What We Can Learn from Our Worst Conversations

Judith Glaser’s 7-month course on Conversational Intelligence offers new and improved methodologies for effective communication that you can apply to both work and life situations.

“Conversations are the social rituals that hold us together, the fabric of culture and society.”
— Judith E. Glaser

The course section on “Humanizing Conversations” explores how to down-regulate the behaviors that create distrust and up-regulate behaviors that build trust. No matter what we do in our professional lives, trust is the most important element in achieving extraordinary results. Trust is something that I have explored over the last 15 years through leadership development work. I always believed that listening was the most powerful skill to build trust.

Humanizing Conversations
Conversational Intelligence takes the skill of listening, a step further by providing more texture to “listening.”  Glaser uses the concept, “deconstructing conversation” which looks back to look forward. Examine a conversation after the fact to garner new insights. In the first few moments of contact in a conversation, our brain will determine whether to trust the other person. If that impact “feels good,” we will move in the direction of opening up to more interactions. If that impact “feels bad,” we will close down and move into protective mode.

In the deconstruction process, here are a few questions for exploration and learning.

  • Was either person addicted to being right?
  • Did you experience the “Tell-Sell-Yell” syndrome? (Tell them once, try to sell them why you are right, then yell!)
  • Did you ask questions that you already knew the answers to?

If you said YES to any of these questions, you were operating from the primitive brain (amygdala) pumping cortisol, keeping you in a protected distrust state.

So how do you shift from this part of the brain that is being triggered by threatening behaviors? The very first step is to recognize the neurological response and find ways to head off the fears. Understand where the fears may be coming from, work backward to find a solution.

How do we sideline these signals from the amygdala?

  • Notice how we react to threats (fight, flight, freeze, appease)
  • Acknowledge this reaction
  • Notice if we always choose the same reaction and how much the threat impacts us
  • Choose an alternative way to react in the moment (mindfulness techniques: breath in, breath out, express how you are feeling)
  •  Become more aware of our responses and realize we can override our emotions and shift to other responses
  • Ultimately transform fear into trust

Stay tuned for more tips to have meaningful conversations that transform leaders and organizations!

This is the second in a blog series. Read the first blog at “Listening to Connect.”

 

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