4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 3 Curiosity

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 3 Curiosity

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The third of four steps to powerful conversations is Curiosity. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

 

Curiosity killed the Assumption

How annoying are those people who finish your sentences? What assumptions do they constantly make about what is going on inside your head? Lots!

 

And they do this for good reason.

 

Firstly, the human brain learns by making assumptions – it lumps together similar information from all its sensory inputs, makes a map through connections and stores it for later use. To save energy, when new information comes into the brain it searches the archives and if there is a similar map to what it is experiencing, it will ‘assume’ it is the same.

 

For example, we assume that people who drive a Mercedes are wealthy, because other people we know who drive Mercedes are wealthy (and the advertisements also suggest the same!).

 

This is very useful in that it saves us from relearning behaviours and knowledge every time we need to use them, but it is often inaccurate because in the absence of facts, we simply fill in the gaps that make sense for us.

 

Basically, assumptions are a necessary evil – a cognitive shortcut that can cause us to respond to situations in ways that are not useful.

 

Enter the third step in powerful conversations – curiosity. I love this concept and spend significant time on it in my Rewired Conversations program.

 

When you are engaged in a challenging, emotionally charged or coaching style conversation, and you have Validated and asked Permission to engage in further conversation, it’s then time to get Curious.

 

Curiosity helps conversation in a number of ways. It

 

  • gets people talking, and hence engages them
  • shows you are interested and builds trust
  • provides you with context and information that will help you respond and support in more useful ways
  • fills in the gaps and gets the facts

 

Curious questions that are powerful are the ones you ask that you don’t know the answer to, and preferably that they also have to think twice about.

 

Here are some examples of curious questions:

 

Tell me more…

How long has this been an issue for you?

Do you know what to do next?

How can I help you think this through?

What self-talk is going on inside your head?

What would happen if you did nothing?

 

Spend this week getting curious. Here’s a link to download even more Curious Questions. My Golden Rule is to ask 3 questions before you give advice or counter someone’s suggestions or decision, and be present to when you make assumptions.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

Rewired Conversations: Brain-Based Coaching & Conversation Skills Intensive

 

If you’re interested and committed to learning how to have truly Powerful Conversations, I am offering a 4-day Rewired Conversations intensive next May-June 2017 at a cost of $3,950 plus GST.

 

What’s included:

 

  • 4 day intensive workshop delivered by a highly experienced and qualified Professional Certified Coach (accredited under the International Coach Federation – ICF), and the program is accredited under the ICF
  • An online PRISM Brain Map ($399)
  • 10-week 10-module online My Brain Academy education program ($499)
  • Copies of Michelle Loch’s books – 52 Weeks of Awesome Leadership and Your Brain is Your Business ($70)

 

Package cost:  $3,950 plus GST  

 

 

Why this program?

 

You will be interested in this program if…

 

  • You want the people in your team – colleagues and direct reports – to do better thinking and have better conversations
  • You want things to start happening (increase performance, engagement or productivity) in your team or organisation
  • You are having the same conversations over and over again
  • You want to feel more in control in your conversations and meetings
  • You want to stop wasting time and energy and get into ‘useful’
  • You want to be more influential in impacting and developing your direct reports, and also in managing upward
  • You want to have conversations that work!

 

 

To register or find out more click HERE
4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 2 Permission

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 2 Permission

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Permission is the second of four steps to powerful conversations. (Read Part 1: Validation)

 

Always Seek Permission to Engage in Conversation

Every conversation is an emotional one. We are emotional beings, and can easily be triggered emotionally on a continuum from Fear to Excitement. When we refer to conversations that are not emotional, we are really describing conversations where emotion is effectively managed or we are in a slightly happy state.

 

In terms of thinking capability, and problem-solving capability, we are at our best when slightly above calm and acceptance, in the ‘slightly happy’ space.

 

There are many ways to support others to get into that slightly happy place of acceptance, and a powerful tool is the act of seeking permission.

 

Until I did my coach training back in 2006, I had not really had this concept brought to my attention. It’s likely that we all use it occasionally without realising because we are very polite beings, but using it deliberately takes conversations to a whole new level.

 

Asking permission in a conversation is respectful, it acknowledges the appropriate control that person has and should have within the conversation, it facilitates deeper thinking and reflection, and it is extremely effective in building trust.

