Conversational Intelligence™ : Fear of Exclusion


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: August 27, 2013


Living in toxic fear-based cultures makes us unhealthy in mind and spirit. We can react like cancer cells — like cells that stop communicating with the immune system designed to protect the whole body, cells that start to grow rampantly because they have lost their sensitivity to other cells, and cells that create roots and lock themselves in isolation, drawing nourishment from the body and weakening it. When we live in fear, we withdraw, build our own “story” of reality, imagine others are out to get us, and react accordingly. We not only stop turning to others for help, but stop taking feedback and advice from others.

Universal Fears include:
• The fears of being excluded — so we create networks and exclude others first.
• Being rejected — so we reject first.
• Being judged unfairly — so we criticize and blame others.
• Failing — so we avoid taking risks and making mistakes.
• Losing power — so we intimidate others to get power.
• Feeling stupid — so we either don’t speak up or speak too much. Looking bad in front of others — so we save face.

Universal Desires include:
• The desire to be included on a winning team,
• To be appreciated, successful, powerful, creative, smart, and influential;
• To have a leadership voice and meaning and purpose;
• To learn, grow, and explore

When we perceive the world through a lens of fear, our egos drive us into habit patterns of protection. Over time, we incorporate defensive behavior patterns into our daily routines. Protective behaviors cause us to turn away from others, rather than turning to them for help in making vital changes in our lives.

Conversational Intelligence™ Unleashes Humanity
Leaders create cultures where all team members can contribute their talents and potential. Potential is often invisible — yet to be discovered. It’s born out of the healthy interactions of one person with another. After all, as we interact, we automatically trigger responses.

Once you learn new strategies and techniques for activating your conversational intelligence you will be able to rewire your life, relationships, and workplace from impulses focused on fear to those that are focused on achieving outrageously wonderful results — and you will enjoy a radical shift in your life. When we live in a positive, inspiring, interdependent, catalytic, expressive workplace, we all share the power for turning a toxic culture into a healthy, we-centric, inclusive workplace. From this new vantage point, you gain a new perspective about what you can co-create reality with others.

Try This

When colleagues work together to discover Best Practices, they shift from focusing on the negative to refocusing on the positive practices that help the organization grow to its potential. Best Practices represent what is good and what works, and it defines what it means to be a world-class company that attracts customers.

Sharing Best Practices is a way of elevating everyone’s skills and talents. Want to create a Best Practices forum to change the focus from loss to gain? Try the following:

• Bring a team together to discover and share Best Practices.
• Choose people who work in different ways to raise the IQ for everyone.
• Use the Best Practices framework to catalyze cooperation and teamwork among colleagues who come from different areas.
• Ask team members to think of things they do that have a positive impact.
• Ask the team members to describe what they are working on, what approaches they are taking, what impact they are having, and how to transfer this knowledge to others.
• Have each member of the team present these Best Practices to colleagues.
• Have the facilitator capture what each person is doing to create success.
• Have participants ask questions to clarify the Best Practices and learn how to transfer them to other situations.

The end result? People feel heard and valued. The hardest part of leadership is that everyone wants to play an important role and be recognized for their contributions. Sometimes leaders find it difficult to manage the relationships, the competing demands and needs, and the lack of resources. Then, territoriality arises. Sometimes we lose our sensitivity to others. We become so enchanted with our own distinction and entrenched in our own successes that we forget to honor others for their contributions. Leaders need to create a feedback-rich culture so that everyone is open to feedback on their ideas and behavior. This way everyone grows. As a leader, you can promote this mutuality by tapping into the vital instinct of growth. You can encourage everyone to be sensitive to personal and group boundaries, while helping them to see how personal growth can best be achieved by expanding opportunities for growth of the enterprise.

Leader Behavior. Think of these characteristics. Do they sound familiar? We often turn to turf wars, silos, and territoriality when we fear we are losing what we hold dear. Fear drives us into our I-centric behavior, and we protect rather than partner. Health comes from creating environments that honor the seven universal desires we all have for being valued, for making contributions, for expressing ourselves: • Audit yourself and see if you are creating environments that acknowledge the seven key universal desires. • If you are not creating environments that encourage mutuality and support, are you open to feedback? • Identify your areas of strength. Continue to do more of this, because it creates healthy environments. • Identify your developmental opportunities — leader behaviors that you have not been practicing that create a supportive, healthy culture. • Create opportunities daily to experiment with the leader behaviors that you have not been practicing. • Monitor your impact. Notice how you can reduce territoriality and increase positive energy and support.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; 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);;

Nancy Snell, CEC, is a certified professional coach and director on the board of the NYC–ICF. 212-517-6488,

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From Words to Action: Putting Your Conversational Intelligence™ To Work


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: August 24, 2013


Culture transformation is an advanced leadership skill. The primary way to change a culture is to use your Conversational Intelligence to create an environment that infuses energy and commitment into relationships, teams, and the whole organization. Too often we get stuck in habit patterns of ‘taking about’ change but not creating change.

