Getting to the Next Level of Greatness

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By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: May 31, 2013

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My clients are leaders in corporations ranging in size from $150 million to $50 billion. I share this because regardless of how small or large the company, leaders have the same shared-challenge: how to get to their next level of greatness.

When I start a coaching engagement, I ask leaders what they want. What type of organization they want to create – what they are aspiring to build. They all have the same aspiration:
To create an organization where change and transformation were exhilarating and natural, where people were devoted, engaged, and accountable to act as owners. Where people worked with each other to differentiate their brand and capture the hearts and minds of customers…

When human beings work together to co-create greatness, they shift into an “aspirational consciousness,” catalyzing the growth of new Leadership DNA. What emerges is a profound shift in how we engage, innovate and develop others.

When we get what we expect, we feel a positive reward, and send out positive signals. When we don’t get what we expect we send out negative signals of disappointment. Signals of disappointment trigger fear, which shuts down our ability to take risks, to experiment, and to grow. Signals of satisfaction trigger self-esteem, enabling us to try more.

So where do “aspirations” fit into this leadership story? They are not expectations, they are something else. Expectations emanate from the lower brain (Neocortex and Limbic Brain) – a more I-centric brain that focuses on getting what “we want” to happen. Aspirations emanate from the higher brain (Prefrontal Cortex & Heart Brain) – where we bring into creation our greatness with others.

The best gift a leader can give employees is to ask about their aspirations. Talking about aspirations takes us into the highest level of brain integration. Our brains were designed to aspire. When we aspire with others we breathe hope and life into each other.

I’ve created a framework for leaders to help them shift their conversations from “expectations to aspirations.” It starts with making the shift from Power-over leadership to Power-with leadership. Power-over leaders feel they need to have all the answers, to direct and guide everything. Power-with leaders create environments where “everyone is in this together.”

Shifting from Power-over to Power-with others is like resetting our brains to operate from their healthiest state. Our need for belonging exceeds our need for safety. When we are rejected, we experience pain in the same centers in the brain and body as a car crash. When others show us love and respect, it triggers the same centers in the brain as eating chocolate or having sex. Learning how to create this “high” in your organization will change how you lead.

Ask yourself this question: Am I creating a culture that enables colleagues to co-create the future? Am I facilitating a culture that is highly engaging, building relationships for mutual success? Am I setting the stage for growth and generativity, where people are collaborating and co-creating positive CHANGES with others?

Here are 7 Co-creating Conversations that release the aspirations in yourself and others.

  1. Co-creating Conversations: Are conversations about the company and where it’s going inclusive and healthy, or exclusive? Are people working in silos, or are they conversing together? Is there an “us-them” mentality, or do people feel like “we’re in this together?”
    • Be an Inclusive Leader: Engage in conversations which help people see how they can contribute and participate.Shift from exclusion (fear) to inclusion (growth).
  2. Honest Conversations: Is there a spirit of openness and appreciation, or judgmental and critical?
    • Be an appreciative and honest leader: Set the tone for open, honest, caring communication. Action: shift from judging (fear) to appreciating (growth).
  3. Aspirational Conversations: Can employees link their personal aspirations with the organization’s vision?
    • Be an aspirational leader: Are you limiting people’s aspirations and leading them to lower their sights rather than helping them to embrace challenging possibilities?Action: shift from limiting (fear) to expanding (growth).
  4. Navigating & Networking Conversations: Are employees collaborating and bonding across boundaries? Healthy organizations allow vital information, innovative ideas, and best practices to be shared internally and externally.
    • Be a collaborative leader: Are you sharing information, exchanging best practices, reducing the need to protect turf, and breaking down silos to explore uncharted territory, test the waters, explore, and pioneer new territories?Action: shift from withholding (fear) to sharing (growth).
  5. Generative Give and take Conversations: In what ways are colleagues engaging with each other for mutual success? Cultures that encourage brainstorming with no support process for turning ideas into reality create frustration. Unmet expectations abound, and employees lose faith.
    • Be a generative leader. Are you stuck in old ways and grooves– or are you helping inspire discovery and innovation?Action: shift from knowing (fear) to experimenting (growth).
  6. Enterprise Conversations: Are you developing the next generation? Do they have a voice? Are they developing leadership points of view? What forums exist for pushing against the current rules and culture and creating the next generation of leadership?
    • Be an influential leader: Set the tone by encouraging people to speak up, express their voice, challenge authority, to contribute to the growth of the brand.Action: shift from dictating (fear) to developing (growth).
  7. Spirit: Is there a spirit of shared success? Are people learning from past mistakes and using them to work better and smarter? Does the brand engage the hearts, minds, and sprits of employees and customers?
    • Be an enterprise leader: Are you setting the tone for enterprise spirit, helping people move from a focus on making the numbers or from “win at all cost” or “I win, your lose” to contributing to their growth in the context of enterprise growth.Action: from compliance (fear) to celebration (growth).

