand, of how people experience me.

When I’m building a website, for example, I want to look like somebody that you would want to talk to. That has to come up in my photos. It’s got to come up in the copy and the things that we say, the navigation even of the website has to make sense because I want to make it easy for you to interact with me, engage with me, or what have you.

It’s thinking about all of those things. But fundamentally it’s like, “Who am I being and how do I want people to experience me?” Putting that thought into that and being consistent with that intention.

Paula Edgar: You really said so many of the words that I think are best practice when it comes to a true, I don’t want to use this word because I’m going to use it again, but a strong personal brand, which is consistency, authenticity. It’s like reliability. I equate branding also with how you brand a product.

I love, speaking of Atlanta, Coca-Cola, and know what to expect when I grab that can of Coca-Cola and what it’s going to taste like and if it’s cold. I expect that from my interaction with people and it’s very jarring to me when it’s not that way. It’s like, “What’s going on?”

To your point, you don’t get the magic of the person when they are hiding or trying to be something different than they actually are. For all of you who are listening, it’s really, really important to remember, authenticity is not keeping it real, but it’s real in all of your interactions.

Sometimes that’s great. The context is important, to your point. I’m not going to be like, “Hey, girl,” when I walk into a business meeting, but I certainly was like, “Oh, my God,” when I saw you because you have the context of it.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah. Years ago, I was speaking at an event and they assigned a volunteer to each speaker. This woman, she was visibly nervous and I couldn’t understand why, as she was assigned to me, just “Do you need anything? Do you need water?” and what have you.

After a few interactions with her, I could tell something was up. I just looked her in the eye and I was like, “How are you doing?” She said, “Oh, I’m okay. I just really love you,” and I was like, “You know me?” She was like, “Yeah.” Now, I came to find out that this woman and I had had an interaction before over social media.

She had DM me and all this. I was like, “Girl, you don’t sit here for all these hours and you didn’t say that it was you.” She was like, “I was so,” kind of, I guess, starstruck if you will. Not because I’m someone.

Paula Edgar: You absolutely are, yes you are.

Dr. Amber Wright: Okay, I’ll take it. But she said, “You’re exactly the way I thought you would be.”

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love it.

Dr. Amber Wright: That meant a lot to me because people spend time with you, Paula, they listen to this podcast when you’re asleep. The internet doesn’t sleep. The things that happen, when you’re not in people’s presence or when you do get to meet them offline, is their congruency. That’s important to me.

Paula Edgar: Ooh, come on, SAT words. I love it, congruency, yeah, all of you. Let’s put that in the show notes too, just because I’m shady. I love it. You just reminded me that I experienced a first with you that you probably don’t even know was my first time doing something. I’m going to share it with you.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yes, please.

Paula Edgar: I have a fear, and people are going to laugh because obviously what we’re doing right now, but I have a fear of going on the internet live. The one and only time that I have done that was with you.

Dr. Amber Wright: We did an Instagram live a couple of years back.

Paula Edgar: Yeah. I’d never been on live before. Literally, it was like, “I feel safe with Amber. I can do this one.” It was fine. But I remember my daughter being like, “What are you doing on live? If somebody has your phone, you want that?” I was like, “It was me.”

Dr. Amber Wright: Your own daughter thought that somebody–

Paula Edgar: Hacked my phone because I always say I don’t like lives. Here’s an interesting tie into our conversation, the reason why I don’t love live is because it’s live. So you have to be vulnerable because anything can happen.

Brand-wise, I don’t necessarily love that. I’m like, “I like you to know what I wear, what I’m going to say, all those things still being authentic, but also understanding there’s a path there.”

Live is like, I don’t know, the dog could jump in the background. I have no idea what’s going to happen. But I said, “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it now.” It was fantastic. We had a fun time. It was great.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, that means so much to me, because you’re a celebrity in your field and in your space, Paula Edgar is somebody to know. You said I felt safe with her. Again, that really means a lot to me because if we are going to talk about hard things, if you are going to be a coaching client of mine and we’re going to need to talk about how you’re showing up as an executive or whatever the thing is, there needs to be some sense of trust and credibility there.

There are a lot of frauds on the internet. There are a lot of people who aren’t genuine in their dealings. So I’m so glad. I’m going to do another one just so you can join me again.

Paula Edgar: I know. See, see, look, there we go. The Amber and Paula show. Well, now, of course, I digress because that’s what I do. Tell me this, tell me about, well, I already know, but tell everybody about Words Well Said, and I want to specifically talk about the conversation cards too.

