Improve Your Communication Skills by Raising Your AQ (Answer Intelligence) with Dr. Brian Glibkowski

Improve Your Communication Skills by Raising Your AQ with Dr. Brian Glibkowski

Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Leadership Habit Podcast. We are going to be talking all about your AQ, which is your answer intelligence. And to have that conversation, I sat down with Brian Glibkowski, the founder, the creator of this concept, the AQ, our answer intelligence.

Check Out Crestcom’s Free Monthly Webinars!

Now, before we go into the show, I just want to remind you that every single month Crestcom offers a complimentary free-to-the-public webinar. And coming up this month in February, on February 14th, we will be talking all about building resilience and cultivating self-love for success in the workplace. Now, this is something that I feel like I need, and maybe you’re going through some challenges, and maybe you are transitioning to a new leadership role, or you’re kind of doubting yourself. Come on over to the webinar. Let’s see if we can give you some tools to overcome some of the obstacles that you’re facing.

Meet Dr. Brian Glibkowski, Creator of Answer Intelligence (AQ)

Jenn DeWall: All right, now on to the show. Let’s talk about how we can raise our AQ or our answer intelligence. Now let me tell you more about today’s guest, Brian Glibkowski. Dr. Brian Glibkowski is passionate about the role of questions and answers in business and society. His journey started with his research on questions. He authored an article on questions that has been recognized by the Association of Human Resource Development as one of 10 articles that will shape the 21st century.

His new book is Answer Intelligence: Raise Your AQ. The book introduces a new science of answers and was a finalist for two major book awards in 2022. The AQ framework has been adopted by universities, including the Imperial College of London Business School. It’s a global top 20, and certified AQ partners use AQ in 14 countries around the world. Listen up, get out a pen. I am so excited to bring this conversation to you. I, myself, was fascinated by thinking through so many things that we do, whether it’s how to approach a one-on-one meeting or how to influence someone to take our idea. This framework can work for you. So listen up and enjoy as we talk about developing and improving your answer intelligence.

Brian, I am so excited to talk about AQ. Ever since we met for our pre-call, I was, I don’t know, I maybe inspired is the right word of thinking. Wow, what is AQ? How can I actually improve the way that I communicate? So I’m so excited to bring forth something that, I mean, I’ve never heard this before. I guarantee you many people that are listening right now may have never heard of this concept called AQ, and we’re gonna get into that. But before we go into further, and maybe you’ll, you’ll talk about that in your origin story. I wanna give you an opportunity to introduce yourself to our audience. So love a great origin story. Brian, tell us about yourself and how you came to be on your journey to AQ.

What Comes After Who, What, Why, Where, When and How?

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Thanks, Jenn. I appreciate it. You know, my background’s in academia. I was a management professor, and I, my origin story is I conducted research on questions and published that in academia. And I came to one obvious conclusion. We know a lot about questions, and you go back to grade school, you learn about the six W/H questions and open and closed questions. And it really hit me.

We know a lot less about answers, and I wanted to study answers. And I interviewed and studied the top golf instructors in the world and developed this framework, which I call answer intelligence. Consists of six answer types, story metaphor, theory, concept, procedure, and action that connect to questions. And that really got me going, I wrote a book, then a TEDx and now we have partners in 14 countries that are using this framework to help others create more influence in the world around them by providing elevated answers to important questions. So that’s my origin story and sort of where I am right now.

Jenn DeWall:  No, I love the work that you do. I congratulate your global success as well with. I think the world could very much benefit from raising their AQ or their answer. And tell us. So when you think about what was the initial pain point, what did you notice? Were you thinking, I have watched way too many, you know, media or press interviews or heard way too many not great answers, or what kind of excited you to say, you know what, there’s gotta be a better way?

Learning How to Give Better Answers to Improve Communication

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  You know, I think a lot of research starts with self-reflection. And you know, as a management professor, you’re, you’re trained on things like the research question and you know, questions are important and like you developed a, I developed surveys. What are surveys? They’re questions. And the more I did this, the more I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the questions that people are really interested in. When someone hired me, for example, to do a consulting project, they had questions, you know, they wanted to understand why their employees were leaving, and as simple as it sounds, but it was always the answers I provided that influenced them. And the more I reflected on this, the more I realized that your ability to provide answers determines if you succeed or not. And, and if we can apply like a rigorous approach towards it, maybe we could be more effective.

