Conversational Actions to Manage the Operating States of Change

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Conversational Action

When you produce new thoughts, your body automatically writes it in your brain, it expresses protein and the brain writes a new memory. As you actually write down your new consciously chosen thoughts, it further reinforces your new thought structures

At the heart of any process improvement or change management is the people.  The people on your team do the work to manage the change – or it simply does not get done.  There is a dependent connection between the quality with which people operate and the quality of the operation – this is the domain where Operational Excellence initiatives (“the change”) are brought to fruition.

For an individual to be responsible for a company-related change, they will likely need to manage some change inside of themselves to produce the “operating state” required to affect and sustain the shifts and adjustments being asked of them.  The team needs to be empowered to do this conversationally with each other and with themselves.  The tone of a conversation is generated from a person’s operating state, which is their behaviors and attitudes.  The access to empowering the team is to help them clear a pathway, a neural pathway.

Here is some basic human and neuroscience information that can be used right now to create a ground where everyone on the team can be responsible for generating his or her own “operating state”.

Human beings are designed to be creative and brilliant, and we are naturally wired for healthy thinking and love; we are attracted to authenticity and fellowship.  We are not wired for fear and negativity; those are learned, and our fundamental responses to fear and negativity have been developed over time.  The amygdala, our brain’s emotional processor, forms unsophisticated yet complex associations between stimuli and events (positive and negative) and our brain produces thoughts, which cause us to operate with particular, and often immature, illogical, and un-useful, behaviors and attitudes, which generate responses and reactions.

Thinking creates an electrochemical feedback loop – thoughts create (grow) memories, which elicit feelings, which, depending on whether it is a positive or negative thought, generate healthy or unhealthy quantities of chemicals in the brain, which create an experience of emotions and manifest a physical reaction in your body generating your “operating state”.

Because our brain is not wired for negativity, it throws the body in to various levels of stress, illness and neurochemical chaos, a chemical cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol in unhealthy quantities.  Your body can manifest illness and behavioral disorders, and you can experience lack of clarity, foggy thinking, and many other things with which you may already be familiar – including messing with your ability and capacity to manage change; the chemical cocktail can cause your gear shifter to get stuck, so to speak.

An important action you can take to upset the negative feedback loop and help get people get their “gear shifters” unstuck, is to acknowledge other people’s perspectives.  If you are experiencing a person or group reacting in a subversive way, it is probably because they have either been invalidated by past experience or their perspective has been completely skipped over, thus triggering their unique fight or flight behaviors of the amygdala.  Acknowledging their perspective does not make it “the truth” for everyone else, but it validates their experience, and they may actually have useful input.  Often, just acknowledging a person’s perspective liberates them to be responsible for the work being asked of them.  Invalidation or skipping a person’s perspective will cause relational problems and unnecessary delays, which in turn cost time, money, loyalty, and respect.  So go back and allow perspectives to be shared in a responsible way, it will make a difference.  And going forward, allow room for these interactions to take place.

In the absence of acknowledgement, we still have the ability to re-wire ourselves and renew our minds –we can, indeed, still manage change.  This is not a good reason not to acknowledge people, but sometimes in life, you don’t get it and you still have to move forward.

To be effective at managing change with others, you have to start with yourself.  Transformation 101, you can only change yourself, and from there – you can, with others, invent, create and design new and particular conversations on purpose.

To start the process of re-wiring yourself in a way that allows you to bring your team with you – you need to start to notice the faulty and tangled wiring and badly written code in your mind for what it is – unchallenged negative thoughts that were allowed to set-up camp because you didn’t know you could stop them at the gate and send those bad thoughts packing.  Just because you think a thought does not mean it is real or even true.  The amygdala, will try to trick you, and you and your team have to outsmart the amygdalas of the world.  Noticing the triggers that produce the negative thoughts is pretty easy once you turn your radar on.  You now have radar for subversive behaviors, and an action to take – acknowledgement.

Acknowledgement opens pathways.  For example, you can also use acknowledgement to recognize and appreciate a person’s or group’s, or even your own, contribution to a project.  You can gain huge mental real estate with acknowledgement, generating new positive thoughts and memories for you and/or your team.

Thoughts and memories are contained and built into nerve cells as a real physical structure in a person’s brain.  The images of the structures produced by negative thoughts look like weeds and briars; and the images of the structures produced by positive thoughts look like full, healthy trees – and they all have attitudes and emotions attached to each one.  To think is to feel, and to feel generates a chemical cocktail – positive thoughts create healthy levels of chemicals and behaviors, negative thoughts produce unhealthy levels of chemicals and behaviors.

So here’s the deal, with effective positive creative thinking, you can produce healthy quantities of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin – these good chemicals wash over the negative thought structures and start to melt them like the bucket of water melted the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.  Don’t you love it?

Take a negative thought, and create a new thought to replace it – write it down, make it visual or audible for yourself and others on your team – speak it; find ways to express the positive thoughts in your speaking about people or projects.  For example, an individual might replace “nobody on the team listens to me” with “I am highly respected and sought after for my contribution”; a team might replace “we are disjointed and don’t communicate” with “I trust my team, everybody is clear and focused” or “I really admire John’s leadership style, he agreed to be my new mentor”– you get the idea; you will take the negative thought captive – throw it in your mental garbage can, and immediately choose to think the new, positive thought(s), on purpose.  And if they are hung up in front of you, it helps you remember to think properly.  Surround yourself with inspiration.

When you produce new thoughts, your body automatically writes it in your brain, it expresses protein and the brain writes a new memory.  As you actually write down your new consciously chosen thoughts, it further reinforces your new thought structures.  These new positive memories created by the positive thoughts upset the negative feedback loops and melt the “briars”, leaving a luscious tree in place.

Human operating states are born out of thoughts and speaking.  Change your company’s thoughts, change your company.


Additional Reading

Make Your Communications Strategy Copyright-Friendly

Effective Change Management: Communicate the How for Every Part of the Organization


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