Dr. Amber Wright: Okay, thank you. The name of my company is called Words Well Said, because that’s what I want to do. I mean, you said that so beautifully in the introduction, I want to give you words well said for a life well lived. I love it when people say things to me, and they’re like, “Oh, that’s so well said. Thank you.”

That’s the name of the company. I describe it as a personal development company, because again, I want you to be a better person. A lot of that comes by way of who you say you are and how you’re showing up if those are, again, aligned, and then how you engage with people and how you’re showing up communicatively.

I really love this work. My last corporate role, I was a senior associate for one of the Big 4 Accounting Firms. I remember in the interview, the gentleman asked me, “Amber, why do you want this job? You have your own business, you have your own website, you’re doing all this stuff. Why do you want this job?” I said, “Because I’m married to the work. When I was a professor, my job was to help people become better communicators so I’m doing it now in my company, and I’ll do it for you when I join the team.”

The channel changes, but the song is the same. He was just like, “Yeah, I think, yeah, okay.” That is what the nature is of the work that I do. The three rooms in my business house are from speaking, coaching, and then my product, as you mentioned.

I have these fun little conversation starters. There are five editions. They’re called Can We Talk? Cards. There are 50 questions designed to take the guesswork out of small talk. I created these because I just recognized that it’s not enough to tell people you’ve got to communicate.

Well, you’ve got to communicate, that doesn’t come easily to everyone, and what I’ve learned in my 20 years of doing this is that it’s not so much that people don’t want to communicate, it’s just sometimes they don’t know what to say.

These conversation starters help prompt you into thinking of what to say and I look at them as a tool, a little tiny dumbbell to flex your communication muscle and I’m really proud of the product.

You were the first person to buy my special womanhood edition and these are questions that I wish that I had asked my grandmother before she passed to get to know her more as a woman. You didn’t just buy one, I think you bought like four or five on that first order so you have this like special place in my life as something that I was so intentional about and you were like, “Oh, yes find me up,” so thank you for being you.

Paula Edgar: Oh, of course, and I was getting ready for this, I was like, “I have to buy more.” I give them as gifts and what I love is a set to my daughter, because I was like, “We will use these then we can have the conversation.” I gave it to some of my best friends. I gave it to a stranger who I didn’t know as well.

No matter what, having the ability, you said a tiny dumbbell, I also love it as a little bit of a crutch because you don’t have to also figure out what you’re going to, because now you have an assignment. There’s something that you’re going to be able to do.

You don’t have to be like, “So how about those mitts?” You can shuffle the cards and pick one and have deep, wonderful conversations and learn about people. I am an extrovert’s extrovert.

Sometimes the conversation is dominated because I’m an extrovert’s extrovert. These cards are a level setter. Asking for both folks to interact and engage around the content, I love that because it’s hard for me.

If I’m quiet, people will be like, “What’s wrong?” It’s a hard thing because I can’t be quiet because people expect me to not be, but I also don’t want to take up too much space. These are a great way of making the conversation very symbiotic.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, Paula, I love that you said that because so often we only think about introversion and introversion is not a synonym for shy. That’s one of the stereotypes that we have about that personality trait.

As a Myers-Briggs practitioner, I’m certified in Myers-Briggs and I help people understand how their personality plays a role in the way that they communicate. Again, we tend to think like, “Oh, these are for introverts because they don’t like,” and it’s like, “No, there are also people who prefer extroversion and those who are talkative because those are not necessarily synonymous either, it just shows up more easily in how we engage because we are energized by interaction.”

For the extrover’s extrovert, these questions are really helpful in sharing that space and asking, going back to what we were saying before, giving the other person a chance to share how they feel and that keeps the conversation going and flowing. I really love that call out because it’s there for everybody.

Paula Edgar: It’s true. My listeners have heard me say over and over again that introverts rule the world. It is not you’re better because you’re an extrovert, you’re just busier and a little louder sometimes. But introverts are much more strategic about communication and interaction. Because of that, I think they do it so much better.

It’s like one, done, two, three, done and I’m out as opposed to me, I think of myself as like a butterfly. I’m like, “Hey, baby, what’s the next flower I’m going to go?” But introverts tend to be like, “I’m going to these three flowers and I’m going to have these conversations, will get what I need, and then I’m out.” I just think that they do it better because of that.