Unaware leaders blame others for what goes wrong. Self-aware leaders look inside and explore the impact they have on their culture.

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser (BiblioMotion – Forthcoming October 2013; Pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Effectively Manage Conflict When You Know You’re Right

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By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: May 30, 2013

I’m sure this has happened to you: You’re in a tense team meeting trying to defend your position on a big project and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out-of-body experience — and in many ways it is. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain feels as though it has been hijacked.

The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses:

1) Fight (keep arguing the point),
2) Flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus),
3) Freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or,
4) Appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).

What do you do? Can you guess which behavior is the most common?
I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to work relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing.

Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline. Here are a few exercises for you to do at work to help your (and others’) addiction to being right:

  1. Set rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a meeting that could get testy, start by outlining rules of engagement. Have everyone suggest ways to make it a productive, inclusive conversation and write the ideas down for everyone to see. For example, you might agree to give people extra time to explain their ideas and to listen without judgment. These practices will counteract the tendency to fall into harmful conversational patterns. Afterwards, consider see how you and the group did and seek to do even better next time.
  2. Listen with empathy. In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other people’s perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they’ll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle.
  3. Plan who speaks. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate a group, create an opportunity for everyone to speak. Ask all parties to identify who in the room has important information, perspectives, or ideas to share. List them and the areas they should speak about on a flip chart and use that as your agenda, opening the floor to different speakers, asking open-ended questions and taking notes.

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser (BiblioMotion — forthcoming October 2013; pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

Vital Instincts

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By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: May 22, 2013

We spend more time at work than anyplace else. When we join an organization, we enter a new community with expectations to make a difference, to contribute, and to be part of something greater than we can accomplish on our own. We instinctively want to do well, to contribute, and to be included on the winning team.

Yet many organizations often become harvesters of politics, power, control, arrogance, and egos that fill them with invisible signs saying, “don’t go there,” “you can’t do this,” “you don’t know that,” “save face,” “blame,” and “protect.”

Getting drawn into territoriality or reactivity can lead to cycles of behavior that erode relationships and detract energy from productive, healthy, high-performing individuals, teams, and organizations. When we are stuck in territoriality, we are living at a low level of effectiveness, ensuring we will never achieve our greatest aspirations.

In the face of negativity, power struggles, and self-limiting beliefs, our courage and ambition shrivel up. Companies lose their spirit, and mediocrity prevails. Often, the pattern becomes a death spiral, as we put out the flame needed to thrive. But cracking the code on culture change is easier than most of us think.

Traditional strategies for culture change come from different disciplines and consulting experience built on a set of beliefs that I want to demystify. In the old paradigm of thinking, culture change:

• Takes years, if not decades, to do.
• Provokes tremendous fear.
• Incites tremendous resistance.
• Requires changing large systems.
• Requires redesigning processes.

