Transformational leadership

How To Improve Your Conversational Intelligence

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote by Maya Angelou could very well describe Conversational Intelligence. This unique kind of intelligence separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom and combined with Emotional Intelligence it can be a big contributor to success.
In this blog let’s explore this together.
What is Conversational Intelligence?
It was the late Judith E. Glaser, an organizational anthropologist, who coined the term ‘Conversational Intelligence.’
The hardwired and learned skill to connect, engage, and navigate with others is called Conversational Intelligence.
Glaser says, “The key to better health is to better understand our brain. By understanding how the brain functions, communicates, and responds to our environment, we can reach our full potential. The brain does not speak French or English, it speaks neuroscience.”
Conversational Data is the ability to build and enhance our life with the power of language and talk. When we ace conversational intelligence, we can significantly improve our relationships, health and productivity.
Why Is Conversational Intelligence Important For Leaders?
It is crucial that your team members who you hire are open to trusting you and sharing their thoughts and feelings without any fear or hesitation.
Conversational Intelligence is one of the most effective leadership tools to ensure that your team wholly contributes with their ideas, acts upon them, and feels empowered. Being a highly conversational intelligent leader can translate into more engaged and happier teams.
On the other hand if teams don’t trust and don’t feel safe there is a lot of cortisol secretion and the cortisol-mediated response is very detrimental for the team in the long run. Such an environment leads to negative behaviors spiraling into a potentially toxic workplace.
The Science of Conversing
There are many interlocking factors at play in conversations including power games, control issues, bias, judgment, affirmations, connections, and relationship building.
Conversations are not merely about sharing information. Conversations trigger physical and emotional changes in the brain that can either make people trust you and open to having healthy conversations with you or may shut down.
There is a neuroscience behind conversations which explain how they have the power to change the brain. Conversations can boost the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, stimulating body systems and nerve pathways, which change the brain chemistry, not just for a moment but a lifetime.
If the brain senses trust in our conversations, it activates the “trust network” in the prefrontal cortex where all complex thinking occurs, leading to more openness, bonding, creativity, and innovation.
If the brain senses distrust, it triggers the “fear network” in the amygdala and limbic areas causing the classic “fight or flight” response. People will find it hard to focus and tend to switch off all listening as their brains urge them to leave.
How To Master The Art of Conversing
We’ve all witnessed some immensely talented people fail only because they are unable to communicate well.
Conversation is a fundamental leadership tool and being conversationally intelligent aids better communication and connection, boosting your business. In the presence of a good conversationalist, people feel valued and good about themselves.
Everyone can learn the art of making meaningful and impactful conversations by understanding how our different kinds of brains (primal, limbic and rational) function and speak.
Let’s look at the following to build our conversational intelligence skills:
1. Traditions and Customs
If we reflect upon some of our customary social practices, then we realize how they can be great icebreakers and conversation starters. We normally carry something with us when we visit someone’s house, be it family or friends. It could be anything from a box of sweets, chocolates, to a thoughtful gift.
This custom breaks many communication barriers, and sets the scene for great conversations.
At the workplace, you can make your own customs to break the ice and improve team communication. Games such as “Secret Santa” are a classic example of how certain traditional workplace practices can induce fun, openness, trust, and bonding among employees. Or celebrating some festivals and observance days collectively as one workforce.
Think of your own traditional practices that you can come up with and follow in your own workplace as ‘mood enhancers’ to bridge the gaps and foster trust, bonding, and creativity. In the COVID times you can send the gifts using various online options.
2. T.R.U.S.T Model
As a leader, you are your role model for proper communication.
Communication is not only communicating from your side but also giving others a chance to feel comfortable and speak whatever thoughts they have in their mind. You should show that you value their opinions and be curious about them. Avoid the tendency to be right all the time, and be receptive to multiple viewpoints from your team.
Glaser proposed the T.R.U.S.T. model for improving conversational intelligence.
T stands for transparency. If you want openness and transparency in your team, you have to be open and honest with them first. This will make people trust you.
R stands for relationships. Glaser advises working on improving your relationships first before working on completing your tasks. Building strong relationships call for empathy, keeping aside differences, and aligning goals to a higher vision. Glaser’s studies prove that those who work cross-functionally and build strong relationships are more effective in their work than those who are hyper focused only on their tasks.
U stands for understanding. This can be a challenge for some people who are more interested in interrupting and making themselves heard instead of listening and understanding others. This destructive behavior can lead to the formation of prejudices and biases.
S stands for shared success. Make ways for people to believe in the bigger vision, collaborate, and celebrate all shared successes. Collaboration is the key for sustainable business success.
T stands for truth. Authenticity and truth are hallmarks of great leadership and businesses. You can be honest and kind at the same time. Honesty doesn’t have to mean rudeness. You can be honest and candid with others while being empathetic and respectful. When you’re speaking from a place of truth and honesty, others will slowly learn to trust you and mirror your qualities. This makes way for real, meaningful, collaborative, and organic relationships.
3. Listen to connect and understand
Listening is an often overlooked aspect of communication. But it is the most important part of the communication process. Instead of switching off and vying to talk over each other, we need to train ourselves and our teams to listen actively for effective communication.
Judith E. Glaser has conceptualized and divided listening into 3 levels. She says we are hardwired for all three levels and can use them in different situations and for different purposes. These three levels of listening can help you move from a level of ‘low trust’ to ‘high trust’.
Level I is for informational conversations and purely transactional. There are no emotions involved in this stage, and the focus is merely on the tasks, gaining relevant information, taking the appropriate decision, and the accomplishment of the goals or tasks. These are your regular daily conversations that revolve around the necessary routine tasks. There is confirmation of the necessary tasks so that all the parties are on the same page.
Level II involves positional conversations. Here, you dig deeper into the person’s psyche, put yourself in their shoes, and understand how they think and feel before putting out your opinions. These conversations tend to be more persuasive and ideal for negotiations. These conversations can make or break people’s trust in you. You want to win over people, gain their trust, and win their vote of confidence in you. You do not want to trigger their “fear network” and invite conflict. When done right, Level II conversations can build a culture of sharing and collaboration based on mutual trust, respect, and reciprocity.
Level III is the highest level in the listening hierarchy and all about relational conversations. Relational conversations are focused on long-term connections and bonding. When you build connections with people, the brain releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, making people more likely to trust you and open up, creating a positive feedback loop.
Level III conversations are what we should all be aiming for as it is not only the rarest and most intimate kind, but also the most potent one that unleashes energy, creativity, innovation, and sustainable partnerships. It’s the highest form of listening where everyone feels safe, comfortable, and unafraid to share anything including their vulnerabilities, fears, challenges.
Boost Your Leadership Skills With Conversational Intelligence
Conversational Intelligence (CI) is the key to your success in professional and personal life. As a conversationally intelligent leader, you can initiate a massive culture shift in your team and organization.
The key to better relationships, health and productivity is to understand how your brain works and speaks to you in the language of neuroscience.
We recently conducted a ‘Talk the Talk” session ‘EI meets CI’ where participants explored the powers of neuroscience and understand the significance of conversational intelligence for their health and evolution.
Crossover also offers exclusive and comprehensive training programs on Conversational Intelligence. To know more about our Conversational Intelligence programs, contact pooja.a@crossoverleaders.com or 09885902060, and we will be happy to assist you.

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