Conversational Intelligence at work is necessary for building trust. Not using it could lead to disengagement. You’ll learn the signs of trust and how to tap into people’s highest level thinking potential. Join Becky Freemal, anchor of WFXR news, with Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence and Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO of Cortex Leadership Consulting.
Becky: Welcome back for our podcast, or as we often call it at the Cortex Leadership Consulting, our Corcast. And we went, and when I say we, I really mean Lynda went to great lengths to get our interviewee and get to the source of the information today, all the way up in New York City. Lynda, I’m going to let you take it away and introduce our special guest today.
Lynda: Yeah, I took my first Uber ride. I had to download the Uber app. My daughter, when I was in Washington, D.C, always did that for me, so that was an experiment. So, it was cool to get out of my first Uber ride in New York City and Central Park and you know, have the doorman, and go, this is actually really happening. I am going to go upstairs and interview Judith Glaser, and so for some people, you know, rock stars, I’m the geek groupie. I want to go to the source and talk to the people that I have been reading and studying and I think I probably picked up her book, it hadn’t have been long after it was published, and I got very excited about this material, because it was a missing link for me. I was like, there’s something underneath of all the other material that I’m learning, and it became something that was very practical in its application. So I am here, across from Central Park, in the apartment of Judith Glaser, who was so gracious, so gracious with the way she is starting to just spread her work worldwide at this point. To let us come and spend a couple hours with her today. So she was Woman of the Year in 2004, and if you’ve ever touched any of her work, you’d know why. So her accolades are endless. You can go and look at Wikipedia and see all the books that she’s written and I’m sure ways that she has touched, if you were in leadership training of any kind, she has probably touched it in some way with the endless work that she has done for the last 20 or 30 years in this field. So I am just honored, and it is a privilege to introduce Judith Glaser.
Judith: I’m humbled by the accolades that you gave me. It has been such a life experience for me and journey to try to bring out what I think is a new wave of thinking about something, and having people push back so hard. So when I hear the accomplishments and the credits that you’re giving me, know that I have body scars all over the place; Everything from having my books, which I now have 7, and I have an animated film, but having them rejected so many times, for so many years. Every time I thank goodness my agent stood behind me and said, no, people need to know this. He was Steven Hawking’s agent and got his work out into the world, and I thought if he could get Steven Hawking’s work out, and he thinks that much of fine, then I’m going to stay with this guy throughout all the rejections, and now to see the same books that I put out to publishers being fought for, which is, I mean now I get calls for publishers saying, when is your next book coming out, we want to be your publisher. And these are people that rejected me for all those years. So it’s just amazing to sit back and know, and be able to give advice to people that hang in, if you have something new to say, and that’s part of what I think we’re going to be talking about is, this world of conversations, and how do we create the spaces where every human being’s potential can be heard, every idea that’s new and innovative, which of course people rejected cause I can share those stories and say, hang in. The Harry Potter books; if you know how many times that her books were rejected. She was on welfare at the time that she got her books out. So this is all a journey of how do you break from the old to the new in the world? Is that resonating with you?
Becky: Absolutely. Oh yeah. Well, Judith, here’s a question for you. For the laymen out there who have not had a chance to read your book? When you talk about conversational intelligence, very bottom line for us, what do you mean when you talk about conversational intelligence?
Judith: So, I want to put a framework around it first, Rebecca, which is that we all know about intellectual and IQ, intellectual intelligence quotient. We also have heard so much about social intelligence, which they’re known across the world being accepted as intelligences. What I have been doing is researching another intelligence, which it’s not something that some people have and some people don’t have. Every human being in the world in every country has the capability to have conversational intelligence. And conversational intelligence is the ability for human beings to value and understand and know that they are activating a better level of humanity when we learn to focus on respecting other human beings. When we focus on having courage to say what’s on our mind. When we focus on being able to stay in the conversation even if it’s difficult, to help shift it, and reframe it, so that the things behind the difficult become something that is our future conversation. In other words, every time we have resistance in a conversation, and do you have resistance?
Judith: Yes, Rebecca, do you have resistance in conversations? Is that a familiar, right, experience? Like, why didn’t they get it, I’m so smart, I figured that this is the right answer, it’s taken me all these years, why are you not celebrating that with me and just going along with it, right? Yeah. So, what I realized is that this is something, as I went around and spoke in Japan, in China, in Dubai, which scared me to be on the stage and be the keynote for people in Dubai who couldn’t even, they had headphones on, getting translations of what I was saying. But as I went around the world, and I tested this work, I found out that every country; every language has the same problem. Why are you resisting what I have to say, I’m so smart? Alright? And that became addicted to being right, which I tested out as a universal complex explanation or simple explanation for a complex phenomenon that says that every human being thrives on being right. We got dopamine all the time when we’re right and we get it when we get an award, when we say something cool, yes, I knew that was right. We’re trained in school, every country.
Lynda: With my husband.
Judith: With your husband, that’s right, exactly.
