From Conflict to Connection
By Lillian J. LeBlanc, PCC
Certified Conversational Intelligence Coach
Developer, “From Conflict to Connection – Advanced Communication Strategies”
Most of us think of conversations as the act of talking with and listening to another person. There’s truth to that definition, yet the process of conversation involves much more. Our learning experience, From Conflict to Connection - Advanced Communication Strategies builds awareness and mastery of techniques to transform any conversation into a collaborative and productive one.
Along with the words spoken in a conversation, our brains receive signals from other external inputs, including the speaker’s tone of voice, speed of speech, and overall demeanor. For example, the meaning of a simple statement such as “Have a nice day,” can pivot 180 degrees with a change in the speaker’s tone. (Try it yourself: speak the sentence with sincerity, then with sarcasm.)
Although we can’t control the way these external inputs are delivered, we do have command over the way our brains process them. Understanding this concept is a fundamental step toward better conversations.
In very simplified terms, different areas of the brain contribute to the way information is processed. An area called the lower (or reptilian) bran sits on the front line of defense, constantly on guard for anything – a word, a tone, an action, that may indicate impending difficulty. It works in concert with mid-brain areas that store memories, control emotions, and manage our basic bodily functions. Only after this “security scan” is satisfactorily completed will our upper brain engage, opening opportunity for critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation. However, our innate need to protect and defend is so strong that we can – and do – sometimes misjudge and overreact to the words and actions of another.
Ensuring Conversational Success
Fortunately, there is a way to stop our defensive line before it goes too far. It involves awareness, and specific awareness of the way we as humans instinctively climb a “ladder of conclusions” as we receive information. As a participant in From Conflict to Connection - Advanced Communication Strategies you’ll learn more about the ladder of conclusions and understand how to find your way back down if your brain carries you to the top.
When in the role of speaker in a conversation, we usually know what we want to say, and how we expect it to be heard. Very few, if any people initiate a conversation hoping to make another person feel miserable, or to create deep and painful conflict. Despite the best intentions, every day across our planet innumerable conversations go awry. Understanding how to assess, and when necessary, realign the connection between your intention and the impact of a conversation is another skill that you’ll explore in this program.
If you’d like to get a jumpstart on creating better conversations, here are two tips that you can leverage right now. You’ll have the opportunity to go much deeper in these areas during the program.
1. Make a determined effort to really listen when you’re in a conversation. Focus on the speaker, concentrate on what he or she is saying, and let go of any desire to formulate a reply before he or she has stopped speaking. (Hint: This won’t be easy, but I promise that you’ll know exactly what to say when it is time to respond.) Listening intently, with the sole focus of understanding exactly what the speaker is saying is a way to convey respect for another human being.
2. When you hear a tonal shift, acknowledge it and reflect it to the speaker. For example: “I heard your voice get much louder when you said, ‘it was a real problem’, so I understand that this is very important.” Or “Your speech became much faster when you talked about the time you’re missing with your family. I hear the impact that’s having on you.” When we speak, we’re often unaware of our tonal changes – and sometime, we’re even unaware of the actual words we use.
Thank you for learning more about From Conflict to Connection - Advanced Communication Strategies. I know you’ll enjoy the learning and will benefit from understanding how you can foster connection in every conversational interaction. Please contact me at Lil@ibiscoaching.com if you'd like to explore how this program can be tailored for your organization.