Build Your Conversation Agility: Align Your Intention with Your Impact

The fifth module of Judith E. Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence course, “Generating Conversations,” guides us to identify the patterns that lower our C-IQ and create the right environment to overcome these patterns to activate parts of the brain for co-creation of transformational conversations. The best communicators align their intentions with their impact. While our intention is what we … Continue reading “Build Your Conversation Agility: Align Your Intention with Your Impact”

The fifth module of Judith E. Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence course, “Generating Conversations,” guides us to identify the patterns that lower our C-IQ and create the right environment to overcome these patterns to activate parts of the brain for co-creation of transformational conversations.

The best communicators align their intentions with their impact. While our intention is what we want to happen, our impact is the experience of the receiver. Successful communicators monitor and align the intentions and impact resulting in greater trust.

 

In transformational conversations, the interaction dynamic is to “share and discover” which opens us up to broader insights and wisdom than each person has individually. We ask questions to which we truly have no answers, thereby inviting others to participate in answers that are co-created. We engage with others in high levels of curiosity, candor and wonder asking provocative questions, enabling us to partner and elevate our thinking to new ideas for innovation. We reach transformational conversations through building conversational agility skills of reframing, refocusing, and redirecting.

Reframe, Refocus and Redirect

When we are in a conversational pattern that starts to feel like it isn’t working, people are in protective or positional stance, that is the signal to activate conversational agility skills. Research done by the HeartMath Institute has determined that practices that reduce the negative thought loops and fear, create the space for innovation and co-creation.

Reframe

Reframing takes a difficult situation and turns it into an opportunity for finding trust and common ground with someone. You are giving the other person a mental break and creating space to think in a new way.

Example: “I am a failure because I didn’t win the contract with that big client.”

Reframe: “Yes, you didn’t win that contract but you did learn a lot about what it takes to put together a proposal for a big client and that will provide insights for the next time we go after a big project.”

Refocus

Refocusing allows you to move people from a place where they are stuck and point them toward a larger topic where they can see connections that they had not seen before.

Example: “I am really frustrated that I continue to be passed over for an invitation to be on a speaker panel when I have the most experience.”

Refocus: “You really seem to care a lot about the topic, what are some other ways that you can share your expertise that would raise the visibility of your talents to the entire organization?”

Redirect

Redirecting helps people move from a place of being stuck and emotionally bound, to a place where they can see new opportunities.

Example: “There is no way that I can start a new business when I am working full-time. I can’t quit my job.”

Redirect: “Sure, I understand there are risks of completely quitting your job but what can you do to move in the direction of starting your new business?”

When you notice that you or someone else is in a protective mode, being resistant or skeptical, you can use these conversational agility skills to nudge them towards a mind shift for transformational conversations.

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

This is part of a blog series on Conversational Intelligence course by Judith E. Glaser. Check out related blogs such as “Listening to Connect” and “Moving from Distrust to Trust.

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

Upcoming Workshop: Tools for Courageous Conversations

Do you work with someone whose conversational style is “Tell, Sell, and Yell” and sometimes struggle to feel heard? Join Mary Stelletello and the Madison chapter of the Ellevate Network on November 8, 2017, at 5:30 P.M. for a 90-minute workshop at the Stamm House in Middleton, Wisconsin. Learn trust-building techniques to improve your conversational intelligence … Continue reading “Upcoming Workshop: Tools for Courageous Conversations”

Do you work with someone whose conversational style is “Tell, Sell, and Yell” and sometimes struggle to feel heard? Join Mary Stelletello and the Madison chapter of the Ellevate Network on November 8, 2017, at 5:30 P.M. for a 90-minute workshop at the Stamm House in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Mary Stelletello leads a workshop at the 2016 Vista Leadership Academy retreat. Photo: M. Stelletello

Learn trust-building techniques to improve your conversational intelligence (C-IQ) and best practices heralded by Ellevate Network Founder Sallie Krawcheck. In this workshop, we will talk through the conversation styles designed to teach how to move a conversation from “Me to We” using tools like the C-IQ Conversation Dashboard.

Explore Courageous Conversations

We will also explore Krawcheck’s book “Own It: The Power of Women at Work” and concepts for having “Courageous Conversations.” Whether the conversation is about gender equity, company culture, bias around work assignments, or “man-terrupting”, Sallie believes there is an urgency for all women to engage in courageous conversations.

“We all have the power to bring about change, individually and collectively, and the way we do that is by each of us starting conversations in our own workplaces.

 

I also firmly believe that owning these conversations can also position each of us as true leaders, for taking a principled and educated stance on what is clearly “the right side of history.”

Source: Krawcheck, Sallie. Own It: The Power of Women at Work (p. 144-146). The Crown Publishing Group.

Workshop goals and learning objectives include:

  1. Gain increased awareness of your personal conversational style and its impact on others
  2. Learn techniques to engage in courageous conversations
  3. Increase ability to access empathy, foster shared decision-making, and connect with others more deeply

Interested? Get your tickets today! The workshop is $10.00 for Ellevate Network members and $15.00 for non-members.