I propose a new approach to culture change. We all have Vital Instincts that are hardwired into our DNA (like survival skills) and provide us with the codes for how to live healthy, deeply connective, and loving lives with each other.

Vital Instincts give us the intuitive awareness and wisdom to form communities, to support each other, and to thrive in the face of challenges. Since the beginning of time, people have created communities who traveled to find food, build homes, and create communal life.

Vital Instincts is the foundation upon which we build our essential wisdom for transforming cultures riddled with politics, power, and dysfunction back into healthy ones. The secrets are transferable and when practiced have extraordinary power to restore health and growth to individuals and teams.

The presence of Vital Instincts makes culture change a science of everyday practice. The Vital Instincts approach is based on discoveries emerging from cancer research at the NYU School of Medicine, where scientists are developing a new technology for curing cancer. Their approach restores natural functioning to cancer cells. By injecting a simple peptide into cancer cells grown in culture, this miraculous peptide reinstructs the cells at the DNA level to act again as healthy cells.

Cancer is an unhealthy state. Cancer depletes life energy from a system. The secret to reinstructing a cancer cell to become a healthy cell again is driven by three basic principles. These principles also apply to changing toxic cultures and relationships back to healthy ones.

Principle 1: Make beliefs transparent. When the body is healthy, the immune system works at all times to attack any unhealthy invaders. Immune system “flags” arise from cells, directing the immune system to marshal the internal resources to restore health. When cancer forms, normal cells lose these system “flags.” Without them, cancer takes over the body. This principle reminds us of the importance of the immune system “flags” to health and instructs us how to keep the “flags” visible by making our belief systems transparent to each other.

In business, we need to become more transparent, and to audit our mindsets so that we are always operating out of our healthiest beliefs. In a culture where beliefs are transparent, we can collectively monitor the health of our culture, our organization, our teams, and our relationships.

Principle 2: Create a feedback-rich culture. When cancer grows, the cells lose their sensitivity to each other and grow anywhere they can. They invade the body and block the normal functioning of organs. This principle reminds us of the importance of restoring cell sensitivity and instructs us how. Translated into business terms, this means creating a feedback-rich culture that enables individuals to establish healthy relationships with their coworkers. In a feedback-rich culture, a new level of awareness emerges so that we “don’t grow all over each other.” Rather than creating environments full of territorialism and competition, we learn to build robust environments full of support, synergies, and expansive possibilities.

Principle 3: Focus Outward on Harvesting Growth and Prosperity. Cancer cells multiply by creating their own growth factor. They become self-sustaining and encapsulated from the rest of the system, drawing out nutrients from inside the system for their own sustenance. Healthy cells, on the other hand, need nutrients from the outside. They need to engage with each other for health.

In business terms, this means to be mindful when creating an internal view of the world that separates us from others. We can grow this internal view by sapping the nutrients out of the system. Instead, to become healthy, we need to turn outside to others for support, engagement, and nutrition. In a healthy culture, we see people engaged with each other building strong partnerships, collaborating, and synergizing with each other to grow to their next level.

To create a healthy culture, recognize the nutrients we need from each other and provide them so that we don’t retreat back into ourselves and become self-serving or I-centric. When we become aware of the key nutrients for growth, we are more equipped to release these nutrients into our culture and thrive on them. When we do this, we build robust, We-centric environments full of incredible support, synergies, and expansive possibilities.

Recognizing our Vital Instincts is the first step in understanding how to create positive, healthy environments for growth and generativity. When we master these three principles, we ward off the toxicity that limits life and health, and are reminded of the life-giving wisdom we all know at the instinctual level.

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser (BiblioMotion — forthcoming October 2013; pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

Follow Judith E. Glaser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CreatingWE

3 Tips To Navigate A Leadership Crossroads

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By Judith E. Glaser & Lori Polachek | forbes.com
Published: May 17, 2013

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Judith E. Glaser (@CreatingWE) and Lori Polachek (@LPolachek1offer advice to business leaders at a fork in the road.

