Judith E. Glaser, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, posted an interesting article called Why you’re talking past each other, and how to stop. Glaser labels her work as “conversational intelligence.”
Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of the Creating WE Institute and the author of six books.
Glaser identifies “telling statements” versus questions. She warns that, many times, we utter questions that are actually telling statements in disguise.
She suggests that people often carry on monologs rather than dialogs. In one case, she identified 85% of the statements executives made as telling while only 15% were questions.
Glaser explains that our bodies like it when we tell. We release a higher level of reward hormones while doing so. The difficulty is that, while we feel exhilarated when we talk, we can actually minimize those who we think we are engaging in conversation with.
Conversely, the brains of those who must listen respond to our statements release cortisol. Glaser explains that this cortisol “floods” the prefrontal cortex—a major thinking functioning region—and allows the amygdala—a much more emotive brain center—to become dominate.
This information is directly relevant to teaching, training, military briefings and speaking. The more we talk, the less they may listen. The more we say, the less they get to play.
As prior articles, including A glorious three hour production, Instructor introduction mistakes and That guy should have talked some more suggest, lectures help us do three things. They make us feel great. They keep us in control of the room. They allow us share all of our nuggets of wisdom. But, if our students, trainees and attendees are in cortisol panic, none of those three matter.
Conversely, when our learners do the talking, they will be the recipients of higher levels of reward hormones. Our reward will then come, not from chemicals, but from higher eval scores and retention rates.