Three Ways Our Communication Triggers Emotions, Good or Bad

by Judith E. Glaser

Conversations are the source of energy that transcends doldrums, the power that launches transformational products, and the golden threads that create trust.workplace communication skills

Conversations are the way we connect, engage, navigate, and transform the world with others. Awareness of the behaviors that open us up and those that close us down, and their influence in our relationships, allows us to better harness the chemistry of conversations.

The quality of our culture depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations. The most powerful “leadershift” anyone can make is to realize that each person has the power to “create the conversational space that creates deeper understanding and engagement rather than fear and avoidance.”

When managers and leaders understand the chemical impacts of their behavior, they tend to make changes—for example, they learn to deliver difficult feedback inclusively and supportively, thereby limiting cortisol production (resulting in fear and avoidance) and stimulating oxytocin (trust, engagement, creativity) instead.

Remember these three chemistry lessons for better workplace communication:

1. Be mindful of your conversations and the emotional content you bring—pain, which closes the brain, or pleasure which opens it. Are you sending friend or foe messages? Are you sending the message “You can trust me to have your best interest at heart” or “I want to persuade you to think about things my way?” When you’re aware of these meta-messages, you can create a safe culture that allows everyone to interact collaboratively, sharing perspectives, feelings, and aspirations and elevating insights and wisdom.

2. Conversations trigger emotional reactions. Conversations carry meaning—and meaning is embedded in the listener even more than in the speaker. Words cause us either to bond and trust more fully, thinking of others as friends and colleagues, or to break rapport and see others as enemies. Your mind will open as you see the connection between language and health, and you’ll learn how to create healthy organizations through your conversational rituals.

3. Note that the words we use in our conversations are rarely neutral. Words have histories informed by years of use. Each time a new experience overlays another meaning on a word, the information collects in our brains to be activated during conversations. Knowing how you project meaning into your conversations will enable you to connect with others and, in so doing, let go of much of the self-talk that diverts from effective co-working.

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Judith E. GlaserJudith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., Chairman of The Creating WE Institute, an Organizational Anthropologist, consultant to Fortune 500 Companies, and author of four best selling business books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion). Call 212-307-4386, visit;

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Is Your Communication Style Draining Your Team’s Energy?

By Judith E. Glaser

We are all familiar with the “chemistry” factor in relationships and the chemical attraction metaphor; now we are learning that such insights are more than metaphor— they are reality!Woman.Generations.Races.franky242

Positive comments and conversations provide a temporary chemical “high,” while negative ones languish longer. A critique from a boss, a disagreement with a colleague, or a fight with a friend can make you forget praise. If you are called lazy, careless or unprofessional, you are likely to remember it and internalize it, easily forgetting all the past compliments.

Chemistry plays a big role in this reaction. When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive, perceiving greater negativity than exists. These effects can last for days, imprinting the interaction on our memories and influencing our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained release tablet—the more we ruminate about fear, the longer the impact.

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Stop the High Millennial Turnover with Career Development

Did you know that Millennials prefer career development to a cash bonus by 3 to 1? According to a PwC study, Millennials want to learn and develop their skills. If they don’t get this kind of training, they’ll leave for a company that will provide it.

We can help.  We provide short video tutorials that can fuel a blended learning program or be used on their own. Click on the graphic below and register (top right hand corner) to watch any of our short video programs on positive attitude, leadership skills and more.  It’s free! Watch now.

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Good Leaders Find Clarity Without the Data

The internet has automated many tasks to make our lives easier. Scheduling, communication, now “Robo-investing” where computing helps to automatically re-balance our financial portfolios to hit our financial targets.  But, one thing that can’t be automated is good decision-making.

This video of Inkling founder and CEO Matt MacInnis explains how he had to make the hard decision to re-direct his company after five years of slogging it out in the e-textbook world.

What’s so great about this video is that it illuminates good decision-making in the face of no hard evidence or data, facing change, letting go of attachments and being right. It’s just a great example of leadership.

(We apologize ahead of time for the long ad at the beginning, especially for such a short video. Can’t wait until a smart entrepreneur can disrupt that in the future.)

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Are You Green-lighting or Stopping an Important Work Relationship?

by Judith E. Glaser

The consequences of your interactions are filed daily in your memory bank, either as “feel good” or “feel bad” experiences. Memories with strong emotions linger, since the brain more easily files and calls up memories attached with strong sensory data. Smells, tastes, and emotions attached to a memory give it distinctions that enable you to call it up more easily. With little provocation, we can instantly call up a bad experience.

Haven’t you ever had a bad experience with a boss? If you’re really upset, you’ll talk about it forever. Emotional trauma or experiences that threaten our ego, well-being and self-esteem, or just push our hot buttons, tend to linger and create toxic effects that, over time, become the stories everyone wants to tell.

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Ouch! Why Those Precious Few Engaged Workers Leave

​The latest Gallup poll ​ (October 2013)​ on the State of the Global workplace show​s only 13%TiredBusinessFolks.Ambro of the ​worldwide ​workforce is engaged.​ (The U.S. and Canada has the highest number of engaged workers: 29%.)​  ​

​” The bulk of employees worldwide — 63% — are “not engaged,” meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are “actively disengaged,” indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers. ” Gallup

Gallup says this dis-engagement has slowed economic growth worldwide and contributed to social unrest. If that’s not a clarion call for organizations to get to the root of employee dis-engagement, what is?  And, Daniel Pink, author of  ​Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ​, says it’s not about the external stuff: money and promotions. It’s about our need to  learn, create, achieve mastery and make a difference.