The more we talk about change, the more we talk about all the problems and challenges that can emerge — and we fall into negative mindsets which trigger “fear hormones” and “threat networks” in our brains. No wonder change is so difficult. By the time we are ready to take action we are frozen in place.

You can shift the way you think about change by that the most successful leaders use to navigate their journey…

1st Success Factor: The first skill is be the change for transforming the culture. Realize you have the power, influence and the ability to see and understand the culture in which you work, and to see how you can play a role in transforming it into a healthier, more inspiring, and thriving culture. Transforming culture can mean a culture that is so powerful it transforms itself or it can mean that you play a role in activating the culture transformation.

Call to Action: Envision how you can play a catalytic role in transforming your culture. Envision how you can be accountable for co-creating transformation in your culture by the way you show up at work everyday. When you put skin in the game, you become the change that transforms the culture.

2nd Success Factor: The second skill, embrace the opportunity, is the ability to step out of your Comfort Zone and rather than allowing fear of the unknown paralyze you, embrace the opportunity with excitement and enthusiasm. Your shift in focus will create positive ripple effects on those you influence. By fully stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new opportunity – you are activating your ability to transform yourself, and also to inspire courage in others.

Call to Action: Embracing opportunity both ‘encourages’ others and ‘inspires courage’ in yourself and others. By seeing transformation and change as a way to grow you have an influence on how you experience the challenge in a positive and less fearful way.

3rd Success Factor: The third skill, create space for conversations, is the ability to intentionally open up opportunities for feedback-rich conversations one-on-one, within teams and across the organization. By opening up space for and creating Conversational Journeys, you create an environment in which employees have room to learn, grow, and be nourished by new ideas and energy.

Call to Action: Creating spaces is a call to action you need to take every day to open the space for more innovative, generative, and catalytic conversations to take place in your relationships and teams. This space ‘signals our brain’ that we can share and discover around new ideas we’ve never talked about before.

4th Success Factor: The fourth skill, practice Co-creating Conversations ® is a core to Conversatioanl Intelligence. In the previous steps, you learned to recognize and release old baggage filled with toxic experiences that negatively undermine and denigrate relationships, and replace them with new meanings that positively uplift and inspire relationships – empowering a new sense of optimism and effectiveness.

As a leader, you can begin to have “co-creating conversations.” Co-creating conversations are conversations that have the ability to release the past and open space for the future with others. a psychological state of being that is powerful and transforms us.

Call to Action: Co-creating conversations means opening the space for new energy for co-creation with others. This is a space where you and others are open to think about what you don’t know, what you don’t know you don’t know, and to explore possibilities that you never thought about before.

5th Success Factor: And, finally, there is the fifth skill is shaping stories. Having moved from a place of understanding, to challenging, to stepping out and releasing, to opening space for Co-creating Conversations, you have now mastered the most proactive and intentional skill of shaping the story of your team’s collective success. This is what visionary leader and organizations do. It’s work you do with others, no on your own in isolation. And what you co-create together are “shared stories for success” that envision and make possible the fulfillment of WE.

Call to Action: Shaping stories, is a call to action to realize how you shape the stories impact how the future unfolds. Reflect every day in a conscious way on how you shape stories so that they are winning, inclusive, and appreciative. These conversations have the ability to reframe your view of the world, give you and others hope for the future, and that enable you to see the best outcomes for all of us. Both meanings have the power to transform.

How You Label Determines How You See
Empowering your team to work in concert to achieve your organizations goals and strategies requires flexibility of thought, agility of mind, and speed of response. Most of all, it requires you to break out of old conversational habits and negative patterns of communicating and view the impact you can have on your business in totally new ways.

