I've been quoted in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. I am the author of Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last. Relationships are the fabric of our lives. Ask me anything about the power of connections and how your story impacts your relationships.

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew
Jun 11, 2018

To build strong, high-quality connections, it is important to understand your narrative as well as create the space for reflection that leads to self-awareness.

There are so many influences that impact our perspective on relationships. Media can also play a significant role in the way we form relationships. Social media can be a wonderful place for connecting but often, it has become a place that displays aggression and hostility. We don’t spend enough time connecting authentically. There is power in the story and when we connect with others, the conversations will help us see the resilience, optimism, and hope that is a part of all our journeys. Listening to the narrative we tell about ourselves and our relationships could be responsible for the way we are connecting or not connecting to others in a way that is mutually beneficial.

The way we often see ourselves is tied often to relationships. We are more than our titles and although this is a component of our self-identity, it isn’t the only thing that defines who we are. To have a better understanding of who we are, we must dig deeper to understand ourselves. When we remove the layers of work, family, and friends, we are challenged to really think about our stories and the journey. So often we are so busy doing, that we don’t spend time reflecting and using our experiences as a guide. When I am coaching others, I use activities to help individuals become reflective learners about their lives and see how their experiences informed the way they connect with others. It is critical to take time to reflect in order to learn from our past as well as examine our present to inform our future.

Some simple tips:

Listen to the story you tell about yourself in relation to others. Does your story demonstrate a journey of a victor or a victim? An ending of resolution or rejection? A person of substance or of sorrow?

Know your triggers. What are the things that inspire you? Cause anger? Create fear or need? Identifying these can help you understand what pushes your buttons and how they impact your relationships.

Identify your energy vampires. Who are the individuals who take away your energy and keep you from connecting to high-quality connections? Paying attention to this could help you save time and energy that could be placed into relationships that are rewarding and fulfilling.

The book has 29 Rules of Engagement and provides an exploration of your social, identity, and psychological capital. My desire is to help others connect and realize we have more in common than we are different. In a world with so much conflict rooted in misunderstandings and a lack of awareness, building high-quality connections are essential for change. It starts by knowing your story and being open to the stories of others.

Learn more about my book Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last

My website

Video: How to Live Your Purpose and Passion

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What strategies work best to develop and foster employee loyalty?
Jun 18, 6:05AM EDT0

My mother always says that the way we start with something is the way we can expect it to end.  It begins with the interview process.  We can't disrespect their time by having multiple interviews and waiting months to let them know a response.  Creating environments that are positive and inclusive are essential.  Opportunities for feedback from employees on major decisions are also important since quite often, they are the ones most affected and the implementers of those decisions.  Understanding that employees have lives beyond their work and that those experiences are brought to their jobs daily.  Recognize that they have families, friends and other commitments so flexibility is also important.  I am encouraged by companies that have implemented mental health days because life can be hard!   I strongly believe when people feel heard, that they feel that they matter and are valued, loyalty will follow.

Jun 19, 6:54PM EDT0
What do you do to create and nurture a support system for employees to deal with toxic supervisors or toxic work environments?
Jun 17, 9:42PM EDT0

When I was a supervisor in a toxic environment, I tried to create the space for reflection so that my team could express their frustration but also allowed us to work together to solve for issues that we could control.  I created opportunities to pour into my team by encouraging the reading of various texts that we could discuss together that offered solutions, hope and empowered us to do what we could within the confines of the toxic environment.  I also made sure that we had opportunities for team outings, professional development, and celebrating success especially small wins.  Feel free to listen to a wonderful podcast that I discussed this topic on toxic workplaces: castbox.fm/episode/Navigating-Toxic-Work-Cultures-and-Conflict-with-Dr.-Froswa-Booker-Drew-id936167-id66063671?country=us .

Also please read the work of Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway on this topic: www.amazon.com/Toxic-Workplace-Managing-Personalities-Systems-ebook/dp/B00263ZLGW .

Jun 19, 6:42PM EDT0
How can leaders develop their skills to become relational leaders? What are the areas that you need to work the most to achieve this?
Jun 17, 7:44PM EDT0

There is a wonderful blog article that I wrote on relational leadership that offers tips.  Please visit:  community.mbaworld.com/blog/b/weblog/posts/relational-leadership-matters and let me know your thoughts!

