I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes after honoring all those who died of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and early 1990s on World AIDS Day this past Saturday.
I’m also feeling emotional about losing Judith Glaser, Ph.D. on Saturday to pancreatic cancer. What a force of nature she was! Her legacy, however, can benefit all of us starting today.
The best way to honor all those who have gone before us; our parents and grandparents in many cases, some siblings, our friends, and other family members and our work colleagues is to honor their legacies by living fully and authentically every day. We must demonstrate to the world how we have been impacted.
What did you learn from your grandparents? What values did your parents convey simply by how they lived their lives?
I’ve only lost a few work colleagues so far but their impact was immeasurable. Judith Glaser had to die for me to have a significant realization for myself.
All of my work in my earlier books, Alignment for Success: Bringing Out the Best in Yourself, Your Teams and Your Company
and the Respond, Not React Playbook
are just the tip of the iceberg. This work is a critical tip; I don’t mean to demean my life’s work over the past 40-years in any way. However, once we get out of reactive mode, once we have a strong personal foundation with reserves of money, reserves of time and solid self-care, we need to embrace Judith’s work.
To summarize, she proposes we currently have three levels of conversations.
Most often, we operate all day with Level 1 Conversations. Judith calls these transactional conversations. We are constantly either asking or telling others. In the workplace, this is demonstrated all day every day while leaders “tell” their subordinates what is needed, by when (hopefully they put deadlines in place) and often spell out exactly the steps needed instead of trusting their subordinates to create new approaches and new models. The fear of failure is too great in so many people to allow for much experimentation or innovation.
Judith posits that sometimes we move from telling and asking into Level 2 conversations. These are the conversations that are positional. I have a perspective or a point of view and I’m going to influence you to my way of thinking. Leaders who grandstand, dominate the conversation and never ask any questions to clarify or confirm a shared understanding demonstrate this in the workplace.
The aspirational kinds of conversations Judith wants for all of us are what she calls transformational conversations or Level 3 conversations.
These are where groups of people – often among intact teams. These conversations should occur at the Board of Directors’ level, the executive level, the management team level, and certainly at all levels of operations. These transformational conversations are demonstrated by asking questions. I’ve always believed that the person asking the questions is the person who is demonstrating leadership in any discussion. By asking questions we can get to whole new models, approaches and solutions.
This does require us to get out of maniac mode. We cannot prepare ourselves for important discussions if we are racing around with our hair on fire from one meeting to another.
We cannot be present enough to dance inside of a transformational conversation if we are frazzled, frenetic or simply unprepared. These conversations will simply not happen.
Not only do we need time to think strategically so we can act strategically by preparing these thoughtful questions, we need to move away from our screens. We cannot engage in Level 3 conversations while checking every text message or beep on our phone. It’s just not possible.
If you are in a start-up mode and are pitching to Investors, instead of asking and telling, you might consider preparing for a transformational conversation instead.
If you are in a leadership or management role, you might inquire of your colleagues how projects can be developed faster, better and smarter, instead of assuming the standard approach is the best approach. Plus, as most humans in any kind of leadership role; from Board Chair down to front-line supervisor of entry-level folks, we are all at risk for thinking – on occasion – that our people are idiots. By asking questions in a thoughtful, grounded way, we can easily see that they are not, in fact, idiots.
If you are in a sales role, you might want to factor into your sales discussions with prospective customers some questions to gain clarity about their current solutions. Ask, “on a scale of 1-10, how close are you to creating a whole new model for delivering your product to your customer?”
Thank you, Judith Glaser, Ph.D. for giving us such a powerful body of work in Conversational Intelligence and being a role model for all of us in creating whole new approaches, methods, and solutions to solve the world’s problems.