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
Same World - Different Experience
One of the most important
and yet difficult things to understand is just how differently each of
us experiences the same world. It seems logical that if we’re standing
next to each other witnessing a car crash, that we’ll see the same car
crash. So why don’t we?
Our filtering systems are such an integral part of how we process
incoming information, that it doesn’t occur to us to question them. We
just take in information and sort it how we always sort it.
Unfortunately the combination of this automatic aspect and the lack of
questioning sets us up for conflict, confrontation, and confusion. If
you’re wearing colored lenses, it affects how you see things; there’s no
escaping that. If we forget that we’re wearing these lenses, and go
about our business believing that we’re seeing pure truth, we get into
trouble, especially with other people - especially when they’re wearing
different colored lenses, and seeing a different situation.
Close But No
There are a number of things that contribute to being misled by our
lenses, but it usually starts with the initial appearance of similarity.
We start off standing next to each other seeing the same car crash,
assume we saw the same thing, and then when our descriptions are only
off by a little bit we figure somebody must be more accurate than the
other. Somebody is more right, and somebody is a little wrong. Then we
do a dance of assertion, compliance, or withdrawal, to establish “the
truth.” This is also known as arguing, giving in, pushing a point, going
along to get along, throwing one’s hands up and walking away, and many
other common strategies.
One thing we rarely do is start off with a premise like, “what if we’re
both right? Can our two stories fit together in a way that sheds more
light or clarifies things better?” We know that two heads are better
than one and that we all have blind spots, and yet our drive to be
“right” trumps listening to what we know.
The rationale for that drive to be right varies slightly from person to
person, but it’s usually tied to the same three issues that shape our
perspectives in general: I feel safer when I’m right. My identity is
tied to being right. I just know I’m right.
The Big Three
a different world you would experience if everything related back to
your identity and how you fit in? How different would that same world
look if everything related back to ensuring safety, security, and a
solid foundation? What if everything related back to how things should
be? These are enormously powerful filtering systems, and they shape our
perspectives, our motivations, and our language.
Conflict arises when we confuse our perception of what’s going on with
objective reality; that “pure truth.” Again, this is because we don’t
necessarily remember that our perception is a result of our perspective,
and our perspective is in no way fixed or static. When your perspective
changes, you perceive differently, so you know it’s not “the truth” (as
in the one-and-only). Unfortunately this loops back to that silly thing
about being “right,” so again we don't listen to ourselves.
The simplest model of different perspectives would be you and I facing
each other. You see what’s behind me, and I see what’s behind you. Add
more people, in a larger circle, and each has a slightly different view.
This is very helpful in showing how we could see something so
differently from one another, but it’s only a start. What makes things
really interesting is that we’re far more complex than any flat,
two-dimensional model could illustrate.
For a more accurate model, we have to include two other axes of
variables: states of mind, and stages of consciousness development. A
person in the same position in that circle of people will have a
different perspective depending upon these other variables. Likewise,
different people in different positions could have similar perspectives,
based upon their state of mind and stage of development.
Even if you haven't played "Battleship," you've likely had some contact
coordinates being on axes named x, y, and z. If we call
position x, state of mind y, and stage of development z, understanding
another person’s perspective becomes as tricky as solving a trinomial
equation. This is why we need to not make assumptions, or try to figure
it out by standing back and observing. It’s just too complicated, and
thinking we understand when we don’t is what causes so much conflict.
We simply have to engage with the other person, and consciously
communicate with them, so that they can help us understand where they’re
coming from and what they’re experiencing. And we must leave room to
allow for their experience to not be “wrong,” so that we can add it to
our own, fleshing out and enriching our experience as well.
step of the way, we can improve our experience and interactions in the
world by adding that extra bit of consciousness into the mix. Whether we
want to understand ourselves better, or understand those around us, we
need to dig in to these perspectives. If we want to persuade, build
rapport, motivate, or just alleviate those argumentative conflicts, we
need this system; this model of perspectives to help us. This is how our
perspectives can co-exist without making any of the others wrong.
Quick Communication Tip
The Sky is Below When You're in Outer Space
An enormous amount of
time and energy gets wasted in trying to convince one another that we
have the lock on reality and truth, and others are wrong. There will of
course be times when the consequences of such arguments are important:
whether to amputate or not, whether to sell off stocks or not, whether
to eat before swimming or not.
Most of the time, however, the argument has little or no impact on our
lives, and is just a difference of opinions. Underneath, the argument is
just a mechanism to create separation. If I am right and you are wrong,
we are separate. If we are separate, I can soothe my sense of anxiety
(not!) This is a misbegotten defensive posture from childhood, and has
less and less meaning, as we mature into adulthood. Being right isn't
really so much of a problem. Requiring you to be wrong is the problem.
Start with the premise, "what if we're both right, and need to look at
it from all sides?" This one little shift can be incredibly powerful and
have a major impact. Give it a shot, and see what happens.
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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Institute for Integral Enneagram
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