There’s obviously power in all of the different types, but I agree that I don’t like introversion maligning them because they are so fantastic at what they do. Everybody’s special at what they do. We just have to figure out how to help us figure out each other.

Dr. Amber Wright: How to dance with each other.

Paula Edgar: I’m really glad you talked about Myers-Briggs. I know my first letter is E. I just know nothing else about that, but I know my first letter is E, because I’m always like, “E, Edgar.” I remember that, but all the rest of the letters, I don’t know. But what have you found when it comes to helping people communicate with people who are not like them?

Dr. Amber Wright: Mmm. Curiosity. Embracing curiosity, something that I named, going back to the TEDx talk is about being thoughtfully curious and that is to be inquisitive without being intrusive.

That’s hard for people because we don’t want to be nosy or maybe we do. We want to just think with intention, though, about how we are engaging with people and then even more so if they are different for me.

Use these questions as a step into their world to say, “Tell me more about what it’s like to experience you.” Or one of the questions I think in the deck is, “What do people misunderstand about you? What do we get wrong about extroverts or what do we get wrong about introverts?” Whatever.

I think just adopting a mindset of thoughtful curiosity can be really helpful because that’s how we learn, that’s how we expand our minds, expand our thinking, expand our networks, and being able to engage with people. I don’t want to only sit around the table of people who are just like me.

Paula Edgar: That part.

Dr. Amber Wright: I’m awesome so that’s going to be a group of people who are a lot of fun. But there’s so much fun in diversity and diversity of thought and experience and background. So being able to, again, put yourself in a position of looking at things from the other person’s perspective, what’s it like to be in this country and not speak the language?

That inherently then offers up a level of sensitivity that I think sometimes we miss in our interpersonal interactions and just getting, what is the saying, I was going to say the one with numbers like there’s more than one way to add to the number four, but also there’s multiple ways to skin a cat, which I don’t skin a cat.

Paula Edgar: The cat didn’t do nothing to us.

Dr. Amber Wright: I’ve never done that before. But you get what I’m saying, like there’s more than one way of thinking, and our way isn’t the only right way.

Paula Edgar: Right. Which is a great call out and into something that I promote as much as I can, which is the inclusive communication imperative, which I think is what you were getting to. It’s the ability to communicate across our differences and the places where we’re similar, but I think really being strategic and thoughtful because people are different, but even if you think they’re the same, it’s important for you to be inclusive in how you communicate.

I work with a lot of lawyers and law firms and people in the legal community. I remember having a conversation with someone who was very challenged by having to use pronouns. I mean, this person was a coaching client of mine, a leader at a law firm, because of the relationship, I was like a confidant.

He would ask questions, “I want to just ask you something and I don’t want anybody to take offense to it.” As soon as somebody says, “Don’t want to take offense,” I’m always like, “Oh, God.”

Dr. Amber Wright: Offence meter.

Paula Edgar: Exactly, and like here we go. But he said, “Paula, I’m just so frustrated because pronouns and pronouns and it’s not even grammatically correct.” I was like, “That’s what you’re going to stand on?” Grammatically correct. But I shared with him, “Take out everything else from it, all of the weight that you’re putting on it and just think, if somebody called you a nickname that you didn’t like, would you like it?” He said, “No.” I said, “Why are you putting more on this than that? It’s essentially there are people who are saying this is how they would like to be referred to and if you want to be considered an inclusive leader, then do so.”

It is not hard, but people put a lot of weight and layers and things on how we are named and how we were referred to that don’t necessarily have to be there. Now, again, I know that there are some people who have a lot of other layers to why it’s challenging for them, but in my mind, it’s “Look, the same way I don’t want you calling me,” people call me Pamela all the time, I’m not really sure why, because it’s all different letters, but they do, and I’m like, “No, my name is Paula, and it’s such an important piece of who I am.”

Me asking you to refer to me the way I would like to be referred to is a baseline of respect how we communicate with each other. Your name is first. Your name is the first thing. For all of you out there, get it right.

Dr. Amber Wright: Make the effort. Because what do you lose by referring to someone as they, if that is what they prefer to do? Does it take a little bit of practice? Sure. But what a gesture to be able to say, “I see you.” That’s the work.

When I’m doing the same work and working with companies and teams, it’s how are you making your people feel seen, heard, and valued? So much of that comes up in the simple act of using your program.

