Closing the Gap to a Culture of Trust

A case study reveals how one high volume real estate firm used Conversational Intelligence to tools to achieve high impact results

For those of us who work with others (the 99.9% let’s say), good communication is critical to getting the job done. Yet according to relationship expert Stan Tatkin PsyD, “Human communication on a good day is terrible. We’re mostly misunderstanding each other much of the time”.

Gone unchecked, poor communication can become a serious challenge for any organization, ultimately fueling a lack of trust among the people who work there. Wondering how this might impact you?  In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported 55% of CEOs cite lack of trust as a threat to organizational growth.

A Case Study

Baked into your company culture, communication norms are the underpinning of your organizational fabric. Critical as good communication skills are to positive outcomes, they’re too often taken for granted. As listeners, we don’t pay close attention to the message, then we fail to follow-up with questions to confirm that we heard what the speaker intended. As a result, we may act on inaccurate assumptions. The result is unmet expectations, frustration and blame across both ends of the interaction.

We see this happen all the time. One of my clients, a large real estate firm, was struggling to get agents to stay on task with follow through. The CEO was endlessly frustrated that his agents weren’t keeping their CRMs (customer resource management systems) current, which he tracked back as a key performance metric.

By the time he contacted me, the work ethic of some of his agents was in question, while they in turn were feeling micromanaged and distrusted. Needless to say, the culture was showing signs of toxicity as people were increasingly defensive, resentful and as some disclosed, ready to leave the agency. Enhanced attrition was the last thing the CEO wanted.

This one communication roadblock was costing the firm business while creating feelings of mistrust and frustration. The surprising part? This dynamic continued even though the CEO is an approachable and energetic leader who offered ongoing training and opportunity for the agents he worked with.

Communication Breakdown

When the communications network breaks down, it’s not easy to trace the source of the problem. Yet, one wrong assumption can cause ripple effects, creating a wave of distrust throughout your entire organization.

Communication breakdowns typically occur in a few key areas:

  • People don’t know how to communicate effectively with peers, staff or managers
  • People are unclear on responsibilities, goals and timelines
  • People don’t always understand who their internal and external customers are, who they need to collaborate with and who has the information or resources they need
  • People are undisciplined about when to communicate with others, or which method to use
  • People are not aligned with the company mission and vision

When we don’t get the response we expect from people we work with, we naturally fill in the blanks with all kinds of assumptions. Things like:

  • They’re disorganized
  • They’re not a team player
  • They don’t care about their work
  • They just don’t like me
  • They’re not capable of doing their job

The assumptions begin to build upon each other, creating what Conversational Intelligence trained coaches refer to as the Ladder of Conclusions. One wrong wrung after another ascending to form the peak of distrust at the core of too many work environments.

Yet it is entirely possible to descend this troublesome ladder, beginning with a lesson in neurobiology.

For Psychology Geeks

Personal communication styles stem largely from subconscious default patterns designed to protect us from harm. Left unaware of our natural urge to quickly judge a situation before fully understanding it, we tend believe our first impressions, regardless of how incomplete our purview may be. This can drive us forward in a direction that may not be aligned with the reality of the circumstances.

Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) theory refers to this pattern as climbing a Ladder of Conclusions, where one faulty interpretation gives rise to a whole narrative, built upon incorrect assumptions.

The key to resolution springs from basic principles of neurobiology, which teach us that when we stop to actively listen, communicate and validate our interpretations before moving forward, we’re more likely to get the results we’re looking for, and to produce them for others as well. This is the way we build trusting relationships.

A Conversational Resolution

When equipped with Conversational Intelligence tools and principles, people learn to communicate effectively. When expectations are clear, issues are addressed and interpersonal dynamics quickly begin to shift dramatically.

As in the case of the real estate agency, after working together to establish communication guidelines and putting the tools into practice, we uncovered the disconnect. Some of the newer agents were not using CRMs because they weren’t given clear guidelines at the onset and had developed their own ladder of conclusions around that disconnect. Both CEO and agents had ascended to various levels of mistrust, until we applied C-IQ tools to enable them to get to the root cause.

This single discovery lead to a simple resolution, incorporating CRM training into the hiring process. A win-win result that immediately began to pay off in both rapport and revenue.

Using Conversational Intelligence tools and processes enables more effective communication. This creates a trust-building cycle which is key to changing negative patterns. High Impact communication forms the foundation for the healthy productive relationships that will enable your organization to thrive.

Ready to bridge the communication gap in your team or organization? Contact me for a complimentary introductory coaching session or on-sight workshop, today!, 831-247-4290.


Conversational Intelligence

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