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The Inside Joke's On You


Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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Feature Article or you can listen to the

  podcast version (9:22 min.) in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.

Quick Communication Tip

Resource Links




Thursday, May 8th, 2008

"Intro to the Enneagram - a New Approach"

From Compulsion to Choice;

            - getting off the 'hamster wheel.'

Noon - 1:00pm

UCSF - Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

1701 Divisidero St., Suite. 150

San Francisco, CA

More Info




August 7th - 10th, 2008

The 1st Biennial Integral Theory Conference

Integral Theory in Action:

Serving Self, Other, and Kosmos

Friday, August 8, 2008

Session IV - 2:45 - 3:45pm

"Accessing Multiple Perspective Consciousness

 Using the Enneagram" w/ Ian Blei

Presented by John F. Kennedy University and Integral Institute.    More Info  or Register Now!




The Inside Joke's On You

Nobody's Reading Your Mind

I’ve seen quite a few instances of miscommunication and subsequent conflict recently that can be traced back to a common root.  We need to make our implicit communications explicit.  If this sounds familiar, it’s because our subject is definitely in the “back to fundamentals” camp.  There are many reasons we don’t make our communications explicit on a consistent basis, but it’s on us to take the inside joke outside.


There’s an old communication joke around the concept of “If you loved me, you’d read my mind.”  We don’t just do this to people we’re in romantic relationships with by any means.  We assume a great deal of mindreading on a regular basis.  We omit chunks of relevant information, use pronouns without antecedents, (“he told them they could do that then”) and change subjects without segues.  Each of these examples of assumed mindreading is an opportunity for major misunderstandings.


I’ve talked about the Three Strikes of Communication for years, and the implicit/explicit subject is quite driven by these strikes, so with a nod to fundamentals, let’s do a quick review.  Virtually every verbal misunderstanding can be linked to assumptions, projections, and avoidance.  Each of these missteps have numerous origins, yet they work together as a system to prevent us from communicating effectively.  Each part could use some clarification.



1. Assumptions

Assumptions take the place of real and important information. When we don’t have information, we tend to fill in the blanks with assumptions that we make up in our heads. This precludes finding out the information, because we already have an “answer” in place, regardless of how wrong it may be. This is very different from a hunch, because with a hunch or a hypothesis we investigate to see if we’re right.


Assumptions drive implicit versus explicit communication in that we assume the other person has the information inside our head. This shows up as the aforementioned omissions, pronouns, or subject changes; any place you hear yourself saying, “huh?”



2. Projections

We make projections when we don’t know or understand another person’s experience. We put our own experience in the blank space rather than finding out theirs. We take our internal “story,” project it on the other person, internally saying “if it were me saying or doing that, then ___” and pretending this is an accurate statement. The truth is we do similar things for different reasons as often as we do different things for the same reasons.


The way we see the world, or the lens through which we take in and sort information, determines our motivations. It’s highly unlikely another person sees through the same lens that you see through, or experiences what you do in the same circumstances. We miss out on finding out what their experience was, because we filled up the blank space with our own. This is different from empathy or compassion where we try to understand where someone is coming from by “putting ourselves in their place.” That’s a good starting point showing how they “might” be feeling, but we still don’t know. When we take it to the realm of “knowing” their motivation without asking them about it, this is pure projection.


You can overcome this stumbling block by being a little introspective. If you feel as though you know why someone is doing what they’re doing, and you haven’t asked them about it, you’re probably projecting. When someone pauses after being asked out to dinner, do you know why they paused or do you project your own feelings and think “they obviously don’t want to go!” Rather than telling someone what their motivation is (a clear projection on your part), share your own experience with them, and ask what theirs is. This way, you both share each other’s experience, and nobody feels unheard.



3. Avoidance

Avoidance is the collection of ways in which we don’t pursue missing information from the other person. The reasons we use avoidance follow directly with the different lenses through which we view the world.


You could avoid checking in because:

1. you feel that it’s prying or being too personal.

2. you don’t want to hear something negative making you feel separated.

3. you’re too busy to worry about details like that.

4. you figure that you already know.

5. it feels like breaching boundaries to bother the other person.

6. it might get the other person mad at you.

7. you might get criticized, and feel bad.

8. you didn’t really care.

9. you didn’t want to cause conflict.


Overcoming avoidance requires a tiny shift in your thinking. First, remember that in Conscious Communication you’re always solving a problem, and that problem is truly hearing and being heard. No problem is solved by avoiding it. Indeed almost all problems are made worse when they're avoided. Regardless of the reason for avoidance, you can see that none of the issues we make up in our heads compare to the problems caused by not communicating clearly and explicitly.


On the other side of the interaction, you don’t want to put the other person in the position of assuming they know what’s in your head, or projecting, or not checking in with you. This means you have to be explicit in your part of the conversation. Don’t leave holes to fill.


Explicitness is Clarity

When a contract is exceptionally explicit, both parties feel more at ease, because they know exactly what is expected of them, and they know there won’t be a misunderstanding down the line. You don’t have to learn how to talk like a lawyer, but if you don’t want ambiguity, being explicit is the key. (Warning: some people use not being explicit on purpose to create ambiguity or loopholes for later).


As usual, a little extra effort in the beginning saves tons of time and energy in the end. With some awareness and attention on your communication, you can take control, and enjoy richer, more productive relationships at home and at work.






Quick Communication Tip


Don't Strike Out

By keeping the Three Strikes in mind, along with your genuine desire for clear, accurate interactions, you can make your communication more explicit, while requesting the same from others. Stay in a questioning state, rather than jumping for the answers. You can question your own statements (would I understand this if someone else was putting it this way?) as well as the other person (do I really understand what they’re saying, or jumping to conclusions?)


Rather than assume someone is too busy to take your call, dial the phone and find out. Rather than project your own discomfort about the sales meeting on the client, ask them how they’re doing. Rather than ensuring feeling badly by avoiding the possibility that you might; check in. You’ll be glad you did.


Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.






Resource Links:


Conscious Communication - the podcast series

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"

Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)

Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview for Entrepreneur Magazine Radio w/ Romanus Wolter

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ Jason McClain

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? come visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



Subscribe to the Conscious Communication Chronicle



Welcome to the Conscious Communication Chronicle, sharing how Conscious Communication results in success, and how you can achieve yours.   Enjoy!


Ian Blei,
Director of the
Integral Enneagram Institute and
President of
Optimized Results









Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul


also available at:

Browser Books
 2195 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA


Cover to Cover
 1307 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA


Phoenix Books
 3850 24th St.
San Francisco, CA


and of course the 800 lb.


Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.

Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.



Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media



“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real
 growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics
solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment



" We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The  good news is: they can be overcome.  The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine



“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

                       -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”



" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III, Director Pacific Development Partners




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