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“Conversational Intelligence” and the enneagram


“Conversational Intelligence” and the enneagram

This second blog in the series provides an integrative look at the work of Judith E. Glaser based on her book, Conversational Intelligence. What might be of interest is that both Liz Wiseman and Judith E. Glaser seem to know or know of the Enneagram because when I met them at the Hudson Institute Learning Conference and was introduced to them via being about the Enneagram in business applications, Liz told me her type, whereas Judith gave an affirmative nod of recognition. We didn’t discuss it more because after she presented her material; I was so taken with the transparency and heart-felt sincerity of her work, we only talked about that. Judith was interviewed on stage by a Hudson coach (Six), and both were simply excellent. As a note, I have found well-developed Sixes to be among the best interviewers because they are full of curiosity, ask insightful questions, and really pace well with their interviewees.

About “Conversational Intelligence”
The subtitle of the book is this: How Great Leaders BUILD TRUST and get Extraordinary Results. The capital letters are Judith’s, not mine! The reason I mention this is that this suggests what her enneatype may be, although I didn’t ask her, but more on that later in the blog.

Judith has a 5-step process for “Conversational Intelligence,” described below (and I am quoting or paraphrasing Judith from one of her session handouts):

Step 1 | building rapport
Rapport is the ability to make the individual feel that you understand their point of view, transcending your map of the world and entering theirs.
Enneagram link | The Enneagram is more than simply 9 character types; it is a map of many things. One is that the Enneagram maps the worldview of each of the 9 types – the 9 worldviews, the 9 motivations, and the 9 patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Knowing our own enneatype, minimally, helps us understand that the person with whom we are having a conversation is likely not our same type and, therefore, has a different worldview. And if they are the same type as ours, they may share the same map but may also exhibit differences in the way they navigate the territory.

Step 2 | listening to connect
Listening to connect means not judging or rejecting, not jumping to conclusions or interpretations, and to also stop ourselves, consciously setting aside this tendency and fully paying attention. In other words, being present and not letting your “self” or ego-structure get in the way to being available to what the other person is really saying.
Enneagram link | The Enneagram helps us, if we pay attention, to what our assumptive type-based biases and then either to put them aside or move beyond them to be able to listen more fully to others. In addition, there are several ways people of each type tend to not listen fully and, if they know this, they can easily work on being a better listener.

Here are some examples: When listening, Ones react quickly with their own opinions; Twos listen but want to give advice too readily; Threes become impatient with listening when they have work to do or they think the other person is taking too long or when the conversation gets emotional beyond their own comfort level; Fours listen if they think the topic is deep enough (and don’t listen as well when they don’t feel connected to the other person) and in either case, can go off into their own interior worlds; Fives listen but not if the person sits or stands too close or if there is much emotional content that demands their engagement; Sixes listen but then project their own thoughts and feelings onto others; Sevens think they are listening when they get the gist of what the other is saying, but may come in with their own ideas quickly; Eights listen to some people but not others, particularly people who feel needy or clingy; and Nines sort of listen, nodding their heads in agreement but are they fully processing what the other has said?
Related blog on presence: click here.
Related blog on listening: click here.

Step 3 | asking discovery questions
Asking discovery questions opens our minds to the power of curiosity, as well as the possibility of changing our views as we listen and learn. Ask for understanding and in an open and receptive state of mind.
Enneagram link | There are so many Enneagram linkages possible – for example, how each type can be more receptive and how they can cultivate openness. Even more would be for people of each type to consider how often they truly ask questions versus offer opinions (referred to as advocacy versus inquiry). And if you are a person who does ask many more questions than offer statements, consider what kinds of questions you ask and what kinds of questions you don’t ask. Even more, ask yourself in an honest way, are your questions out of true curiosity or is there some other motivation for your questioning.

Here are some examples: Ones may ask questions but these come more from a perspective of wanting to get to the answer right than out of exploratory curiosity; Twos ask many questions, but the underlying reason is to establish a personal relationship with the other person, not necessarily an open curiosity; Threes do ask questions unless they think they already know it, but do they?; Fours may not be so curious if they don’t find the other person deep and resonant; Fives are curious but don’t want to engage in anything that feels like a prolonged interaction so they stop asking questions to shorten the engagement; Sixes are innately curious and do ask many questions but this is often fear-driven more than curiosity driven; Sevens ask questions and are curious, but their attention span for a single topic is generally quite short; Eights are not so much driven from curiosity through questioning, thinking their gut knows when some deeper questioning might add additional value; Nines ask questions and are curious by nature, but they may ask questions in a way that is so even-handed that they don’t provoke or elicit as much information from the other person as they could.
Related blog on receptivity: click here.
Related blog on possibilities and openness: click here.