And it is sort of this sort of emerging sort of belief that, that sort of inspired me forward. And maybe I could give you an example to illustrate. We’ve all been in job interviews, right? <Laugh>, and as a candidate, whether you’re a junior person or a senior person, you can ask great questions on the interview, right? I could be a candidate, I can ask you, you know, what’s it like to work at the company? You know, how do you do things here? You know, you know, what’s your purpose, etc. But ultimately, what’s gonna determine if you get the job or not, is your ability to provide answers. So if I can convey a leadership story or I’m a leader, or I can explain the procedure of how I lead a meeting, or I can describe a key action that unlocks a project, is these answers that convey competence. And it’s these answers that determine whether or not they’re gonna hire you. And and hopefully that makes sense.

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah, absolutely. But I’m curious, where do you think people get it wrong? Because I know, and in our pre-call we talked about examples where people really maybe weren’t thinking about their answers or they thought they were answering or thinking of one particular question, and then they get in that moment where either nerves or stress or, you know, the stakes are higher and our answers are not where we want them to be. What are some common missteps that you notice people making in terms of how they answer or how they do this? And again, why does it matter? So I guess that’s, I stacked questions there, but where are some common areas that you notice and then we’ll go into? Why does it matter?

The 6 Answer Types: Story, Metaphor, Theory, Concept, Procedure and Action

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, I mean, I’ll, I’ll point out two things I think versus the lack of awareness. So we’re all trained on questions. You know, you may even, you know, think about the questions that you might be asked by someone, you know, and list out those questions, but we never really think about the type of answers we’re gonna provide. And I think of, you know, there’s these six answer types that I’ve mentioned. Story metaphor, theory, concept, procedure in action. And I like to say, unless you have a target to aim at, how are you gonna hit the bullseye? You know, so you think of these six answers, these are, you know, bullseye to hit. And if you’re a new leader and you’re thinking through what is leadership to you? Why should I lead? How should you lead? You have to think about the different types of answers that you need to connect to.

So for example, if you ask me what leadership is, you know, I might say as a concept, you know, leadership is inspiring others and holding them accountable. There’s more to it than that. But I might say as a metaphor, it’s like two ropes. When the ropes are separate, they’re strong. When they’re braided together, they’re stronger. I’m gonna try to inspire and hold you accountable each meeting. If I’m a leader, I need to ask myself this question, what is leadership? And I can provide a concept and metaphor answer. You may disagree with my answer, but it shows I have command. Now imagine if you’re, you know, reporting to me and we’re meeting for the first time over lunch, and I lean in and I tell you that metaphor that I’m gonna try to inspire and hold you accountable each meeting, you know that couple with other answers, you know, a nice story, a procedure of how I’m gonna do this.

And all of a sudden your belief in me goes up. I have credibility, I’m answering with gravitas. And I think to answer your question, you know, one reason people make mistakes with answers is they’ve never systematically thought about being intentional with their answers. It’s just sort of an afterthought. But you have to be deliberate and intentional. And when you do, you can influence. So that’s my my first response.

And maybe if I could give you one other thing that I think trips people up is that we’re so used to focusing on questions and we don’t open our mind to the idea that the quality of our answers really matter. But I would say, you know, think about, you know, your a recent dinner conversation you had or a conversation you wanna have with a friend over dinner. What do those conversations look like? They’re balanced. Both sides speak about equally. Both sides ask and answer questions about equally. So if we’re gonna operate effectively in conversations, we have to have control and mastery of questions and answers.

So I think it’s about people opening up to the idea that our answers create influence and they’re important. And then once you take ’em seriously, you start to become a student of answers and you become more deliberate, more intentional, and you’re, you’re just better.

What do People Get Wrong about Giving Great Answers

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. And so you also, you answered that why. And so, you know, it’s our influence, it’s our ability to build trust of all the benefits of why we need to be more intentional with our words. In your experience, we’re gonna ask the tough questions. Where have people gotten it wrong? You know, if someone’s thinking, is that really me? Where have you seen people really misstep the power of having the right answer or having a thought-out answer?

