I recently watched a video on conscious parenting and how we all fall into the traps of repeating the parenting styles of our parents subconsciously. As a parent, I have caught myself saying things my mother used to say to me, and then cringing and thinking “where did that just come from?”. Even though I knew how unproductive some of the behaviours and words were, I still said them.
And as a team player, leader and peer, we fall into the same subconscious behaviour. We become conditioned to use certain words, or the latest jargon or behave in a way we never would in our “normal” lives. We subconsciously become that Manager we never thought we would be.
As Judith E Glaser explains in her book Conversational Intelligence, words and phrases have the ability to shut down or open trust. Words can indeed change worlds, and some common phrases immediately trigger our amygdala and cause instant stress and shut our brains down. These are the words or phrases that seem to come out of our mouths subconsciously. Do you recognize any of these?
- I’ll let you know if I need you
- I’ll share it with you when the time is right
- Whose fault is this?
- You just don’t get it, do you?
- Right this is what needs to be done.
Any of the phrases above will trigger your brain to literally shut down. You will probably start having an inner dialogue with yourself along the lines of “Why doesn’t he want me to help”, “Why can’t they share it with me know, what don’t I know? Am I not important enough?”, “Don’t get what? Do they think I am stupid? Perhaps I am stupid?”. “Why aren’t they telling me? Why don’t they ask me? Obviously, my opinion doesn’t matter”. And when you are triggered you start thinking safety and shut down.
Conscious conversations look and feel very different. By consciously changing your words to open trust in the brain, you literally can change the lives and experiences of the people around you, and open up creativity, collaboration and problem solving. Conscious conversations down regulate cortisol and up regulate oxytocin, which results in opening up the prefrontal cortex – where the strategic thinking, planning and problem solving happen. Try these phrases instead.
- I’ll let you know if I need you > How would you handle this?
- I’ll share it with you when the time is right > What would you like to know more about?
- Whose fault is this? > How can we fix/improve this?
- You just don’t get it, do you? > If you had the answer, how would you approach it? What are your thoughts on this?
- Right this is what needs to be done. > I’d love to hear your ideas.
Moving from “I” to “WE” centric conversations shifts the energy from tell, stress, blame and protect to include, expand, share, discover and develop. Your people will be more likely to pitch in, buy in and take accountability when they feel part of something. When they feel like “WE”.
Maybe you could create an open and shut phrase list with your teams and then consciously move to opening words and notice the results.