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TALY FLEISCHER of CIRCLE & SQUARE 'Shaping the Value of Human Connection'



The connections we forge with other people make our daily tasks more meaningful. That’s the lesson Taly Fleischer teaches people to actualize every day. As Director of Circle & Square, the ‘people practice’ of Farber, Taly brings the methods and practices of clinical psychology to organizations through training, coaching and leadership development. (

“Our purpose at Circle & Square is all in our name,” Taly says. “As we have evolved as human beings -- with more technology and more data to measure our productivity -- our attention has shifted almost completely to the task we need to complete. That task is what we call the ‘square.’ The ‘circle’ is the human component: it is our ability, our need, to create and maintain relationships.”

Circle & Square’s approach is considered unique, but she believes that is precisely what organizations require and recognize as they experience its value, and as the needs of the current market shift to reflect today’s environment.

“The complete focus on productivity would be fine if we were all robots,” Taly says, “but human beings are more complicated and come with everything they are to work. When people believe that they have to separate work from home to be successful, it worries me, because that’s not how human beings function! For example, if you believe you must not think of your sick child at home in order to be present at work, that seriously damages both home and work environments. By training all the levels of an organization to respect the whole human being, we actually achieve increases in productivity and effectiveness”

Circle & Square introduces a proprietary framework to develop Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, within organizations to help them care for the whole human being. That might mean coaching just the CEO, or it might mean training all the tens of thousands of employees at a global company. They help boards determine the best fit for open leadership positions and their training covers touch points like sales effectiveness, team effectiveness, leadership, change management and employee engagement.

“What we work to foster is a change in the corporate culture,” Taly says. “There is a new desire to come to work and engage with the company and collaborate with colleagues.”

Taly’s enthusiasm for her work comes from the results she has achieved. Her company once worked with a professional services firm that had been tagged by regulators for having quality issues with their audits. Farber was engaged to improve the audit processes and they brought in the Circle & Square team because the issue turned out to not be a question of process, but rather a question of how the team was collaborating and communicating within the organization.

While working with Circle & Square, the company realized they were over-working their people and changed their policies. The company implemented a policy of not sending internal emails after 7 PM and not sending or receiving emails at all on Friday. Instead, they developed a culture in which employees were encouraged to talk to each other face-to-face, facilitating better, more effective communication and ultimately collaboration. Creating a different process of communication changed the very organizational culture.

Far from being “soft benefits” to EQ training, the success of cultural changes like these can be measured.

“We don’t create new metrics. We use the metrics the company is already using as points of comparison. The impact of these specific changes had several measurable outcomes,” Taly says. “Not only were there improvements in the quality of their work, but their employee attrition rate decreased and their employee engagement rate increased.”

Connecting with the humanity of your employees and customers, and encouraging them to connect with each other, is a matter of learning to draw from the EQ toolkit. In that toolkit are Taly’s three EQ essentials.

Taly’s Three EQ Essentials.

1. Redefine the word communication:

“When companies think of their communications strategies, they talk about emails, “town halls” and training sessions,” Taly says. “These communication methods are in fact monologues directed at their employees or customers. True communication means both speaking and listening -- listening to the content and the emotions behind the context; shifting monologue to dialogue.”

As a coach and consultant, part of Taly’s role is teaching individuals and organizations how to engage in dialogue.

“If we avoid listening to the opinions and emotions of staff and clients, we leave the emotion hanging in the air where it can turn sour or bitter,” Taly says. “The key is not to judge an emotion as good or bad, but to allow an opportunity to talk about it so we can move on with the conversation.”

2. Practice the skill of mentalization:

Effective relationships are sustained by the skill of mentalization.

The skill is best illustrated by this scenario. A psychologist who was researching autism ran an experiment where 3- and 4- year-old children watched a play. In this play, a character named Sally pushed a stroller with a doll in it onto the stage and then walked off stage. While she was gone, another character entered, took the doll out of the stroller and hid it under the couch.

When the children in the audience were asked where Sally would look for the doll when she came back on stage, the 3- year-olds said, ‘under the couch.’ The 4-year-olds said she would look in the stroller.

Why was that the result? The 3 year-olds were not emotionally and cognitively developed enough to understand that other people see and experience the world differently than they themselves do. They had not yet developed the skill of mentalization – the ability to engage the world of others and not only see things from your own lens.

“Mentalization is what enables us to really engage with what another person sees or experiences,” Taly says. “When I talk about the 3- and 4 -year-olds watching a play, you can connect to the concept of mentalization personally. Once you have that understanding, you can start to apply it to the corporate context. It really is this skill that helps us understand why people say what they say and what that reveals about how they experience their organizations. It is also the skill that enables leaders to lead according to what their employees and customers require, not according to their own agendas.”

3. Build effective relationships:

“You often hear people in organizations talk about managing relationships, but not about the definition of relationships and how they are created,” Taly says. “Our formula proposes that both connection and task are requirements to creating effective relationships. When we connect with another person, we can identify what they need and adapt to their needs. If we do that, and then deal with the task at hand, we can actually complete the task more effectively.

Both elements of the formula – connection and task – are important.

“Being aware of your own abilities, especially your ability to connect with the people you are talking to, is key to becoming a good leader,” Taly says. “It allows you to motivate, manage and inspire others, and it will ultimately lead to elevated corporate performance.

Kate Baggott's technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review at MIT, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun, and on the Business to Business News Network

Kate is the author of two short story collections.

Taly Fleischer, MBA Director | Circle & Square T: +1 (416) 496-3751 |

M: +1 (647) 454-1174

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