Proximity functions as a connective drug. Get close, and our tendency to connect lights up.

What’s your IQ? No, this is a serious question. Have you been asked that before? Probably not, because it’s quite a rude question. Almost as rude as asking someone what they do for a living at a party.

No one wants to talk about work at a party. No one wants to sum up their entire life by sharing their occupation. Share your interests. Share what’s got you fired up.

Let’s change it up. What is your emotional IQ? Did you even bat an eyelash? Doesn’t this question seems to be safer somehow?

Asking someone what their IQ is a status game. It’s a devilish question that leaves the person uneasy, unfairly come for, and treated poorly.

Asking someone about their emotional IQ leads to fun interactions, empathy building conversations, and opportunities to connect.

“Proximity functions as a connective drug. Get close, and our tendency to connect lights up.” – Coyle

The next time you’re at a party, share your interests. Be enthusiastic. Ask people about their interests. Build both your emotional IQs by being interested in other people’s lives.

“Collective intelligence is not that different in some ways than apes in a forest. One ape is enthusiastic, and that signal recruits others, and they jump in and start doing stuff together. That’s the way group intelligence works, and this is what people don’t get. Just hearing something said rarely results in a change in behavior. They’re just words. When we see people in our peer group play with an idea, our behavior changes. That’s how intelligence is created. That’s how culture is created.” – Coyle

Did this post make you think differently about how you conduct better conversations at parties? Think I’m full of hot air? Contact me, I’d love to hear about it!

The group succeeds not because they are smarter but because they are safer

51p0mziztfl._sx329_bo1204203200_Today I finished reading “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. This is the third book I’ve read about prioritizing psychological safety to create a team that outperforms all others.

The other two books are “Radical Candor” and “The One Minute Manager.”

This book was well written and very easy to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is leading a team that needs some feedback on how to successfully collaborate.

Coyle starts the book with this wonderful quote:

We are solidly connected. The group succeeds not because they are smarter but because they are safer. – Coyle

So how do you know if your team is safe? Luckily Coyle provides a list:

Team performance is driven by five measurable factors:

– Everyone in the group talks and listens in roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short.
– Members maintain high levels of eye contact, and their conversations and gesture are energetic
– Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader
– Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
– Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with others

– Coyle

When I read this checklist I mentally checked my groups against it. Was I doing everything I could to make sure that everyone in my band talks and listens in equal measure? Was I making sure that the members in the Hawaii App Developers meetup communicate directly with one another? Can they carry back-channel or side conversations in the team?

I can say yes to a few items on this list but there’s a lot I need to work on. Going full circle, the only way to achieve this kind of idealized communication framework is to ensure the safety of the group.

As the leader, it is your responsibility to make your members feel safe. Only once they feel safe can you begin to expect the frequency and quality of communication required to establish the culture your team deserves.

Contact me if you have any questions!

You can’t have a community without community space

Today I’m trying a new format – a shorter post. Let me know what you think about the new format by contacting me. Today I wanted to post on a book I’ve been looking forward to reading.

Ever since I read “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone” by Eric Klinenberg, I’ve been looking forward to his next book.

In “Palaces for the People – How Social Infrastructure can help fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life,” Klinenberg makes an interesting comparison between Starbucks and libraries:

“At Starbucks and at most businesses really, the assumption is that you, the customer, are better for having this thing that you purchase. At the library, the assumption is you are better. You have it in you already. You just sort of need to be exposed to these things and provide yourself an education. The library assumes the best out of people.” – Klinenberg

Think about that. I’m not even going to comment on it other than to share this story. When I was picking up my wife from work yesterday, traffic on Beretania Street was fast and I arrived 30 minutes early. My options were limited. The Kalihi library is closed for renovations. It was raining so my only other choice as going to Times Supermarket and walking my daughter up and down the aisles for half an hour.

We looked at the crabs in the refrigerated tank and smudged smiley faces into the condensation. But we only mattered if we bought something.

Stark contrast. Libraries invite you in to better you. It’s assumed everyone matters. Any store stands in stark contrast, where you only matter if you spend money.

Did this post bring up some questions for you? Contact me, I’d love to hear about it.

Negotiate to gain the time you need to find the truth

51vcylss4nl._sx322_bo1204203200_ In the last post on Vietnamese nail salons, I discussed the power of sharing a story and the social currency it earns. This week’s post let’s cover how to be a good negotiator.

When I think of a negotiator I think of the movie by the same name starring Samuel L Jackson. Here’s the IMDB synopsis of the film,

“In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.”

Do you think about hostage situations when you hear the word negotiator? My goal today is to get you to think about how you are a negotiator. Except we aren’t talking about taking hostages to get your job back.

What do you do when you need time to gain the truth? You need to listen. You need to learn to allow the person you are negotiating with the feel heard, understood, and not pressured to do what you want them to do.

Today I want to focus on the most surprising quotes from “Getting to Yes” by Fisher, Ury, and Patton. Looking over the list the quotes I’ve selected they boil down to the following takeaways:

  1. Allow others to talk themselves out because this allows them to feel heard and it allows them to speak out their grievances so there is more room to negotiate.
  2. Know what you want to accomplish before even starting.
  3. Ask questions instead of making statements.

Now that you know what we’re going to cover, let’s dive right in.

“Allow the other side to let off steam. Often one effective way to deal with people’s anger, frustration, and other negative emotions is to help them release those feelings. People obtain psychological release through the simple process of recounting their grievances.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Sounds easy enough right? Just sit back and let the person talk until they have recounted their grievances. Not so easy to sit back and not say anything is it? It’s even harder not to flinch or defend yourself when they are saying something untrue.

“You offer little little support to the inflammatory substance, giving the speaker every encouragement to speak himself out, and leave little or no residue to fester.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Once the speaker is speaking, do not interrupt. Make space for discussion and get them to feel comfortable around you.

“The cheapest concessions you can make to the other side is to let them know that they have been heard.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Again, just shut up and take the easy win. Once you’ve given them a chance to discuss their grievances they feel better.

“People listen better if they feel you have understood them.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

On top of just allowing them to let off some steam, your ability to let them fully speak out their thoughts will give you super powers.

“They tend to think that those who understood them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Be sure to stack your reasons up before you go in for your request.

“If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Generate a ton of options before you start trimming the fat and honing in on your wants.

“By looking from the outset for the single best answer, you are likely to short circuit a wiser decision making process in which you select form a large number of possible answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

What do you do if the person starts attacking you and blaming you for the problems they are experiencing?

“Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem. Sit back and allow them to let off steam.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Always stick with questions.

“Ask questions and pause. Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Now that you know how to make people feel comfortable around you because you have heard their grievances, shared that you understand them, and asked them more questions instead of telling them what to do, they will be more willing to listen to your concerns and more open to negotiate.

Have you had a chance to use the suggestions in this post in your life to negotiate with someone? How did it go? Email me, I’d love to hear about it.