Archive for the ‘Conversational Dynamics’ Category

What is the importance of trust when building a high performing team?

20 Dec

Trust is the corporate lubricant of success. Trust is the foundation of any relationship and every high performing team or organization. If there is no trust, the rest is much harder to accomplish. Yet, at the same time trust often feels as something that is not tangible and it is nothing you can do something with.

There are two lenses to approach trust. First there is trust as an assessment. It implies that you start with little or no trust, and you assess based on the other’s performance or behavior if they are worthy of your trust. When we look at trust as an assessment, you assess the other’s performance and behavior at four levels:


  • Are they competent to fulfill their promise? Are they knowledgeable and do they have the skills, can they assess their capacity and not overload themselves, and can they assess duration by accurately timing how long it will take? These are all questions that you can check to see if the other person is competetent.



  • Have they been reliable in fulfilling their promises in the past?



  • Do they make sincere promises?



  • Are we aligned in our ethics and values?


This view will allow you to always trace back where a particular breakdown happens and point out to the other person why you don’t trust their actions in a certain area. However, if you only build trust via assessment, it will always make you wonder, and the moment one of you breaks one promise you often have to start building up trust again from square one. This by itself is no way to build up a high performing team.

That is why if you are interested in building a high performing team, you have to build authentic trust, the second lens to look at trust. For example, just look at a relation you have with a significant other. You don’t constantly look at that person to rebuild trust every time they miss fulfilling a promise. And yes, we all break promises, even you. Why do these instances not break trust with the significant other? Because you know that this person has your best interest at heart, and you trust that they did everything possible to make it happen. In other words you have authentic trust with that person.

This is trust that you give, and you can build it in every relation. This happens in your ability to have authentic conversations, which will allow you to rebuild and recalibrate trust when a promise is broken. In an authentic conversation you create a shared understanding about the concerns and commitments you are pursuing and how current behaviors and broken promises are preventing you from achieving your shared commitment. The basic premise is that trust ultimately lives in our spoken and unspoken conversations. Our ability to break through the unspoken conversations, will allow you to build authentic trust.

There are several blogs on this site that will show you how you can build trust through conversations. The key point is that trust is a major driver for a high performing organization, and it is something that you can create, nurture and maintain.



10 Principles to Optimize Your Business Results: Principle #8 – Relationship and Trust as Critical Success Factors

09 Dec

“Trust me.” Do those sound like famous last words to you? Do you mentally put up a barrier to that total stranger who wants to sell you a used car or look after your toddler? Have you ever trusted someone and then wished you hadn’t?

We’ve all had experiences that make us think twice about whom to trust and what level of trust those people should receive. When we feel we cannot trust others in a given situation or environment, we hold back. We apply conditions to our interactions. We refuse to commit. That attitude may make us feel safe — but in the workplace, it renders us incapable of action.

Remember, businesses consist of departments. Departments consist of teams. Teams consist of individuals. These individuals must feel that they can interact with each other fully before they will commit to the big decisions, the true innovations — the breakthroughs that take your company to the next step in its evolution.

When we work in a trust-based corporate atmosphere, we feel empowered. We can then free ourselves to engage fully in projects with other team members and departments. We become unafraid to speak up, move forward and innovate. Organizations that foster mutual trust and employee input can take on bigger challenges go for bigger goals and enjoy better communication. Remember the conversation dynamics we examined in Principle #6? Open, authentic conversations can only take place when people trust in their colleagues and employers. If you nurture those conversations in a trust-based workplace, you’ll have the teamwork you need to build your success. Trust me!


10 Principles to Optimize Your Business Results: Principle #6 – Conversational Dynamics

07 Dec

Ever had a conversation with someone that just wasn’t going anywhere? You’re trying to get to the heart of an issue and resolve it, and the other party is replying but not actually responding? It happens all the time — and we’re going to examine why here in Principle #6.