Lynda: That’s my favorite person to be right with for a while.
Judith: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I tell people that my husband is my longest coaching client. So, this is…
Becky: So here’s a question. Sorry I don’t mean to cut you off, I just was going to ask Lynda, when you’re talking about this conversational intelligence, and it’s such an important, it sounds like such a powerful tool. Back here, I know, in Roanoke, you worked with corporations across this area, across the state. What do you see when people put this to work in a good way, and what have you seen when they have just crashed and burned?
Lynda: I think when a leader gets it transformation happens. So, this work is all about listening. And when you can kind of connect the dots for them, that it is about listening, and they go, oh I’m not supposed to, you know, I think about David Emerald’s work with the dreaded drama triangle versus the empowerment dynamic. This work is the bridge, this work is part of making the mind shift happen of, I don’t have all the answers, and guess what, I don’t even need to have all the answers, because the brilliance is come from the collaboration that I’m going to have with my team members. And man, when you can see that bell go off, everything changes, they go, we don’t have to have the answers anymore? And the cortisol goes down. And they look so relaxed and relieved, and they go, I just need to come up with really great questions? And I’m like, right. And that’s at the core of this work, it’s the difference between having all the answers, and you know, learning to have the right questions.
Judith: And Lynda, you nailed the most important distinction about conversational intelligence. So, intellectual intelligence is about, I’m using this part of my brain, the knowledge part of my brain to be the smartest human being I can be, and to elevate my IQ so people think I am a brilliant genius, right? And we’re going to get paid for that, because we’re going to go into work that gets me up at the higher levels, right? That’s the old world, yeah. Yes. The new world, which you tapped into is, we’re in a we world. And I studied the interaction dynamics between two people, to see how they impact each other. And it’s not about just rewarding this part of your brain, but it’s about rewarding your heart when you get along well with others, and when that happens, when two people have an empathy for each other, appreciation for each other, which is what it has to be in the workplace; And by the way, in families. Every place we go it really is a we, but people haven’t framed us as the important dynamic to focus on, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on. But when you get that right, your prefrontal cortex opens up, and that’s the part of the brain for people who are not aware of it yet, it’s a new term. But we used to think that the brain was [inaudible] brain. The lower animal brain, the middle emotional brain, called the limbic system, and the neocortex back here, the [inaudible] brain was missing; This whole part of the brain. The other two parts, the prefrontal cortex and heart, and so, helping people connect, helping people’s energy waves; Now I may be saying things Rebecca that some people who are hearing for the first time, this is not woo-woo, this is science. Right? As people connected, and I feel comfortable with you, and this part of my brain opens up, this part enables wisdom to emerge, even in young children. We might need to talk about that. Wisdom, right, to emerge; It enables integrity, how people do the right things, because they know it’s connecting other people in a way. It’s not just about me but it’s about us, so integrity. It’s about being able to have a strategic orientation to the world, and think about the past, the present and the future, and analyze in the face of uncertainty how do we move forward in an effective way with others? That’s a different type of strategy; it’s not a strategy for growing the brand. This is the strategy of human dynamics, and how to shape the environ for effective conversations. It’s about trust, right? That’s like the most important thing that we can talk more about; and so, empathy. These are some of the words that are explaining what this part of the brain connecting to the heart, what that is all about. Imagine a world where people are going to school not only for the knowledge, but to learn how to be citizens of the universe. What would that do, with the world right now, when you think about what’s going on in different countries? ISIS, and people trying to invade, and [inaudible] coming in and wanting to kill everybody; How would that be different if this part of our brain were accessible to us much more? Conversational intelligence is that discipline and methodology that people can use to tap into a higher potential that they have as human beings and as citizens of the universe.
Becky: What are signs Judith, and this kind of goes from both ends, whether you are the leader in the workplace or maybe you’re a new employee coming into the workplace. Or, even during an interview, when you’re trying to scope it out. What are the signs people should look for that there is trust there, that this conversation intelligence is healthy and happening in that workplace?
Judith: When we have a sense of trust with each other, people notice that not only the verbal communication, and how to set it up so that we have rules of engagement for how we want to work with each other, and not live in what we call level 2 positional conversations. Based on people fighting for their knowledge being right; But we have an ability where people are really embracing each other heart and mind to open up. We see a different visual dynamic; we see a different engagement dynamic. The physical environment looks different because people lean in, like we’re doing, because they want to hear, which you said, listening is so important. And they want to listen to connect with other people, which is one of our most important essential elements of conversational intelligence. It’s different from listening to confirm what I know, which is what a lot of people do. And so they lean in, they start to connect and want to see, and they notice, for example, if I look at your eyes, and I see that you just, that for a second, they went away and came back. I know that your brain is processing something we just said, and I want to say, Lynda, did you just have a thought, I can see it on your face?
Lynda: It’s so true, what happened.
