The Huffington Post

By Judith E. Glaser | huffingtonpost.com
Published: August 27, 2013

boy-hiding-in-fear

Living in toxic fear-based cultures makes us unhealthy in mind and spirit. We can react like cancer cells -- like cells that stop communicating with the immune system designed to protect the whole body, cells that start to grow rampantly because they have lost their sensitivity to other cells, and cells that create roots and lock themselves in isolation, drawing nourishment from the body and weakening it. When we live in fear, we withdraw, build our own "story" of reality, imagine others are out to get us, and react accordingly. We not only stop turning to others for help, but stop taking feedback and advice from others.

Universal Fears include:
• The fears of being excluded -- so we create networks and exclude others first.
• Being rejected -- so we reject first.
• Being judged unfairly -- so we criticize and blame others.
• Failing -- so we avoid taking risks and making mistakes.
• Losing power -- so we intimidate others to get power.
• Feeling stupid -- so we either don't speak up or speak too much. Looking bad in front of others -- so we save face.

Universal Desires include:
• The desire to be included on a winning team,
• To be appreciated, successful, powerful, creative, smart, and influential;
• To have a leadership voice and meaning and purpose;
• To learn, grow, and explore

When we perceive the world through a lens of fear, our egos drive us into habit patterns of protection. Over time, we incorporate defensive behavior patterns into our daily routines. Protective behaviors cause us to turn away from others, rather than turning to them for help in making vital changes in our lives.

Conversational Intelligence™ Unleashes Humanity
Leaders create cultures where all team members can contribute their talents and potential. Potential is often invisible -- yet to be discovered. It's born out of the healthy interactions of one person with another. After all, as we interact, we automatically trigger responses.

Once you learn new strategies and techniques for activating your conversational intelligence you will be able to rewire your life, relationships, and workplace from impulses focused on fear to those that are focused on achieving outrageously wonderful results -- and you will enjoy a radical shift in your life. When we live in a positive, inspiring, interdependent, catalytic, expressive workplace, we all share the power for turning a toxic culture into a healthy, we-centric, inclusive workplace. From this new vantage point, you gain a new perspective about what you can co-create reality with others.

Try This

When colleagues work together to discover Best Practices, they shift from focusing on the negative to refocusing on the positive practices that help the organization grow to its potential. Best Practices represent what is good and what works, and it defines what it means to be a world-class company that attracts customers.

Sharing Best Practices is a way of elevating everyone's skills and talents. Want to create a Best Practices forum to change the focus from loss to gain? Try the following:

• Bring a team together to discover and share Best Practices.
• Choose people who work in different ways to raise the IQ for everyone.
• Use the Best Practices framework to catalyze cooperation and teamwork among colleagues who come from different areas.
• Ask team members to think of things they do that have a positive impact.
• Ask the team members to describe what they are working on, what approaches they are taking, what impact they are having, and how to transfer this knowledge to others.
• Have each member of the team present these Best Practices to colleagues.
• Have the facilitator capture what each person is doing to create success.
• Have participants ask questions to clarify the Best Practices and learn how to transfer them to other situations.

The end result? People feel heard and valued. The hardest part of leadership is that everyone wants to play an important role and be recognized for their contributions. Sometimes leaders find it difficult to manage the relationships, the competing demands and needs, and the lack of resources. Then, territoriality arises. Sometimes we lose our sensitivity to others. We become so enchanted with our own distinction and entrenched in our own successes that we forget to honor others for their contributions. Leaders need to create a feedback-rich culture so that everyone is open to feedback on their ideas and behavior. This way everyone grows. As a leader, you can promote this mutuality by tapping into the vital instinct of growth. You can encourage everyone to be sensitive to personal and group boundaries, while helping them to see how personal growth can best be achieved by expanding opportunities for growth of the enterprise.

Leader Behavior. Think of these characteristics. Do they sound familiar? We often turn to turf wars, silos, and territoriality when we fear we are losing what we hold dear. Fear drives us into our I-centric behavior, and we protect rather than partner. Health comes from creating environments that honor the seven universal desires we all have for being valued, for making contributions, for expressing ourselves: • Audit yourself and see if you are creating environments that acknowledge the seven key universal desires. • If you are not creating environments that encourage mutuality and support, are you open to feedback? • Identify your areas of strength. Continue to do more of this, because it creates healthy environments. • Identify your developmental opportunities -- leader behaviors that you have not been practicing that create a supportive, healthy culture. • Create opportunities daily to experiment with the leader behaviors that you have not been practicing. • Monitor your impact. Notice how you can reduce territoriality and increase positive energy and support.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser (BiblioMotion - Forthcoming October 2013; Pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble); www.creatingwe.com; www.conversationalintelligence.com

Nancy Snell, CEC, is a certified professional coach and director on the board of the NYC--ICF. 212-517-6488, www.nancysnell.com.

Follow Judith E. Glaser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CreatingWE

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