 

Using permission protects you from inadvertently setting off ‘threat’ responses that we know can shut people down or limit their cognitive capability. It’s like getting the green light to proceed down a path of questioning or discussion, particularly if that path is personal or potentially challenging.

 

So how and when do you use permission. Well, firstly, more often than you think and this may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Secondly, you don’t need to use the word ‘permission’ because that gets a bit creepy. And finally, at the beginning and end of a conversation, and at each point there you are changing focus or wandering into uncharted territory.

 

Here are some examples of using permission that might make this easier for you to experiment with.

 

  • Are you OK to have this conversation now? Do you have time?
  • Is it OK if I ask you a few questions about what you just said?
  • We’re getting into personal stuff there, are you still OK to continue?
  • I can see this is emotional for you, do you need to take a minute, or are you OK to continue?
  • I’m thinking it might be of value to explore that concept, is that OK?
  • Is it OK if I reflect back what I am hearing you say?
  • Would you like to look at what options you now have?
  • Are you comfortable leaving the conversation here? Is there anything else?
  • Would it be OK if I add a different perspective?
  • May I challenge you on that to see if we can take your thinking a bit deeper?

 

Take some time this week to add permission and validation to your conversations. The more you try, the more comfortable it will feel.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

The Neuroscience of Leadership – UPDATE

 

Are you ABSOLUTELY up-to-date with the LATEST research and discoveries relating to Neuroleadership?

 

We have learned more about the human brain in the last 25 years than in all of history before, and this new science is changing the way we think about leadership.

 

Neuroleadership is a field of study that takes the latest discoveries from social cognitive neuroscience and applies them in conceptual, practical and useful ways to the way in which we self-lead and lead, influence, engage and motivate others.

 

In this Neuroscience of Leadership UPDATE session, Michelle Loch will unpack some of the recent findings from the Neuroleadership Summit held in New York in November 2016 and facilitate a discussion on how these findings can benefit leadership teams.

 

 

What’s included?

 

The workshop ($199+GST) includes:

  • 3-hour interesting and interactive workshop
  • Access to one of Australia’s leading experts in the neuroscience of leadership, human motivation, self-leadership and powerful conversation

 

 

Find out more and register HERE
4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 1 Validation

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 1 Validation

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This is the first installment of a 4-part series dealing with how to rewire your thinking to conduct more Powerful Conversations. Part 1 deals with the importance of Validation. Part 2 will be about Permission. Part 3 discusses Curiosity and Part 4 will be about Challenge. All four topics are essential components to having much more useful, effective conversations.

 

Validation Comes First in Powerful Conversation

My husband is a problem-solver, as are many of my friends and colleagues. Humans love to be problem-solvers because when we solve a problem for someone (or think we have) we get a reward in the brain (a hit of dopamine – often referred to as the pleasure hormone) which is terribly addictive.

 

Not only that, being able to dish out advice from our technical expertise or from our experience gives us a sense of importance (also vital to the healthy functioning of our brain) and feeds our sense of self-worth as we have been hardwired to believe that our value is defined by what we know and the formal positions we hold (titles and pay rates).

 

There are a number of issues with this, but the most notable being that I don’t feel heard, or more specifically, I don’t feel validated, and so my sense of self-worth is challenged.

 

Regardless of the great advice I’m given, or the useful questions I’m asked, until I feel heard and validated, my brain won’t move forward. And the problem with that is that the person on the other end of the conversation is reluctant to validate a perspective or emotion they feel is incorrect or needs to shift.

 

But validate you must, because all experience is truth. My truth will always be different to your truth, but it will always be my truth. It’s a bit like when your toddler brings home their amazing painting of beautiful mummy, and mummy is unrecognisable, and you comment – Wow, isn’t Mummy beautiful!

 

Being able to accept and validate the perspectives and emotions in conversations is a critical Step 1 to helping people think better and to develop great solutions to their challenges.

 

We can loosely categorise validation into three types: Subjective, Protective or Objective.

 

Subjective: “There is no need to feel upset about this.”

Not particularly useful as I AM feeling upset and I have good reason! Get ready for me to shut down and not engage with you any further.

 

Protective: “OMG, did they make you feel upset? That is SOOO BAD!”

Also not very useful, as it feeds my ‘upsetness’ and makes it OK to dwell there. Get ready for another 45 minutes of upset.

 

Objective: “I can see that you are upset.”

