Experiencing Growth? How To Swim Before Your Organization Is Sunk

*As originally seen on

Are you in the midst of a mergers and acquisitions adventure? Growth can be threatening, but it doesn’t have to be.

My client had already acquired three competitors, tripled their headcount, and quintupled their revenue in only a 4-year period. Revenue had surged from $50 million to $250 million as they moved rapidly through 2 key inflection points. Though mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are an exciting and powerful path to rapid growth—they often bring tremendous stress, leading to Critter State behavior.

Assess: What We Found

The amount of change due to the acquisitions, had hurt employee retention due to four competing cultures. One culture was very conservative (ties every day in every role), one culture was very laid back (jeans, flip flops, t-shirts), and one culture was middle of the road, like the parent company was.

Since the cultures hadn’t been integrated into a singular cohesive one, silos had formed, slowing effective information flow and decision making. And trust was low as a result. Now that the basic integration was done, it was essential to ask “Who are we going to be together? What is our tribal identity?” It was time to create trust and tribe.

And when fears collide with a belief that the system is failing, or that one doesn’t and never will belong, trouble results. As distrust and fear increase, the negative impact on employee morale, engagement and performance accelerate. The end results are disengaged employees, frustrated management, and lower profits. And the problem comes from four key emotional experiences:

  1. A sense of injustice – the experience of unfairness tamps down the insula, the part of the brain responsible for emotional hurt and intuition. If a person is experiencing unfairness they will spend more time in critter state, which adversely affects performance, decision making, collaboration, overall peace and happiness.
  2. Lack of hope – the experience of hopelessness is even more painful than unfairness, and its below Critter State on the emotional range. In neurolinguistics, the states of hopeless, helpless, worthless, and grief/terror are considered Baseline States. It doesn’t get worse than this.
  3. Lack of confidence – depending on the person and degree of lack of confidence we’ll likely see procrastination, reluctance to take risks, playing “small”, and yes, more Critter State.
  4. Desire for change – this is encouraging as there’s some energy here. Desire for change means we can envision a possible future where things are better. This lights up the Ventral Striatum where we anticipate reward. If we can increase this experience, we can get into Smart State.

Act: What We Did

In this case, we had to release resistance, make new meaning and establish a new identity, and enroll and engage.

First, we did an SBM Index to gauge how everyone felt, and determine what they needed most. We found that people really wanted belonging (no surprise), and we did culture coaching for a year to create the cultural rituals to help people come together.


The new blend of leadership team then took a roadshow to all sites to make everyone feel everyone is in it together, and to make clear that no single site is better than others. The main communication: “You are safe here, we are all in this together, and everybody matters.”

We also had to acknowledge the grieving. After all, some well-loved employees had lost their jobs, and you can’t have two HR departments and two finance divisions. And some product lines and service offerings were cut as well, since they weren’t profitable or relevant to the new entity. So we designed parting rituals to minimize the grieving, and acknowledge and appreciate the parting people’s contributions.

Together we forged a new vision and set of company values (and of course dress code: business casual). And we made sure to set up cross-functional teams (that were of course diverse) for all new initiatives; cultural, sales, marketing, or operational. In a word, we created more collaboration, communication, transparency and mutual respect. Everyone owned that rebuilding trust is a shared responsibility. They were in it together.

Mission – Why are we here as an organization? Why do we exist? What are we going to make happen because we exist? The mission is a long-term proposition that is lasting— that doesn’t change.

Vision – A vision is a picture of what you want, as far out on the horizon as you can see, as an organization or as an individual. This can be three to five years, or even longer.  What’s the clear future you see for the organization? What do you want your world to be like / to have achieved in the future?

Values – Values are what you honor and believe in, which will govern how you will behave as you are fulfilling your mission and creating your vision.  Values determine standards of behavior, the code of conduct that you will not compromise.

Building sustainable trust was key. This means taking employee engagement and empowerment to a new level, and ensuring leadership is engaged and empowered too. Engagement and motivation happen when people solve their own problems, and create their own aspirations and expectations. That’s why boosting communication via the Outcome Frame tool and the Feedback Frame is so powerful. Additionally, it was essential to:

  • Use inquiry over advocacy—ask questions vs. giving orders, and use the Outcome Frame for deep insight and clarity creation.
  • Hold team strategy and problem solving meetings at every level–meet to do the work not to talk about the work
  • Have team members create their own goals and action plans.
  • When we added empowerment to engagement, we witnessed even more profound results. The leaders that they could heal and prevent significant distrust by first understanding what a person is experiencing, and then intentionally helping them shift into engagement and empowerment.

When we give people what they crave (more safety, belonging, and mattering) their Critter Brain calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State.

ROI: How the Organization Benefitted

Within the first year of working together:

  • The organization shifted from 85% retention to 90%.
  • Our client successfully navigated the “people” work that had been missed, because of zooming through 2 inflection points.
  • Our client’s growth surged from $250 million to $400 million.

The best part is when you walk through the organization you see leaderboards tracking results, feel the enthusiasm and connection among this ever-expanding tribe, and hear people saying encouraging upbeat messages as they collaborate, joke with one another, and pat each other on the back.

Are you in the midst of a mergers and acquisition adventure? We would love to hear about it!


Featuring case studies and proven techniques, Power Your Tribe provides a set of powerful neuroscience-based tools to help managers identify emotions, release resistance, end isolation, focus on outcomes, and course-correct for continued success.

Learn More


Deepen Your Relationship With Centers Of Influence

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

Our favorite door opener Caryn Kopp discusses the importance of relationships with Centers of Influence— thought I’d share!

Networking, whether it is in person, via Linked In or in another manner, can have a lasting effect on future referrals. This is your opportunity to deepen the relationship with Centers of Influence. If done properly and with sincerity, you can have a referral source forever; if done poorly, they may never help you again.

Networking, whether it is in person, via Linked In or in another manner, can have a lasting effect on future referrals.


I recently attended an event and witnessed a conversation between a Center of Influence, Mark, and a Business Owner, Tom, that went poorly. Tom had previously requested a Linked In introduction via Mark, to a prospect named Susan. Mark took time out of his busy day, located Susan, a first connection on Linked In, wrote the introductory note speaking highly of Tom and noting how responding would be in Susan’s best interests. He felt good to have made the connection.

Months later, at a networking event that I attended, Mark saw Tom and said, “Hi, Tom! How is everything progressing with Susan? Tom was expressionless. The blank stare continued. Tom could not remember how it was going. In fact, he couldn’t remember Susan at all, or if he ever bothered to pursue the introduction. How might Mark feel at that point? What are the chances that Mark will ever help Tom again? Zero. Tom is not going to want waste his own time, nor the time of his valued connections.

Know who you are going to see and check the status of prospect referrals you are working on. A CRM or spreadsheet is invaluable here so that you can show your gratitude and appreciation the next time you see your Centers of Influence. Otherwise, they are never going to help you again.

How can you deepen your relationships with your centers of influence?

10 Quick And Easy Tips To Rock Your Next Job Interview

What can you, the talent, do to stand out during your interview? How can you ensure that the interviewer sees your value and can convey that you are the best choice for the position?

First, let’s take a moment to examine the view from the interviewer’s perspective.

Many of our clients ask for help in streamlining their recruiting processes. Here’s what we tell them is wrong:

  • Candidates aren’t being screened for alignment with company values
  • Candidates aren’t being asked enough self-revealing questions
  • Recruiters aren’t using rapport techniques to powerfully put candidates at ease—which would result in them revealing who they are

A job interview is a candidate’s “Rock Star Moment”—they’re showing you their best face, so it’s up to the recruiter to ensure that it’s an accurate face, a face we can rely on, a face that is honest.

Are you ready to show your best ‘true’ face to stand out above the rest? Here are 10 tips to rock your interview.

Who Are You?

Time to dive deep into who you are and why you want this position. Ask yourself:

1. What is your mission in life and why would working with this company help you achieve it?

2. What is the most important thing in life? How will you ensure you honor it through your work?

3. Use our powerful Outcome Frame to discover why you truly want this position. Is this position in alignment with who you are? Do you only want a paycheck or do you share the vision of the company?

It doesn’t matter if you are being interviewed by a recruiter, the HR Manager or the CEO – these tips will empower you to nail your interview and shine like a rock star. To prep be sure you:

4. Know the company’s mission, vision, values  and drill down so you know which elements resonate with you the most. How have you demonstrated these elements in your previous work and life experiences?

5. Embrace and demonstrate a ‘tribal mentality’. We define a tribal mentality as: we’re all in this together, every person contributes and matters, each individual brings unique gifts to the collective.

6. Are ready to discuss what you are like on your bad days. Yes this is your rock star moment, but let’s be honest – you’re human and need to be transparent too.