​We can’t do that without respect for who we are and the talents we bring to the workplace.​

If you don’t want to lose your best and brightest, here are a couple of video trainings that are beautifully produced and will sensitize your workforce to the everyday slights that chip away at self-esteem and respect:

  • Anyone Can be an Ally:  Used by AT&T, Merck, Citigroup, Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, the NSA, and many other corporations, government agencies, and hundreds of colleges and universities.
  • Ouch! Your Silence Hurts: Speak up to make a difference when colleagues are disrespected.  Wouldn’t you want someone to speak up for you?

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Is the Fear of Conflict Shutting Down Your Ability to Communicate?

By Judith E. Glaser

Confrontation is something we tend to avoid. It’s our least developed skill; the ability to confront each other face to face, say what is in our hearts and minds, and at the same time build and strengthen our relationships.


What Many of Us Think Conflict Looks Like

Having difficult conversations scares most people into thinking they will lose a friendship, and so they avoid the truth. When we feel frustrated or angry at someone who we feel has undermined us, we get so upset we just can’t find the words to express ourselves. We end up pushing, not pulling, expressing our worst behaviors, or we may hold it all inside until we boil up and explode.

We now know from Conversational Intelligence research we’ve conducted for the past 5 years, that conflict or even “fear of conflict” causes our brains to produce higher levels of cortisol (the fear hormone) and cortisol is like a red-light to our brains; it closes down the part of our brain where language resides (the prefrontal cortex) and we lose our ability to express ourselves clearly or accurately.  Continue reading

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Build Your Own Video Training Library

It really is that easy. We’ve just added hundreds of new training videos and short video case-studies for trainers and educators to use to teach leadership skills, change management, HR skills, harassment  and more. Do you want to stream a video on your Learning Management System (LMS)? Do you need a video for your next PowerPoint presentation? Need a video file?

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Here are a couple of examples of newly added videos:

*Ben & Jerry, Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor in Business.  A case-study on innovation with the creators of that wonderful chunky ice-cream. They made their business fit their values of community involvement, empowering employees and protecting the environment.

* Do It Right! with Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame football coach. This best-selling program is the perfect vehicle to instill the spirit of teamwork, commitment to excellence, loyalty to the organization, and personal dedication to success.

*The Uh-Oh Syndrome: from Intolerance to Inclusion Dr. Steve Robbins explains that while certain cultural and neurobiological forces compel us to be closed-minded towards anything new or different, we have it in our power to overcome these influences so that we can comfortably entertain new ideas and be more accepting of those who differ from us.

Create your own video training library. Save more with bundles of 5 videos or more. Just click on a video to preview it. You can purchase online or call (888) 380-5491 and we can curate videos , send you video previews and make recommendations based on your learning needs.


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Harness the Wisdom of Your Five Brains

By Judith E. Glaser

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this: You are trying to navigate through a business meeting. You want to be helpful. It’s confusing to keep track of what’s going on. When you hear an idea you like, or see an opening to something new, you jump in and share it at the moment it occurs to you. Then someone closes that door and says, “that’s a stupid idea—we’ve tried that before and it failed.”Woman.Generations.Races.franky242

When you hear the words “stupid” and “failed”, you have an emotional reaction to the situation and person. You tune out of the meeting and ruminate. On the outside, people think you are still there. Your body is present, and your face may show signs of listening, yet a big part of you has left the meeting.

Your attention is now turned inside to your silent conversation with yourself about being stupid, and failing. You remember other times when your boss or colleague said you were stupid. You get angry and find yourself in a movie clip of you and your boss yelling about something. You are getting emotional and feeling bad about yourself. You recall a conversation you had with Jason, one of your teammates in the room; you faced-off with Jason and lost.

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The Danger of Mirrortocracy in Silicon Valley and Beyond

by Helen Whelan

“We’ve created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we’ve created seem pretty similar.” Carlos Bueno, programmer

Carlos Bueno wrote  “The next thing Silicon Valley needs to disrupt bigtime: its own culture , which takes aim at the hiring practices of Silicon Valley firms.  Ironically, these firms claim to have a talent shortage. The caveat should be a talent shortage of white young men, followed by young Asian men. Bueno says often these folks don’t even realize they’re hiring based on a bias. Instead, they actually think they’re being smart and objective.

Take Google. It recently announced the makeup of its workforce. The numbers tell it all. Google says it’s being transparent. That’s great but what do these companies do to create a workforce that mirrors their customers? That mines the brains and hearts of women, minorities, of all different ages?


This isn’t new. It’s just more stark with Silicon Valley companies because they’re in the limelight and they claim to be objective data decision-makers. If we’re not careful, we all can be accused of hiring people just like ourselves. This goes all the way up the food chain to the executive suite and who we listen to and bring into our confidence.  Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith calls it “Avoiding favoritism” and how powerful people can surround themselves with “Yes Wo/men”.  Most people will deny they’re doing this but Goldsmith provides a great way to  test yourself on whether you’re doing it. 

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