Jun 19, 6:32PM EDT0
For a woman starting in a male dominated workplace, what are the sort of connections she should be seeking out and how to establish them while still maintaining comfortable boundries?
Jun 17, 5:57AM EDT0

There is research on the terms legitimacy and sponsorship since women need them more often.  Usually, women in corporate environments seek not just mentors who give advice but sponsors (both male and female in higher positions) to open doors to opportunities as well as some form of credibility (legitimacy).   Establishing your boundaries and being upfront about expectations is important.

This is from my dissertation, From Bonding to Bridging:  Using the Immunity to Change (ITC) Process to Build Social Capital and Create Change:  "For women, who often have opportunities limited by the glass ceiling, networks dominated by men are often difficult to access. Burt’s “The Gender of Social Capital” (1998) revealed that promotions come earlier to women with more hierarchical networks (or they borrow the social capital of others). Burt’s research raises the issue that women can fall behind, especially in corporations when they build their own social capital. The issue is not gender as much as legitimacy—those who are viewed as insiders and outsiders. Men in higher positions have more legitimacy. Burt’s research affirms the challenge that women have in leadership. Building social networks is critical to one’s success but structural challenges as well as the limited number of women in leadership roles can serve as barriers for women as they aspire to move up in an organization. Building relationships with both men and women, especially in corporate environments, is essential. " (p. 51) 

Jun 19, 6:24PM EDT0
Psychologically speaking, what are the personality characteristics that make it hard for a person to connect to others?
Jun 16, 3:22PM EDT0

I am not a psychologist but I personally believe a person that is unable to listen, have compassion, and does not have self-awareness might have challenges in connecting to others.  

Jun 16, 11:32PM EDT0
How can one sever a personal relationship that has been proven to be toxic/
Jun 16, 1:56PM EDT0

I think it really depends on the level of investment in the relationship.  There are some relationships that you can easily walk away from and distance yourself because their isn't the time or emotional investment involved.  In relationships that time, energy and emotion have been invested, it's probably best to have a conversation with the individual to discuss the problem especially if the relationship did not start out toxic.  We can't correct what we aren't aware of and if this person means something to you, you both deserve clarity and the opportunity to make things better. 

Jun 16, 11:13PM EDT0
How can someone identify if a relationship in their life is toxic? How they should cut it out if it's a personal one and if it's a professional one?
Jun 16, 1:22PM EDT0

There's a great article in Bustle (that I was honored to be quoted in!!) about toxic relationships: www.bustle.com/p/5-types-of-toxic-people-to-cut-out-of-your-life-the-trick-to-recognizing-them-69483

Relationships that are based on manipulation, shame, and guilt are not healthy.  I've dealt with toxic bosses and work environments.  In some enviroments, I could endure because I had a support system with colleagues and I found satisfaction in the work despite the challenges.  I had so much feeding me personally and professionally that I could manage.  There have been other situations that I had to leave.  The environment and/or supervisor were so stressful that it began to impact my health.  For me, it wasn't worth having physical or emotional manifestations from the stress.  I created an exit strategy knowing that I couldn't walk away the next day but even in creating the strategy, it gave me hope.  Often in toxic environments, we feel powerless.  Find opportunities in your life that empower you so that you don't become hopeless.  

Personal relationships can be different because their is often a deeper emotional connection. If a relationship isn't safe,  there is emotional isolation and manipulation, and creates fear, this isn't healthy.  If your self-esteem is taking constant blows because of the relationship and you are doubting/questioning yourself and every decision,  it is time for some serious self-reflecting and a plan.  Know your value and worth and if that has been damaged so severely, seek help from a therapist and your support system if there is one to help you.  There are times that you have to say goodbye and walk away.   If your safety is involved, get help immediately!! When dealing with friendships, it might be worth having a conversation to discuss the behavior and share why the relationship isn't working.  Taking breaks and creating distance in toxic friendships are okay and some breaks need to be permanent.  

