Conscious Communication: bringing communication
up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above
in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Quick Communication Tip
Why Do I Have to Go First?
Throughout my consulting and coaching practice, I’ve put the onus on my
clients to strive for understanding others, have compassion for others,
and to see the world through other’s eyes. Recently, someone asked some
questions that raised an interesting point:
“Why should I take the first step, or make the first move? Why do I
have to understand their way of seeing things? Why can’t they try to
understand me the way I say things? Why can’t they just see it my
There are many ways to look at this, but one thing you can count on is
that you could wait a long time for the other person to make the first
move, and it may not happen.
The ritual of holding out one’s empty “weapon hand,” which is how the
handshake originated, has become so unconscious that we’ve forgotten how
“going first” has always been our way of initiating interaction.
My father who’s a biochemist, shared a natural way of looking at this
that transcends social niceties or rules of behavior. There’s a simple
reality in physics, described by the Second Law of Thermodynamics:
energy flows from a warm body to a cold body. This is how the energy
transfer begins the process of achieving equilibrium. Physics describes
the Universe around us so elegantly; why argue with nature?
By initiating interaction with a genuine desire to understand the other
person, you become a warm body. This allows the other person to warm up
to you, and the flow is reciprocated. Eventually, the flow back and
forth reaches something like physical equilibrium, and the relationship
Make the First Move -
‘Tis Better to Give than to Receive
Extend the hand (or ear) and you’re offering a gift: the gift of your
attention. This gets the ball rolling, as you’ve removed the obstacle
of fear from the other person. They’re no longer in a position of
“hoping” (with a bit of anxiety) that you’ll listen to them, or at least
not make them feel dismissed. You’ve given them a sense of safety about
opening up to you, and you get the reward of what comes from that open
Don’t Do a Sales Song and Dance -
Interaction is a Two-Way Street
When someone monopolizes the conversation and you can’t get a word in
edgewise, it can feel as if there’s no point in even being there. You
certainly don’t want that to be someone else’s experience of you. There
are usually two reasons we fall into this pattern or habit of “verbal
First, there’s the common developmental issue of narcissism or
self-absorption. This turns every interaction into a one-way street
(and usually a very short one at that!) You may have heard the joke
about the narcissist going on and on about himself, until he realizes it
and says, “Enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of
my outfit?” Stay conscious of your intent: interaction – back and forth
exchange. Keep the horse in front of the cart.
The second reason we fall into that pattern is good old fear or
anxiety. At the root of this is a belief or feeling of scarcity;
there’s not enough time, I’ve only got this one chance, what if I don’t
get my point across, or they don’t like me? Ironically, when you make
the room for them to go first, none of that will drive the interaction
or be what it hinges on. When you foster two-way interaction, you
remove those obstacles, because now the other person will want to have
more interaction with you, so you’ve eliminated scarcity.
The Last Step -
A Leap of Faith
There’s one last piece of anxiety to address, and that would be over
your leap of faith that this process actually works. Go ahead and put
yourself in the position of the other person you want to interact with.
If it were you, how would you respond to someone actively listening to
you, being fully engaged, and not interrupting you? You’d probably
relax, enjoy yourself, and remember what a good time you had with this
person. You’d want more. You’d feel comfortable that they really hear
you, and that you’d be able to work with them. Isn’t that exactly what
you want others to think of you? There’s an old expression about why we
have two ears and only one mouth. Really listening gets the flow of
energy and interaction moving, that will lead you to greater success.
Quick Communication Tip
we pay attention to the level of anxiety most people have around
“getting their point across,” or needing to be heard, we’ve got a head
start on a great gift. All we need to do is give the other person the
space to talk first. We’ll find out pretty quickly if they’re going to
dominate the conversation anyway, so we might as well find out right up
front. This gives us information to work with.
Most interactions at work are going to be about some form of negotiation
or information gathering. In a way, this is like playing poker. The
most important thing for you to do is determine what their cards are,
not to tell them what yours are. The more information you have about
them, the better you’re able to work with them, sell to them, negotiate
with them, and of course, to understand them. There’s no downside to
this. Once the warmth has flowed toward them, it will naturally flow
back to you, creating equilibrium..
Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or
catapult you forward? Come visit the
or better yet,
contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
- the podcast series
KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Personal Life Media -
"Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (full interview)
for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain
2nd Edition now available
visit the Blog.
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