Effective leaders shoulder a lot of responsibility. They are responsible to shareholders for financial results. They are responsible to clients for quality and service. And they are responsible to employees for guidance, support and recognition. Mangers are presented with a leadership crossroads when asked to balance external expectations with anticipated results. It can be stressful; even the best of us sometimes shift from coaching and supporting to anger, judgment and blaming.

But there’s a better way for leaders to deliver results and strengthen relationships than exerting tighter control, conveying disappointment, or taking over projects that have failed to meet targets. How?

Get closer to your team, engage it in problem solving, be transparent, and share your concerns.

The Science Behind Effective Leadership

Anger activates our fear networks and releases the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol, which blocks access to areas of the brain that govern advanced thought processes like strategic thinking. Fear engages the amygdala, the primitive part of our brain responsible for memory and emotional reactions, which triggers a “fight or flight” response. A leader whose actions provoke fear in others may unwittingly shut down team members’ creative and strategic capacities.

Healthy relationships serve to release oxytocin, another hormone and neurotransmitter. Unlike cortisol, which closes neural pathways, oxytocin opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex. Cortisol enables leaders to successfully manage the expectations, motivations and efforts of all stakeholders and to co-create optimal solutions. That allows teams to experiment with new ways of doing business—and to grow together.

So, the next time you find yourself having to decide between results at all costs or aligning your energies with others on the road to mutual success, consider these leadership tips:

  • Manage disappointment by seeking to understand shortcomings without judgment and by enlisting your team in collaborative problem solving.
  • Set goals and expectations with your team. Discover where they want to go and make sure they have an opportunity to weigh in on the plans and commitments they are going to be held responsible for. Make it safe for people to be honest—to freely share their thoughts, concerns and perspectives.
  • Allow others to shine. Hang back, listen up, and let others jump in to take the lead. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Leaders that are guided by both their heads and their hearts—and the energy and aspirations of their team—are more likely to optimize outcomes, even in the face of tough challenges and underperformance. It’s not rocket science, it’s neuroscience.

So, choose the constructive response the next time you find yourself at a leadership crossroad between results and relationships.

Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and chairman of the Creating WE Institute. Through the application of neuroscience to business challenges, Judith shows CEOs and their teams how to elevate levels of engagement, collaboration and innovation to positively impact the bottom line. She is the author of three best-selling business books including Creating WE; The DNA of Leadership; 42 Rules for Creating WE; and Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (BiblioMotion –  October 2013).

Lori Polachek is the president of GMI Hospitality Corporation and vice president of Weloga Corporation—hospitality and real estate investment and development and management companies. Lori has a bachelor of commerce degree from McGill University and a bachelor of law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Lori’s passion for student-centered, whole child education has lead to a partnership with Judith E. Glaser in the launch of The Creating WE Institute – Education.

Photo: Flickr/timtom.ch

How Does a Planner’s Brain React to Change? Judith Glaser Tells the Tale

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By John Sullivan | advisorone.com
Published: May 4, 2013

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The FPA Retreat 2013 kicked off in Palm Springs, Calif. on Saturday with an interactive presentation by brain and behavior specialist Judith Glaser titled “The Neuroscience of Change—Putting Conversational Intelligence to Work.”

“How do we process what’s around us to help us deal with change?” Glaser rhetorically asked at the beginning of the session. “People experience change differently when they are in healthy conversations about change.”

She related a conversation she once witnessed between a 9-year-old boy and an older gentleman. The boy was busy on a computer when the gentleman attempted to engage him. The gentleman asked where the boy went to school. The boy replied, “YouTube!” The gentleman thought he misunderstood and repeated the question. The boy said, “There are so many great things and wonders on YouTube, this is where I learn.” Taking a different tact, the man asked what the boy wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said, “Oh no, the world is changing much too fast, so no matter what I say I won’t end up being it anyway, so I’m just enjoying myself.”

