Want Greater Influence? Then, Listen Up.


By Judith E. Glaser | site.successtelevision.biz
Published: March 27, 2014

woman-mapWhen driving to a new location, we often stop at a gas station to ask for directions, use our GPS or a handy paper map to navigate unfamiliar territory. If we get lost, we need only refer back to the map to find our way.

Listening can be approached the same way.

Navigational Listening”  is the style of listening that makes us better executives. It accepts that listening is not an end in itself but part of a process that ends in a decision, strategy or change in behavior or viewpoint.

Salespeople listen for customer concerns. Lawyers listen for their opponent’s faulty logic. Psychiatrists listen for unconscious motivations. Training has taught all of them not to listen at face value, and to use the time lag between their hearing and subsequent speaking to properly evaluate what is being 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’s thinking from Point A to Point B also guides these professionals.

In sales, the marketing rep wants to influence a customer with no interest to one ready to buy. The lawyer tries to influence the jury to his or her point of view. The psychiatrist works to influence the patient toward new insights about personal behavior, motivations or a view of the world.

In business, executives need to focus on the interpersonal influencing process. Who is being influenced to move him from Point A to Point B and why? Where is this conversation going? To what ideas, beliefs and behaviors is this person most committed in his life? Which of these ideas, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors need to be influenced for the person to be more effective on the job?

What do I know about this individual that will help me better understand her and what is being said? Are her problems or concerns such that we can effect real changes, or are they out of reach in the business context?

The effective manager examines the way s/he answers the employee to ensure maximum hearing or listening. Will the employee listen better if the answers are short and sweet, or will listening improve with more background information? What kind of information will be helpful? What kind of questions will open thinking and facilitate connections that lead to greater insights and wisdom along the way?

In practicing navigational listening, managers listen carefully to the employee’s answers—to phrasing, context and words used to get clues to the real meanings behind their words. Navigational listening expands the ability for both the manager and the employee to emerge smarter, more connected and more conversationally intelligent by opening up new insights that go beyond the obvious—insights that reveal true wisdom.


Selective Listening and How it Can Derail Our Business


By Judith E. Glaser | site.successtelevision.biz
Published: March 25, 2014

Try to recall a recent situation when you were a listener. It may have been a speech delivered by an executive, a discussion with a subordinate or an explanation from a peer.

explainingDid you listen to facts or to specific words?
Did you paraphrase these words in your mind? Did the situation lead to new impressions, feelings and ideas? Were you affected by how the speaker stood, the volume of her voice or her appearance? Did the speaker’s emotional tone bother you? Were you evaluating his effectiveness as a communicator? Or were you so preoccupied that you didn’t listen at all, or only heard a little of what was said?

The listening adult’s mind is never blank or completely impartial. Our listening is influenced by events, relationships and experiences—all adding to what we hear and its meaning.  As objective as we would like to think we are when we listen, we actually are not.

Our physical and emotional states – being tired, angry, elated or stressful –  predisposes us to selective listening.

We hear one-seventh as fast as we think. While our mind has the time to listen, evidence suggests that we don’t always use that time well. Traditionally, ineffective listening has been viewed as a hearing problem. However, as we gain important new insight into the effect of listening well or poorly on the effectiveness of an organization, we recognize that ineffective listening is much more than just a hearing problem.

Listening is perhaps the most important component of communication for a manager. Done well, it will enable you to collect information for timely and effective decision-making. Done poorly, and you’ll draw the wrong conclusions.

Three of the most common listening mistakes that can derail our success in business

“Noise in the Attic” Listening. Like many people, some of us think that being a good listener is merely sitting silently while others talk. Outwardly, we appear to be listening. Inwardly, however, our mind is elsewhere or we are making judgments about earlier comments. We end up preoccupied with our own internalization or self talk.

“Face Value” Listening. Sometimes, we think we are hearing facts when actually the words we’re hearing are our own interpretations of situations or figures. This explains why executives, managers and staff sometimes differ dramatically in what they think they hear.

Interpretations are influenced by our experiences. The more experiences we have, the more we should be able to interpret what we hear from the speaker’s perspective. Unfortunately, many adults hear only what they want to hear.

“Position” Listening. We interpret the messages we hear by our position in the organization or concerns as a member of the organization. Employees, for instance, are constantly alert for clues as to how their performance is being rated, reading their own interpretations into messages. A manager might listen to her president’s annual report to determine whether her division will be financed to grow further. What she hears in that talk could easily affect her performance during the year as well as her relationships with co-workers.

Next, I’ll direct you to the kind of listening that leads to smart decision-making.

The Alchemy of Success


By Judith E. Glaser | psychologytoday.com
Published: March 20, 2014

Getting in front of the curve.Alchemy-of-Success

Human beings thrive on connection. And when the connection enables them to speak up, share their thoughts and feelings, and believe they can trust you to support them—not judge them—individuals and organizations thrive. The formula is so simple yet often hard to practice.

When we connect in positive, trusting, and supportive ways—our brains and hearts open up and the conversations that evolve from that moment of contact activate a neurochemical alchemy for success in organizations.

Yet many leaders, without intending to, are activating an alchemy of fear. Does fear live in your organization? How you manage fear in the workplace determines the levels of productivity and success that your organization and teams achieve. As a leader, you can shape the experiences people have at work by reducing fear and inner focus, by creating cultures that facilitate enhanced sensitivity, mutual support, vital communication, and engagement in the strategy.

Alchemy of Conversations

Are your people afraid of you? I’m not asking if they’re scared of you because you are a bully. (You aren’t, are you?) Nor am I talking about the fear that comes from worrying about being punished for a well-thought-out plan or product launch that fails. Plenty of literature exists on how you can help your employees do their jobs better.


I am talking about something more visceral: anxiety caused by the concern that something drastically harmful—such as a layoff, firing, pay cut, or demotion—will happen. Everyone is fragile at the core. We all worry that tomorrow will be our last day. Fear impedes people from doing their best work.

The Alchemy of Fear is profound. A confusing comment from a boss, a strange glance from a colleague can cause our brains to lock down. When fear strikes us—our hardwired instinct to protect ourselves activates in less than .07 seconds and with little thought we instinctively know to either pull back from the source, to freeze, or to fight. When we live in fear, we withdraw, build our own story of reality, imagine others are out to get us, and react accordingly.

Neuroscientists are revealing—through the use of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) that fear is hardwired in our lower brain—often called the Reptilian Brain. When fear, terror, anxiety, distress alert us to harm our brain produces a neurotransmitter called cortisol, activating our well-honed protective instincts. Angelika Dimoka, Ph.D. a Neuroscientist at Temple University Fox School of Business, along with a team of other researchers made a groundbreaking discovery—that is both fear and distrust live in our lower brain. When fear activates, so activates distrust.

Case in Point…

A technology company I’m working with is growing rapidly. Sales have tripled in two years and now top $1 billion. The chief financial officer, who came from a large company in anticipation of this kind of growth, brought with him his “big company” mindset.

One of the first things he told his staff was: “Go out and hire your replacement.” He thought his message was clear: “I want you to hire someone capable of filling your shoes because with all this growth—and how wonderful you all are—I anticipate promoting each of you.”

His staff heard: “Hire your replacement because none of you are good enough and you all will be fired soon.” Not surprisingly, his employees grew anxious. Morale and performance suffered. When I explained to the CFO what his people had heard, he instantly understood what he had done.

He called a meeting to explain that he wanted his people to go out and search for their own replacements as part of planning for the future and to make it easier for him to promote them when the time was right. Putting this context around the statement was not only less frightening, it made people feel good about themselves and the company—and more secure about their role in the growth process. Not surprisingly, fear receded and performance improved.

How can you, as a leader, eliminate fear? Here are four ways…

  1. Be present. Your people spend inordinate time watching everything you do. If you are almost always behind closed doors, don’t seem to be listening during conversations, spend a lot of time reminiscing about the way things used to be, or talk about a future that seems unconnected to the present, people are going to read things into your actions and words and make stuff up. Typically, what they imagine won’t be positive. To make yourself present in the eyes of your reports, you need to make yourself open to others by being tuned into your relationship environment. You may need to have a talk you didn’t plan on having with a staffer. Or get sidetracked by needy employees who distract you from grand thoughts. Welcome to life in the big city. Business is about people. It’s about how we handle our relationships with others.
  2. Tell people where they stand. As leaders, we resist doing this because we fear it will lead to broken relationships, feelings of rejection, and messes we can’t fix. So we don’t raise certain issues. Yet people need to know where they stand so they can do something about it. Once they know, they often discover their imagined fears were much worse than reality. Provide context in every communication.
  3. A picture with a frame becomes a different picture. Context can make things that are bad seem right—or at least far less worrisome. As the CFO realized, just focusing on the action “replace yourselves” without setting the context “so we can work on succession planning together and you can be promoted” caused unimaginable fright that rippled throughout his team.
  4. Use honesty at all times. No one likes to tell the truth when it will hurt someone or make that person look bad. So we fudge. As adults, we should know better. Often we don’t. When the truth surfaces, the impact is twice as bad as it would have been without the fibs. At all times, tell the truth—tactfully and within the appropriate context. Context, in this case, does not mean spin. Don’t make a situation sound better than it is, even if you can. As a leader, you can have no greater resource than a high-performing team. If you are honest, you’ll admit there are times—maybe far too often— when the people who work for you are not producing their best work. Check to see if fear is one reason.