Paula Edgar: All of that. Speaking of inclusive communication and when you’re working with teams, I can imagine that if you’re talking to leaders, there sometimes is a lot of ego that might go into situations and make it hard for folks to change and want to have growth mindset versus a fixed mindset and what you’re doing.

With all of that, we still are human beings and we make mistakes. One tool in our communication toolbox is one that I want to hear your thoughts about, which is apology.

Dr. Amber Wright: My thoughts on apology are “I’m sorry if you are offended” is not an apology. Just for the record, it’s not. I think what’s challenging about apologies is accountability and people having this desire to shirk accountability, “Well, I’m sorry if you felt that way,” as opposed to, “I’m sorry, I made you feel that way.” There’s accountability there, there’s ownership there in the second sentence versus the first. I think that that’s part of the challenge as to why we can tell when an apology doesn’t feel sincere and then we can also tell when it does.

It has an impact on us, it can feel like healing when someone says, “I’m sorry for blank.” I saw this graphic once that had an egg that cracked and the yolk was all spilled out. It’s, “I’m sorry if the egg was broken,” versus “I’m sorry, I broke the egg.”

Paula Edgar: Oh, I need to find that graphic.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, you know the internet is so full of such things. It’s such a simple illustration of what we’re talking about and being someone or working to be someone who really values your relationships then, being able to say when you’re wrong, “You know what? I was wrong about that. You were right. Thank you for your patience as I work to figure this out. I apologize for the way that I made you feel,” that can go so far, but you have to have a willingness to engage in repair in that way.

Paula Edgar: Yes. Perfect answer in terms of that. Accountability, my kids will tell anyone, is my favorite word. I believe that we should be accountable to all of our actions, should they be ours, because who else is going to be?

Dr. Amber Wright: Who else is going to be? Yeah.

Paula Edgar: I’m sorry if you got mad, it’s his fault. That doesn’t really work. I love it. That was a perfect way of talking about it because when it comes to communication, so many people are afraid to say the wrong thing.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, and I think that that’s a fair call out. I think that sometimes we get, especially when we’re talking about inclusion, we get a lot of resistance because people fear what they don’t know. Sometimes it’s just out of that discomfort, but it’s like, I want you to go this step further and say, “Well, why am I so uncomfortable with this?” and do that deeper work so then that way, you can show up.

You mentioned the word ego, we see that across industries. The managing of the ego, I wrote a post recently on LinkedIn talking about the show The Greatest Night in Pop on Netflix. It was about the making of We Are the World from, I think, 1983 or 1984, and how they had to sign “Check Your Ego” at the door.

I commented on how being able to do that, then now we see somebody like Smokey Robinson challenge the great Stevie Wonder on whether or not they should sing Swahili on this song. Like, [inaudible] Because even then, he was still in the prime of his career.

It’s a challenge, Stevie Wonder, but I’m Smokey Robinson. Everyone, we’re all here together as a team. Which is why I tell teams, “You’re not a family, you are a team, we have a goal. A family does not have an objective, they just have to exist. If we’re going to function together as a team to accomplish whatever our goal is, we’ve got to talk about the way that we work and the way that we engage with people. There’s no way around it.”

Paula Edgar: Oh, that’s such a great snippet. I love that documentary.

Dr. Amber Wright: It was so good.

Paula Edgar: If you all haven’t seen it, it is on Netflix and it is so good. My favorite part about it is Michael Jackson is like, “If you come over here with that whack voice,” his face says so much, we gotta communicate his face. I can’t remember who it was, that was singing, but the person was off tune.

Dr. Amber Wright: Huey Lewis.

Paula Edgar: It was Huey Lewis. [inaudible]

Dr. Amber Wright: Get it together. Michael’s a Virgo too, just like me, so get them notes.

Paula Edgar: Figure it out.

Dr. Amber Wright: But he took his time. He was patient.

Paula Edgar: Yes, yes, he was. The ego check was very much balanced with patients in the room too. And what’s his name? Oh, my gosh, I’m going to forget. I just remembered that he is the orchestrator of the whole thing.

Dr. Amber Wright: Quincy.

Paula Edgar: Quincy, thank you. I’m doing [inaudible].

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, Quincy Jones.

Paula Edgar: He [inaudible] in how he was navigating all the different groups and their egos from the camera people to the musicians. I was like, he is–

Dr. Amber Wright: Evan Lionel. Evan Lionel.

Paula Edgar: Yes.

