By August 31, 2021No Comments

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

Our teachings are founded in neuroscience – what we’ve come to term the ACE model of employee engagement and leadership and include: awareness, alignment, communication, and creativity, which lead to lasting employee engagement.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies

communication + creativity = innovative collaboration

(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

Open, respectful and effective communication, once considered a “soft skill”, is increasingly being understood as a key ingredient to the success of a business.

This type of communication and emotional intelligence are not necessarily “intuitive”. Rather, the building blocks of effective communication need to be continuously taught, modeled and practiced within a company.

Additionally, our need for safety must be satisfied before we can consistently practice effective communication. As mentioned in the brain integration article and safety video, when we traverse our way up the brain we move from the brainstem to the limbic system (area in pink in the image below).

The limbic system includes a variety of structures such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. It is the part of the brain we share with other mammals and is responsible for deep-seated emotions, learning, and memory. Its basic need is satisfaction, beyond the survival of self and to rewards found within groups (Me to We).

And, let’s face it, as humans the best way to have our needs met within groups is to communicate effectively.

Here are some simple, but not always easy, strategies for both the listener and the speaker. It’s important to remember that communication can be both verbal and nonverbal (e.g. eye rolls, walking away) and even though asynchronous communication sometimes seems easier, some conversations really should be had face-to-face.


  • Listen attentively. Look at the speaker with open body language.
  • Do not interrupt. Take a breath instead!
  • Accept silence.
  • Clarify what you hear. What and how questions versus why.
  • Reflect on what you hear, including empathic responses. (What you think they were feeling.)


  • Speak attentively. Direct communication without being harsh.
  • Use “I” statements. Versus “you”, which sounds blaming.
  • Accept silence.
  • Do not overspeak. Take a breath instead!
  • Avoid cross-examination.

Dr. John Gottman, one of the foremost couples’ counselors, identified “the four horsemen” within communication styles that can predict that end of a relationship.

It is important to identify if any of these are a familiar way of interacting so that these types of negative communication patterns can be targeted and reduced.

  1. Criticism: When a complaint about something specific becomes global/general.
  2. Contempt: Exemplifies a sense of sarcasm and/or mockery.
  3. Defensiveness: Self-protection when an attack is perceived, but the effect is to blame.
  4. Stonewalling: The listener puts up a wall between herself/himself and the speaker and is perceived to be emotionally detached.

Quick Tips for effective communication in the workplace to increase retention and detoxify workplace bullies:

  • Co-create communication norms and print them in black and white for all to see. (If you want help in facilitating this co-creation, contact ic3!)
  • Model, model, and model some more. As the leader, it is up to you to make these a part of your company culture.
  • Try rephrasing “why” questions to become “what” of “how” questions. You will notice that people immediately are less defensive and, instead, partners in finding a solution.

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • Do you currently employ any of the “four horsemen” speaking styles?
  • What communication strategies do you use that work well within your company?
  • Is there an area within your company where communication is less than optimal?