Extremely useful. Yes I am upset and I am grateful that you have noticed without making a big deal. I feel heard. (There is more to this around the value of labeling emotion, but that’s for another blog!)

 

Spend this week noticing if you validate others in your conversations, and if you do, which kind of validation do you favour. Notice also the usefulness of the response you get.

 

And remember, this also applies to your own self-talk.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

Rewired Conversations: Brain-Based Coaching & Conversation Skills Intensive

 

If you’re interested and committed to learning how to have truly Powerful Conversations, I am offering a 4-day Rewired Conversations intensive next May-June 2017 at a cost of $3,950 plus GST.

 

What’s included:

 

  • 4 day intensive workshop delivered by a highly experienced and qualified Professional Certified Coach (accredited under the International Coach Federation – ICF), and the program is accredited under the ICF
  • An online PRISM Brain Map ($399)
  • 10-week 10-module online My Brain Academy education program ($499)
  • Copies of Michelle Loch’s books – 52 Weeks of Awesome Leadership and Your Brain is Your Business ($70)

 

Package cost:  $3,950 plus GST  

 

 

Why this program?

 

You will be interested in this program if…

 

  • You want the people in your team – colleagues and direct reports – to do better thinking and have better conversations
  • You want things to start happening (increase performance, engagement or productivity) in your team or organisation
  • You are having the same conversations over and over again
  • You want to feel more in control in your conversations and meetings
  • You want to stop wasting time and energy and get into ‘useful’
  • You want to be more influential in impacting and developing your direct reports, and also in managing upward
  • You want to have conversations that work!

 

 

To register or find out more click HERE
Unlocking the Canturi — Why You Need to be Patient in Conversations to Get the Prize

Unlocking the Canturi — Why You Need to be Patient in Conversations to Get the Prize

Once a year, I attend a fund-raising event called Olivia’s Lunch – raising money for the very worthy Mater Little Miracles cause.

 

Beside the cost of the tickets, the main fundraiser is a silent auction and every year Stefano Canturi generously donates one of his signature pieces of jewellery worth many thousands of dollars. It is a coveted prize, and the only way to be in the running is to wager $50 and purchase one of 50 keys in the hope of choosing the key that will unlock the cabinet that holds the prize.

 

The anticipation is deliberately built by waiting until the end of the function. As we line up and get our opportunity to test our key, the sense of excitement and anticipation is high, and for that person who just happens to have the right key, the sense of reward is palpable.

 

If the prize isn’t won early on, as each person unsuccessfully attempts to open the lock, the sense of potential (and excitement) increases… you know it’s close, but nobody knows just which key will be the one.

 

Now, for most of us, $50 is not something we give away easily and your chances in this case are 50:1 – not great odds, but there is never a shortage of women lining up to purchase because the prize is worth the risk, and worth the wait.

 

I purchase a ticket every year and yes, part of that is justified by telling myself that ‘it’s for charity’, but I am willing to keep on trying in the hope that the next time we will hit the jackpot.

 

This is what it’s like when you are focused on coaching for true insight, when you understand the incredible reward when you have supported another person to have that insight. It takes time, and patience. It’s a process of building the anticipation and helping brain signals to find each other and connect in a way that resolves their dilemma or gives them a new level of understanding. It can be frustrating… you can feel it’s close but not sure which question, or series of questions will unlock the insight.

 

We know so much more now about the science of insight in the brain, and we can deliberately set up the conversation environment to heighten the chance of an insight through powerful questioning techniques. My clients often hear me say that… change happens one conversation at a time, not in one conversation… so allowing the time, and having the patience in a series of conversations will pay off. But powerful conversation is a skill that is increasingly becoming, in my opinion and experience, the cornerstone of self-leadership and team leadership development.

 

So my key message today is to be OK with the sometimes frustrating process of learning and insight, both for yourself and for those you support. Here are four tips to get better rewards (remember the Canturi!) for your conversational effort.

 

  1. Be patient – creating and strengthening new brain connections is not easy and takes time. For long term sustainable change, allow for that and enjoy observing the journey 
  2. More asking, less telling – not a new concept, but one that also is not easy – make this a focus this week (and next week, this blog will give you a 4 step process you can use) 
  3. Ask questions that you really don’t know the answer to – get really curious 
  4. Be open – it may not be this conversation where the gold lies, but that’s OK. Keep going and it will eventually come.

And no, I have never won the Canturi, but will be lining up again next year for my chance!

