Read This Before Your Next Hard Conversation


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: January 29, 2014


We all recognize the need for courage to start a business, play competitive sports, incur risks in investments, lead a diverse team in competitive markets, or take on an outback adventure. But do we really need courage to have a conversation?

Curiously, I know many people who have the leadership courage to engage in risky ventures, heroic quests, and brave actions and yet lack the relationship courage to initiate and engage in meaningful conversations with the people who matter —family members, business partners, employees, investors and others.

By definition, courage deals with matters of the heart (the word “courage” derives from the Latin “cor” meaning “heart.”) To have conversational courage means having the inner strength to share innermost feelings and to speak your mind, openly and honestly, by speaking from your heart.

Every conversation has a physiological impact. As we converse, neurochemicals are released in our brains, making us feel either good or bad, strong or weak, positive or negative, energetic or enervated. Feel-good conversations spark high-level brain activity, making us open to trust, empathy and the ability to process complex situations. These talks keep the blood flowing, the energy pumping and light up our ability to see the world in new ways. Feel-bad conversations, on the other hand, trigger lower-level brain activity and our primitive instincts for fight, flight and appeasement. They leave us defensive and close us off to new perspectives and opinions.

With Conversational Intelligence, you can summon your courage to engage in conversations that improve your relationships and your results. Here are three steps you can take to create quality conversations.

1. Set rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a conversation or confrontation that could get testy, start by outlining rules of engagement. Have participants suggest ways to make it a productive, inclusive conversation and note the ideas. 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. Afterward, 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 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.

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.

When you converse with courage, you gain access to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, or executive functions, which allow for sophisticated strategies. You can then respond intelligently and creatively to investors, banks or customers, without feeling fear, freezing, or becoming defensive, protective, or argumentative. You can pay attention to what is going on in others and manifest empathy. The other person will feel that positive neural connection and cooperate. We are wired with mirror neurons that pick up signals in others’ brains. When we approach people with empathy, the mirror neurons in their brains synch with our own, and they feel understood and open to our influence.

So, raise the bar in your conversations—put your intelligence in action—all by summoning and showing your courage.

The Emotional Toll of Selling Your Company


By Ilan Mochari |
Published: Januray 15, 2014

The following is an excerpt from:

“Someone handed me a check that set me for life,” recalls serial entrepreneur George Jacobs, “and I was miserable.”

The year was 1998, and the check was for $20 million. Jacobs, 50 years old at the time, had just sold American Limousine–the largest limo company in the country–to Carey International. But something felt wrong. With the lucrative check in hand, he walked the streets of his native Chicago for an hour and a half. “I should’ve been overjoyed,” he says, “but I wasn’t.”

What ailed Jacobs that day–and for the next seven years–was the entrepreneurial equivalent of postpartum depression.

“I have seen so many people go into such deep depression after selling,” says Judith Glaser, an executive coach and communications specialist who has counseled many entrepreneurs through transitions.


Postpartum Blues

The misery, she says, often increases when founders stay aboard to run their former businesses. That’s because new management often takes the business in a different direction.

For founders, says Glaser, this is like someone “taking your child and performing plastic surgery on it. You believe they’re destroying the beauty of this thing you’ve spent your whole life creating.”

Read the full article here:



CBS New York

Pat Farnack’s full conversation with Judith E. Glaser, author of “Conversational Intelligence.” She teaches people how to build trust and get better results especially at work, but in any relationship.

Trust me

By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: January 9, 2014

TrustThe decision to trust or distrust someone occurs instantly. That moment — whether it is a handshake, a telephone call, or an email — locks in a relationship trajectory that may last for weeks, months, or a lifetime.

Our brains are conditioned to make snap judgments in identifying our friends and foes — those people who we trust to act in our best interest as opposed to those who will take advantage of us.

For financial planners, it’s vital to understand trust. Trust begins and maintains successful client relationships, while distrust can end them. Here’s what I mean by trust and distrust.

Trust looks like this: I trust that you and I share the same view of reality. I trust that you will have my best interests at heart (you care about me); that you will not cause me to fear you. I can be open and candid with you and share everything that’s on my mind. (You demonstrate that you are my friend, not my foe.)

Distrust looks like this: You and I see the world very differently. We disagree on what’s important. I feel you have your own interests at heart, not mine. I am afraid to share what’s on my mind for fear you’ll use it against me. (You act like a foe, not a friend.)

It is essential to recognize how these two forces drive our personal interactions and relationships. To understand them in a different way, consider the simple analogy of a door that guards the pathway to our inner self. When we feel trust, we readily open that door, leading to an exchange of thoughts, feelings, and dreams with someone else. When we distrust someone, we will slam our door as quickly as possible in self-defense.

Our level of trust is often changed, by the way we share information — that is, through conversations. Conversations trigger physical and emotional changes in our brains and bodies through altering the amounts of two of the most powerful hormones that affect social interaction: oxytocin, which enables bonding and collaboration, and testosterone, which enables our aggressive behaviors.

According to Angelika Dimoka, Ph.D. of Temple University, the brain is where trust lives or dies. Distrust takes place in the lower brain (the amygdala and limbic areas); trust takes place in the higher brain (prefrontal cortex).

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University, told me:

Trust is a phenomenon that is enhanced by oxytocin, which gets people to be socially interactive. Then you have the amygdala, which is the sentinel along with the prefrontal cortex, paying attention to decide if the interaction is going to be rewarding or punishing. If the interaction is punishing we feel more aggressive and untrustful. We have to be wary and we move into protect behaviors.

If the interaction feels good, you have more oxytocin and you relax. Under stress, testosterone levels are increased. Testosterone works against oxytocin as does cortisol, another powerful hormone that is increased by stress. It’s the balance between these hormones and the interacting neural systems that give us the feelings of trust or distrust.

Five characteristics of a conversation bring about a sense of well-being and connectivity with others. Elevate the level of trust by:

Transparency: being more open with clients about the framework of your engagement, your intentions, and the kinds of decisions they will be making helps create a stronger relationship built on trust. When clients don’t know your intentions, they feel you may have hidden agendas, even if you don’t. Share information and be open to discuss why you do what you do — this turns threat into trust.


  • • Encourage candid conversations that promote transparency and trust around the topics of intentions, financial frameworks, and decisions, and even “how we’re doing” and “what we need to do and not do” to mitigate against risks.
  • • Provide your honest insights and share your feelings — this actually strengthens the partnering bonds and minimizes the feelings you are out for your own self-interest.

Relationships: building relationships before working on tasks is paramount and provides a foundation for both handling difficult issues and identifying aspirations. Focus on getting in sync with clients’ needs and aspirations to create strong bonds.


  • • Decide on the core values to guide your actions and agreements.
  • • Set and practice rules of engagement that foster open, candid, and caring conversations.

Understanding: appreciating your clients’ and prospects’ perspectives and points of view strengthens bonds of trust. Listen and ask more questions. Minimize fighting for your point of view and maximize exploring others’ perspectives.


  • • Make it a practice to ask for and listen to feedback from others who may not agree with your perspectives.
  • • Ask “what if?” questions to open the doors to new ways of thinking without prejudging the ideas of others. And really listen!

Shared Success: defining success with others creates a shared meaning about what is and isn’t important to work on together. By defining success together, everyone contributes to co-creating the future we believe in.

  • Actions:
  • • Initiate conversations about mutual success and what success looks like for you and your clients.
  • • Encourage clients to communicate and discuss the shared view of success with others.

Truth-telling: speaking with candor and caring; and when misunderstandings occur, taking risks with courage and facing reality with openness to learn.
Working and narrowing the reality gaps with others creates alignment and builds bonds of trust.


  • • When gaps between your truth and your client’s truth appear, discuss them to create bridges of understanding.
  • • Hold and encourage conversations that start with empathy and move toward a common goal or outcome.

If you build a foundation of trust to guide your interactions with clients, prospects, and peers, you’ll realize higher productivity and a sustained focus on achieving extraordinary goals.

Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of 7 books including her new best selling book – Conversational Intelligence; How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion)
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How to Deal With A Boss With Zero Emotional Intelligence



By Drake Baer |
Published: January 7, 2014

You might already know that your emotional intelligence can influence your job success. But what about your callously oblivious boss or your ambiguously rigid colleagues?