During The Interview

7. Speak their language so they experience you as similar to them: (read: meta programs)

8. Give them what they crave: listen for requests for safety, belonging, mattering—then serve up what they want

9. Give them some “same as”: mirror their body posture/gestures, vocal tone/pace/pitch, key words, sensory system


10. Bring them a visual aid showing that you understand their challenges and you have some strategies/solutions in mind. A mind map, 3-6-9-12 month draft accomplishments list, a series of thoughtful value-added questions, some sort of leave-behind that shows you’ve put a lot of thought into how you’ll make a difference will cause you to stand out powerfully. You can bet the vast majority of other candidates won’t have invested this degree of energy and heart!

After The Interview

Of course the first thing is to send a hand written thank you note. It’s polite, it’s essential, be sure to do it! Next anchor the experience: during your interview notice what they like (art? dogs? etc) then send a thoughtful thank you gift—something they’ll feel good about since it is specific to them, and something that they’ll keep in sight (coffee table book, cool item for desk). Anchor your brand with this item. For instance if you’re interviewing for a marketing role and the topic of advertising and what makes it compelling comes up, and if the interviewer says they love old bill board ads, you could send them a coffee table book on this topic.

One last tip: offer to take on the scheduling of your reference calls. Making it easy for the interviewer to talk with your current or previous supervisors, direct reports and peers shows you honor and value the interviewer’s time.

Good Luck!

Gain Energy In 5 Minutes

Do you feel totally drained by the end of the week or even by the end of the day? You can gain energy!

Here’s a quick (literally 5-minutes) way to recall your energy. Enjoy!

Discover, Engage And Sustain Workplace Talent In Three Simple Steps

Leaders today need all the leverage they can get.

We need to get more from ourselves, our teams, our company overall. Developing workplace talent is the major factor that will create sustainable and substantial success in your company–this will only increase in the near future. Plus, the impact of not developing workplace talent will impact more than just your bottom line.


A recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation Poll revealed that developing and investing in workplace talent remains an area that leaders must continue to focus on.

“Gallup asked respondents to think about talent as “the knowledge or skills people develop or obtain through education, work or other life experiences.” Nearly eight in 10 (78%) U.S. adults agree, “if the U.S. fails to develop a more talented workforce, it will fall behind other countries.” An overwhelming majority (87%) agree, “the federal government should make it a high priority to increase the talent of our nation’s workforce,” and 89% agree with the statement “cities that commit to increasing talent among their citizens are more likely to have stronger economies, better quality of life and greater prosperity than cities that do not.” Clearly, there is strong support among the American public for these statements.”

The findings also reinforce that developing workplace talent has an impact on more than the individual companies. When leaders develop talent effectively, the impact is felt on a local and global scale.

  • Majority say government must make increasing talent a priority
  • 78% say U.S. will lag behind other countries if talent isn’t developed
  • Most agree, cities that commit to talent have stronger economies

Ready to develop your company’s talent? Follow these three steps:

1. Find Your Hidden Talent

To identify the greatest untapped leverage in your company, start by assessing your current team.

Actively seek potential leaders that are already in your company—people with characteristics that can be leveraged and developed. When on the lookout for potential top talent, keep these questions in mind:

  • What is the future vision for your company?
  • What does talent mean in your company culture?
  • Which team members are consistent, high-performing, contributing to ROI, great at managing?
  • What specific characteristics and criteria make these individuals stand out?
  • How do they enhance the company culture?
  • How do they engage with the rest of the team?
  • How do they engage with you as their leader?

The answers will help you determine who has the potential to rise up in your organization.

2. Engage Your Top Talent

All too often leaders don’t create and foster an environment where talent feels comfortable or confident enough to stand out. It’s easier to blend in with the crowd versus stand out and be seen. When you create a culture that thrives on collaboration and transparency, your top talent will begin to rise. You will clearly see who these individuals are and envision what future benefit they can bring to the company. A few top talent indicators are team members who:

  • Feel deeply connected to the company’s mission, vision, values and emulate those elements on a daily basis
  • Display accountability
  • Deliver consistent high quality results

Now that you have found and engaged your potential top talent, it’s time to take action.

3. Sustain Talent And Take Action

In previous blogs we have discussed how to foster and nurture an environment where your top talent will rise. These tools will help you form an action plan that you can start implementing today.

  • Learn what your team members crave at a primal and neurological level – and give it to them
  • Create a culture that allows team members to rise up and stand out
  • Shift their brain from Critter State to Smart State
  • Learn how to shift your leadership stance
  • Learn how to keep your cool when under pressure

Your action plan will create sustainable results.

