For generative communication to work, each of us must take responsibility for our communication actions. Finding a productive pathway forward is the goal even when communicating with people who have little knowledge or interest in generative communication. After all, our interactions invariably produce something; why not take responsibility for generating mutually beneficial outcomes?
Guidelines for taking responsibility for your communication:
First, dig in and experiment with the the portals that foster generative communication.
- Embrace Complexity
What is it about the characteristics of complexity that shed light on human communication processes? Why does it matter?
- Stay Awake
What does it mean to be actively aware on multiple levels simultaneously? Be aware of what, exactly? And why? How does being present affect generative communication processes and results?
- Ask Questions
What am I missing here? What do people who have lived with his problem have to say? Who are the stakeholders, and what is their stake?
- Welcome the Struggle
What’s to be gained by facing issues head on? If we already know we disagree, why risk an emotional outburst that further threatens our relationship?
Embedded within the portals are practices to highlight when taking responsibility. They include:
A quick way of getting in touch with yourself and your personal integrity is to answer these questions as honestly as you can:
- Who am I?
- What do I stand for?
- What am I up to here?
- Am I being honest with myself?
- Am I being honest with others?
- What is my purpose for being?
Knowing yourself will help you clarify your intentions and be more in tune with your integrity as you make responsible communication choices.
Expand Your Point of View
Take responsibility for opening your mind to new thinking and getting out of your comfort zone! Hanging out with like-minded people produces an echo chamber that continually reaffirms your confirmation bias and further solidifies your existing views. You can learn and grow from diverse thinkers at every age and stage in life!
Pay Attention in the Moment
Take responsibility for paying attention to the impact of your communication in the present moment. Doing so calls for several levels of awareness at once: 1) What do you intend to generate in the present interaction? 2) How does the present-moment dynamic feel? Energetic? Productive? Tense? Dull? 3) What appears to be happening for the other person(s) in the moment? Are they enraged? Do they appear distant, perhaps feeling defensive, disconnected, hurt or angry?
Information from your real-time observations is useful (albeit your interpretations are not necessarily accurate). Take responsibility for adjusting your words and actions as appropriate while continuing to observe responses. What may you have said that contributed to a misunderstanding? Invite people to speak their minds, letting them know their opinions matter. It’s surprising how much you can learn when you take responsibility for paying attention to your interactions with others in the present moment.
Co-Create Realities We Want
We have been creating our realties through our interactions as thinking-communicating human beings since the beginning of time. Think about it. We’ve created communities, languages, and systems for bartering the exchange of goods and services as a forerunner to the complex economic systems we’ve created today. We’ve created democracies, hope, wonder, joy. We’ve also helped create many of the challenges we face, even though it’s sometimes hard to trace how our communication choices have contributed to our current societal realities. Now is the time to take responsibility for investigating the far-reaching effects of our everyday communication habits.
Each day provides an opportunity for creating new realities. Every outcome—good or bad—presents yet another opportunity to take responsibility and learn something new. Ask yourself during each interaction what you are contributing to a generative process and outcome for mutual benefit.
“The way to change the world is through individual responsibility and taking local action in your own community.” – Bridges
It’s time to wake up, ask questions, welcome the struggle, embrace complexity, and take responsibility for the life-giving realities we have the power to create through our active, informed communication choices.