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Sitting on the Dock of the Bay


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

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August 7th - 10th, 2008

The 1st Integral Theory Conference

Integral Theory in Action:

Serving Self, Other, and Kosmos

100 of the top experts in the field of Integral Theory from around the world will be presenting in one place!


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!

Download the Brochure!





Sitting On the Dock of the Bay


Watching the Tide Roll Away

This month we’re going to take a more relaxed approach to our communication, playing with one of those paradoxes where less is more.  Paradoxes are tricky, as we explored in “Slowing Down to Speed Up.”  We tend to dismiss this kind of thinking, and push ourselves at every turn.  If something isn’t working, we react with a need to do it more, or do it harder, or push more.  This doesn't work very often.  Whenever there is some kind of exchange or interaction, receptivity becomes our strongest asset, and receptivity needs a relaxed stance.  Before we go too deeply into our theme let’s look at our premise, that exchange concept, a little more.


Have you ever played “catch” with a ball?  Communication can be a lot like that game.  It can be light and friendly, or it can be “hardball.”  Either way, it only works when one person at a time is either throwing or catching.  We can’t really throw and catch at the same time, or we’re likely to “drop the ball.”  This directly parallels not interrupting each other, so we don’t miss what the other person is saying.  When this one-person-at-a-time rule is followed, the catcher pays more attention to the thrower, and the exchange works much better (which coincidentally is a lot more fun).  


Another parallel between communication and playing “catch,” is the relaxed, receptive quality to being a good catcher.  Receptivity is at least half of our interaction, if it is indeed an inter-action.  There’s always throwing and catching, output and input, give and take, and the magic is in how we do each.


There’s a very simple secret to catching a ball: relaxed receptivity.  It’s imperative to not grab for the ball or it will simply bounce off of your fingers.  You have to approach the catch with what coaches call “soft hands.”  This is where you “accept” the ball coming into your hands, rather than grabbing for it.  You continue the motion of the ball, so that your hands act as a kind of shock absorber.  Without that softness absorbing the energy away from the ball, the impact is much stronger.  This usually results in either hurting your hand, the ball bouncing out of it, or both.  Our metaphor for communication may be getting obtuse for some folks, so let's look at it another way.



Pull Technology and Push Technology

Pull and push technologies mimic our natural communication the way databases try to mimic our brain’s ability to sort information.  They’re a little clumsy or simplistic compared to the human brain, but the general goals are similar.  Push technology is like commercials on TV.  You didn’t request this information; it is being pushed toward you.  Pull technology is more like a search engine.  You actually pursue the information you want.  Each have their place, and we're certainly not judging one over the other, we're looking at what best serves us in communication.


Have you ever experienced being talked at, rather than with?  Did you feel as though you didn’t even need to be there, or participate?  That this person was talking, almost as though they just wanted to hear their own voice?  That’s an example of using push technology in a conversation.  It is not very effective is it?


Falling into that pattern is rarely if ever a conscious choice.  There are various motivations driving it, but they usually have much more to do with the speaker’s anxieties than the information being imparted.  Why is that important?  Because we don’t want to be the one pushing, so we need to be aware enough to catch ourselves.   We don’t want to be pushing while the other person recoils, backs up, or just turns us off.  We want them pulling, interestedly and engaged.


Communication in the form of dialogue works best with gentle pull technology.  We ask questions, we delve, we probe, we explore with each other.  We still need to relax, and not pull too hard, or face a two-fold downside.  First, if we're so focused on pulling a specific piece of information or answer, our “search” can be too narrow; missing potentially important information.  The other downside is where pulling too hard begins to affect the other person like pushing; they feel like they’re being subjected to an interrogation, and their reactions will obstruct effective communication.



More Flies With Honey

Putting all of this together, our communication effectiveness requires a more relaxed stance, which means being very conscious of how our anxieties make themselves known.  When we can recognize ourselves “going there,” we can catch ourselves in time.  Whether it starts as a lump in your throat, your breathing speeding up, or your stomach or back hurting, you can recognize the symptoms before they reach your communication style. 


Once you’re aware of how you’re feeling, you can do the old “pattern interrupt” and stop yourself for a second.  Just a tiny bit of patience with yourself as well as the other person will give you a chance to break off how you were about to communicate, and re-set to a more effective way.  Remember that you want to be a “good catcher,” so you get every bit of information you can from the other person.   Then you need to relax and let them pull information from you.  Don’t let your anxiousness turn you into a pusher.  Paradox jumps up, and we convey less when we push, because the other person goes into glazing out mode.


Back on the listening side, our relaxed place of sitting on the dock of the bay, allows the other person to not get triggered into their own anxiety reaction.  We’re not on a Sunday morning news show hitting them with hard questions, we’re having a conversation.  Soft hands, allowing the ball to come to you, being a shock absorber, not grabbing for the information, all put both of you at ease and in a better position of having effective communication.





Quick Communication Tip


Two Ears, One Mouth; Use Proportionately

This may be a cliché, but the principle is still effective.  How do you know what to say unless you've been listening?  You could have the best mangos in town, but if I'm allergic to mangos, your sales pitch won't do much good.  People give you all kinds of information when you're paying attention, rather than planning your next sentence.


It's always amusing when someone talks at you as if you pulled a string on a doll, without a break, before you get a chance to tell them that they have the wrong number, or to please hold on while you get the person they mean to be talking to.  When it happens in person, it's almost as if you aren't there, and you certainly never want to give someone else that experience.


Very back-to-basics Sales 101 tip here: ask a question, and then be quiet and listen.  We have two ears and one mouth.  Using them proportionately gets optimized results.

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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