Moment of Contact

In a recent article in The New York Times called, “What Drives Success,” the authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld identify that success contains three elements: Confidence, Insecurity and Control. Mastering the balance between confidence and insecurity is the key. Insecurity triggers fear and distrust networks—confidence triggers our trust networks. Understanding how to sustain and retain our “self and other-trust” is the line that distinguishes success from failure.

Knowing this fine line, as a leader, gives you the power to transform the alchemy of fear into the alchemy of success in your organization. Fear touches almost every aspect of our lives. We are sensitive human beings, and “success and failure” are invisibly woven into the fabric of our interactions with others, and sets into motion a chain of neurochemical reactions that powerfully affect the way we think, how we engage, and how we communicate.

As a 21st century leader, you have the power to transform a moment of fear, into a trajectory of success. Leaders who create safe spaces for conversation and set the context by using candid and caring communication, anchor their teams in the higher brain where trust, integrity, strategic thinking empathy and good judgment live—the time is now, and the choice is yours!



Why You’re Never Too Old to Be Mentored


By Mercedes Cardona, OMH Communications | womenandco.com
Published: March 3, 2014

The following is an article excerpt from https://www.womenandco.com/article/why-youre-never-too-old-to-be-mentored.jsp:

Women MentorMentoring programs have gained traction at workplaces large and small, and with good reason: A good mentor can provide valuable advice, offer encouragement and celebrate your accomplishments as you progress along your career path. But what if you’re already halfway through your professional journey? You may already have a lot of advice to give—but chances are, you still have a lot to learn.

You’re never too old to be mentored, says Sally Haver, a career management consultant: “It’s always valuable to have an objective, knowledgeable set of eyes and ears on what you’re considering doing next.” Haver, who’s in her 70s, notes that she is using her former colleagues at The Ayers Group/Career Partners International as resources to develop her own consulting business.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and chairman of The Creating WE Institute, a leadership research organization, agrees that having an advocate helps women at all career stages,—whether you call it a mentor, a rabbi or a sponsor. “It gives you flashlights to shine to light the path ahead and it gives you opportunities,” says Glaser, who’s also the author of Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Excellent Results.

In the spirit of International Women’s DayExternal Site, when Citi will be hosting events around the world to celebrate generations of women powering progress, consider these factors when seeking out a potential mentor to help propel you to the next stage in your career, no matter where you are on your professional path:

Think about the counsel you need.
The peer-to-peer mentoring that some companies offer isn’t necessarily useful for mid-career women who want to go to the next level, observes Nancy Mellard, executive VP and general counsel for CBIZ employee services division, and national leader of their professional development program, Women’s Advantage: “If you’re a woman in your 40s and 50s you really need a sponsor, not a mentor—a person who’ll advocate on your behalf. But their advocacy has to be effective. They have to be able to expand your perception of what you can do. They need to have the experience to challenge you to take smart risks.”

Establishing a mentoring relationship can also be more difficult for a woman in middle age than for an entry-level professional. “You have to be assertive and aggressive,” says Mellard. “You have to be the one who owns it.” But age can be a plus, too, Mellard adds. “I see that level of maturity as an advantage in being more able to ask things of people than you would have been in your 20s.”

Before you start looking for a mentor, take stock. Establish your career goals and challenges, and list your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the areas with which you need help, advises career consultant Dana Manciagli.

Consider someone younger.
“It doesn’t have to be the top person or someone with a big title,” insists Glaser. Consider rising stars in other divisions of your company, or younger well-connected professionals who have a better grasp of some of the newer skill sets that you may be lacking—such as social media savvy.


Read the full article here:https://www.womenandco.com/article/why-youre-never-too-old-to-be-mentored.jsp

Going From Distrust to Trust

Distrust to Trust

By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: March 3, 2014

Distrust to TrustConversational intelligence changes the climate.

Daily headlines suggest we are becoming mired in distrust, at high cost to our organizations. As our trust bank accounts are depleted, we run out of currency to invest in the future. And trust is not a currency we can easily print to offset the deficit.

Sadly, it seems that distrust is settling over our cities. Bill O’Reilly opines: “There has been a drastic climate change in America, but it has nothing to do with the temperature. There is a climate of distrust in our leaders.”

