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Conscious Communication

Conscious Speech
and Conscious Listening

Effective Communication Understanding:

The more that you can demonstrate that you understand and respect the views, ideas and perspectives of others, the more effective your communication with others will be.

The Source of Communication Breakdown:

“Unconscious Communication”



“Unconscious Communication”

If we say it often enough, smart enough and forcefully enough, the other person will get the message and see that we are right.

Unconscious Purpose/Intent
  • We show that we value only “our” ideas, needs and interests

  • We see that our role is to “improve” or “remediate” others

  • We demonstrate that we want others to see that we are “right”

  • We signal that we want to “win” the communication exchange

  • We see understanding and relationship development as others’ responsibility


Unconscious Listening
  • We pretend to listen: not concentrating, but waiting for a chance to have our say

  • We interrupt and jump to conclusions or hastily diagnose

  • We finish other’s sentences for them

  • We don’t act/look like a good listener

  • We are defensive, and tend to react rather then respond

  • We don’t check to see if we understand correctly

  • We are a “passive” participant


Unconscious Speaking
  • We are impulsive and don’t think about what we are going to say

  • We like the sound of our own voice and “waffle” on

  • We do not think about our tone of voice or body language

  • We pressure the other person to change and see it “our” way

  • We don’t check for the listener’s understandings or feelings

  • We want to find blame for problems rather than fix them: “You” words

  • Our feedback is often vague and concentrates on personal characteristics

  • We panic when we sense lack of understanding and speak more and more loudly

  • We ask “closed”, “leading” or “loaded” questions

  • We focus on the negative

Limited shared understandings, strained relationships, diminished performance and greater separation


“Conscious Communication”

The Source of Effective Communication

“Conscious Communication”


Before the other person will listen to and be influenced by our ideas, they first need to believe we fully understand and respect their perspective.


Conscious Purpose/Intent
  • We show that we value the ideas, needs and interests of “others”

  • We demonstrate that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do things

  • We signal that we want a “win/win” from the communication exchange

  • We are “overtly” conscious of the impact our communication has on others

  • We indicate that it is “our” role and responsibility to develop shared understanding and enhance the relationship

Conscious Listening (Most Important CC skill)
  • We listen with the sole intent to understand the other’s perspective

  • We “shut up” and listen and use receptive language: “I see…uh huh…really?”

  • We ensure that we look like a good listener: eye contact, body language/position

  • We “concentrate” on understanding what the speaker is saying, not jumping to conclusions or hastily diagnosing

  • We don’t interrupt: Pause before responding to ensure the speaker has finished

  • We use reflection, clarifying questions and summarising to enhance understanding

  • We are an “active” participant

Conscious Speaking
  • We practise courage and consideration: The courage to be honest and say what we believe; The consideration to offer our views in a way that respects the beliefs, values and opinions of others

  • We think carefully about what we are going to say, our tone and body language

  • Our feedback is specific, clear and concise, and concentrates on the observed behaviour

  • We speak for no longer than 30 sec at a time (Key impact timeframe)

  • We check the listener’s understandings and feelings about what we are saying

  • We ask open questions

  • We focus on the positive problem‑solving

Increased shared understandings, enhanced relationships, improved performance and greater connection

Creating Opportunities for Conscious Communication: 


There are numerous opportunities in our every day activities for practising the skills of conscious communication. The following are a few easy and simple examples of the many opportunities  “out there” to refine your communication performance. 



“Conscious Communication”
Giving CC a public profile
  • Have the courage to take your communication issues out of the closet. Make your desire for improving your conscious communication skills as public as possible

    • tell your team members

    • tell your friends

    • tell your family members

  • Put up your “Stop Doing” and “Start Doing” lists outside your office or on the fridge at home

  • Ask team/family members to observe your communication and tell you when you are not being conscious of your communication with them. Make it a fun game.

  • Make conscious communication an office, team or meeting “challenge”

  • Make and display large posters of “Conscious Communication”


Taking “bite size” CC bits
  • Take a specific conscious listening or speaking skill each day or week and try to consciously practise that skill in all your interactions for the day/week.
    (EG: you might commit to ‘paraphrasing’ just once, each time a person speaks to you)

  • Each day, review your schedule and identify a specific activity where you might practise an your conscious communication.

  • Look for comfortable/fun opportunities at work and home to tape your “CC”

  • Teach one conscious communication skill to one other person each week


Keep a CC Journal
  • Buy a small notebook and use it as a conscious communication journal

  • Identify your key relationships

  • Identify any communication issues within each of these relationships

  • Set monthly conscious communication goals to achieve with each relationship

  • Notice and record your successes, failures, issues and strategies to improve

  • Review your progress weekly/monthly


Get a CC Practice partner
  • Identify someone who could be your Conscious Communication Practice Partner (fellow manager, work colleague, wife/family member or friend).

  • Set times to work with this person to practise, review and ‘fine-tune’ your conscious communication skills


Note: Not only will all these practices improve your communication performance, but will have the added benefit of demonstrating to others you are committed to improving your communication skills. It will also help others in your team and family to be more conscious of how they communicate. The outcomes will be multiple contributions to increasing the level of shared understandings, enhancing relationships, improving performance and generating mutual benefit for yourself, your team and family members, your group and the organisation.

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