Use conversational intelligence as a way to break from the past and create the future.
Rather than thinking about situations as problems, think of them as challenges and opportunities, and communicate this point of view in your conversations with others. Until you challenge yourself to change old thinking and old conversational habits, you will see little change from yesterday to today. Once you do – you will find you become a catalyst for change where ever you go and you will discover new energy appears around you for tackling big challenges and achieving the desired results and targets regardless of their size and difficulty.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute;
Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser

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Conversational Intelligence


By Judith E. Glaser | |
Published: August 17, 2013


We’re better when we’re connected!

Even though technologies enable us to dissolve boundaries of space and time and connect us in exciting ways, we still face the same old challenge: to dissolve boundaries among colleagues, to build trust, and to engage our people.

WE-centric leaders lift people out of fear, frustration, and anger, the emotions that cause people to disengage from each other. WE-centric leaders create a culture of connection, which engages people in living the organization’s highest values and most aspirational vision.

When people feel disconnected, they become reactive, project their anxiety onto others, create more fear, blame others for what is missing in their lives, reject first to avoid being rejected, and disengage. When colleagues work in concert, they learn from each other, develop higher-level skills and wisdom, meet performance goals, and turn breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Conversational Intelligence is our most powerful and human and hardwired skill of connecting with others through conversations. When leaders turn to each other to draw out our best thinking and translate that into action, we are exercising our Conversational Intelligence. When leaders engage with others, value their suggestions, and inspire new thinking, they create a community that looks forward to co-create the future.

Take a 3D View of Conversations
Conversations have three dimensions — they are biochemical, relational and co-creational. Learn to manage these Three Dimensions (3D) and you will transform your world:

1: First Dimension: Biochemical
Learn to manage your own bio-reactions. When we are frustrated with others we get agitated which stimulates cortisol, a fear hormone. The more we project our negative and judgmental feelings toward others they more they become debilitated and are unable to engage in a healthy conversation about how to make things better. Our frustration may show up as bullying, intimidating, and micromanaging. These may help us release our anger or disappointment but it doesn’t get results. Manage your negative emotions and make a leadershift into inspiring others to higher performance.

2: Second Dimension: Relational
Human beings have needs and aspirations. Needs are what we need from each other to feel good about my life and ourselves – we need respect, trust, support, caring and candor. Aspirations are what propel me forward – they are what trigger growth. I aspire to be a leader; I aspire to be a doctor. My aspirations are how I see myself in the future and its more than just about me — it’s also about “we.” When we connect with others at the relational level we become part of a powerful growth system where we are able to support each other’s next steps and honor each other’s identity. When we have a strong relationship with others and validate each other’s needs and aspirations, our chemistry shifts in to a very positive reinforcing cycle that triggers our ability to handle difficult challenges with greater courage. This builds mutually beneficial healthy relationships.

3: Third Dimension: Co-creational
Focus on having Co-creating Conversations®
Co-creating Conversations are designed to enable you and others to join together to create a new reality. Learning to let go of the past and focus on the future with others will be a powerful dimension to empower you and others. When you are co-creating, you are connecting around what success looks like – mutual success. Many times we get “addicted to being right” and we get so empowered by our own ideas that we drive toward our own success. When we are addicted to being right, we are producing dopamine, which is a “feel good” hormone and we lose sight of the person right in front of us. Learn to put your ego behind you — what matters less is what “I” can do, and what matters more is “we can do together.” Conversations are “WE-centric” and they affirm the power of what we can co-create.

Mastering the Three Dimensions (3D) changes everything. Your ability to lead will increase exponentially, along with enhancing your ability to create inspiring environments where people work together for mutual gain, growth, and understanding.

Rather than getting agitated by and tangled up in conversations about blame, fear, and frustrations about what is not happening at work, you establish a positive context for transformation by engaging people in ongoing conversations about what has, can, and will work to create a transformation. In doing so, you focus on what needs to happen to address the challenges and, with that focus and commitment, you develop into the best company possible. Rather than trying to fix the past, or dwell on it, you focus on bringing lessons from the past forward into creating the future with others.

The Power of Conversational Intelligence
Activating your hardwired ability for powerful and transformational conversations is one of the most important competencies of a leader. Knowing how to activate this ability will enable you to shape the mindsets and experiences people have at work by reducing fear and inner focus and creating cultures that facilitate enhanced sensitivity, mutual support, vital communication, and engagement in the strategy.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; 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);;

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The ‘I’ Within ‘We’ Creates a Powerful Identity


By Judith E. Glaser and Mary Ann Somerville |
Published: August 9, 2013


At the core of every endeavor, relationship and communication is a personal, mystifying and sometimes paralyzing question, Who am I?