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, I think it’s, you know, sometimes people have a singular answer. Like if I ask you you know, why do you wanna be a leader in this company? Maybe you tell a great story, but then you can’t transform that story into procedure of how you’re actually gonna lead the meeting differently. You know, or you, you just have blind spots in how you think about things. So take employee engagement. You know, I’ll, I’ll ask executives. I have in the past, they get excited about employee engagement and then I ask them, what is employee engagement? And they can’t really define it. They’ll say, well, our employees are smiling. And if you think of employee engagement, those that really understand it, they can break it down. They’ve thought about the answer. And as a concept, they might say, you know, engaged employees are those that are cognitively engaged.

They think about the job all the time, and they’re physically engaged, they have the energy to do the job, the stamina to stay until it’s done. They’re emotionally engaged. When the company does well, they’re excited when it does poorly. They’re, they’re sad. Unless an executive has that command of what engagement is, it’s they’re gonna suffer when they’re trying to influence others. Because if I know that engagement is cognitive, physical, and emotional, then when I start to talk about procedures to do this, I know what my targets are. You know, I’m deliberate about this. If you just have this vague sense of, of leadership or engagement, you influence and it’s about having command of all the answers and being very thoughtful is how you operate in the world. Does that make sense?

Practicing Your Answers Will Improve Your Communication Skills

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah, absolutely. Now, one question I have is like, is this a challenging concept for people in the sense of saying, how do I actually do this? I might be a, a fast talker used to just responding very quickly, not taking the power of the pause. I might also just not even think that, oh, does it really matter? And so as we’re thinking about this, what’s the difficulty to then slow down your process and how you think about this and kind of approach it in this new way? What obstacles have you seen people run into?

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, I think one natural reaction is, wow, there’s six answer types. I haven’t thought about this before. That’s a lot for me to keep in my head at one time. Or maybe you know, I’m used to telling stories, but I’ve, I’ve never really tried metaphors before. You know, can I do that? So it’s sort of getting outta your comfort zone. And the way I like to describe that is, you know, let’s go back to interviews. I mean, when you’re a junior person in the job market, what do you do? Interview number one, you try a story, maybe it doesn’t land. Interview number two, you try a different story. And then interview number three, you get a nice story. And then you’re using that same story for subsequent interviews. What you’ve just done there is trial and error. And you know, if stories are important. Now imagine if you have that same sort of experimental nature for different answer types, like metaphors or procedures or actions.

So you just start experimenting and all a sudden you’re gonna be surprised with which type of answers work. And the other thing is just, you know, with practice it, you get that muscle memory and you start to experiment. And before you know it, you’re using the different types of answers and it’s effective. I think it’s, it’s just getting out there trying these answers and you’ll be surprised with how effective you can be.

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. Let’s, let’s unpack this a little bit. So I know you said the six areas before the six areas are theory, story, metaphor, action, procedure and concept. If it’s okay with you, can we talk just at a high level of what those even mean at, for the ones that maybe are, are not as, oh, what’s theory or what’s concept? What’s the difference between theory and concept? Let’s go a little bit and to talk about what those are. Let’s talk about theory. What type of an answer type is theory? How do you respond with a theory?

Improve Communication by Choosing Your Answer Type Carefully

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, maybe if we could, I would suggest maybe we start with the, the what questions and, and then work our way around. Maybe start with, you know, let’s take leadership. What is leadership? So as a concept we can define that, you know, you know, and, and break it down like I was talking about inspiring others and holding them accountable. Then you can have metaphors that explain aspects of the concept. So in, in different metaphors matter for different times, like to give you something new. Let’s imagine we’re talking about leadership. I’m explaining to someone what a new leader, what leadership is. I define it, but then I maybe give a metaphor that might help that new leader. For example, I might say leadership is like gardening. You can water and feed the plants, but they don’t always grow. That’s a powerful metaphor for a new leader because a new leader is gonna realize pretty fast that their efforts to try to lead others aren’t, is not always successful. So, you know, you’re, you can provide a concept and a metaphor to any what question, you know? And, and then, you know, w would, would you wanna go up to theory then next perhaps?

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah. And so for those that are on our listening journey, he, we have the wheel of the six answers and of the six answers, they’re divided between the what, why, and how. So the two that we just talked about we’re concept and metaphor. And those are what based answers, or I guess what based question answers? Yeah, let’s go into the why where it’s theory and story.

