Most of us will have heard of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EI) and increasingly important ’Learning Intelligence’ (LI). But have you heard of ‘Conversational Intelligence’, C-IQ?
C-IQ* is both simple and profound. It is deployed by some of the most successful Fortune 500 organisations today. According to Judith Glaser, founder of the WE institute in the US:
“ ‘Conversational Intelligence’ is the intelligence hardwired into each of us that enables us to navigate successfully with others. It is at the core of every successful business in every industry.
To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of culture, which depends on the quality of conversations. Everything happens through conversations.”
Discover 5 ways that help create an environment that releases the best in yourself and in others. Learn practical habits to ignite greater trust, collaboration and a higher level of thinking into your teams and organisation.
1. Understand your brain
An MIT study showed that 50% of the difference between low and high-performing teams is the quality of conversations. Neuroscientists have shown that conversations trigger neurochemistry in our brains. This means that there are parts of our brain that light up when the environment feels trusting and collaborative. When the pre-frontal cortex lights up, which is where our executive brain functions lie, this in turn illuminates other parts of the brain and activates an array of networks that stimulate new thinking and the capacity to create new ideas. Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is released, producing feelings of connection and close bonds. Cortisol, on the other hand, releases protective behaviour, shuts down new ideas and is released in conversations where there is a low level of trust and collaboration. It can take 26 hours for cortisol to leave our bodies.
If you can learn how to lower cortisol and raise oxytocin in your organisation, you will learn how to shift negative energy to a positive one within your teams and stimulate a higher level of thinking.
2. Co-creation is more than collaboration
High-performance organisations have moved from an “I” centric to a “WE” centric focus. Co-creating is learning how to share ideas, focus on listening to connect, asking questions you don’t know the answer to, without judgment and moving between three different levels of conversation from “transactional” to “transformational”. Learning new ways to enable this is at the heart of developing conversational intelligence*. The most effective leaders learn how to listen and communicate at all three levels. With conversational intelligence rituals, you can learn new techniques to move from “difficult” to “discovery” conversations.
3. Rely on trust, not power or authority
Do you focus on building candid conversations that include and appreciate others? Appreciation reshapes our neural networks and activates our ability to see broader and think bigger. Are you creating en environment that allows people to have a different voice, where people speak up with their best thinking, as opposed to just joining in for consensus? The more oxytocin we have, the more it enables us to allow other points of view, because we ourselves are being valued. ‘Psychological safety’ more than anything else, has been shown as critical to team effectiveness (Amy Edmondson, Harvard).
4. Open up aspirations not expectations in others
There is a subtle difference between expectations and aspirations. Expectations can come with positive and negative, good and bad; they can come with judgement and limit possibilities, whereas aspirations encourage others to stay open to new possibilities, pushing back bias and judgement and synchronising connectivity. Are you a leader, that without realising it, create barriers and limit aspirations? Instead, learn how to create a safe space for aspirations and hope. It is easy for people to fall into “group think” to be safe and not appear weak. Learn how to refocus, redirect and reframe, making it safe for people to speak up and bring their best ideas to the table. If you are able to do this, you will unlock the path to a state of healthy risk-taking with audacious goals.
5. Enable change with new eyes
Did you know that human beings sense each other’s energy fields within ten feet? Enabling change requires enabling positive energy. Visualising different routes with our minds and planning how to get there, can enable transformational change. Employees will openly share when they feel like they are working towards the same organisational and aspirational goals. Break the silo effect, which can no longer create success in such an interconnected world. Instead, create an environment where people work together to maximise collective strengths. “Down regulating the impact of fear elevates creativity. The prefrontal cortex contains infinite innovation capabilities” (Rex Jung, Ph.D)