Dr. Amber Wright: Lionel put on a masterclass in interpersonal skills and how to leverage them. Everybody in that room liked Lionel. He was like the team captain of getting it off from writing the song to hosting the AMAs at night. Please go watch this. We do not work for Netflix, [this is not sponsored in any way], but there were so many leadership lessons that I took from that show. That’s what my article was about, like five leadership lessons that we took from The Greatest Night in Pop. Again, communication is a throughline to all of that, for sure.

Paula Edgar: We will link that article in the show notes. I mean, I’m really glad you brought that up, because it was a fantastic documentary. We’ve talked about a lot. Time was going to go quickly because life isn’t fair. But I want to ask you, I want to ask you, I’m going to fast forward to the fun stuff, what do you do for fun?

Dr. Amber Wright: What’s fun for me right now is exploring what fun is for me.

Paula Edgar: Ooh, tell me the fun.

Dr. Amber Wright: As a, again, retired varsity captain team do too much, God asked me a couple of years ago, “Amber, who are you when you are not achieving?” Who are you when you are not achieving? That took my breath away. I’m like, “I don’t know.”

I’ve been on this journey, I call it my joy journey of just finding things that I want to do. I just went to Mexico City a couple of months ago and I floated in a hot air balloon over these ancient pyramids. That was wonderful.

I ate good food and I had a cooking class while I was there and I’m letting my teenager teach me how to play her guitar because she loves the guitar. I’m taking Spanish just for fun. I’m already semi-fluent in Spanish and Mexico brought that to life for me. Like, “Oh, I’m so much more fluent than I thought I was. Let me just do it for fun, no grade, no nothing, but just like free class from the library I’m able to take online.” Finding things that delight me, that make me happy, and light me up is a new pastime for me right now.

Paula Edgar: I love it when the universe says, “This is where you’re supposed to be at this time and these are the people you’ll interact with at this time,” because my word of the year, I pick a word every year, is joy, and my hashtag around joy, I have my hashtag, it’s #Paulantics when I do things for fun because I do fun all the time, but fun is not necessarily always joyful for me and I think that fun is engaged in activity, but I wanted to deliberately make sure there was joy in it.

So I call it my joy story, like Toy Story, my joy story. I love joy, I love all of that. I love that we are aligned in that as our intention for this year, that’s fantastic.

Dr. Amber Wright: I mean, who would have thought but that is the part of the high achiever. It’s who are you when you’re not achieving? I got clothes for when I’m speaking and when I’m working and I got a leisure wear. What does my life look like in between? I need a wardrobe to reflect the fact that like, “She’s someone who goes to cocktail parties, goes out to dinner, or whatever.” Yeah. Cheers to our journey.

Paula Edgar: When you said that God asked you, “Who are you when you’re not achieving?” I was like, “Please don’t ask me that.” I don’t know, don’t ask me.

Dr. Amber Wright: That was for her, not for me.

Paula Edgar: This better not be a message to me through Amber.

Dr. Amber Wright: Oh, my goodness. It’s going to hit your shoulder now.

Paula Edgar: I take the lesson. I do because especially now, and especially post-pandemic, and as Black women, and as women, and as mothers, mothers and as wives, there’s not a lot of self in there.

So finding self and being self-ish on purpose has been a wonderful, wonderful recognition of how much I actually enjoy spending time with myself and I didn’t before. I needed to be surrounded by busyness before and the pandemic gave me back understanding who I was and what I needed for me. It didn’t give me much more than that though, anyway, to that end.

All right. I ask every guest on my podcast the same two questions. One is stand by your brand. What is the aspect about your brand that you will never compromise on?

Dr. Amber Wright: Wow. What is the aspect of my brand that I will never compromise on? I think that is the loss of self. I refuse to let entrepreneurship eat me alive. Okay, I refuse. That means then I must only ever work with clients that I feel aligned with.

So I can’t work with everybody. Okay, that’s what I mean. I can’t work with everybody. All money and good money. I didn’t do this in order to drive myself crazy and to send myself to an early grave. That’s something that I won’t compromise on.

Paula Edgar: Obviously, we’re both aligned in that we’re both entrepreneurs as well. I learned that lesson early, but I kept having to be reminded about that lesson. So I’m glad that you said that because I can tell you this for sure, that every single time that I have worked with a client that I felt something in my stomach, or I felt like, “Oh, this is not going to work,” and I pushed forward, it was terrible. Every single time.