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah. And also for, for the listeners, you can think of like, like the body and exercising, like you have your core, that’s the what question. You need to understand the concept and metaphors. Then you can, let’s say, move up to the, the upper body, which would be the why. And let’s say the lower body is the how at some point the metaphor breaks down, but it is sort of fun. So if you go up to the why question, it’s questions about, you know, why questions about leadership, why is leadership important? You know, and, and a theory is a basically a cause and effect. Logic, you could say leadership is important cuz that leads to job performance. Leadership is important cuz it leads to lower turnover. It’s, it’s your basic logic. You have it’s theory is also similar to strategy. So you need to know sort of the cause and effect logic.

And just to make this point clear, and I worked with a company one time on employee engagement and it’s sort of common knowledge. You think employee engagement leads to like higher job performance, right? That’s a theory. Well this bank in Canada, they looked at business business analytics for their own firm and they found no relationship between employee engagement and job performance. And if that’s true, that’s basically saying that that common theory doesn’t apply in our environment. And that’s something to convey that if you wanna increase engagement, if you’re trying to increase performance, maybe that’s not the right angle. Maybe employee engagement leads to lower turnover. Maybe that makes sense.

But it’s basically sharing your logic with others. That’s what theory is. And then story is sort of we all know what stories are, but stories sort of explain, relate to that theory and sort of intuitive way that involves development over time with characters and reversal. So, you know, often you hear of the moral of the story that’s sort of equivalent to the theory. The theory is sort of the more logical answer. And then the story is sort of the moral of the story. You know, it takes the answer of the why question wraps it with sort of emotion. So it’s a different way of conveying that answer, if that makes sense.

Improve Your Communication by Using Metaphor, Theory and Story Effectively

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah. What about for the people that might think aren’t stories and metaphors the same? Because I definitely know that I’ve heard that. I’m like, what’s the difference between? Aren’t they both kind of implying a story or a call to action or a lesson? What do you see in your experience as the biggest difference between a story and a metaphor?

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, I’ll give you an example then I’ll explain it. And one thing I’ll say before I get into it is that with this framework we take something we’ve taken for granted that, you know, an answer is an answer and we don’t distinguish between types. But once you start to lay out this framework, there are different answer types. So lemme give you an example just a high level. We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet, right?

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah.

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  The metaphor for Romeo and Juliet is starcrossed lovers. So the story and metaphor are related, but distinct. A metaphor helps us understand a concept like leadership. You know, with gardening the story, you know, sort of has cause and effect to it. It’s basically showing, you know, you know, maybe you give a story about how leadership leads to performance, and that’s separate from a metaphor of what leadership is. So it’s two different ways to convey information. They’re related but distinct. The same way that the story of Romeo and Juliet is different from the metaphor of star crossovers. They’re getting at common things, but you know, they serve different purposes. So for example, let’s say, let’s say we’re talking about trust. You know, we could talk about a metaphor for trust. You know, a consultant once told me is, we’re a trusted advisor. We are the third card in the Rolodex behind the lawyer and the accountant, then us.

That’s a metaphor. Separately, as an organization, you can tell a story about how you’re the trusted advisor, right? And unpack that. But the two are different answers. They compliment each other, but are distinct. And just to put a punchline on this, if you’re an organization, let’s say in sales that uses stories, that’s wonderful. Think about using metaphors. The more compact, they’re easier to tell, lower skill level for someone to tell it often and they answer different questions. So that’s just something to add to your portfolio to create an emotional connection. So that’s the difference between story and a metaphor.

Jenn DeWall:  No, and thank you so much for walking that through, because I think that often is a misconception that people have is lumping them together. And, and you know, again, based on the the AQ diagram, you know, metaphor is there to describe a concept. Your story is there to reinforce a theory.

A Message from Crestcom:

Crestcom is a global organization dedicated to developing effective leaders. Companies all over the world have seen their managers transformed into leaders through our award-winning and accredited leadership development programs. Our signature BPM program provides interactive management training with a results-oriented curriculum and prime networking opportunities. If you’re interested in learning more about our flagship program and developing your managers into leaders, please visit our website to find a leadership trainer near you.

