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Conversational Intelligence: The Human Factor

November 3, 2013

A most quintessential question: What does it mean to be human?

Gary Hamel, recognized as the most influential business thinker in the world (Wall Street Journal), emphasizes: “As human beings, we are amazingly adaptable and creative, yet most of us work for companies that are not. In other words, we work for organizations that aren’t very human.” (The Future of Management)

And Judith E. Glaser, recognized as an innovative and pioneering Organizational Anthropologists who is ranked as one of the Top 15 Leadership Consultants globally (the #1 Woman in this category) and as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders globally (Leadership Excellence), emphasizes: “Everything happens through conversations!” (Conversational Intelligence)

As our world only becomes more paradoxical, could conversations be the secret ingredient to humanizing organizations and achieving extraordinary results!

In Conversational Intelligence, Judith shares the premise of Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ), which is the foundation of her work:

To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of our culture, which depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations. Everything happens through conversations!

And then Judith defines Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ), which catalyzes her wisdom into an actionable framework and practices:

Conversational Intelligence provides a framework and practices for the way individuals, teams, and organizations listen, engage, architect, and influence the moment and shape the future, in all situations. When we use our CI-Q in business we strengthen the organization’s culture in order to achieve greater business results. Understanding how to ‘level set’ our conversations gives us the power to transform reality.

While the book is grounded in neuroscience, it does not bog down but translates these insights and brings the science down to earth in actionable practices that foster greater productivity, innovation, and success for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Part I

Part I focuses on the Why and the What. The book explores conversations, their space and dimensions, the three levels (types) of conversations, how conversations are built on trust, and the rituals and dashboards that enable us to navigate conversations.

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Part II

Part II focuses on the How of raising our Conversational Intelligence. The book explores an I-Centric invisible dashboard, the FORCES Model, a WE-Centric visible dashboard, the Conversational Dashboard, and shifting from I to WE using the TRUST Model. The book delves deep into how the FORCES Model and the Ladder of Conclusions creates our perceived reality and how the TRUST Model and the Conversational Dashboard helps us create a shared reality.

The heart and soul of the book is expressed in the three levels of conversation:

There are 3 levels of conversation:

  • Level I: Transactional Conversations . . . where we are asking and telling about what we already know to confirm it.
  • Level II: Positional Conversations . . . where we are advocating and inquiring about what we know and defending our beliefs about what we know.
  • Level III: Transformational Conversations . . . where we are sharing and discovering about what we don’t know we know, or about what we don’t know we don’t know, or about what we want to know and discover.

Conversational Intelligence is your ability to understand the impact of your conversations on others, and to intentionally set the level and quality of your conversations to enhance trust and to positively impact your relationships with others.

The book explores raising our Conversational Intelligence using Conversational Agility and recognizing Blind Spots. The book delves deep into the transformative Conversational Agility skills of reframing, refocusing, and redirecting; how Mind Shifts refocus conversations; and how to be more aware of Blind Spots.

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Part III

Part III focuses specifically on the How of Leading, Teaming, and Change. The book explores leading using the Seven Conversations, teaming using the Bruce Tuckman model for how small groups become high-performing teams and the TRUST Model, and transformation using conversational rituals that trigger the natural ability for change to evolve.

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The Human Element / Factor

Most profoundly, Judith’s work recasts challenges related to “culture” as “reality gaps”:

Conversations have the power to move us from “power over” others to “power with” others, giving us the exquisite ability to get on the same page with our fellow humans and experience the same reality by bridging the reality gaps between “how you see things and how I see things.”

And most profoundly, Judith’s work recasts the role of “conversations” (as social rituals) and “conversational rituals” as the differentiating factor to being human:

Human beings are the most highly social species on this planet.

Conversations are the social rituals that hold us together, the fabric of culture and society.

Conversational rituals differentiate humans from other species and enable us to develop and handle complexity, ambiguity, and change. They allow us to evolve and grow—they are the tools we use to teach ourselves and one another what we know and to raise us up to learn what we don’t know. Conversational rituals allow us to build common languages, definitions, and meanings that in turn create community. We have evolved conversational rituals to strengthen our world, so whatever part of the world you live in, these practices will work.

It been said that “the longest journey a man must take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart” and not only does Conversational Intelligence enlighten us about our individual journeys but it enlightens us about our shared journey to become WE — to becoming more human and humane.

To learn more, see Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) in Practice (Catalyst Workshop) and join the movement!

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