Developing the “I inside the We”

The I inside the We

This is the sixth in a blog series on the course I am taking on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser.

The sixth module, “Expressing Conversations,” guides us to develop the space for healthy conversation to emerge, for individuals to have a voice that can create collective next-generation thinking.  

Interaction dynamics can be filled with erroneous and conflicting beliefs about authority, power, leadership and winning. We often accept these beliefs without questioning. Learning to shift from “Power Over” to “Power With” leadership promotes a healthy, thriving, and productive workplace. As you move to Power-With leadership, your conversations create change in the brain’s ability to adapt, grow and innovate with others.

How do we create the environment that promotes safety to express ourselves within a group and build on the collective wisdom of the group?

What counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.Daniel Goleman

Moving from Dictating to Developing

To shift the dynamic of “Power Over” to “Power With”, leaders create an environment that inspires people to develop their leadership voice by encouraging them to make their own decisions, even difficult decisions. They motivate people to speak up with their own ideas about other’s (including the leader’s) point of view. Leaders offer genuine feedback from a place of compassion and candor to help others grow.


When the leader is in this mindset of “Expressing Conversations”, it creates the environment for individuals to shift from an “I-centric” position to a “We-centric” position through building trust. Judith Glaser created the T.R.U.S.T. acronym to remember the fundamental shifts that occur in the brain when shifting from I to WE.  


To understand more about the five brains and how they affect our conversations, check out the related blog post Which Brain is Driving your Conversations?


T-Transparency (Language of the primitive brain)

I-centric:  There is secrecy, closed doors, threats, lack of alignment.  

WE-centric: There is openness, sharing of intentions, movement toward establishing common objectives.


R-Relationships (Language of the heart brain)

I-centric:  There is rejection, retribution, adversarial relationships, suspicions.  

WE-centric:  There is respect, rapport, caring, candor, deep listening to connect and build partnership.


U-Understanding (Language of the limbic brain)

I-centric:  There is uncertainty, focus on task, unrealistic expectations, judgment.

WE-centric:  There is understanding, empathy for the others’ context, ability to “stand under” another’s perspective of reality.  


S-Shared Success (Language of the neocortex)

I-centric:  There is promotion of self-interest, focus on “I”, seeking personal recognition.  

WE-centric: There is bonding with others to create a vision of shared success. Pursuit of shared interests and celebration of shared successes.  


T-Testing Assumption and Truth-Telling (Language of the pre-frontal cortex)

I-centric:  There are reactions of anger, anxiety, withdrawal.

WE-centric: There is regular, open discussions of assumptions and disappointments; identification of reality gaps and efforts to close the gaps.


When you recognize a situation that has “Power-Over” dynamics or is “I-centric”, you can raise awareness by identifying what you are experiencing. By highlighting the “Power-With” and “We-Centric” conditions, you are beginning to shift mindsets through expressing the shared vision of what is possible.


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

This is part of a blog series on Conversational Intelligence a course taught by Judith E. Glaser. Check out related blogs such as “Avoid Blind Sports to Navigate the Conversational Highway” and “Build Your Conversational Agility