Or maybe you yourself have always wanted to train and develop others. Press com is a global franchise with ownership opportunities available throughout the world. If you have ever thought about being your own boss, owning your own business and leveraging your leadership experience to impact businesses and leaders in your community, Crestcom may be the right fit for you. We’re looking for professional executives who are looking for a change and want to make a difference in people’s lives. Learn more about our franchise opportunity on the own-a-franchise page of our website at

How To Improve Communication with Procedure and Action Answers

Jenn DeWall:  Now, if we’re going into the how, those are procedural and action, and so let’s go into those now, let’s

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Go into that and let’s introduce some, some new material. So a new ground. So let’s imagine we’re all in a training and you know, everyone listening here is, is in mentoring training, you’re about to be a mentor at your company and you have an initial question. It could be explicit or implicit. What is mentoring? Now as a trainer? I could answer this and I could say as the what question is a concept? Mentoring is helping others become their better future selves at work and in their careers. You know, emphasis on future. And I could say mentoring consists of three dimensions as a concept, career support, social support, and role modeling. You know, I could talk about it some more, but you have a fairly good idea what mentoring is separate from that. The how question is different. So I talked about social support, maybe your initial reaction and you raise your hand is, how do I provide social support?

I need to explain the procedure to do that and or the actions. So it’s a procedure. I can say you can provide social support with an open door policy. So let’s assume we’re back in the office and I could say, here’s the simple procedure. Step one, you have your door open. Step two, someone comes in to talk to you about an issue. And step three is you ask them, will this take less than five minutes? Let’s meet now more than five minutes, let’s meet at a different time. And if it’s less than five minutes, step four, you meet right there. And this is particularly important for social support because social support, you need the support when the issues occur, right? You’re feeling anxious, you have anxiety, you wanna go in that office and have that open door experience right away. And as much as possible, we were trying to wanna facilitate that.

That’s a procedure. Those are the steps. The actions are anything that occurs within the steps. So something key you can do to an action to make the procedure effective. So for example, if I have that open door procedure, open door policy procedure, and you come in and I am, you know, focused on my emails while you’re talking to me, that’s not gonna work. So a key action is, you know, turn off your monitor. And actually turn it off because you’re signaling to them, not only am I paying attention to you, I’m doing it so explicitly, my monitor is off, I’m not even gonna glance at it. It’s an intentional action that can really convey how important someone is. Would that be an example of the procedures and the actions? So let me pause there and see if you have any questions about that.

Jenn DeWall:  No, I mean I love that and I actually just love that tip of if we’re working in a face-to-face setting, turn off your monitor. Yeah, because I can’t tell you how many times when I was in the office if I was going to ask someone a question and they couldn’t be bothered to look up from their computer. And this was one of the fastest ways for me to perceive, oh, so you don’t care what I have to say or why I have an issue. Okay, well maybe this doesn’t matter then, or just to, you know, it kind of just erodes I guess the trust and credibility within that relationship because I know that someone doesn’t necessarily value or want to take the time for what I have to say. Yeah. Which is totally fine if I’m talking nine nonsense, but not if I’m trying to actually ask for support or you know, anything as it relates to being able to move a job or a project or task forward. Now, one of the, so there’s six ways that we can approach it, and I think that for most people you might be like, holy cow, I was really living in metaphor land or I was in story and now I have to think about doing all six of these. That feels really overwhelming. So what is the kinda starting point to get us, I guess, more comfortable with accessing these six levels? How do you recommend people embedding this into maybe their communication style?

Develop and Practice Answers Ahead of Time

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, I think a couple ways, you know, to answer that one I think is thinking about you know, before conversation, during and after. So you can use it for preparation. So let’s say that I wanna be a better leader, you can ask and answer your, your for yourself basic leadership questions. What is leadership? Why is why am I an effective leader? How do I lead you? Develop the six answers, write it down, think about it and refine them. You know, maybe that metaphor’s not quite right for you. What’s the right metaphor for you? And you can start to do some simple things like Google, you know, leadership and metaphor or use chat G P T and say, leadership metaphors, come up with 10 of ’em, which ones do you like? And all of a sudden you, you then, or first in the preparation phase, you, you, you apply answers towards yourself.

