If you want to have a meaningful conversation with people and the world around you, you must first have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Think of it like chatting from the inside out.
Start by asking yourself some deep questions:
Remember, we’re all different. We have our own answers to these soul-searching questions, and that also applies to those with whom we’re communicating. While we can’t really get inside someone else’s head, understanding our own thoughts and feelings is important.
How we think and feel on the inside tends to show up in how we talk and communicate on the outside.
Beyond just knowing our core selves, we humans have this awesome skill to actively steer our own communication. Think of it like having several radio channels all playing at once. We’re constantly operating on multiple levels of taking in, making sense of, observing, evaluating, deciding, and responding to the considerable information/stimuli available to us while we’re in the middle of a conversation—now that’s Generative Communication.
But here’s the catch: many of us just chat away without really tuning in to these different “channels” of our being. We often miss out on realizing the magic of how we process and share information. So, the next time you’re deep in a conversation, try to be more aware. Notice the many layers of you that play a part in the beautiful dance of communication.
When we tune into these “channels” or our inner SELVES, our conversations elevate. By being more aware, we can jump in at any moment and steer that conversation in a more positive direction.
Picture this: each layer of our SELF has a bit more wisdom and control over the SELVES below it. It’s like an orchestra conductor expertly guiding each section to come in at the right time, ensuring a beautiful symphony. So, the more attuned we are with our inner conductor, the more masterful our communication symphonies become.
Notice WIGO at the base of the diagram of interacting SELVES below. WIGO is packed with a myriad of random bits of information and stimuli swirling around in our communication spaces. When we focus our attention on what we want to convey right here and now, our brains notice and filter (with our inherent biases and assumptions) what they perceive as “relevant” from the massive array of complex WIGO.
This is all processed through our distinct and naturally limited perspectives or lifeviews.
Here’s what your Selves in action might look like in an extended family situation.
The scene: You’re the self-appointed go-to for family gatherings on behalf of your aging mother . As younavigate through the chatter, laughter, and subtle family dynamics, you’re keenly aware of your many SELVES reacting and interacting, seemingly all at once.
It suddenly dawns on you – the Big Lyle Reunion is just around the corner! That monumental gathering on your mother’s side of the family that happens once every decade. The clock’s ticking: and the family must book a spacious and desirable venue pronto, at least a year in advance.
Cousin Julie, who hails from Arizona, is in town. Coincidentally, Aunt Norma, your mother’s elder sister from picturesque Montana, is also visiting. While you find some of your mother’s relatives annoying, you decide it is appropriate for you and your spouse to host a “reunion-planning” gathering at your home. After all, it’s for your mom, and with these key members around, the timing seems perfect.
Aunt Millie lives in the area and is game to join in. And guess what? Two of her offspring, Cousin Mike and Cousin Sherry, are also up for it and will bring their other halves and kids. And with today’s technology, why not invite Cousin Joe from North Carolina and Second Cousin Sylvia from NYC to join via Zoom.
The day arrives. Folks are now seated around your table after the lovely dinner you and your spouse prepared and served. While you play the impeccable host, ensuring that dinner plates are cleared and leftovers are tucked away, the discussion about the reunion has already begun. You’ve caught fragments of ideas, suggestions, and laughter. As you sit down to join the conversation belatedly, you take a moment to appreciate the scene.
The room’s atmosphere gradually begins to shift. Gone is the initial resistance; in its place, a fresh, collaborative energy emerges. People are genuinely listening to one another, building momentum and excitement about the upcoming reunion, with discussions branching out in a more constructive, “generative” direction.
Someone grabs a pen and paper and starts to list out essential factors for the perfect reunion spot. Others pitch in, painting a vivid picture of the ideal gathering place. A couple of folks search on their phones to check out venue details and likely dates.
They are creating ideas—workable solutions—together as an integrated mind!
Indeed, while the above example might be straightforward, the essence of it resonates universally. Whether the setting is your workplace, a community meeting, a situation at home—or even high-stake conversations in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress that you catch on TV—the principle remains the same.
Every single one of us holds the power within. We can choose to be in control of our SELVES and steer ourselves to participate in conversations with purpose, yes, AND consideration of the joint dynamic you are creating with others as you seek to solve challenges TOGETHER. The goal? To communicate generatively! That means being genuine, showing respect, striving for mutual understanding, and seeking solutions that serve the greater good. It’s about coming together, finding common ground, and pushing toward a shared vision.
Next time you find yourself engaged in a conversation that matters, take a moment. Think of your layers of SELVES. Consider whether you’re just airing your views without considering the overall goal or the sentiments, needs and inputs of those with whom you’re conversing.
If we truly aspire to shape a reality where mutual respect and understanding reign, it begins with making Generative Communication an everyday practice.