Your top talent will become more engaged and take great initiatives. They will learn how to be more effective and even mentor those around them to mirror the same behaviors. The result is substantial and sustainable top workplace talent.

Your top talent might not be immediately obvious, so you may have to dig deep. Get your leadership team involved in the process to help uncover your hidden talent treasures.

Time to start digging!

How Great Leaders Build Trust And Increase Employee Engagement

So how do great leaders do it?

Have you ever done something with the best intentions only to have it backfire?

Understanding how to light up the brain’s reward network and stay out of the pain network can help you to avoid common pitfalls (thanks to Naomi Eisenberger of UCLA for her research here).

The brain’s pain network gets activated when we feel physical pain (lack of safety), social exclusion (no belonging), bereavement (loss), betrayal (unfair treatment), and negative social comparison (no mattering). Our reward network is activated when we feel things like physical pleasure (safety), cooperating (belonging), having a good reputation (mattering), being treated fairly (trust), giving to charity (safety plus = abundance).

A tribe that continuously activates the reward network—a SmartTribe—is more productive and effective. A tribe that continuously activates the pain network suffers from three key leadership pitfalls:

©2011-2015 SmartTribes® Institute, LLC

Pitfall #1: Asking for feedback and not acting on it.

Having a 360 degree assessment and asking for feedback takes courage and helps to create an open and transparent culture. However, we have also seen this tool misused and create damage.

The damage happens when a leader asks for feedback and then either does nothing to improve him or herself or attempts to identify the source of criticism and punish it. Persecuting someone who took a risk to respond to your request is an obvious trust breaker, but why is doing nothing so bad?

When we take the time to give feedback to someone we have most likely thought about it, and feel that the person is not able to see or to prioritize something that can be clearly seen from the outside. When we do nothing, we discount the feedback giver’s experience and their desire to create a more positive outcome—we send them into the pain network through a sense of loss of belonging, mattering and possibly safety. Not responding may result in having them feel imminent persecution. Our clients find that combining executive coaching, once they received their 360 feedback action plan, provides long lasting desired results. Doing an employee survey of anything, and then disregarding the results is the same–it activates the pain network.

Asking is a very powerful tool. One that can be successfully used to maximize engagement and growth. Just make sure you also plan and invest resources in the follow up.

Pitfall #2: Flat or misaligned mission, vision and values.

Do you “sell” your mission, vision and values…do you sell the raison d’etre of your company to your team and prospective team? By “selling” here we mean:

  1. Starting with the market analysis (what engages and drives your people—and the people you’d like to have come work with you?)
  2. Developing and designing the product (are you crafting emotional statements that inspire positive feelings? Does your environment match your words? Does your operating/reward system match your values?)
  3. Are you marketing and selling? (are you communicating the mission, the vision, and the values in a way that sparks joy and enthusiasm? Are you identifying your tribal leaders and engaging them?)

Too often we walk into a company and find wordy mission statements moldering on the wall. Worse yet, we find reward systems that directly contradict stated values (e.g. stated value of “teamwork” but only individual rewards.)

When the mission, vision and values are stale, or not aligned, or not communicated in an enticing way, it not only does not activate the reward network, it activates the pain network. People feel a lack of belonging, they feel low social status in comparison with others who work for organizations that are alive and aligned, they may feel betrayed if there is a conflict between what they signed up for and what is happening or between a stated value and reality.

Flat or misaligned mission, vision and values don’t just fail to inspire. They hurt.

When was the last time you assessed your culture?

Pitfall #3: Ineffective delegation. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

One of our most popular SmartTribes Methodology processes is where we identify Low Value Activities and High Value Activities. The goal is to delegate your Low Value Activities as quickly as possible.

So what’s the problem here?

Delegation sends people into the pain network when it falls to the micro-management side of the spectrum or when what we call “drive by delegation” occurs—delegating without getting buy in, commitment, or assessing capability and capacity. Both sides of the spectrum indicate a lack of trust and misunderstanding about responsibilities. Both sides are going to fire up the pain network in both parties.

Micro-management leaves the delegator thinking they are alone and have to do everything, if they want to get anything done right. The would-be delegatee feels disempowered, excluded, and low status…they can’t get anything right and their opinions don’t matter.

Drive by delegation leaves the delegator feeling betrayed (because there’s no way the delegatee can do the task or project). The delegatee feels confused, and has a sense of loss…they might have had a dream about doing just this task but now they’ve been handed it in a way that they cannot succeed.