Boosting your emotional intelligence might mean you are better at your job–but what can you do if your boss or colleagues don’t exhibit anything close to emotional intelligence?

The good news is, the situations more hopeful than you think. The bad news is, you might have to have a difficult conversation. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

What emotional intelligence really is

When you say that your boss has low EI, it could mean several things: that she’s unconsciously cruel, she’s naively stoked about everything, or she doesn’t know what her team needs to do their best work.

As University of Pennsylvania organizational psychologist Sigal Barsade told us, emotional intelligence is thought of in two ways: the mixed model, a holistic approach espoused by EI superstar Daniel Goleman, and the ability model, in which particular emotional competencies are identified. According to the ability model, emotions (and emotional intelligence) help you to make sense of the world.

To that end, someone solid in EI will have four basic skill sets:

  • They can accurately read their own emotions: they can perceive the emotions with their and others experiences
  • They can use emotion to facilitate thinking: if they need quiet to focus, they put themselves in a quiet place
  • They understand how emotions progress: they know how irritation leads to frustration, frustration leads to rage
  • They can regulate their emotions: they don’t suppress their emotions, but they don’t become overwhelmed, either

But emotional intelligence isn’t goodness

While Martin Luther King demonstrated tremendous EI through the resonance of his speeches, so did Adolf Hitler. It isn’t so much about being virtuous: it’s more about being able to understand your and others’ interior lives and how your actions and environments affect them. To work well with people with low EI, then, you need to accommodate that misapprehension.

“Emotions are information,” Barsade says. “In essence, people who are low in EI are lacking the ability to take in, understand, or process a really critical part of the way that we communicate in the world. If they can’t read your emotions, they won’t be getting all the info you’re naturally sending them.”

We tend to vilify people with low EI, she continued, but that doesn’t make much sense: it’s faulting them for a skill set that they don’t have.

“They’re missing this information,” she says, “so you have to clarify.”

Gaining clarity

Clarity comes in several flavors.

Let’s take the case of sarcasm: if you’d usually use sarcasm to show that what you’re saying is different than what you feel, you might want to speak a little more directly, Barsade says. Since they’re not going to pick up on the sarcasm, you have to spell it out for them.

Similarly, you can take advantage of behavioral mimicry, the phenomenon where the person you’re talking with takes on your tone and body language. So if your boss is super stoked about an idea you think is terrible, don’t dump a bucket of water on him–just maintain a calm demeanor and he’ll calm down, too.

The last suggestion might be the toughest: giving feedback, whether in real time or as a follow-up. To give a constructive critique, you’ll need to sharpen your conversation skills.

How to do the sensitive, information-giving conversation

Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence and a consultant to companies like Burberry, American Airlines, and Verizon, says that low emotional intelligence isn’t only seen in people blowing their tops off at work or making fun of their employees. It’s also in not being able to handle conflict.

Glaser offers this example: It’s the first week of a new job. You’re in a team meeting and your boss says something that makes you feel excluded, like your opinion isn’t valuable to the team–the sort of thing that often goes unchecked.

“People with low EI are often dogmatic,” Glaser says. “They don’t get that (emotional) feedback, so a dynamic is created.”

So what do you do?

You need to give emotionally unintelligent people a fuller sense of the data they are missing. If you can’t name the dynamic as it comes up, Glaser says, then immediately after the meeting, book an appointment with your boss. Then you can follow her framework for sensitive conversations:

  1. Prime the conversation: When you make the appointment, say that you want to have a conversation that will be valuable to your working relationship
  2. Share the story: Begin the meeting by retelling what happened for each of you
  3. Listen in: Attune to the emotions underneath the story
  4. Unpack the meaning: Tell the impact that the meeting had on you
  5. Move forward: Help each other figure out what you could do differently
  6. Reach agreements: Sort out what can be done by everybody to address the situation
  7. Then end on a high note: share why it’s such a good thing you two had a would-have-been awkward conversation

By taking on the vulnerability of these conversations, Glaser says, you can help people to see that information that’s before them.

Read the full article here:

[Image: Flickr user Graham Hellewell]