“The goal is too eventually get your clients to be as comfortable with change as this 9-year-old boy,” she said.

Glaser than described a 2008 study in which individuals were given backpacks and told they were going to climb a mountain. Some of the individuals were grouped together and others were told to do it alone. Those that were in groups did not see the mountain as large or their backpacks as heavy as the solo trekkers.

She then asked how the financial planners in the audience respond to change. Was it fight or flight, freeze or appease?

“How you respond to change has a major impact on how your clients respond to change,” Glaser explained. “We either empower or disempower each other in our conversations by our positive or negative energy.”

Noting that rats have 99% of the same DNA as humans, she said an experiment put a family of rats together in a small space. The rats ended up eating each other and were all dead when the researchers returned the next day.

A second family of rats was put together, but this time with plenty of space. The rats eventually began to work together and collaborate.  

“The space of conversation impacts the quality of the conversation,” she said.

A similar experiment involved fish. Glaser said four fish were put into a bowl and all interacted. A piece of Plexiglas was then put in place that separated one fish from the other three. Eventually, the piece of Plexiglas was removed, but the three fish did not cross the imaginary line, and vice versa. Even when food was put on one side or another, the fish did not cross over.

“Your job is to create a safe space to have conversations and open up,” Glaser related from the anecdote. “A need to belong is one of the most powerful needs animals have. If someone feels rejected, it rewires the brain to perceive threats and barriers that night not be there, as with the fish and the Plexiglas.”

View complete AdvisorOne coverage of the FPA Retreat 2013 on our Retreat landing page.

 

Navigational Listening: Conversational Intelligence at Work

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By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: May 17, 2013

For a leader, navigational listening is the most powerful tool for gathering information, for influencing others and for creating transformation; perhaps, at times, more powerful than speaking.

The listening mind is never blank or impartial. Our listening is influenced by events, relationships, and experiences. What we hear is influenced by our history. What we hear is influenced by our feelings in the moment. As objective as we would like to be in our listening, we are subject to the effects of our physical and emotional states. Being tired, angry, elated or stressful predisposes us to selectively attend to what we hear.

Recall a recent situation where you were a listener. Did you listen to facts or to specific words? Did you paraphrase these words in your mind? Did this lead to new impressions? Were you affected by the speaker’s voice, dress, demeanor, mood, or attitude? Were you evaluating the speaker’s effectiveness or importance or were you judging his or her ideas? Or, were you so preoccupied with external things that you didn’t listen at all?

Since we can’t attend to everything we hear, we listen selectively. But what guides our listening? Why do people who hear the same speech often walk away with different impressions? Obviously, they didn’t “hear” the same thing.

We hear one-sixth as fast as we think, and so the mind has the time to construct questions, inferences, and associations. Do we use this time wisely? Do we recognize that ineffective listening is a management problem?

Listening Behaviors
Consider these four types of listening behavior in business:
1. Noise-in-the-attic listening. We may think that being a good listener is merely sitting silently while others talk. Outwardly, we appear to be listening. Inwardly, however, we are listening to the “noise in the attic.” Thus, we are disengaged from the speaker’s ideas and involved in our own mental processes.

Noise-in-the-attic listening tends to develop from childhood experiences. As youngsters, how many of us heard: “Don’t talk while I’m speaking!” “Don’t ask so many questions!” “Why? Because I said so!” Conditioned by these warnings, many of us turn off our minds and habits of inquiry. Instead of clarifying the speaker’s intent, we are preoccupied with our own internalizations: “Who does she think she is?” “I can do his job better than he can.” Or, we may find ourselves planning a trip, remembering a pleasant experience, or even completing a thought–returning from time to time to listen to what is being said. Sound familiar?