 

 

Have a great day.

 

Michelle

 

 

REWIRED Conversations

 

Feeling like your conversations go around and around? Struggling to delegate effectively? Finding it challenging to hold yourself and others accountable?

 

Maybe you need to REWIRE your Conversations by developing the confidence, courage and skill to have Conversations that Count!

 

Once a year Michelle takes her Rewired Conversations program to the public and her next program begins in May next year. We are filling up fast – we have 9 spaces left for the May 2017 program. If you are interested, click the button below for more information. Or if you’d like to chat to Michelle about bringing the program into your organisation, email us at michelle@michelleloch.com.

 

“Michelle exemplifies and models what she teaches, so I was completely immersed in the quality learning experience. Working with Michelle to deepen my knowledge, and refine my skills to a new level of self-awareness has ignited a more nuanced approach to leading others to new ways of thinking. I am so excited about the learning continuing as it enhances the work I do every day.”  

– Ms Deb Cox, Principal, Nundah State School

Click HERE for more information
The Problem with Authority

The Problem with Authority

In a 1966 experiment, 22 nurses were unwittingly part of an experiment to test obedience to figures of authority.  There were three ‘rules’ that the nurses knew they must obey when administering drugs to patients.

 

  1. They must not accept instructions over the phone.
  2. They must not exceed the limit stated on the box.
  3. The drug must be listed in the ward stock list.

The (not real) Dr Smith phones the nurse, introduces himself and asks the nurse to check for the drug Astroten – which was not on the ward stock list.  They are told to administer double the limit on the box, and Dr Smith advised that he was terribly busy and would sign the authorisation later when he would be in the ward.

 

Administering the drug would mean breaking all three rules.

 

21 out of 22 nurses were willing to do that citing that they were unwilling to question the ‘authority’ of the doctor.

 

In another experiment by Stanley Milgram, participants were willing to administer significant and increasing electrical shocks to ‘actors’ despite being distraught and stressed, simply because the man in the white coat told them to.

 

Whilst socially, we are probably a little more willing to challenge authority than in the 1960’s, this psychological phenomenon is still a significant part of our DNA and can inhibit quality conversation, quality decisions, and quality problem-solving.

 

Traditional perceptions of authority inhibit the truth.

 

One valid strategy to lessening this negative impact of traditional authority is a bottom-up approach: to focus on giving employees and team members the skills and confidence to have those conversations, but unless the figure of authority (in most cases, the team leader) gives continued and express permission for this to occur, it is unlikely that any employee or team member who is even slightly concerned about the possible negative consequences of challenging the leader (emotional reaction, impact on performance rating, embarrassment or humiliation, rejection…) will speak up or challenge or refuse to act.

 

This issue must also be tackled from top down. Leaders must understand that every word, tone, and behaviour has a significant and long-lasting effect on those who recognize their position of authority. The brain’s trigger response to fear is quick and significant – in fact 5 times the significance of a reward trigger. And protecting ourselves is still, with our relatively primitive brains, important enough for us to defy and bias our logical reasoning and decision-making in favour of a perceived protective behaviour.

 

In other words, we may be quite willing to lie, cheat and hurt others in order to protect our own physical or social safety.

 

Teaching leaders about the nuances of human motivation, and the workings of the human brain provides them with a new and useful filter with which to communicate and engage others. Leaders MUST begin to see their role in organisations to amplify the human awesomeness of others, rather than focusing on their own pursuit of awesomeness.

 

Here are three things to think about if you are in a position of authority.

 

  1. Aim to NEVER put another human being in the position of having to make the choice between personal safety and doing the right thing. You should be present and aware enough to know when this is happening. If people are lying to you our of fear, that is your fault. 

     

  2. Never stop working to build trusting, honest and open relationships with your team and colleagues. Get to know them. Be humble and do more asking and listening than talking. Learn to have powerful and useful conversations. 

     

  3. Give your team and colleagues permission to challenge you.  Statements like “I don’t have all the answers, I’m keen to hear your perspectives”, or “Please don’t be afraid to disagree with me – we need all the possibilities on the table”, or “Don’t try to make me like you, try to make me think!”  And this can’t just happen once.  Every meeting, every week – find a way to openly invite and appreciate honest and challenging feedback and ideas.

(detailed here:  http://www.simplypsychology.org/hofling-obedience.html)

 

 

Have a great day!

 

 

Michelle