Proper delegation activates the reward network and is a win-win for everyone. Our clients use the SmartTribes Playbook: Effective Delegation Process to successfully complete these steps: assess capabilities and capacity, plan the outcome using a guided question format, set up milestones and implement tracking and check-ins.

Asking for feedback and input, creating mission, vision and values statements, and delegation are three powerful tools for building trust and long term engagement. Just be sure to use them in the ways that keep you and your team out of the pain network and activating the reward network.

How will you build trust in your organization?

Be Cool Under Pressure–6 Steps To Save Face

Handling Pressure is Possible

Pet peeves, irritation, triggers, negativity… are these pressures part of your daily life or things that only happen once in a while? Do you look forward to or do you dread the moments between your morning cup of coffee and reading your first email?

Respond Versus React

We are all human, so being trigged is a natural part of life. We can’t change that and we can’t control how other people act, especially when their actions irritate us. But we can control our reaction, and better yet, we can forge new neural pathways that will enable us to respond to a negative trigger in a way that serves us, instead of drains us.

Here are 6 steps toward releasing your routine reactions and creating new responses.

Step 1: Design Your Desired State

©2011-2015 SmartTribes® Institute, LLC  Pressure

What outcome would you like instead? Get clear on your desired state and if it is truly what you would like. Remember your outcome should be initiated and maintained by yourself and not require others to change.

John, a CEO of a large manufacturing company on the east coast, used to react badly to what he perceived as lack of professionalism or follow up by Sam, VP of Operations. He’d start a whole chain of judgmental thoughts about Sam, all the while desperately seeking to validate his own good work. Since Sam worked at a different site and in a different time zone from John, by the time the two had contact John would’ve written Sam off. And Sam’s small mistake had become a huge disaster. What was a ripple became a tidal wave.

The first step for John to get a better outcome—one that didn’t include frustration, stress and lack of trust–was to become conscious of his default behavior pattern.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s not working for me?
  • Where do I get triggered?
  • Do I automatically fall into blaming, shaming, berating or rescuing people when triggered?
  • What outcome would I prefer?
  • Is it ok for my team to make mistakes? If so, how often is acceptable?

In John’s case we weren’t worried about having all his co-workers comply with his standards, so we asked how he would like to respond if a ball was dropped. He said he’d like to feel calm and confident.

Achieving your desired state, or outcome, is dependent on you.

Step 2: Get Curious

When you are triggered, what is your first thought? Do you default to a reaction based on your perceived truth or do you take the time to truly evaluate what is happening? The key is to get curious.

What is the other person experiencing? What behaviors are available to them? What do they believe to be true? More importantly, are you valuing their beliefs and their experience? As leaders, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your team is inept, when at times, we need to look at ourselves.

Through our coaching together John realized he needed to present his problem clearly and also to openly listen to the other person’s problems and priorities without provoking defensiveness. He knew that to truly inhabit his desired state he’d have to let go of his anger response and cultivate real curiosity. He’d have to become open to the possibility that there was no problem at all… just someone with a different set of priorities.

Step 3: Check Your Ego

Fear? Attachment? Control? Entitlement? Which is pushing your buttons? What’s at stake for your ego? Notice what feelings you experience when you are triggered and start to slow them down. Let yourself really feel. What might you be believing—about yourself, the world, the situation, the other person –to be having this experience? What’s beneath it all?

For John, reacting in a passive aggressive way made him feel superior and in control. He was able to feel a greater sense of being important by preserving and defending the idea that he was right—even if it didn’t solve anything or move anyone forward. Yet some say that if you keep getting the same results from your team, the problem might not be your team. The problem might be your leadership. Worth pondering…

Step 4: Do a “Break State”

Shift your brain and give yourself some breathing room. Easy ways to break your state include counting things, asking questions that totally change the subject like: “What did you eat for breakfast?” or “Do we need a break/snack?” and movement such as stretching or walking around.

Step 5: Determine Your New Response

John decided he’d always do a break state, then call the person he felt had dropped the ball and openly discuss how it made him feel, and the beliefs it created in his brain. Using the phone instead of e-mail would let him communicate, connect, collaborate more effectively.

Step 6: Create an Image and Anchor It

Imagine a future you a few feet ahead up above eye level and to your right. Step into that version of you and take it for a test drive, i.e. imagine yourself in multiple situations where you used get triggered and try out the new response. How does it feel?