And that’s self-awareness. Then once you’re aware of your own leadership style, you can manifest it, you know, an influence and you can start to have it come out in everything you do. And then, you know, use AQ. So that’s preparation then, then try these out in actual conversations. Look for those opportunities to convey to people, here’s how I’m gonna lead you, you know, practice it, and then when you’re done reflect on it, you know, so the, the, the short takeaway, there’s just three phases, but if you wanna just get started, take something very important to you and try to write down and define six answers for it. And I think you’ll have a profound impact on how you think about something that that’s important to you. So whether it’s leadership or another applications in sales, you know, imagine if you’re an organization, can you communicate your value proposition in terms of six answers. Most organizations will say, oh my gosh, I never thought about that before. You know, we may have a couple stories, but wow, we don’t have a portfolio of metaphors. We need that. Right? You know, and so, you know, just that’s, so that’s the first tip is, you know, be systematic on something very important to you. Develop six answers and just try it.

Jenn DeWall:  So hypothetically, you know, by design, if I was a leader and I needed to make a announcement about a particular change where I needed them to maybe adjust a procedure that they were doing, which might take more time, how I’m understanding that is you could take this change initiative that you want to influence people to do or adapt. And you could start and say, okay, now let me put this into the AQ framework that Brian has created. And I’ll start with the theory and then the story and then going into the concept and the metaphor. So hypothetically, you could build an entire meeting structure around all six of these. Am I getting that right?

Improve Communication at Meetings by Raising Your AQ

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  That’s correct. You know, partners that do board facilitation using AQ. So what is an effective meeting? It’s one that asks and answers all the questions. And particularly a very important meeting, you wanna cover all the answers, at least to some degree. We’ve all been in meetings where, you know, Susan tells a the story, then Joe tells the story, and then Billy tells the story and then the meeting’s over 45 minutes later, you know, that’s simply because the facilitator didn’t have the presence to say, we’ve got stories. Let’s look at the different answer types, you know, oh, Billy, nice story. It seems like you’re talking about leadership. What do we mean by leadership? Right? You know, oh, what’s a procedure we could use to, to, you know, roll out the product, you know, effectively. So yeah, you can use all six answers.

The other thing I’ll say is there’s colors. When you look at the wheel on our website, there’s red, yellow, and blue answers that, that have different meaning. So when you provide answers the story and metaphor that creates emotional connection and connection to experiences, that’s important. When you provide the analytical that allow this theory and concept, the yellow that allows you to explain and predict, then you can provide the blue answers, the practical, it helps get work done. So procedures and actions. So in total, you need all of these answers to navigate important conversations. And this gives you a framework to think through the different answers, the type of influence you wanna have. And it’s up to you as a communicator to sort of leverage the framework to influence.

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. I mean, I just love that this is a prescriptive model that you can follow because I, the other thing that’s coming to mind for me is thinking about different thinking styles or learning styles or, you know, I’m married to an engineer, I am the opposite of an engineer. We hear and we learn completely different. But by addressing these six answers, it feels like you’re almost creating an opportunity for more people to hear you because you’re speaking their language, which is really, really cool. And it’s a framework. I love that.

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  You know, and one other tip to, you know, to to be heard is this, this is a framework that works one-on-one and also works on one to many. So if you’re presenting to a larger group, all else being equal to your point, there’s individuals that prefer different types of answers. So it’s even more important to provide different answers throughout the meeting to sort of appeal to everyone. You know, like for example, you know, let’s imagine you’re advising someone, we’re going back to the office after Covid, the CEO gets up there and it’s an all hands meeting. Of course you’re gonna tell a story, and people would probably think about that, you know, before or without AQ. You know, remember when back in the day we were live in person and this great stuff happened. And by the way, I’m not advocating going back to the office, but let’s say

Jenn DeWall:  <Laugh>. Yeah. There are people that are like, absolutely not Brian. That’s not happening <laugh>, right?

Raising Your AQ to Build Influence

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Imagine if you’re this, this CEO or someone who wants to influence, you know, yes, you wanna be intentional, so tell the story. But guess what? If you’re not careful, you might not answer the how question you, you better answer the how question. So the CEO implicit or explicit, how are we going back? CEO needs to say, month one we’re doing this. Month two, we’re doing this, month three we’re doing this. Because the heck creates credibility. If you don’t answer the how question at a high level, what are people gonna say? They’re gonna say, nice story, but they really haven’t thought this through. They’re not serious about this. So it’s your ability to be intentional and know, you know, how you use different answers and which combination, which level of emphasis that’s gonna determine if you’re influential or not.

