HOW FAMILIAR IS THIS SCENE FOR YOU
You are in the middle of a conversation with someone, or even in a meeting with several people, and your background conversation kicks in...you know that conversation you have with yourself:
- I wonder what she meant by...?
- Oops, that idea didn't go over very well
- Why does he always want to debate every detail?
- I am wasting my time sitting in this meeting...
Yet you say nothing. And the uncertainties and nagging questions persist. You may even have a "meeting after the meeting" with colleagues and share opinions and assessments about your background conversations...each of you trying to figure out how accurate they were.
Yet, the only people who can tell you for sure aren't in the conversation.
HOW COME WE DON'T JUST ASK?
- Anita, what did you mean exactly when you said...?
- Did my idea just bomb with all of you?
- Joe, what exactly is your concern with my proposal, it seems to me you have a lot of reservations?
- I don't see why I have been invited to this meeting...any objections if I leave?
MOSTLY WE ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO OUR BACKGROUND CONVERSATIONS AS WE DO TO THE FOREGROUND CONVERSATIONS
If we did we would be able to share our background conversations and, we would be able to ask others what their background conversations are...given we now know they have them.
We could even take a stab at speculation what they are. For example, instead of wondering what she meant, you could speculate and test what you think she meant. "So, are you saying we should cancel the project?" She will either validate your speculation or, she might reply, "No, I was thinking if we don't put more resources on the project we'll fail."
IF WE WANT CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER, THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE WE HAVE TO SHARE OUR BACKGROUND CONVERSATIONS
How else will people know what we really think and feel. How will they know our expectations, our aspirations, or our concerns.
And how else will we know what others think and feel, what their expectations are, what their aspirations or concerns are?
Absent this knowledge our conversations are shallow. I even go so far as to say they are inauthentic. We are not being completely truthful if we are withholding part of ourselves.
This withholding goes a long way in explaining why so many attempts at communication with people don't work out well. Why relationships don't work as well as they could. Why teams don't trust each other, and don't function as well as they could