2. Face-value listening. When think we are hearing facts, the words we are hearing are interpretations. In face-value listening, the listener isn’t mentally “checking back” into the real world to see whether the words explain what they purport to explain. Words are heard more for their literal meanings, not as tools for understanding. This explains why executives, managers, and staff can differ dramatically in their perceptions. Children use face-value listening, since their experiences are so limited. Our experiences should add depth to our listening

3. Position listening. Business has its own listening problems. Employees, alert for clues to their performance, are often victims of position listening, a highly partial form of listening. For example: A manager might listen to her president’s annual report to determine whether her division will be growing. What she hears in that talk could easily affect her performance as well as her relationships with coworkers. She will listen to immediate superiors to determine her role. Obviously, position listening can lead to faulty assumptions and destroy the morale of a high-performing team.

4. Navigational listening. Navigational listening is the art of knowing how to listen and how listening affects performance. Listening is not an end in itself, but part of a chain of processes that end in a decision, strategy, or change in behavior or point of view.

Why we listen determines what we listen for. Salespeople listen for customer concerns. Lawyers listen for the opposing speaker’s faulty logic. Psychiatrists listen for unconscious motivations. These bits of information are important for such listeners to do their jobs successfully. Training has taught them not to listen at face value, and to evaluate what is said. At the same time, they don’t dismiss their emotional response to the speaker, their “feel” for the situation, or their hunch of what might happen next. A framework telling them how to influence a person also guides these professionals. In sales, the marketing rep wants to influence a potential customer to a commitment to buy. The lawyer tries to influence the jury to adopt his or her point of view. The psychiatrist works to influence the patient toward new insights about personal behavior, motivations, or view of the world.

Executive as Navigational Listener
Business executives need to focus on interpersonal influence. Who is being influenced and why? What ideas, beliefs, and behaviors need to be influenced for the person to be more effective? What do I know about this person that will help me better understand her and what is being said?

The Conversational Intelligence™ executive examines the way she or he answers the employee. Will the person listen better if the answers are short and sweet or will listening improve if these statements contain more background information? In practicing navigational listening, the executive listens carefully to the employee’s answers–to phrasing, context, and words used to get clues to the real meanings behind the words. The executive will ask questions, rephrase and restate what was heard.

Navigational listening is the most powerful tool of conversationally intelligent executives, which helps us peer into the minds of others, enabling us to set more helpful, meaningful, and satisfying objectives for action. When we adopt the framework of navigational questioning and listening as tools, we improve our ability to communicate and make better decisions.

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser (BiblioMotion – Forthcoming October 2013; Pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now)

Follow Judith E. Glaser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CreatingWE

 

Connection Trumps Conflict: 3 Exercises to Improve Your Leadership Communication Skills

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By Judith E. Glaser | visionroom.com
Published: May 1, 2013

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I’m sure it’s happened to you: You’re in a tense team meeting trying to defend your position on a big project and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out of body experience — and in many ways it is. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain has been hijacked.

In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our instinctive brain, takes over. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).

All are harmful because they prevent the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion. But, as a consultant who has spent decades working with executives on their communication skills, I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to work relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common.

That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

Here are a few exercises for you to do at work to help your (and others’) addiction to being right:

  • Set rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a meeting that could get testy, start by outlining rules of engagement.  These practices will counteract the tendency to fall into harmful conversational patterns. Afterwards, consider see how you and the group did and seek to do even better next time.
  • Listen with empathy. In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they’ll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle.
  • Plan who speaks. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate a group, create an opportunity for everyone to speak. Ask all parties to identify who in the room has important information, perspectives, or ideas to share. List them and the areas they should speak about on a flip chart and use that as your agenda, opening the floor to different speakers, asking open-ended questions and taking notes.

Connecting and bonding with others trumps conflict. I’ve found that even the best fighters — the proverbial smartest guys in the room — can break their addiction to being right by getting hooked on oxytocin-inducing behavior instead.

Read the full article here.

Read more by Judith here.

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