by Judith E. Glaser
When we feel we are gaining and not losing, we play as WE, according to Conversational Intelligence.™ This is the intelligence hardwired into every human being to enable us to navigate successfully with others through language. However, our fear is that someone else will get more. And the fear is always this: I’ll trust you and then what? You’ll stab me in the back?
Even though most of us value being considered a partner, the ability to work together interdependently is one of our least-developed skills. This skill is so vital that, in its absence, good leaders turn bad, good executives become ineffective, and good colleagues turn into adversaries. The skill of opening up to others—and of creating the emotional space for others to open up to us—requires deep trust. Trust is the most precious of the golden threads. Without it, there can be no WE.
When we open up to include partners outside of our conventional thinking, we encompass stakeholders and allies beyond the traditional boundaries of the enterprise—including vendors, customers, and donors. We expand the way we work and how we generate value. After all these years, we are starting to see how shifting boundaries—throwing the net wider—is a way to achieve alliances in a new way. With the golden thread of trust, we can weave our lives together like a beautiful tapestry.
WE-centric relationships are built on trust. I trust you will not harm me, and you trust I will not harm you. When we have that level of trust, we do not feel the need to duck into protective behaviors. We automatically assume a mutual support, and we move forward from there.
When we experience doubt about the good intentions of others, for whatever reason, we need to recognize the importance of having the kind of conversations that bring us back to trust. Creating the space for open dialogues enables us to reclaim trust with others.
5 Vital Questions
There are 5 vital questions that, if not addressed on an explicit level, will be working “behind the scenes” and eroding trust at every corner.
- How do I protect myself?
- Who loves me, who hates me?
- Where do I belong, where do I fit in?
- What do I need to learn to be successful?
- How do I create value with others?
As we interact with others, we are asking and answering these 5 Vital Questions with every interaction. Our human communication system with others is designed to send energy out and get an answer back. As we send out these questions in the form of direct questions or indirect messages to others, we calculate our “coordinates with others” and navigate either with them or against them. When we are seeking to understand where we stand with others, we are listening, I-centrically. Once we get these questions answered we energetically shift into a “WE-centric” relationship and trust emerges.
Co-creating a Book is Like Giving Birth!
The 5 Vital Questions are key to the health of a relationship, team and organization. Here’s an example of how those questions work. We used them to propel a team of us—18 coaches, consultants, and practitioners at the Creating WE Institute—to do an experiment in co-creation and trust building. We decided to work on writing a book together.
When we started our co-creating conversations, we didn’t know what the other was thinking but we trusted we would find a way to build a conversational space for our best ideas to emerge, and, we did.
We didn’t know what we would do if we had conflicting ideas that would clash, or too many ideas. We trusted we would find a way to work through it, and we did.
We didn’t know if our ideas were strong enough or big enough, yet as we listened to each other’s ideas, and became inspired by what others had to say—we did.
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
42 Rules for Creating WE is the book we created.
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: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) Visit ConversationalIntelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-307-4386.