Step 4 | celebrating success
Celebrating success refers to identifying a shared understanding of what success would look like from both your and the other person’s perspective, then a commitment to honoring and celebrating when this has been achieved. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate one another.
Enneagram link | The emphasis here is on two-way, explicit communication, and this would be mental (ideas), emotional (felt experience, values), and physical (what would happen, what you and others would be doing). Consequently, the Head Center styles (5, 6, and 7) need to make sure they communicate and are receptive to more than ideas, but also to emotional success factors and action; similarly, the Heart Center styles (2, 3, and 4), need to emphasize and place values on ideas and action as much as relational elements; and finally, the Body Center styles (8, 9 and 1) need to be open to and be explicit about more than action only, incorporating feelings and new ideas.

Step 5 | dramatizing the message
If you are not being understood – and this goes for any of the prior stages – frustration doesn’t help, it impedes “Intelligence Conversation.” Try different ways to communicate, through metaphor, story, picture, whatever. But also make sure that you are fully understanding the other person! You are likely to get back what you give.
Enneagram link | Who among us doesn’t get frustrated? Who likes not being understood? That is merely human. The Enneagram can also assist us here. What gets triggered in you when you are not understood and how do you react? Here are some Enneagram-related thoughts on this:
Ones, when frustrated, get reactive and may close down or may become more asserting, but neither behavior helps. Examine your need to be right (or not wrong) and to be in control (or not out of control). When you do, you will share in a different way.
Twos, when frustrated, tend to shut down, feel sad, and get angry but they rarely express their feelings. Examine your feelings of hurt or anger rather than to repress them. Your feelings do count, but it is most important you know what you are experiencing. You don’t necessarily need to express them; what is important is that you know! Then you can engage the conversation in a more fully present way. From this place more clarity will arise about what you want to say.
Threes, when frustrated, get active in work or some task or get angry internally, but are likely not to express this. Examine how you relate to frustration; many Threes are not used to it or just push through obstacles. This, however, doesn’t work in a respectful, reciprocal conversation. Ask more open questions to first understand; then you may be more understood and understanding.
Fours, when frustrated, churn inside because not being understood is a very, very hot button for them. But don’t get competitive, don’t withdraw and don’t express your frustration in direct anger or indirect sadness. Examine your deep-felt need to be understood and how not feeling understood so easily impacts your internal equilibrium. Find your balance and re-engage.
Fives, when frustrated, go silent and go it alone even more than what is normal for them. Sometimes they get mad. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t help you reimagine the message you want to communicate. Examine what you feel, move forward toward more contact with the other person, and your mind will know what to do!
Sixes, when frustrated, get more frustrated with being frustrated. This doesn’t help, of course, but it is hard to control. Examine your on-alert, hyper-quick reactions and make sure to push the pause button before you fret or take action. Then re-engage the person and reengage the interpersonal contact.
Sevens, when frustrated, dislike this feeling so much they avoid and use multiple clever ways to do so. Of all the types, their frustration tolerance is usually the lowest. But instead of moving so quickly from frustration to stimulation or pleasure, examine what causes you to be so frustration intolerant. Once you do, stick with the frustration a bit longer, experience what happens! Take the retelling of your story as a challenge and opportunity, but also remember to listen, listen, and listen.
Eights, when frustrated, turn into bigger bears than they might already be. Bears can be cuddly and quite impressive, but also big and blustery. The frustrated Eight likes frustration only slightly better (which is not saying much) than the neighboring Seven. When frustrated, Eights typically take immediate big action or sit back and quickly strategize and then take action. Examine your need to remove all obstacles and take big action. What lies underneath? Develop collaborative stories with the person with whom you are in contact, rather than big one-sided stories!
Nines, when frustrated, often are unaware they are frustrated. More often they experience stress or physical shutting down. Examine what meaning you make of not being understood. Likely, this goes to your feeling of not really mattering to the other person. Make yourself matter to you first and share your story in a different way.

About Judith and the enneagram
Although Judith did not share her type with me, nor did I ask her, my friend Beverly Kaye, with whom I attended the Hudson Conference, has an increasing curiosity about the Enneagram, so she was asking me about the types of each presenter. Bev knows I don’t know, but it was a running commentary in which I was telling her what I was observing and what this suggested about the person’s possible type.

With Judith, who transparently share shared her personal biography in public, there was a lot of information about her youth: highly rebellious, challenging those in authority, and big, big issues with trust. The subtitle of her book: “How Great Leaders BUILD TRUST….”

In her book, the second and third chapters are devoted to trust: “When We Lose Trust, We Lose Our Voice” (chapter 2) and “Moving from Distrust to Trust” (chapter 3). Throughout the rest of the book, trust is woven throughout, including steps for building trust and a section on “Overcoming the Fear Factor in Teams.”

My initial answer to Bev, just hearing Judith’s bio, was that she was likely one of the Mental Center types (5, 6, or 7), but because I had met her prior to her speech, her level of contact and engagement with me suggested she does not keep much interpersonal distance (so not likely a 5). I hypothetically landed on the possibility of 6 more than 7, and likely a counterphobic 6 at that. A 1-1 Four is also a possibility, but not as likely. She’s delightful, so I will have to ask her!

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: The Enneagram in Business.com.ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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