Judith: Exactly, and I want to know…
Lynda: Well yeah, I was like, I was thinking about the importance of environment and in meetings and what that looks like. I’ll have so many leaders say to me, I ask them if they have any questions, I ask them to give input, but then I get nothing. I get these blank stares. And it’s all about what environment are they in when you’re asking that? Have you said that in the last two minutes of a meeting, or have you really set up the rules of engagement? The type of atmosphere that allows people to feel safe, to share; so what happens in that moment after they share? If the first thing they hear is, that’s a really good idea, or that’s an interesting idea, I see your perspective on that, and. Or do they say, oh, yeah, we tried that, but it didn’t work. And so are they using and, or are they using but? It’s those micro moments. It’s those, what seem like inconsequential words. It’s that moment that the leader gives them the pushback, and they don’t understand that communicates everything. So somebody risked and opened, and was vulnerable, and maybe they were even excited, and they said, hey, I have an idea! And what was the first response?
Judith: So that’s why we talk about phrases like, in the moment of contact, what happens? We want people to notice that interaction of the moments that make a difference, because one moment when someone, not only adores our opinion, but in front of a whole group of people actually lays a very negative judgment on it, then what message everybody in the room gets is, I can’t share those crazy ideas that I brought in to share, because they’re going to change our company, and now where do I put them? And that’s why people put them in their pocket, and leave companies to go someplace else, where the environment feels better.
Becky: So Judith, if you have an environment where it doesn’t feel good and you were the one, the leader who’s in charge of making it feel better, turning this around. I hope you, and I don’t think it is going to be an answer, that it’s a lost cause, what are the techniques I guess you could say, to build that trust and turn things back around, get people back on track?
Judith: I have been called in to work with companies where the leadership team has had 3 or 4 consultants before me, and they weren’t able to pull this team together. And so, I want to mention a couple of things that are my secrets for success, in case people are looking for things that they want to try right away. The first thing I do is before the meeting, I prime all the leaders who are coming in by doing interviews with them to discover what are the most important things on their mind that they want to make sure are heard in the meeting? And how would they interact if they get pushback? So we’re actually simulating what might happen in the meeting, to give them a chance to prepare for how we all are going to ensure that people’s voices are heard. I remind them, and share with them if they don’t know, that the most success in transformation in companies comes from the worst ideas. Now people are saying, what do you mean the worst ideas, how could that be true? And it’s true because it’s these ideas that are so radical and different from current reality, that it’s not just moving chairs on the deck, but it’s actually doing something that’s radical and dramatic. And so the prize for people is how do we as a group with different ideas create the environment that’s safe enough for all of us to listen, not to reject? Our listening is listening to connect, not reject. And when we get into that type of interaction dynamic with each other, your idea and my idea together is a breakthrough that has never occurred in the world before. And we were looking at them as bad ideas, but in fact they are complimentary to each other’s growth as something new that we want to bring into the world. Does that make sense?
Lynda: I’m actually thinking about a really big part of her work is about the discovery through double-clicking. And I was thinking, what a big difference, when someone says something or shares an idea that you can’t visualize, and instead of rejecting it, you double-click on it, and you actually lean in and go, I can’t see that, tell me more. Describe that. What are you seeing? What colors are you seeing? What are you feeling? Like, draw it out for me. Instead of, I don’t see how that’s possible. It’s more like wow, I don’t see it. Like now I get to experience it.
Judith: And sometimes Lynda, and Rebecca, sometimes it’s a small thing that we didn’t know that needs to be coupled in with a new idea. For example, I was on the airplane next to the person that developed the ability for phones to be used inside of airplanes, or for TV to be projected inside of airplanes. Now, it’s hard now to believe that there was a time that we couldn’t just flip down this little thing on the back of the seat and watch TV when we’re going across country or across the world. But how does that happen? With no cords; Airplanes don’t have any cables, and in a time of cables, how did this happen? I sat next to the guy that invented the ability for this to happen. And I said, please tell me, because I would’ve rejected that idea if somebody said to me, you’re going to be able to have phones and hear each other and talk to each other. I can’t even talk on an elevator, right? My phone stops working in most of the elevators. How’re you going to get up to an airplane that’s going across the world? And so, he just drew, he said there are invisible energy channels. And energy channels have content, what we speak is coded as it goes through the channels. So all you have to do is put the right code into the right energy channel, and push a button and it’s faster than the speed of light.
Lynda: Isn’t that an analogy for your work? I mean your whole work is about these energy channels being transferred. And we can’t see it, but it’s happening in the impact, it’s so dramatic, right? Yeah. That’s interesting that that kind of showed up. You know I was actually sitting here…
Becky: I was going to say, I think this would be a spectacular time to take a moment, to let everyone kind of absorb what we’ve said. We wanted to talk about relationships between people, not just leaders with the mass employees, but people, one another, trying to make things work, just… For example, do you have a coworker who you think might be a bully, or someone that you’re trying to build a relationship with? So, questions that we want to follow up with you Judith, when we come back.