It is honoring yourself and honoring your practice and honoring the client, all of the above to say, “No, this doesn’t feel right for me to have, 10 people I can recommend to you,” or one, or whatever the thing is, “I want you to have joy, just not with me.” All of those things.

Dr. Amber Wright: I just realized, I’ve said period like three or four times in this interview, which means, I don’t know what that means, but anyway, that’s my word of the day, but I also have an abundance mindset.

What that means to me is what is for me will not miss me. If we’re not aligned, then that means that you’re not for me. I’m happy to recommend you or not even, and that’s okay.

I remember I was on a call once with a woman, she said, “Oh I was going to work with you, but I worked with somebody else.” I was like, “Oh, good, how did that go?” She’s like, “Wait, you’re not going to ask me why I didn’t choose you?” I said, “No, you made that choice. You have your reasons for that.” She’s like, “Oh, my God, if it was me, I would want to know, I want to be the best. I’m always going to want to get that feedback.” I’m like, “Well, you’re welcome to give it to me. But no, we were not a match and that’s okay.”

Paula Edgar: When someone says, “We went with somebody else,” I’m always like, “I’m so excited to hear how it goes and I always say, “If it’s not confidential, who is it?” I love when it’s somebody who I know, and it’s great. I love that because again, abundance mindset means that, “Sure, that wasn’t me. The next 12 things will be.”

I’m like, “High five to the people who got it,” because the pie is not limited. It is huge, particularly for women of color who tend to be underpaid or less valued by some of these organizations, I am happy to say, “I’m glad you work with somebody else and in particular somebody else who’s aligned.” I love that.

Dr. Amber Wright: Referring Black women is my favorite song. Okay, I love to say, “You know what, I know somebody for that.” When we see posts and stuff on LinkedIn like, “Oh, no, I love that,” which also means I need to be cultivating a network. I mean there’s only one me so I know that.

Paula Edgar: That part.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yeah, but having a robust and expansive network to be able to say, “Oh, hey, how about this person? Can I connect or what have you?” There’s no loss on my end to be able to do that. I’m not for everybody. I’m also okay with that too.

Paula Edgar: Oh, I want to not be for everybody.

Dr. Amber Wright: Yes.

Paula Edgar: Yes, I’m a particular kind of person as we all are. Sometimes that aligns and sometimes it doesn’t. I feel when it does align, it’s so magical that I only want that. I only want that alignment. You’re right. Any vetting that happens that says, “This is not it,” okay, find your it. Let me help you. [inaudible]

Dr. Amber Wright: Absolutely.

Paula Edgar: All right. The final question that I have for you is this: Branding Room Only is a take on the term standing room only because I’m clever. So what is the aspect about you and your brand or the experience of you that would leave a room with only standing room to experience about you?

Dr. Amber Wright: We talked about the word authenticity earlier. I think the thing that makes people gather around me is I’m a storyteller by nature. I embrace authenticity in a way that is framed by this saying, “Authenticity means that people do not have to know you intimately, they just have to know you honestly.” Am I being honest with myself? If I’m able to do that, it frees up other people to do the same.

Paula Edgar: Well, y’all, we are all free because of Dr. Amber L. Wright to be as authentic as we want to be. I enjoyed this conversation immensely. Whenever you want to come back, you are always welcome in The Branding Room Only Podcast. My friend, it has been a wonderful conversation. How can people find out more about you and your work?

Dr. Amber Wright: Thank you. This has been a fantastic time. You’re a wonderful host and just a beautiful person and I’m grateful to know you. Your audience can find me on Instagram @wordswellsaid and also on LinkedIn. You can search for Dr. Amber Wright and that’ll be me with my smiling face and my pearly whites and we can connect. Or also wordswellsaid.com.

Paula Edgar: Awesome. We’ll put all those things in the show notes, make sure you go and look at the show notes. Everybody, tell a friend to tell a friend, to tell a friend to communicate better. Apologize for that thing that you did. Show up as yourself. Also, be well. I will see you all next time in The Branding Room.

Phew, wasn’t that great? Wasn’t that truly the embodiment of Words Well Said? Amber was a true, true, dynamo and I love that our conversation went so many places but really had this core part about it when it came to authenticity and the impact of really true inclusive communication. I do encourage you to look at the show notes, share this with a friend, download it, rate this podcast episode, and again, I’ll see you again next time in The Branding Room.