Get unstuck through conversations that build your future with confidence

Luann Horobin

Author headshotResearch on prevailing success habits tells us that conversations are a fundamental pillar in success. Learning how to make conversations work, beginning with the first impression, is a valuable tool to help both career practitioners and jobseekers navigate the great shuffle to secure their future.

So, how does one set the stage for success in those first few critical seconds?

I have some easy tools drawn from the teachings of Conversational Intelligence that myself and others have used to process transition, become unstuck and speak with the enthusiasm that opens doors.

Conversational Intelligence and the role of the subconscious

Conversational Intelligence explains the science behind the signals of conversation and language. Using this to your advantage starts with understanding how subliminal communication influences our conversations.

In the first moments of any conversation, the subconscious mind responds to the subliminal messages conveyed in a glance or twitch of a facial expression. For instance, if we are feeling stressed in a job interview, that will affect our body language, tone of voice and choice of words. Subliminal signals like body language trigger chemicals that influence feelings, which can have an impact on how an interviewer perceives us. Whether we are aware of it or not, feelings affect decisions, so it is critical to become aware of the subconscious signals in conversation to address and resolve them.

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The five stages of conversation

Research suggests that nine out of 10 conversations miss the mark. Imagine how much easier communication would be for both the career practitioner and the jobseeker if only one in 10 conversations didn’t connect.

It is a common assumption when speaking with someone that communication occurs in two steps. When one person speaks, it is presumed that the other person’s response should be the solution. Conversational Intelligence conceives of five stages of conversation – suggesting that the average dialogue is missing three steps. I have outlined these five stages below, based on my knowledge from my Conversational Intelligence Certification and Judith E. Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence book.

Career practitioners hold the opportunity to build trust with clients that helps them communicate more effectively, both personally and professionally. Helping jobseekers improve their conversational skills can help shorten the job search as the jobseeker begins to generate more effective rapport, networking and interviewing skills, as well as gain confidence by better understanding communication signals from others.

Blurred photo of people in boardroom meeting

Here are the five stages:

  1. Resistor: the initial stage of misunderstanding or disagreement, and feeling out of alignment with the conversation, which creates resistance. In this stage, one feels guarded, unvalued and thinks “I want to influence you to my point of view, I’m not open to yours.” The body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers an instinct to fight, flight, freeze, or appease5 others and changes the individual’s tone of voice and body language. Cortisol creates an immediate disconnect from rapport. This can be triggered by difficult situations or discussions, or uncertainty in the job search.
  2. Skeptic: being out of alignment, raising doubt and feeling like, “I want to learn more from you, but …” The Skeptic may appear to be judgmental. At this stage, the individual is willing to consider possibility, but the consideration is coming from doubt; they feel it’s unlikely to work, and feel protective, but not completely defensive. Body language presents mixed signals but overall is disconnected. The practitioner requires attentive listening to clarify these mixed signals.
  3. ‘Wait & See’: waiting for others before committing, feeling “I’m uncertain that I am valued and accepted” and coming across as tentative about what or whom to trust. Body language may show less resistance but not indicate full engagement. The practitioner may ask questions to engage the jobseeker, which could prompt the release of endorphins to build trust, rapport and feelings of relaxation. Knowing this approach also gives the job seeker more confidence in managing similar situations that come up in their search.
  4. The Experimenter: desiring to experiment, thinking “how can we share and discover our best current thinking?” This stage is about wanting to take risks, and step forward. The small signal of cortisol present from the experimenting perspective still wants an option to exit, in case it doesn’t work. It is important for the practitioner, and jobseeker, to recognize this partial step into engagement, as this stage is still guarded and more trust building is required.
  5. The Co-Creator: being ready to build new meaning; and thinking, “How can we create new possibilities together?” Rapport, connection, being valued and feeling relaxed are present, the person is open and enthusiastic. The resistance is resolved.

Being aware of these five stages of conversation can lead to effective communicating that helps turn generic messages into clear career advantages, which helps jobseekers position themselves as the ideal candidate.

The subconscious mind is a significant partner in communicating effectively, as negative words shut down connection and positive words signal connection, creativity and fit that are used for decision making throughout one’s career.

Noticing the subtle differences in expression through these stages of conversation is the first step to setting the stage for a strong first impression along with the tools to communicate effectively, to build your best future.

Luann Horobin, BAHS, MCC, is a transformation specialist, career strategist, Master Coach and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) facilitator. Horobin helps others achieve life-altering breakthroughs so that they can perform and live their best life, using her 20+ years of experience. Customizing career strategies, coaching and neuroscience methods accelerates fast-impacting results and turns dreaming to achieving what matters.