by Judith E. Glaser
What inhibits healthy connections in business to create successful change or business turnarounds? Whether you’re an entrepreneur or business executive, it’s most likely that these four behaviors will derail your leadership ability:
- Talking past each other – not really listening.
- Communication blind spots – failure to connect
- Not Seeing Beyond Your Own Vision – not gaining additional perspective
- Not Focusing on Shared Success – It’s all about you
(I wrote about these behaviors in more detail in my previous post, You’ve Reached the Top, Now What?).
Co-creating conversations enable you to co-create the future. This is not about a quick fix or a new policy, lecturing or tell–sell–yell: it’s about navigating with others in and out of scenarios from many perspectives. Such conversations create healthy practices and rituals for how work gets done inside the culture. They enable us to create a movie screen on which to project scenarios for the future so we can explore them and choose the best paths.
As we understand others’ perspectives, we can form a WE-centric rather than an I-centric view of the future. As we create the conversational space for change, we reduce fears and threats and help people find their place in the change process. We can then breathe in a coherent, collaborative way. To breathe means to aspire. When we are calm and connected to others during change, our aspirations become greater and our capabilities increase.
Foster higher C-IQ (Conversational Intelligence) in four specific situations:
1. When you meet someone new. Say, “I’m so glad I met you!” Or “You look familiar!” Our brains are designed to be social. The need to belong is more powerful than the need for safety. Feeling rejected activates our fear networks and increases the level of cortisol, which moves us into protective behaviors. A sense of inclusion reduces protective cortisol levels while increasing oxytocin and promoting bonding.
2. When you brainstorm with a diverse group. Appreciate others’ contributions, comment on how their idea has helped you, and let them know how much you appreciate their thinking. Appreciation reshapes our neural networks. When we appreciate others’ gifts, we have a positive impact on their neural networks. Appreciation activates a larger framework of neurons in our brain that enables higher levels of seeing, hearing, and thinking broader and bigger. Reaching out to connect and appreciate others’ perspectives, even if you don’t agree, elevates trust, or feeling like a friend, thus creating a larger framework for thinking together.
3. When you want to persuade someone. Put yourself in your listener’s shoes. Empathy activates the mirror neuron network located in the prefrontal cortex or Executive Brain. When we mirror each other, we can see and experience the world through each other’s eyes. This activates higher oxytocin production, which facilitates bonding, collaboration and co-creation and elevates trust and openness. We become comfortable sharing what is really on our minds.
4. When you need to solve a difficult problem. Say, “Tell me your thoughts.” And listen to connect. When we are uncertain, both the distrust and trust networks are activated at the same time. We more easily fall into group-think to be safe in the crowd, or we close up for fear we will look weak. Make it safe to be transparent about what you are uncertain about. Don’t penalize those who speak up – encourage them to share.
C-IQ (Conversational Intelligence) is the ability to master the power of connection to enhance your relationships and gain better business and personal results. Even when you think you’ve reached the top, you face yet another mountain to climb – engaging a broader audience of potential partners – both inside and outside the company. When you boost your C-IQ, you become smarter at navigating your social highway. C-IQ is not about how smart you are, but how open you are to learning effective conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success.
Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of 4 best-selling business books, including her newest, Conversational Intelligence. Follow her @CreatingWe or call 212-307-4386 .