Last year’s headlines were filled with tales of dysfunction, discord and distrust, providing multiple confirmations that our organizations aren’t working well, notes Adam Geller, a New York-based national writer. More than 85 percent of Americans surveyed by the Harris Poll said the people running the country are indifferent, up 50 percent from 2010. And an AP-GfK Poll found that two-thirds of Americans expressed mistrust of one another, continuing a four-decade slide.

The information society buffets us with examples of institutional dysfunction, said Sheila Suess Kennedy, author of Distrust, American Style (Prometheus Books, April 21, 2009). Pope Francis acknowledged misdeeds in the Catholic Church and began to reform the scandalized Vatican bank and the church’s tangled bureaucracy. Capitalism itself is broken, he said, warning against a culture that fosters “the globalization of indifference.”

Sadly, many individuals, teams, and organizations operate in a perpetual state of distrust and fear. Consider this: a door guards the entrance to our inner self. When we feel trust, we readily open that door, leading to an open exchange with someone else. When we distrust someone, thinking that he or she is somehow a threat, we slam our door quickly and begin to defend ourselves.

The downside of such snap decisions is misinterpreting the signals from our bosses and co-workers, leading us to mislabel friends as foes. Or, perhaps we have trusted someone, only to get stabbed in the back. We might even be sending out signals of our own, causing others to distrust us even when we have their best interests at heart.

Take Five Steps to Build Trust Using Conversational Intelligence

Conversational Intelligence is our hardwired ability for understanding how to create trust. While it may take many steps over time to restore lost trust, we can start by taking the five steps outlined in my TRUST Model.

Step 1: Transparency. Be open and transparent about what’s on your mind. Transparency quells the primitive brain, which reacts to fear, threat, and loss. But when we create conditions favorable for trust, people begin to talk openly about their fears. Transparency is also about sharing our intentions so people don’t misinterpret them. Communicate openly with others to quell threats. Send messages of trust that the amygdala understands: “I trust you will not harm me.”

Step 2: Relationship. Extend the olive branch, even with foes. Extending trust sends messages of friendship to the brain that shift the energy toward appreciation. We know from researchers at the HeartMath Institute that focusing positive energy toward a person (Heart Appreciation) shifts our attention to seek connectivity, reduces the fear of power-over energy, and builds power-with connectivity. This feeling is then understood by others. The heart brain is activated and we sense positive signals of friendship. Partnering Conversations shifts relationships from judgment to respect and enables people to collaborate productively.

When we feel respected and appreciated, the mirror neurons located below the prefrontal cortex activate, enabling us to identify and empathize with others. We stimulate our ability for bonding and collaborating, meaning that levels of oxytocin are increasing. This influx of neurochemicals reinforces trust.

Step 3: Understanding. We learn people’s thoughts by understanding their needs and emotions. Understanding their perspective, we can honor them. I believe understanding means we “stand under” the same view of the world. People trust us when they believe we have their best interest at heart. Seek to understand their perspective by listening, without judgment, and connect to their reality.

Step 4: Shared Success. Create a vision of shared success with others. With a common view of success, we intuitively trust that others’ decisions will be similar to ours, and that conflicts will work out fairly. Our neocortex functions to help us shape strategies for success. However, when we are attached to being right, we reveal an agenda. Such entrenchment leads to distrust. Trying to persuade others to want our success only creates resistance.

Step 5: Testing assumptions and telling the truth. Test perceptions and assumptions about reality. Close the gaps between what you expect and what you get. When truth is discovered together, one shared view of the world emerges. Engage the prefrontal cortex–the executive brain–by shaping conversations that show you the world from another’s perspective. Only then can you can see the bigger picture. You’re not attached to being right and finding fault. Truth-telling starts with being able to see the truth about your own behavior.

Conversational Intelligence – TRUST Rituals
We are designed for connection with others, but when trust is broken we recoil. Conversational Intelligence shows that because we are designed to be social, our brains are sensitive to the signals of trust and distrust. When you use the TRUST Model effectively, you send signals of trust to others, that they will pick up on as you openly engage. You activate the trust networks in your own brain, located in the prefrontal cortex, strengthening your capacity to connect with others in healthy and supportive ways. By listening to connect, and by learning to see the world from another’s perspective, you can attain the highest level of relationship with others. You will connect with people differently–and your conversations will reflect this new and powerful insight.

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and the Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist and the author of the best selling book Conversational Intelligence (Bibliomotion, 2013), as well as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies. www.creatingwe.com; www.conversationalintelligence.com; jeglaser@creatingwe.com

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


What is Conversational Intelligence?


