Learn to Talk WITH People, Not AT Them

Hit a wall? So many ambitious and talented leaders plateau and even regress once they “reach the top” of the ladder, mountain or organizational structure they’ve been climbing. There’s a simple reason this can happen, and it sometimes come down to conversation.

Top leaders still face new mountains to climb – engaging a broader audience of potential partners – both inside and outside the company to make change happen. While some top leaders tend to be great talkers, and are natural pitchmen for their visions and strategies, many plateau when it comes to connecting deeply. They’ve learned to talk at people, not with them, and it can hold them and their projects back.

To reverse course, you must tap into Conversational Intelligence, a framework for knowing which conversations trigger different brain activities for constructive communication. Research has shown that engaging conversations trigger the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a section that enables trust and good judgement, reducing fears and threats. This opens the door to more innovative and creative results with others, now and in the future. When people co-create – they feel ownership for the results; they feel more accountable, they are willing to work harder to bring the ideas to fruition and they produce higher levels of productivity at work. Through co-creating conversations, we can connect with others in healthy and productive ways, something vital for mutual success.

Leaders looking for their next step would do well to remember the word “aspire” has a Latin root: “to breathe.” To achieve more, ideas need to flow freely and to fuel us. We can then breathe in a coherent, collaborative way we aspire together, and our capabilities increase.

To ensure you’re engaging in co-creating conversations, apply these four tips.

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. Say, “thank you” or “That’s a great point.” 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. Make sure to 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, activating a larger framework of neurons in our brain that enables higher levels of seeing, hearing, and thinking broader and bigger.

3. When you want to persuade someone. Say nothing – at first. 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 groupthink 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. Conversational Intelligence is the ability to master the power of connection to enhance your relationships and gain better business and personal results.

Remember, Conversational Intelligence helps you become smarter at navigating your social highway. It’s 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. Entrepreneurs who put relationships before tasks can build bridges for connection that lead to real greatness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Judith Glaser

Judith Glaser

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of six books, including Creating WE (Platinum Press, 2005) and Conversational Intelligence (BiblioMotion, 2013), and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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