Lack of awareness of our personal identity can lead to broken relationships, the inability to collaborate creatively and effectively, a lack of confidence, and unnecessary personal stress. Access to our innate leadership skill may also be diminished in group interactions as we adapt to the people around us.

The breakdown that occurs in most teams (early in the process) is created by the dynamic tensions inside people as they struggle with the Who Am I question while integrating into a team of We.

This Who am I within the We question is vital to leaders who hope to build healthy, thriving, and productive organizations — since most of the work gets done through a team. But, when we least expect it, our personal identity can be threatened and leave us vulnerable and incapacitated, activating the limbic brain, limiting our choices to flight, fight or freeze.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? You want to support your team, and you’re trying to navigate the conversation and be helpful. When you hear an idea you like, or see a chance to add something new, you share it. Then someone says: “That’s a stupid idea — we tried that before and it failed.”

When you hear the words stupid and failed, you have an emotional reaction. Instantly, a switch is turned on in your brain. You feel betrayed. You tune out of the meeting and ruminate. The team thinks you are still there, but in fact, most of you has left the meeting.

Your body freezes up. You can’t find words to respond. Your attention is now turned inside to your silent conversation with yourself about being stupid and failing. You can’t believe he said that to you. You were so sure of your opinion; it represented your truth and until now, you trusted your gut instincts. Yet in one moment your whole mindset shifted from trust to distrust.

This story is a synthesis of many that come from our consulting. So many people think they’re in good stead with a colleague only to find that when threatening dynamics are at play, a friend appears to turn into a foe overnight.

Our personal answer to the Who Am I question is vital, and our answer to the question Who Am I within the WE deserves attention as well.

Identity Is Our Core
At the core our identity is the foundation of how we see ourselves in the context of our relationships with others. When we are secure in our identity, our sense of self-trust grows. And yet, no matter how secure we think we are, we can be shaken from time to time. Why?

Our identity lives deep within our subconscious and unconscious mind, as a set of unexamined beliefs, expectations, and assumptions about who we think we are and need to be and who we think others are and should be.

Research at the Harvard Negotiation Project indicates that everyone is subject to unexpected Identity Threats that trigger us back into unconscious behaviors that originate in the past. When our identity is threatened, our purpose shifts from problem solving, innovation, and relationship building to an impulsive need to defend, protect, or withdraw.

Leadership mastery, the ability to move authentically within the I and We, requires us to discover our personal and actualized self-identity strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and rules in relationship to others as well as reliable best practices to help us regain balance when threatened by unexpected identity issues.

Perceived threat activates the Amygdala and Limbic Brain. The symptoms include: a sense of threat, confusion, exaggerated internal self-talk including projected blame or unjustifiable self-criticism, heart palpitations, sweating, incapacity to articulate our thoughts or feelings etc.

Here are seven Universal THREATS that give us an Amygdala Hijack: 1) Tone Threat — judgmental or angry tone is felt as threats to our ego; 2) Hurt Threat — threat to our physical safety; 3) Risk and punishment Threat — taking risks, fear of failure and making mistakes; 4) Exclusion Threat — looking stupid in front of others and being ostracized; 5) Anger Threat — fear of someone’s potential anger toward us; and not knowing how to respond; 6) Territory Threat — having our territory limited, or people encroaching on our territory; 7) Status Threat — challenge to our status, or making us feel small.

Once the biochemical cocktail produced by your protect/defend mechanism is activated, you can’t stop the physiological effects, but you can reduce them.
If left unchecked, an Identity Threat can continue for days. It activates your worst fears and includes emotional pain.
• Noticing/naming the symptoms of an Identity Threat can break the unconscious response.
• Manage the physiology of the impact. Breathe deeply and move to give your body time to release the biochemical toxicity and return to problem solving.
• Notice when people have been triggered (and intervene) to save time and misunderstanding. Simply asking for a break can help reduce the impact of Identity Threats.

Know Your Identity Vulnerabilities
Ask the tough questions to discover Identity Vulnerability: What threatens me? What causes me to question my ability, my achievements? What is my capacity to listen and validate another’s point of view, when I strongly disagree? How do I change my behavior and persona in this situation?

• Practice self-observation. Notice your physiology, breathing, thoughts, feelings
and behavior when you feel threatened. Now, notice these same elements in situations where you feel confident. Record your observations to discover innate resources.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; 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);;

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Needs Intelligence


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: August 5, 2013


You can create a needs-intelligent workplace!