Jun 16, 8:55PM EDT0
What is the skill that if one learned they can guarantee them success in their relationship?
Jun 16, 7:09AM EDT0

I don't believe that there is one thing that can be done that will guarantee success in every relationship but there are variables that can contribute.  Communication is key.  In many relationships, we are so ready to share our opinion that we don't take the time to really listen and understand others.  I also believe that people are uncomfortable with change and conflict.  Relationships change because our lives change.  High quality connections can endure tension.   Disagreements happen and it is an opportunity to grow and learn from the discomfort.   Authenticity is also critical.  Relationships that matter won't thrive when we aren't willing to show up and be present. 

Jun 16, 8:06PM EDT0
How long did it take you to write Rules of Engagement?
Jun 13, 8:04AM EDT0

With edits and getting the final draft to the publisher included, about 6 months.

Jun 13, 8:17AM EDT0
What’s the best piece of advice for an aspiring author of self-help books?
Jun 13, 8:02AM EDT0

Determine your intention first. Is it is because you want to share information or is it because you want the ability to say you've written a book?  Knowing the difference (and include other reasons) will allow you to address and know your expectations upfront. It isn't easy to sell books especially if you don't have a Marketing and PR team behind you. It will be important to also create a plan on how to market your book. After it is published, you have to think strategically about your existing relationships, possible platforms and developing new networks as an audience. 

Jun 13, 8:29AM EDT0
Who’s your target audience for Rules of Engagement?
Jun 13, 3:02AM EDT0

Initially, I wrote the book for professional women but college students and recent graduates became interested because they were trying to enter the job market and wanted help in building new networks. 

Jun 13, 8:20AM EDT0
How did you make time to write an entire book despite your busy schedule?
Jun 12, 11:52AM EDT0

What a great question!  I remember listening to the women in my research group and I was intrigued with their stories.  Their stories served as a catalyst for recalling my own. 

I can't say it was easy but I dedicated time to writing.  I've learned that for those things that are important, you have to create the space for it.  I spent an entire weekend at my mom's home locked in a room writing because I had so much I needed to get on paper.  Without the support of friends and family who also enccouraged me, it would have been almost impossible to finish. 

The second book was the result of a silence retreat I held for a group of women and I wanted to encourage them after their experience.  I sent them each week a series of devotionals to keep them on track and inspired.  It ultimately became a book that I wanted other women to use as a guide as well.  It is entitled, Ready for a Revolution:  30 Days to Jolt Your Life.   

Jun 12, 3:56PM EDT0
What are the first steps to unmask and fortify your identity?
Jun 12, 10:08AM EDT0

I personally think  the first step is paying attention to the stories that you tell about yourself.  It is important to ask the hard questions of why you do, believe, feel the way you do.  I don't know if the goal is to fortify one's identity as much as it is to be open the possibility of change.  Our identities, in my opinion, evolve (we hope) and leads to another conversation on the importance of finding purpose as a part of identity. 

Jun 12, 3:38PM EDT0
What have been some of your most rewarding experiences as a motivational speaker? What sort of topics are your forte?
Jun 12, 3:41AM EDT0

It is so rewarding when audience members decide to share with you how your presentation resonates with them. One of my most memorable experiences was when I was a keynote at a conference in Toronto. A lady came up and thanked me because she felt I understood her story through the sharing of my own. Even though we were from completely different backgrounds and experiences, she didn't feel alone in that space. She was encouraged and realized the power of our narratives connect us. I love when those a-ha moments happen and connections are made with me or with others in attendance. 

I have so much experience in nonprofit management and provide talks on capacity building for organizations.  I really love sharing about the power of our narratives to build social capital and our networks for individuals and organizations since that is the basis of my research. I also enjoy discussing various leadership styles such as authentic and relational leadership. Lastly, using another area of my research--the work of Kegan and Lahey (Immunity to Change) to help individuals and organizations identify the areas that keep them from creating the change they'd like to see. 

Jun 12, 8:30AM EDT0
Among these 29 rules, which one’s your ultimate favorite?
Jun 12, 1:04AM EDT0

I love them all...LOL!  I had to really think about this. My favorite is Rule 20:  Authenticity + Awareness= Start of Something Serious.  

