Judith E. Glaser, who was the Chairman of The Benchmark Communications, Inc/The CreatingWe Institute of NY, is the author of seven best sellers, one of her best sellers is about “Conversational Intelligence”. I have used her techniques in the last couple of years and have seen a drastic improvement in the way I talk to people, how they work together, and in my business results.
What is Conversational Intelligence?
It is the hardwired, and learnable ability, to connect, navigate and grow with others – a necessity in building healthier and more resilient organizations in the face of change.
I had the opportunity to phone Judith just after her webinar organized by the Soundview Executive Organization. From that moment on I had several coaching and discussion moments with her about Conversational Intelligence, for which I am very grateful.
It was the start of an amazing learning journey for me, this for more than 4 years now and it is still ongoing. Working with what I learned impacted my business results very effectively. I realized quickly that when using the Conversational Intelligence Skills in conversations with my customers the outcome was much better. I understood their needs much better, as well as their perspectives and their views of the business. This led to delivering fully adapted training and coaching programs that resulted in much better outcomes.
What I did learn from Judith are the following things I would like to share with you and I hope they can also impact your life on all aspects:
1. First of all, everything happens through the way we communicate with others. So, if we can improve the quality of our daily conversations, everybody will win in the end.
2. Trust can be gained and reinforced through the way we hold conversations with others. If we use more of the Level III Conversations, meaning a true and open dialogue, we will obtain a faster connection with the other party. Not only a faster connection, but we will also grow together much faster to realize our shared objectives, and dreams. Level III Conversations stand for sharing and discovering.
3. In order to perform a good Level III Conversation we need to use some specific skills more, such as:
- Double clicking, meaning digging deeper and not staying on the surface of a conversation.
- Reframing regularly, in order to get on the road to clarity.
- Being open to influence, the fastest way to obtain that others listen to your proposals is to start first with listening to theirs.
- Stop judging, start listening is the key to move faster in conversations. From the moment we judge, we are only listening to gaps in their reasoning so that we can attack later their proposals. We are only listening to prove our point. It’s such a pity that we do not listen to the points we already share in common in a conversation.
- Listen to connect is something active you will burn a lot of calories doing it, believe me. I am losing weight true listening isn’t that magic.
- Share truly what’s on your mind. Too often we hold back information. We do not make things debatable and this is costing our society billions of dollars every year? If you share what’s on your mind do it with necessary courage, candor and caring. You can tell everything to anyone when you do it in the right manner. The good news is that you can learn it. Everyone can learn it!
- Prime for trust, create what I call a ‘make it safe zone’. The more people feel at ease with you, the more you share your intentions straight from the start, the more they will share because they know they can trust you and can rely on you. If your intention was good but the impact was perceived totally differently, do you feel you need to debate it immediately? If so you are not building trust.
- Dare to hold conversations about tough issues it will help you tremendously in your private and professional life.
- Build rapport with your conversation partners by sending out upfront information about the meeting. By shaking hands with a friendly face & gestures. Adapt yourself to the behavioral style of the other person. Set clear expectations from the start.
- Listen above all with great empathy and compassion, try to see things from the other person’s perspective - it will help you to clear blind spots.
- Ask a lot of discovery questions to obtain a clear picture of the situation. The quality of the questions will impact the quality of the answers. My personal advice is to think about and even prepare some of your questions properly and in advance.
- Use stimulating words for example “I think”: change it into ‘My personal thoughts on this are…’
- Celebrate shared successes. People will love it when you reach together great accomplishments and celebrate it together.
4. Conversational Levels: Analyze rapidly in which level you are holding conversations with others and change it when needed.
- Use Level I Conversations to instruct, to give clear directives, to inform, to educate. This is the healthy use of it, the unhealthy use is ‘shouting’. This will lead to distrust
- Use Level II Conversations to advocate, to prove, to show your arguments, sometimes to negotiate, to inquire. This is the healthy use; the unhealthy use which we regularly see is ‘Addicted to Being Right.’ It is the destroyer of many relationships both privately and professionally. It will also lead to distrust the thing we do not want at all in our relations.
- Use Level III Conversations to share and discover. These conversations will lead to Co-Creation, something that is crucial for future success on all levels. The skills to use are listed in point 3. Is there an unhealthy use, yes indeed this happens when we hold conversations for hours with no clear endpoint? This can lead to great frustration afterwards.
I use these skills everyday as much as I can and they bring me excellent results. To be very transparent, I also realize that I am a human being: sometimes my reptilian brain takes over and then I forget to use all these beautiful techniques.
With practice, I have learned to detect the moment I feel tension in my body and this helps me to navigate conversations in better ways. I stay on the highway of good conversations, and I do not take the quick exit leading to bad behavior. I am so thankful to Judith and for what she has taught me - even at the age of 60! I will use this wisdom for the rest of my life - that’s for sure.