By Judith E. Glaser | kornferryinstitute.com
Published: February 28, 2014 | Download PDF


The corporate battlefields are littered with the burnt-out, rusting hulks of auspicious strategies that failed in spectacular fashion and companies that — despite having novel and promising ideas — constantly trail their peers in profits and shareholder returns. A while back the drug company Boehringer Ingelheim suspected its underperformance sprang from a lackluster sales force. New Wave Entertainment blamed conflicting egos in the executive suite, and Clairol believed inconsistent marketing efforts led to the company’s poor numbers.

However, none of these assumptions turned out to be the whole truth. By digging below the surface, each company uncovered another obstacle that was holding them back. It wasn’t simply that they couldn’t execute, market or sell. The bigger problem was a lack of Conversational Intelligence™.  

Conversational Intelligence is an organization’s ability to communicate in ways that create a shared concept of reality.

Having worked with these companies and many more of the world’s largest businesses over the past 30 years, I’ve learned that Conversational Intelligence can be cultivated in individuals, teams and organizations.

Conversational Intelligence is the hardwired ability in all humans to connect, engage and navigate with others. It is the most important intelligence that gets better when “we” do it together. While the other types of intelligence are more “I-centric” in nature, Conversational Intelligence is a collaborative effort. We can raise the Conversational Intelligence level  in personal relationships as well as the teams and organizations we are a part of.  

Conversations are not always what we think they are. We’ve grown up believing in a narrow view of conversations, thinking they are about expressing thoughts, observations and opinions. Many see conversations as “persuasion” or “getting others to think the way I think.”

In our early research, we watched conversations under different circumstances, everything from first meetings to major negotiations. It wasn’t difficult to see the patterns emerge. We found that as many of 95 percent of verbal exchanges were “telling” statements. “Asking” statements were rare, as was quality listening.

Conversational Intelligence is about closing the gaps between your reality and mine. As such, it can yield improved business results and create a framework for enhancing relationships and partnerships, releasing new energy for growth and transformation. For many, it may be a new concept to think that what we hold in our head — as our reality — is not necessarily what others see. Each of us maps the world through our experiences. We create the meaning, and then we share it with others.

Conversations provide the tools for talking about what we think and feel, and if the conversations are healthy and robust, we will come to see how others view the world and learn to work successfully with them.

Conversational Intelligence begins with trust. Consider the challenges Angela Ahrendts, who heads Apple’s retail businesses, faced when she stepped into her previous job as CEO of Burberry in 2006. How did she transform this tradition-rich British clothing line, founded in 1856, so that it outpaced all other brands in the luxury apparel sector? Ahrendts put it this way. “Trust is truly at the heart of it all. If trust is your core value, you hire accordingly. I interview a lot of senior management people, and at this level competence and experience are a given. Trust is the difference-maker. When I look them in the eye, I’m asking myself: Do I trust them, and do I get the feeling that they trust me? Do they get the vision?”

Distrust leads to defensive listening; trust leads to intelligent listening. Creating a healthy, trusting environment is the first step to gaining Conversational Intelligence. When intentions are set on bridging our realities, being open and transparent, focusing on respect and relationships before tasks, listening to understand, discovering shared success and consistently working to narrow the reality gaps, we are exercising our conversational muscles. When we do that, we are much more likely to achieve organizational goals and perhaps our personal ones as well. 

Five Mistakes That Lower Conversational Intelligence

Ignoring Other Perspectives
Many people err by spending most of their time describing their views of reality rather than learning how others assess a situation. But the more we focus on the “realities” that others perceive, the more we connect with them.

Fixation on “Being Right”
Neuroscientists are discovering that humans have a passion for being “right” —
more than a passion — a compulsion. People “get high” on being right — and are rewarded individually for having “correct” answers. But, the more a speaker pushes his or her “reality,” the more the listeners will seek to protect their positions or points of view, which reduces their connection with others and raises the risk of conflict.

It’s a mistake to think that more talk always translates into better communication, understanding and influence. The truth is, the more we try to align others around “our” point of view, the more we create groupthink, resistance or grudging obedience driven by fear. To employees, this comes across as “my way or the highway.”

Allowing Emotions to Affect Listening
Every conversation has emotional content. Fearful listeners may misinterpret friendly advice or warnings as threats.

Disengaged Listeners
Those who nod their heads while others talk aren’t always paying attention. Leaders need to learn to practice engagement strategies with others to ensure they are truly connecting, sharing and learning.



Conversational-Intelligence-BRIEFINGS-FeburaryAs seen in Briefings Magazine by the Korn Ferry Institute, the world’s largest executive search firm.