Improve Communication Skills to Unlock Deeper Connections: 7 Essential Conversational Intelligence Tips

B005 - Unlock Deeper Connections: 7 Essential Conversational Intelligence Tips to Improve Communication Skills

Improve your Communication Skills by learning to talk with people, not at them.

Hit a Wall?

Many ambitious and talented leaders plateau or regress once they've "reached the top" of the ladder, ship (a metaphor for a project or initiative), or organisational structure they've been navigating. This regression often concerns how they communicate, especially in high-stakes conversations. In these situations, leaders may find it challenging to connect with others, usually resorting to talking to people instead of with them. This can limit their ability to lead effectively, leading to misunderstandings or conflicts.

Improve Communication Skills using Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ)

The key to overcoming these barriers is tapping into Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ), a framework for understanding how different conversations impact the brain and shape our communication. C-IQ is not just about what we say but how we say it and its impact on others. It's a concept developed by Judith E. Glaser, which focuses on the quality of conversations and how they can be used to build trust, foster innovation, and drive success in personal and professional relationships. Research shows that engaging conversations activate the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with trust, good judgment, and creativity. Leaders can break communication barriers by co-creating conversations to establish stronger bonds and achieve innovative results.

Master conversational intelligence with 7 key tips for leaders. Improve communication skills to build trust, establish camaraderie, and form meaningful connections.

New Oceans to Explore

Even the most accomplished leaders have the potential to grow their communication skills further. Embarking on a journey to uncharted waters means embracing co-creation and mutual success through more inclusive dialogue. The word 'aspire' originates from the Latin meaning 'to breathe,' which underscores that new ideas and ambitions are invigorating when they flow freely. This journey of self-improvement can be a source of inspiration and motivation for ambitious and talented leaders.

Practical Tips to Improve Communication Skills

1. When You Meet Someone New

    • Say: "I'm so glad I met you!" or "You look familiar!"
    • Why: Our brains are naturally attuned to social interaction, and a friendly greeting promotes inclusion while minimising defensive behaviours, quickly establishing camaraderie and connection.

2. When You Brainstorm with a Diverse Group

    • Say: "Thank you" or "That's a great point."
    • Why: Expressing gratitude is a powerful tool that builds trust and smooths collaboration. It reshapes neural networks, activates broader thinking, and enhances creativity within the group. By showing appreciation, leaders foster a positive environment and make their team members feel valued and appreciated for their contributions.

3. When You Want to Persuade Someone

    • Say: Nothing at first. Listen actively and empathetically.
    • Why: Empathy, a key component of Conversational Intelligence, activates the mirror neuron network, creating mutual understanding and trust. Listening before responding increases oxytocin production (a hormone associated with social bonding and trust), which deepens connections and encourages open sharing. By practising empathy, leaders can increase the sense of connection and understanding in their conversations, making communication more effective and impactful.

4. When You Need to Solve a Difficult Problem

    • Say: "Tell me your thoughts," and then listen deeply.
    • Why: Creating a safe space for transparency and differing viewpoints is crucial. It encourages innovation and reduces groupthink. Allowing others to share without fear, supporting them in their uncertainties, not only fosters a culture of respect but also makes everyone feel secure and respected, thereby enhancing the quality of discussions and decisions.

5. When You Face Conflict

    • Say: "Help me understand your perspective."
    • Why: Inviting others to share their views during disagreements reduces defensiveness. This approach helps build mutual respect and uncover the underlying needs driving the conflict.

6. When You Give Feedback

    • Say: "I value your contributions, and here's something we could improve together."
    • Why: Delivering feedback in a positive, collaborative manner is a powerful tool for growth and improvement. It helps maintain self-esteem while encouraging growth and promoting a shared commitment to progress. By valuing and appreciating the contributions of others, leaders can create an environment that fosters growth and improvement, making their teams feel valued and appreciated.

7. When You Lead Change

    • Say: "Let's explore together how this change benefits us."
    • Why: During change, people often resist due to fear or uncertainty. Involving them in a collaborative exploration helps them feel valued and involved in the transition.

In Summary

Learning to Improve Communication Skills through Conversational Intelligence is a lifelong skill that requires constant refinement. It's not about being the smartest person in the room but being the most receptive. However, implementing these tips is not as daunting as it may seem. For example, remaining calm and open-minded when faced with conflict can be challenging, but with practice, it becomes easier.

Engaging in conversations that uplift everyone involved can help you harness the power of dialogue, build trust, and achieve mutual success. Mastering these skills can enhance your leadership journey. So, why not start practising these tips in your daily interactions and see the difference it makes?

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Discover how to improve communication skills. As part of our leadership coaching programmes, we conduct a C-IQ Catalyst assessment, which helps you understand your conversational patterns and what you might need to upregulate or downregulate.

Learn more about C-IQ

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