Judith Glaser (Organizational Anthropologist and the pioneer of the work about Conversational Intelligence® ) says, “Words create Worlds”. The right words help us to have right conversations and establish the human to human bond. This connection facilitates leaders in aligning people/teams to a common vision and result in transforming businesses. According to a research done by Stanford University, 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark. People often complain about missing trust, not feeling respected enough, not feeling included and being judged in conversations.
As leaders are adjusting to the ‘New normal’ business ways, right conversations and bonds are key to drive results. Judith Glaser said that conversations that are “We-Centric” instead of “I-Centric” create harmony, trust and engagement. Consider the game of basketball, the players must be in sync to win, they all must play their best and pass the ball along at the right times. It does not matter who scores as long as they continue to focus on working as a team and the right player holds the ball at the right time. Mindset required to win in any game is “We-Centric”. This is the same mindset that we need to have while having conversations in these challenging times. It requires that we have conversations that are inclusive. With COVID-19 and remote work, we need to do a little bit extra to make these conversations useful and effective for all involved and a lot of this responsibility falls on the leaders.
Judith Glaser came up with a five-part Conversational Essentials framework that helps to create ‘We-Centric’ conversations. Let us look at them through the lens of the “New Normal”.
Listening to Connect: First of all, do listen to people. In ‘new normal’ remote business ways, you will have to spend more effort to connect with people than the usual office days. With the distractions bothering you and other team members on virtual calls, it may be difficult to be present in the conversations. You can achieve this by starting with –
- Set your intention to listen fully to a conversation and avoid distractions.
- If possible, switch on the video.
- Do not jump to judgements, immediate comments on the virtual call; listen completely to the person.
- Ask others to share their thoughts and include everyone.
- Understand the emotions in conversations too.
- Be genuinely curious in a conversation.
After important conversations, do reflect on:
- How much time you spoke vs listened in a conversation?
- How much you listened to the words people were using?
- Did you feel the connect with the person?
- What do you think-
- Whether the other person felt understood?
- Whether the other person got the chance to say what she wanted to say?
- How frequently you found yourself wanting to interrupt?
- Asking Questions: Many leaders feel that they must help others reach the conclusions they have already drawn. So, they want to give quick solutions or recipes.
Judith Glaser suggests asking ‘Discovery Questions’- which encourage exploration. It means as a leader, you are withholding the judgements and rapid conclusions, rather you are asking open ended questions to understand more for both the parties.
When you ask good questions, the other person feel listened to and you both co-create a better outcome. In the remote environment, this could be a very helpful tool to engage people on the other side. When next time in a conversation with someone, you have a feeling that you know the solution, wait, deep breathe, suspend judgement for a while, ask a question to listen to their perspective in detail.
- Conversational Agility: It is an ability to give new meaning to a situation e.g. directing the conversation towards opportunities when people are getting bogged down by the situation. It is your ability to-
- You help find the common ground for trust in a difficult conversation.
E.g. ‘I just couldn’t meet the sales target this quarter”
Positively reframed, your response can lead to better possibilities for future – “Yeah, you couldn’t achieve the sales target this quarter, Let us see what can we learn from here for the next time when we approach the same customer.”
- Refocus-Allows you to help people defocus from a stuck situation and focus on the larger solution space.
E.g. consider shifting from saying something like “I do not think you have spent enough time on this project, seems you do not have time at all”
“How can you take out more time so that you can spend more time on this task and apply your creativity on this project? When you think creatively, we always have better solutions.”
Enables you to help people move from a space where they are emotionally stuck to a place of new opportunities.
E.g. “I am so worried that this lockdown is going to hamper my promotion.”
Your response can redirect the energies to finding solution – “I understand. What can you do in this situation to move in the direction of the next promotion?”
- Where is the Trust: Creating a safe environment where people can share their thoughts and ideas without any repercussions is challenging for a few leaders. Research shows that it takes 0.07 seconds when we meet people to decide whether we trust them or not. In addition to that, trust and mistrust activate different parts of the brain. Trusting conversations generate feel good hormones like oxytocin and mistrust creates not so good hormones like Cortisol. In ‘New normal ways’, having a trusting, inclusive and safe work environment can only enable people to contribute to their potential.
Do reflect on –
What do you do create trust in your team?
How can you create a safe environment?
- Double Clicking: It is a way to understand more about what is in the other person’s mind. As one double clicks, everyone gains clarity on various perspectives, assumptions, and points of view. In current situation, a few Double-Clicking questions you may use:
- What does that mean to you?
- What else?
- How may we achieve this?
- How do you see it happening?
It takes courage and effort to create ‘We-Centric’ conversations. Conversations are the threads that connect us together and make us a team. The leader must utilize every opportunity to build stronger bonds and create a winning team!