Jenn DeWall:  I mean, I really do love this. It’s a framework and yeah, you could use it in a coaching conversation. How are we going to do this? Also, as you know, I was looking at this even thinking about, I wonder if this could be a level of checks and balances in our own strategic or strategy meetings where we’re thinking, like, for example, one thing that I think that some organizations maybe aren’t doing well is how they actually develop leaders and being able to talk about mental health. We have a really big why of what matters that we need to do it, but they don’t always answer the what and the how. But we have I would say that I’ve seen more communication strategies that really get into the why, but then they fail to really answer the how. And so you have leaders that are like, okay, I know that this is important, but I still don’t know how to talk about this at work, <laugh>, so is this, could it be used as like a stress test too, to be like, how, how sound is our logic? If we’re looking at a problem, I’m, I, and I’m processing this to think of there are so many different ways to apply this.

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Like, like for example, you’re absolutely right. You know, if you can’t ask and answer all the questions, you don’t understand something, you know, look for the weaknesses or you wanna surface implicit answers, like take mental health. Many of us have the metaphor of the puritan work ethic ingrained in us so much that everything we’re doing is sort of going against sort of mental health that we’re sort of grinding ourself into the ground. But unless we can surface that metaphor, you know, and replace it with something else, then we’re gonna be sort of, you know, you know, just a servant to these implicit metaphors and mental models we use. So this is a way to surface things and say, wow, Puron work ethic is having this insidious impact on you. And, you know, and you know, let’s change it. But if you can’t surface all these answers and you can’t, can’t take control of ’em, then you’re never gonna be effective in mental health or leadership or whatever. It’s

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. Oh my gosh. Okay. The last thing, cause I know we have to wrap up, but I have to ask this because I bet that there might be someone that picks up and is like, I am going to raise my AQ. I’m gonna think about what I have to do. Think about the theory, think about the story, the metaphor. They’ll do all the things, how do they make sure that it’s actually the right story or the right metaphor or the right way to do it? And I know I can’t go fully into the example that I shared with you on our pre-call, but even thinking through like how do you tell someone, or what advice would you have for someone to double check that the stories actually a right fit given, you know, the topic, the audience, any advice or tips that you have for people to kind of, you know, just double check their story before they actually test it live?

Test Your Answers for Effectiveness and Appropriateness

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, you know, I’ll say, you know someone you have understanding for something when you can communicate in all six answers. So I would say a simple stress test you could do is, let’s say, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re presenting to a group about, you know, creativity or whatever the topic is, tell your story to yourself and say, can I transform that story into a procedure? So how would that relate to a procedure for this group or a key action or a theory or a concept, you know? And if you can’t transform your answer, you don’t understand it. I think too often, like we may tell a story about engagement, double down on what I said earlier, but if you can’t define what en engagement is, you know, do you really have command of what you’re talking about? So you just want to think through it in the different ways and make sure you have complete command no matter what the angle is, because someone can challenge you or ask a follow-up question. Great story, how am I gonna do this? You know, on the next project, if you can’t answer that question, then, then you know, you may have lost the opportunity to influence.

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. Yeah, and I’m just thinking about that and you know, even thinking about the right story, like how do you think your audience will respond when they hear the story? Will they be excited? Could they potentially be offended even slowing down to think about if it wasn’t you, how might someone else respond if they heard you answer in that way? Because you can do all of this. But the other piece is really making sure is it appropriate, is it effective at driving the concept, the behavior, the procedures that we want to see? And if it’s not, maybe it’s actually the wrong story. Thank you for saying that because I, I love this. But then I know the example we shared in the pre-call. I was like, you can have all this. And I’m still surprised that people can use stories or metaphors that were actually really important or unimportant or not appropriate.

Even making a passive joke such as, oh, women can’t drive, would not be an effective metaphor to drive home the importance of inclusion. And this is part of the story that Brian and I were talking about. And, and this is also thinking through, you know, challenging our answers to really think about how our audience might feel if you’re using some of these, especially if you might other someone or make them feel less than.