Can’t make it to this workshop? Contact Mary to learn about a custom workshop for your team or organization.

Avoid Assumptions to Navigate the Conversational Highway

This is the fourth in a blog series on the course I am taking on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. The fourth module called, “Navigating Conversations” provides tools to remap relationships around trust and navigate conversations successfully. When things start to go awry in conversations it is often due to conversational assumptions.  If you can … Continue reading “Avoid Assumptions to Navigate the Conversational Highway”

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

The fourth module called, “Navigating Conversations” provides tools to remap relationships around trust and navigate conversations successfully. When things start to go awry in conversations it is often due to conversational assumptions.  If you can become more aware of these assumptions, you can foster trust in your communications with others.

Check Your Blind Spot

Conversational Assumptions

Assumption #1: Assuming everyone thinks like you (or should think like you).

When you are engrossed and attached to your point of view, you are unable to connect with others’ perspectives. Are you addicted to being right or winning a debate? During a conversation, you may subconsciously sense a lack of connectivity, and kick into persuasion mode to go for the win!  Winning a debate, whether the debate is real or perceived, triggers the neurochemical dopamine. This dopamine release makes you feel good and you may not even realize that in the process you have made others feel bad.

Assumption #2: Feelings don’t change your reality.

This common assumption refers to your failure to realize that your emotions will change how you see and interpret reality, which in turn, changes how you communicate that reality.  If you are in a state of fear or distrust, you produce cortisol which shuts down the prefrontal cortex part of your brain, the area that gives you access to empathy, strategic thinking, and innovation.  This causes you to feel threatened and move into protective behaviors which can hinder a productive conversation.

Assumption #3: You can still empathize while you are in fear.

Assumption #2 can easily lead to assumption #3. If you are fearful, you are unable to consider another person’s perspective in order to build empathy and understanding.  Research done by Giacomo Rizzolatti in 1999 determined that our brains have unique neurons called mirror neurons. These neurons give us a view into what others feel, think and intend.  When you listen deeply and turn off your fear and judgment, you allow yourself to connect with others.  When you are fearful, the ability to connect is broken and your sensitivity to others recedes.

Assumption #4: You remember, therefore you know.

This assumption is that you think you remember what others said when actually you remember what you THINK about what others said.  Researchers as early as 1957, published articles on the gaps in listening. People drop out of listening because the brain processes information much faster than we can talk. Instead of slowing down the brain to the rate of the spoken word, you fill those gaps with other thoughts. Your internal dialogue overrides the other person’s speech. You then remember what you think about what the other person said because it is a stronger internal process and chemical signal.

Assumption #5: You are listening so you think you actually know what others really mean.

The assumption that meaning resides with the speaker, when it actually resides with the listener, characterizes this reality gap.  As you listen you are trying to make meaning from the speaker’s words by drawing from your own experience vault in your limbic brain.  That is why, as a listener, what you see in your “mind’s eye” can be a completely different picture than what the speaker sees in their mind.  Meaning resides in the listener until the speaker takes the time to pause, and validate that you share the same mental picture and meaning.

All humans have assumptions. They spring from reality gaps.  Even when we are in the same room, you will come way from the experience with different impressions and a different understanding of time spent together.  That is why conversational rituals and practices outlined in C-IQ methodologies are so important.  These rituals harmonize our experiences, create a shared language, and help us bridge and connect with others more fully.

How do we make the invisible assumptions visible? Stay tuned for our next blog that explores levels of open-ended questions designed to help you better navigate the conversations.

 

 

Photo credit: OHoHO via Shutterstock.

It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences … Continue reading “It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills”

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences are all building blocks of leadership.

One of my current clients, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) believes at its core that it is never too early to develop leadership skills.  The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.  NSBE is a student-governed national organization committed to youth leadership development for more than 40 years.

Vista Global has been working with NSBE to design and implement a comprehensive leadership development curriculum that builds students’ competencies.  Several of those competencies focus on defining and understanding yourself as a leader. The first phase of any leadership program is examining your own leadership talents and skills. You have to know yourself before you can bring out the best in others.

Vista Global relies on the field’s best methodologies and tools to help clients strengthen their leadership skills, including the framework of The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  This framework is effective because it was developed by conducting thousands of interviews of ordinary managers talking about a personal best experience when they had extraordinary results. Through these interviews and surveys, the researchers arrived at Five Practices that were universally demonstrated by these leaders. The Five Practices include:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

This framework is one of the few resources that has a customized design for student leaders, including a 360 Student Leadership Practice Inventory  (SLPI) assessment tool.  It evaluates 30 specific behaviors (6 for each practice).  It is a clear and concise way to determine how well a leader demonstrates a Practice.  The 360 degree aspect of the assessment includes observers that have seen the leader in action and can offer their perspective on the frequency of demonstration of behaviors.

This last weekend, I met with 80 members of the NSBE Collegiate leadership to review their individual results from the SLPI and start the process of developing a leadership action plan.  Each student determined one specific behavior to work on over the next month and identified an accountability partner to provide support and encouragement.

