Shifting to Transformational Conversation For Best Results

A couple of things happened on October 1 this year that I would like to discuss. First, the U.S. government shutdown due to a budget impasse over the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Second, a book called Conversational Intelligence was released and became an instant bestseller on Amazon.

No matter which side of the ACA debate you’re on, you can probably agree there wasn’t much intelligent conversation going on in Washington in late September and early October. Conversational Intelligence author, Dr. Judith Glaser, explains why.

Dr. Glaser suggests that there are three types of conversations: Transactional, in which two parties share information; persuasive, in which one or both parties attempt to bring the other to their point of view; and transformational, in which both parties co-create solutions into thorny problems.

If you watched the ACA drama unfold, it was clear that almost everyone involved was operating in the persuasive mode, which according to the neuroscience behind Conversational Intelligence triggers the lower, more primitive brain—the amygdala, which is prone to distrust and paranoia. You saw how well that worked out.

According to Dr. Glaser, transformational conversations trigger the prefrontal cortex in the brain and lead to trust, empathy, strategic thinking and good judgment.

What does this have to do with pharma marketing you may be asking? A lot. About the same time the government shutdown was unfolding, I read an article by Christopher J. Bucholtz called Sales—Marketing  Misalignment Hamstrings  CRM on It said, “While the two sides are warring over who’s to blame for lackluster sales, there’s little chance they’ll get together and cooperate around customer data that can benefit both sales and marketing.” This is a clear example of operating from the primitive brain.

On the other hand, when sales and marketing “get together and cooperate” they will be operating with their higher brain and at the transformational conversation level.

To conduct transformational conversations you need to train yourself to do three things. First, listen to connect, not reject; second, be open to influence; and third, be willing to change your mind. Sounds simple, but as the government shutdown and CRM article showed, this happens all too infrequently in everyday life.

I make similar observations, based on my experience—not neuroscience—in my career advice book Success Tweets. Tweet 133 says, “Resolve conflict positively. Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not destroy your relationships.” Tweet 134 says, “Settle disputes and resolve differences quickly. Engage the other person in meaningful conversation.” Tweet 135 says, “Be a consensus builder. Focus on where you agree with others. It will be easier to resolve difference and create agreement.” You can download a free copy of Success Tweets at

When you use the advice in these three tweets to engage in transformational conversations, you are not only likely to resolve your conflict in a positive manner, but you will also strengthen your relationship with the other person. It’s a win-win.

To do this, focus on your similarities, not your differences. This creates a bond that will not only help you get through your conflict, but it will also help you develop innovative solutions to problems and issues and strengthen your relationship. That means that engaging in transformational conversations when you’re in conflict, no matter what your primitive brain is screaming at you, is a no-brainer.

Initiate transformational conversations by looking for any small point of agreement (like we both want the country to grow and prosper) and then build on it. It is easier to reach a larger agreement when you build from a point of small agreement.

Transformational conversations create a situation where two people can work together to figure out a mutually agreeable and innovative solution to their disagreement. This is because you’re not tearing down one another’s arguments just to get your way. Try this. It works. Neuroscience—and common sense—proves it.


You May Also Like

The Nurse Knows

Pharma industry personnel frequently speak of HCPs, presumably because there are more types of ...

Be Somebody

You’ve probably heard the old story about the four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and ...