Conversations come in two main “flavors” — reactive and collaborative. Reactive conversations undermine communication between individuals or teams, while collaborative conversations enhance it. Reactive conversations build walls, while collaborative conversations build bridges.

Each of these main categories contains a pair of sub-categories that characterize it. Reactive conversations tend to be inauthentic and closed. “Inauthentic” means that the speakers refuse to talk about how they really feel, while “closed” means they don’t want to hear how others really feel. So it’ll come as no surprise to you that collaborative conversations tend to be the opposite — authentic and open. “Authentic” means that both parties are willing to honestly discuss their issues, and “open” means that they engage their ears to hear the other’s issues without getting defensive or upset and shutting down communications.

Obviously, collaborative conversations achieve far more than reactive ones in a business environment (and anywhere else, for that matter). But how do you go about creating them? We’re only human, and humans get defensive. We get upset. We stop listening. We insist on our point of view. How can we transcend ourselves?

For starters, you have to learn and practice the speaking and listening skills of authentic conversations to resolve issues.

Then you have to keep in mind the success principles we’ve already discussed. Keeping the big picture in mind, for instance, reminds us of our common goal — implementing the company’s strategy. That means teamwork, and teamwork only comes about when we listen to each other. Remember, conversations are the glue that holds your business systems together. Go for the strongest glue you can get!


Authentic Conversations – Interpretations

20 Nov

When you are engaged in an Authentic Conversation it is critical that you understand the difference between assertions (facts) and assessments (interpretations).  Where facts are true or false, interpretations are valid or invalid depending on the authority given to the interpretation.  In other words, when I act on an interpretation as if it is valid, then, by my actions, I am giving that interpretation authority.  That interpretation is shaping my actions and my world.  So, it is dangerous to act on interpretations that are not well grounded.  A grounded interpretation means that you have a factual basis for making that interpretation.   Interpretations can only be grounded with facts, not other interpretations.

Distinguishing between facts and interpretations, and between grounded and ungrounded interpretations are critical leadership and management skills.



Authentic Conversations – Facts

18 Nov

The next step in the authentic conversation after declaring your concern and commitment is to state the assertions (facts) supporting your concern.  Assertions, from a speech act perspective, are either true or false.  They are supported by evidence or agreed to rules of logic.    I use this simple formula to determine whether the statement is a fact or not.  If it can be video recorded, tape recorded or instrumented, it is a fact.  If not, it is not a fact.  It is usually an assessment (interpretation) or another type of speech act.   Developing an ear for what statements are facts versus interpretation is a critical skill of leadership and management.

Facts are always about the past.  There can be no facts about the future.  You cannot predict the future with certainty.


Do you have or see meetings after the real meeting?

08 Nov

We live in language similar to how fish live in water. It is transparent to us. If we want to improve our conversations in a fashion as we discuss here on the Executive Perspective blog, you also need to understand the type of conversations that you are currently having within your team and organization.

  • Have you ever been part of an organization laced with politics?
  • Do you recognize the person who is not there to help the team agenda but is trying to push their own agenda?
  • Do you ever feel that you are not receiving the information you need to be successful at your position?
  • Do you participate in meetings where you or someone else is not saying everything, but are calling a smaller meeting after the meeting?

One common denominator in all these organizations is what we call ‘Inauthentic Conversations.’ In this conversation, you as the speaker are communicating certain things, but more importantly you are withholding other information that you should be sharing with the listener. The listener now cannot interact to that what you are not saying, has to make their own interpretation, and typically will withhold information themselves in their response.

These withheld conversations unexamined will not allow you to break through the cycle of politics, dysfunctionality or those meetings after the meeting. These withheld conversation represent an automatic and immediate break in trust. This will always impact employee performance, and hence organizational performance as illustrated in this recent study from Watson Wyatt.

What do you think the impact is of stopping the withheld conversations at your organizations?


Using Authentic Speaking & Listening to Resolve Issues

07 Nov

Combining the Authentic Speaking Map with the Authentic Listening Map provides a powerful issue resolution process.

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