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Using Conversational Intelligence to build trust in software development teams
Carina Fourie
Principal Consultant & Business Coach, DVT

Using Conversational Intelligence to build trust in software development teams

In today's competitive business landscape we often hear that innovation, new technology and digital transformation is the answer to success. However, a critical element for any business to succeed ultimately lies with its people and how they communicate with each other.

So what are the right ingredients to building relationships and creating quality conversations? What makes an Agile team successfully work through daily standups, sprints and retrospectives? At the same token, how do we improve the collaboration between the various teams in a Waterfall environment? The one key element is trust. If we trust an individual, we are more open to ideas and new ways of thinking.

A new field developed by Judith E. Glaser called Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) shows what it is about conversations that trigger trust or distrust. Thanks to advances in neuroscience we can understand that every conversation has a specific physiological impact. Some discussions can make us feel good or bad because neurochemicals released in our brains affect how we feel.

C-IQ is not about how smart we are, but how open we are to learning new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success. If we look at working in an Agile way, effective communication is essential for teams to deliver consistently. One of the Agile Manifesto's core values is individuals and interactions over processes and tools. "Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done."

C-IQ lies at the heart of building trust. A safe environment without fear is required to achieve this. By tapping into C-IQ, conversations trigger different brain activities for constructive communication. (That's the feel good and trust or distrust moment)

Some of the benefits of utilising Conversational Intelligence include:

  • To activate better conversations and connect with others in a healthy and productive way. Breakdowns often occur when people talk past each other, not to each other.
  • Down-regulating behaviours that activate the ‘fear’ hormone and up-regulating behaviours that activate the ‘bonding’ hormone.
  • Being able to listen to connect and to not wonder what your next words will be in a conversation.
  • Learning how to deal with unhealthy conversations and moving from judgement to appreciation.

All these benefits ring true to working in the software development environment. C-IQ supports a shift from “I” to “WE”, the basis of working effectively in teams. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the software development process. The Agile Manifesto and values emphasises the role of conversations.

It is clear from the above that conversational intelligence is also a key competence for Business Analysts to have since conversations and building trust are at the core of their work.

Sound research has been invested in C-IQ based on the neurochemistry of the brain through conversations. It is up to us to discover how to build on relationships with our colleagues and teams.

Carina Fourie will present on Conversational Intelligence – the neuroscience behind conversations at the upcoming BA Summit on the 2 October at 10am. To register, click here:

The DVT Academy offers Conversational Intelligence Workshops to organisations and teams. Click here for more information: