Judith Glaser’s “Conversational Intelligence,” otherwise referred to as “C-IQ” is another tool for interpersonal development, in this case, largely for the purpose of corporate effectiveness. Glaser understands the power of the culture of an organization, particularly how people relate to one another in effective and ineffective ways. She offers her readers some practical ways in which leaders can easily implement a few simple intentional practices that will bring significant change for the effectiveness of the organization, especially as it relates to innovation and creativity. Glaser suggests two intentional practices: listening without being judgmental and asking questions for which you do not know the answer. These two practices, she suggests, have been implemented with great success.
Glaser’s work is based on neurological research, where she has come to understand the effect of trust and fear/distrust on the brain and how that causes us to respond to one another in conversation or group settings. When there is a deep sense of trust between two people, they are able to activate the neocortex (prefrontal) where she says trust “lives,” and she suggests that cortisol is produced, which gives positive and happy feelings. In this space, creativity is able to be accessed and innovation can occur. But when there is mistrust, people revert to the amygdala, where we experience our fight, flight, or flee mode. Fear causes the conversation to shut and people put up their guards. Creativity and innovation cannot happen in this kind of space. So, Glaser wants to know, how do leaders foster environments of trust, and particularly how can leaders increase their competency to do so. In other words, how can leaders, or mothers or fathers, or teachers or counselors, increase their “C-IQ.” Glaser suggest that we can in fact develop conversational intelligence. One is not necessarily born with a C-IQ that is fixed and immovable. However, clearly as adults some have already developed intuitively the practices that she suggests, and therefore some have higher levels of conversational intelligence than others.
Glaser offers five values that she suggests leaders need to foster in their organization:
- Transparency – It is important that people are open about their felt need for change.
- Relationship – The importance of learning from one another
- Understanding – The importance of going deeper, through questions, to get underneath what is being communicated.
- Shared Success – The importance of finding common ground
- Truth-telling – The importance of defining reality.
As three families are working together to build a mission-oriented foundation, which requires a high level of creativity and innovation, I have already recognized some of the anxiety that Glaser describes as fear which causes us to operate from the amygdala. I recognize the critical importance of shaping the culture of our organization well as it takes shape. There are several anxiety-oriented people in the group who likely have lower than average C-IQ levels than average, and I am finding weakness in my conversational intelligence as well. It gives me a deeper understanding of the neuroscience and an ability to even recognize what part of my brain is active in the moment. I prefer the prefrontal cortex. J