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Absolutely. Like that example, if I, if someone simply says off the cuff, women can’t drive, you immediately should connect it back to, you know, what concept is someone locating that response to? Oh, they’re gonna say that’s a lack of inclusion. Oh, that’s not very thoughtful. Oh, let me, lemme rephrase this. But if you need to sort of connect, you know, what’s the concept that it’s related to? You know, what, how these answers interrelated and you just want to be thoughtful. And I just saw something recently on LinkedIn where I, I commented where someone posted, I apologize, I’m not gonna air their dirty laundry, but they had a post about the, the grandfathers of management theory and I responded intentionally. Because it wasn’t inclusive, I was looking into the concept. I said, what about, you know, the grandmother’s management theory and I mentioned Mary Follet, who was really the first and founding thinker of negotiation theory.

You know, so, but the point was, you know, people are using this language and they’re not being intentional with their answers and it’s clumsy. It’s just about being really intentional and imagine if every single word you’ve said, everything about your answers were, were choreographed and spot on. And you, you start going down the layers. Like for example, you can tell a story, but can you version your story have a short, medium, or long version, right? There’s all these different ways you can have commanded your answers that really convey gravitas. But I digress.

Jenn DeWall:  No, I just, I I love that because again, to take that example, if you’re, if the concept that you’re trying to convey is inclusion, starting with inclusion with a joke about how women or people can’t do things is not going to support the concept and you’re actually going to lose credibility and influence. But I also, so, and I just have to say that, because I, I was very shocked to, you know, experience that, but I also, you know, to pivot now thinking through that. Yes. So then could you hypothetically, or should you be able to, going back to your answer response of having a, you know, a short, a medium length and a long, could you also think about these six areas through that and put it into the, if I had two minutes to describe this, five minutes to describe this, an hour to describe this and think about what would be my highlights? Would that be kind of a recommendation piece, too, to think about how you can adjust your style?

Improve Your Communication By Adjusting Your Style to Your Audience

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah. How can you adjust your style? That takes practice, it takes command, but also being able to come back to, you know, different answers, you know, so like, can you talk about a metaphor and then five minutes later in the conversation deepen the metaphor by providing like another aspect of the metaphor. All this conveys gravitas and conveys con intentionality. It can convey a command. And that’s what great rhetorical speakers do. Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs, you’ll see demonstrated different techniques that are consistent with AQ that I’m talking about. And that’s what creates command or influence.

Jenn DeWall:  Oh my gosh, Brian, I feel like the world needs to develop its AQ. If I never have to sit through a meeting where I hear someone say something that is so grossly inappropriate, I’m like, I just wanna send them your thing to be like, think through what you’re saying because you know, whether it’s a first impression or whether it’s talking about a topic that is extremely sensitive, you could actually lose all of your credibility by not taking the time to do this. Brian, thank you for your work. Hopefully this will actually create a lot better, you know, communication, collaboration. I’ve loved our conversation. I love talking about how you can raise your AQ. Again, we’ve been running this podcast for four years and I’ve never heard anything like this and I just love it. But for those that are also loving this, how can they get in touch with you?

Where to Find More from Dr. Brian Glibkowski

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  Yeah, thanks Jenn. And first of all, I appreciate being, being on your podcast. It’s been a pleasure. To learn more, you can go to my website,, there’s a free Explore AQ test. You can take. Takes five minutes, you get a 10-page PDF report. So I encourage you to do that, or you could find me on LinkedIn. Brian Glibkowski.

Jenn DeWall:  Brian, thank you so much. Thank you for hopefully helping us all be better communicators. One answer at a time. That was cheesy. Thank you so much, Brian. I

Dr. Brian Glibkowski:  I Like it. That was good.

Jenn DeWall:  Thank you so much for listening to today’s show with Dr. Brian Glibkowski. I loved that conversation. And for someone like myself that actually talks about confidence a lot with people, I truly think that by looking at this framework, you could actually develop your confidence in how you present ideas or how you can influence people to change. There are so many different applications of this tool, so I would definitely recommend checking it out. And if you want to take your own, you can take the free Explore AQ test. Each participant after taking that receives a 10-page PDF report, and you can access this test by going to And if you enjoyed today’s episode, or if you know, maybe a new leader, someone prepping for a difficult conversation or a presentation, share this episode with them. And of course, if you enjoyed it, leave us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. Thank you so much for listening. Good luck. I’m coming up with those answers. Until next time.