Remember when employees were content to get a paycheck and promise of lifelong employment in exchange for doing a good job? Well, those days are gone! In today’s knowledge-worker-centric workplace, employees expect to work for a company they feel proud of, be involved in work that makes full use of their talents, have a say in the decisions that shape their job, enjoy opportunities to grow, be respected for their expertise, and be appreciated for their contributions.

Like customers, employees have become more demanding. They expect their psychological needs to be met. Fail to meet their need of appreciation, and employees will check out from the community. When an employee begins to check out, managers often think of this person as uncooperative or unreasonable, which leads to counter-productive behaviors on the part of the manager–such as avoiding the person, talking judgmentally about them, or passing them over to HR for repair.

This creates a vicious cycle: employee engagement continues to decline while the manager becomes exasperated with the employee’s performance until the tension is relieved–either by the boss firing the employee, the employee quiting, or both resigning themselves to low satisfaction and performance. I suggest interpreting negative behaviors as indications that the psychological needs that drive performance are not being met. All people have deep-seated needs for meaning, purpose, connection, and inclusion. Leaders who don’t know how to have conversations about needs, often think that meeting needs means: “It will take too much of my time to meet your need–time that could be invested in getting business results.”

So, how do you create a culture where people both express their psychological needs and are supported in finding ways to meet them without falling into a bottomless pit of psychological dependency? And, how do you leverage your people’s psychological needs to fuel the growth and performance of your business?

Take Five Steps
We define “needs-intelligence” as the capacity to recognize the psychological needs of self and others and then to translate this awareness into actions that meet these needs. In a needs-intelligent workplace, people are encouraged to honor their own psychological needs and feel supported in finding ways to meet these needs. Creating a needs-intelligent culture will pay big dividends in higher morale, retention and productivity. Here are five steps you can take now:

1. Acknowledge the importance of people’s psychological needs. Acknowledging psychological needs in yourself and others creates a culture where people feel comfortable. To acknowledge needs, you must first recognize them. We have identified seven needs which, when met, lead to high engagement and satisfaction and when not, lead to low productivity and retention: 1) inclusion and belonging; 2) appreciation and recognition; 3) challenge and achievement; 4) trust and accountability; 5) growth and learning; 6) power and control: we need to have influence, and have a say in the results and actions we are accountable for; and 7) meaning and purpose: we need to know that our work adds value and has meaning.

2. Model self-responsibility for meeting needs. As a leader, foster a culture of self-responsibility by expressing direct feedback to others when their behavior detracts from your needs being met and by making clear requests regarding actions you’d like them to take. Also, you can encourage others to take more responsibility for meeting their needs by asking them for feedback on whether your behavior is meeting their needs and, if not, what needs are not being met and what actions they’d like you to take to better meet these needs.

3. Offer and accept support for identifying and meeting your needs. We often need help identifying what our needs are and the support of others to meet them. As a leader, you can foster an environment in which people support each other in identifying and meeting their needs by offering support (asking someone who appears distressed what’s going on that they need help with) and accepting support when it is offered.

4. Celebrate when needs are met. Nothing validates the importance of needs and builds momentum for continuing to meet these needs than celebrating the actions that lead to these needs being met. Celebrate the meeting of a need, and you can expect this need to become increasingly met going forward; fail to celebrate the meeting of a need that is near and dear to someone’s heart, and you can expect this person to become demoralized.

5. Hire needs-intelligent employees. People’s capacity to identify and meet their psychological needs is largely a function of their experience and upbringing. Some employees may arrive to work intent on creating a sense of inclusion and belonging, while others may arrive resigned that they’ll never feel included. As a leader, you should identify those needs you would like more support for in your culture and then hire people who have a strong connection to these needs and embody a sense of self-responsibility for ensuring that these needs are met.

Reap the Benefits
You can’t ask people to leave their needs at the door while expecting them to passionately engage in their work. You can either deal with people’s needs directly, respectfully, and effectively in support of their performing at their best, or ignore (or discount) their needs and deal with negative behavior and disengagement.

As managers and leaders, we are in a unique position to model what it means to be responsible for meeting our own needs while acknowledging that our psychological fulfillment is interdependent with others. When we create an environment in which people’s needs are acknowledged and supported, people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, needs, and ideas, and become emotionally connected to the organization and to each other. Emotional connection is the strongest link to sustaining long-term
relationships and shared commitments to success, and one of the biggest contributors to performance and retention.

The more people’s psychological needs are met, the more passionate they become about meeting the needs of their customers.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; 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)

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