"  For women, many of us have been silenced in our own relationships and as a result, we learn to wear a mask.  Other masks are worn to keep people from hurting us again so we become the assailant.  How often do we allow others to influence our voices to a point that it ultimately changes who we are?  Being authentic is being your true self--good, bad, and ugly.  It's being vulnerable and open to all of who you are.  It will be difficult to build lasting relationships when you hide from yourself....Become aware of who you are to create the real relationships that lead to fulfillment and authenticity."

I didn't include everything but I think it provides more context!!!

Jun 12, 8:56PM EDT0
What’s one very important quote from your book that you can share with us?
Jun 11, 8:54PM EDT0

This is so hard!  You are asking an author to pick one quote from their book!  LOL!  I have a paragraph (okay, more than a quote) that I think is important (the bold sentence is the important thought but I felt the paragraph would offer context):

"  Constructive and healthy relationships help individuals become more authentic in their communication with others and create a sense of security for an individual to explore their own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities.  In affirming relationships, individuals can experience criticism and feedback in a way that is not detrimental because they have a point of reference based on the constructive feedback they have received as well.  These experiences provide an opportunity for reflection and self-growth.  Mutually beneficial relaitonships contribute to an individual "enacting their best self, employing their strengths in a way that creates a positive experience for them and a constructive experience for others."  All relationships that are meaningful take time and investment. ...It is not about transactions as we build relationships with others.  It is about their transformation as well as our own." From Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last, p.  96)

P.S. Quote on best self from the amazing author/professor, Dr. Laura Roberts.

Jun 11, 9:42PM EDT0
In which areas do you offer consulting services to nonprofits and businesses?
Jun 11, 8:47PM EDT0

These are just a few of the areas that I provide consulting/training to nonprofits and businesses:

Identifying partners and resource/Business developmentAsset Mapping/Building Social CapitalStrategic PlanningGovernance TrainingLeadership TrainingChange Management/Immunity to ChangeNetwork Weaving 

Feel free to visit my website at www.froswasrules.com for more information.

Jun 11, 9:28PM EDT0
What does your work as director of community affairs for the State Fair of Texas entail?
Jun 11, 6:47PM EDT0

As Director of Community Affairs, I'm responsible for the following:  Managing a team; building relationships/partnerships; our grant cycles and donations in the immediate area; capacity building for nonprofits (second year of Nonprofit Infrastructure Cohort with United Way, University of North Texas at Dallas to build capacity of nonprofits in Southern Sector through training, relationships, and funding); educational programming which includes programming in some of the local schools, summer camps, college fair, etc as well as our economic development work (job fair, cohort for small businesses interested in being concessionaires).  This is just the short list of what goes on.  Although it isn't a comprehensive list, our website has some more details about the convenings and other offerings we provide at www.bigtex.com/community.  Our team is working on the website right now to add new content!

Jun 11, 7:11PM EDT0
How did your former work experiences prepared you in the fields of partnership development, training and education?
Jun 11, 7:29AM EDT0

It has been a combination of work and my education that has prepared me for what I do.  Working in marginalized communities helped me to think creatively in identifying resources not always in the form of a check but through partnerships for programs, events, and in-kind donations (including professional services).  The training opportunities started as a result of the work.  People were curious as to how I was able to bring so many resources to an organization and I was happy to share what I learned through workshops, keynotes and training sessions.  Each experience became a foundation for the next opportunity.  I have also realized that no matter how much experience or education I've received, I'm still committed to learning.

Jun 11, 7:04PM EDT0
Why do you think toxic environments block people from finding out who they really are?
Jun 10, 3:54AM EDT0

Toxic work environments exacerbate situations and can jade the way we see ourselves.  If a supervisor uses blame, guilt or shame, an employee might question themselves due to the stress they are under and especially if there is not a support system in place for the employee, leaders who do not see it as an issue or a culture that permits this behavior.  For those who are creating the toxic environment, quite often, they do not realize (or care to understand because they could be a high performer) the damage they've caused.  If leadership does not say anything/reprimand, they might actually believe that there are no problems.  As a result, the opportunities to address/correct the behavior can prevent the person from improving and seeing their blindspot(s).  A great book to read on this topic, Toxic Workplace!: Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Kusy and Holloway, both former professors. 

Last edited @ Jun 17, 7:43AM EDT.
Jun 10, 10:12PM EDT0
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