Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships she makes with others and what happens to her in the world about her. Virginia Satir
Most of us struggle with habitual thinking and speaking patterns. We talk to ourselves in ways that hold us back from taking on unfamiliar challenges or stepping into new opportunities. A common habitual pattern is to lead with what is wrong or complain without taking action. When these conversation patterns repeat day after day, they limit our ability to accomplish what really matters. You can change your conversations to create a breakthrough in personal and team performance.
The quality of your everyday experience is a function of the conversations you’re having. We choose what we say. We craft conversations that move us and others forward or slow things down. What we say and don’t say (both in our heads and in the world) is a choice we make every day, many many times a day.
Do you ever find yourself caught in conversations that bring you down, derail relationships, stop progress on important projects, prevent resolution to sticky problems? Notice when your comments slip into a familiar negative groove. Since we are the ones who said it, we can instead connect to our passion to make a difference, crafting a conversation that matches the contribution we want to make, and the world we want to live in.
I am honored to consult with leaders and their organizations that have a powerful sense of mission. Sometimes, when a team that is floundering, I use this approach. Try it for yourself. Write down the phrases you heard in the last couple of days on one side of the page, with room to write a more generative version down the other side. Speak them out loud (they often sound quite silly). Then, write replacement phrases down the other side, phrases that match your deepest commitments. Repeat the new conversation patterns out loud. They will feel awkward at first. Practice is key – write them, sing them(!), repeat them again and again until a new groove is established.
Our internal conversations can be automatic, which repeat the past, giving us the life and results we already have. Or our internal conversation can be generative, creating a new future, producing new results and the life we most want to live.
Habitual or automatic conversations stop action. They slow things down, move things backward, and set up limits, shrinking the solution space. We get stuck in what isn’t happening, where the problems are, the gaps, or what we wished was different. We feel we are not responsible, victims or martyrs, someone else needs to make this work, reiterating some version of “I can’t do anything to change this.”.
Research shows that we don’t live as much in our life as we do in our conversations. Changing our conversations gives rise to breakthroughs in both personal and team performance. The generating power of our life force is set free to contribute to our community or company. Crafting a conversation that expresses what really matters opens possibilities, attracting collaborators and opportunities. Plus, life begins to be a whole lot more fun.
Karen Wilhelm Buckley, Communicore, is an Executive Coach and Consultant to leaders and their organizations. Her clients develop wise leadership – the skills, strategies and presence to cultivate committed performance and effectively drive change. Her website is https://communicore.biz/.
Karen designs focused authentic dialogue that results in extraordinary action. Addressing underlying restrictions while amplifying the best of what is working, she facilitates breakthrough change in leaders, key meetings, and across companies.
Karen is a published author and experienced speaker and leads an annual wisdom retreat in Hawaii for women leaders.