If this feels sufficiently wonderful press your right thumb into your left palm and apply some pressure. This is called setting an anchor (associating a particular touch with a feeling or emotional state). The next time you’re triggered you can press the same spot, and you’ll recall the desired state which will help you calm down and make a new choice—your new routine. If it’s not wonderful enough yet, make some changes to your new routine until it does.

Once John started calmly and confidently calling his colleagues instead of being secretly angry with them, he learned remarkable things about what was actually happening for people. With this information he improved his performance spectacularly. He also began to enjoy a whole new kind of connection and mattering, so much so that the shift became easy to maintain automatically because it felt so much better than being “right”.

All behaviors and behavior patterns had some kind of intended positive outcome at the time they were created; they were useful in some way to help us get the positive outcome we sought. The trouble is that as we grow and change, some behavior patterns no longer serve us. They need to be edited or released entirely. To do this we must teach our brain new patterns.

Which behaviors are you ready to let go of?




Today’s Workforce Only Wants Three Things

What does today’s workforce want, really?

Early retirement?

Ever-elusive work-life balance?

Or just a decent place to work with nice people?

While the war for talent continues, the talent themselves are strategically deciding with whom they want to align. Here’s how to get them to want to align with YOU.

According to a recent study by Ranstad, employers need to brand themselves intentionally–and “branding strategies cannot be left to chance… strategies require a laser focus on building core components – factors like company culture, candidate perception/experience and employee engagement.”

I agree–we must bring the brain into the equation too, ensuring your team is recruiting, retaining, working from their SmartState. Let’s check out the latest data in the  infographic from Ranstad where you’ll find:

  • Top 3 sectors where employees want to work
  • Most important criteria when choosing an employer
  • Personality traits most desired in an employer
  • Factors that put work-life balance at risk
  • Top motivators for teams
  • Retirement expectations

What Todays Workforce Wants Infographic

How can a company rock their branding strategy?

Eat, sleep, live your values. Per Ranstad “The bottom line is, an empty brand promise can reap devastating outcomes.” Be clear about what you want and you won’t have to wage war in order to attract and retain your top talent.

So what does today’s workforce want most? As I see it financial and emotional stability, cool people to work with that they trust, and as much work-life balance as we can get.

Christine Comaford (@comaford) is a global thought leader on corporate culture and performance optimization and a neuroscience-based executive coach.

Stop Being So Predictable As A Leader: 6 Ways to Change this NOW

Does your team “have your number?” Do your kids? Your significant other? Sure they do.

Because it only takes a short period of observation to find the harsh truth: people are predictable.

Yet as a predictable leader, you compromise your ability to influence and to shift another’s behavior, which is often crucial to accelerate results, boost revenue, ensure sustainable growth. While a large part of influencing is about making people feel a sense of safety, belonging, and mattering, sometimes we need to bluntly lay out the facts. Being able to switch from one stance to the other is an immensely valuable leadership skill.



How Flexible is Your Behavior?

Most of us react in predictable ways, have predictable patterns of behavior, and have predictable speech patterns. No wonder it’s so easy for people to peg us….and no wonder it can seem virtually impossible to get through to certain people.

Chances are your employees know what you’re going to say or do in many situations before you even have a chance to react. Consciously or unconsciously they tune you out (and maybe retreat into their critter state if they think your reaction will be negative)…and any productive potential the conversation may have had is lost. Or perhaps, unbeknownst to you, the way you are acting and reacting sends others a different message then the one you meant to convey.

There’s hope. The following behavioral stances can be mixed and matched for maximum influence, rapport, and outcome. When we use different stances in different scenarios, we get different results. Thanks to all my teachers on stances: Milton EricksonTony RobbinsJerry Jampolsky, and many more. There’s the:

Mommy: Supports the recipient fully, sees and acknowledges how great they are. As a result the recipient feels huge.

Anthropologist: Behaves with major curiosity and high inquiry. This stance asks  lots of questions and is continually curious, at times even fascinated.

Drill Sergeant: Hard core, tell-it-like-it-is, no sugar coating. This stance is supremely direct but not mean.

Professor: Cool, high advocacy, factual, “this is how it is,” “when you do X, you get Y.”

Best Buddy: Highly empathetic: “I’ve been there, I know how hard it is.”

Guru: The wise knowledgeable one, often used by consultants, has a touch of Professor but is less linear and more about overview, has a touch of warmth and heart. This stance is the expert with a heart and high enrollment.

Behavioral Stances in Action