Leadership development is a lifelong journey and the NSBE leaders have a jump start on many leaders in the work force! If you are interested in learning more about The Leadership Challenge or 360 assessments, contact Mary today.

Creating the Environment: Moving from Distrust to Trust

This is the third in a blog series about the course on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. The third module called, “Aspiring Conversations” explores the neurochemistry of aspirations and how different conversations activate chemicals that either open or close the space for aspirations to grow. A recent Harvard Business Review article by Paul Zak, “The … Continue reading “Creating the Environment: Moving from Distrust to Trust”

This is the third in a blog series about the course on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser.

The third module called, “Aspiring Conversations” explores the neurochemistry of aspirations and how different conversations activate chemicals that either open or close the space for aspirations to grow.

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Paul Zak, “The Neuroscience of Trust” states that employees in high-trust cultures have 100% more energy at work, 76% more engagement, and are 50% more productivity. Zak identifies eight management behaviors that foster trust. One of those behaviors is “intentionally building relationships.”

Meetings Designed to Build Trust

One way to intentionally build relationships is the design of meetings. You can shift the outcome of a meeting by starting with a trust-building activity. This will slow down the primitive (fear-based brain) and allow other parts of the brain to actively engage and shift toward a belief that this will be a good experience.

“Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” — Laozi

I have seen many meetings start with “ground rules”. The “do’s and don’ts” checklists do not activate the prefrontal cortex-heart brain connection where we have our whole mind, heart, and body invested in the outcome of the meeting.

The heart brain is the most basic of our hardwiring. It enables us to connect to others. We are either in sync or out of sync with others. If we are in sync, we move towards the person as friends. If we are out of sync, we feel hesitation and move away, feeling the person may be a foe.

The prefrontal cortex is the youngest bring, often called the “Executive Brain”. It provides us with the ability to see the future, create scenarios, and have empathy.

How do we engage the prefrontal cortex and heart brains?

Start meetings not with “Ground Rules” but “Group Agreements”. Rules close down the brain for some people. If they see “rules” as stifling, just using that word may have them begin the meeting already in a state of opposition. Agreements create a framework for a social contract, which brings people together.

Group Agreements Move toward Trust

To begin the exploration, ask everyone to identify one practice or behavior that would give this meeting the best outcome. What do we usually hear? “Respect other’s opinions.” “Be open to other ideas”.

Here is where this approach is different… when someone using one of those frequently offered words, as a facilitator, use a skill called “double-click”. Just like a computer folder, to open up to deeper meaning, you double-click. Saying something like, “When you say ‘respect’, what does that mean for you?” This helps get to the core essence of what is important for that person.

Make sure you hear from everyone in the room. If someone is quiet, reach out to them and ask, “What behaviors are important to you?” You want everyone’s voice and therefore brain activated, moving toward the prefrontal cortex-heart connection.

Here is another important distinction from ground rules. Once you have your list, ask people to identify how they can give feedback if a group member is not honoring the agreements. This helps give agency and ownership to the team to be transparent, and supportive to guide the behaviors, that they agreed will create the successful outcomes for the meeting.

When you create group agreements using double-clicking and establish collective ownership for monitoring the practice of those agreements, your meeting is primed with the level of trust in the environment that fosters a culture of aspiration. Anything is possible!

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

This is the third in a blog series. Read the first blog at “Listening to Connect” and the second blog at “What We Can Learn from our Worst Conversations.”

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Every great nonprofit begins with a great board.

Vista Global offers a variety of workshops and trainings. But the high demand for trainings on board governance remains constant.  Board members are hungry for guidance on defining their roles and responsibilities. Board development is not a simple one-time activity, but a continuous cycle of self-reflection and self-improvement. In our workshops, we explore different governance … Continue reading “Every great nonprofit begins with a great board.”

Vista Global offers a variety of workshops and trainings. But the high demand for trainings on board governance remains constant.  Board members are hungry for guidance on defining their roles and responsibilities. Board development is not a simple one-time activity, but a continuous cycle of self-reflection and self-improvement.

board-meeting

In our workshops, we explore different governance models and their benefits. Some organizations thrive using the Policy Governance Model designed by Dr. John Carver.  While other nonprofits may benefit more from Community-Engagement Governance, a framework designed by Judy Freiwirth, that shares governance responsibility across the organization’s constituents, community members, staff and board.

Another key component of these trainings is the importance of a great working relationship between the Executive Director and Board Chair.  In fact, certified mediator and consultant Joan Garry believes the relationship between the Executive Director and Board Chair “tells you more about the health of a nonprofit than any other single factor.”

Best practices don’t end with the board members sitting around the table, either.  Board members have a responsibility to identify and recruit the future board leaders, too. Our workshops explore the entire board development life cycle.

Your organization is only as healthy and effective as your board. Interested in learning more about nonprofit governance? Read more about Vista Global’s workshop offerings and contact Mary today!