Communication Challenge: Explaining

First exercise for Challenge 2: Explaining the kind of conversation you want to have.   With your practice partner, try starting each of the conversations on the list. Note which feel easy to start and which feel more challenging. Begin with: “Right now I’d like to…” or “I’d like to take about 1/5/30 minutes and…”


“Right now I’d like to take about 5 minutes and…”

1. …tell you about my experiences/feelings…
…that involve no implied requests or
complaints toward you
…so that you will understand the request, offer,
complaint, etc., I want to make
2. …hear what’s happening with you.
(More specific: …hear how you are doing with [topic]…)
3. …entertain you with a story.
4. …explore some possibilities concerning …
(requiring your empathy but not your advice or permission)
5. …plan a course of action for myself (with your help or
with you as listener/witness only)
6. …coordinate/plan our actions together concerning…
7. …express my affection for you (or appreciation of you concerning…)
8. …express support for you as you cope with a difficult situation.
9. …complain/make a request about something you have done (or said)  (for better resolution of conflicts, translate complaints into requests)
10. …confirm my understanding of the experience or position you just shared. (this usually continues with “I hear that you…,” “Sounds like you…,”  “So you’re feeling kinda…,” or “Let me see if I understand you…”)
11. …resolve a conflict that I have with you about…
12. …negotiate or bargain with you about…
13. …work with you to reach a decision about…
14. …give you permission or consent to…/…get your permission or consent to…
15. …give you some information about …/…get some information from you about…
16. …give you some advice about …/…get some advice from you about…
17. …give you directions, orders or work assignments… / get directions or orders from you
18. …make a request of you (for action, time, information, object, money, promise, etc.)
19. …consent to (or refuse) a request you have made to me.
20. …make an offer to you (for action, information, object, promise, etc.)
21. …accept or decline an offer you have made to me.
22. …persuade or motivate you to adopt (a particular) point of view.
23. …persuade or motivate you to choose (a particular) course of action.
24. …forgive you for… / ask for your forgiveness concerning…
25. …make an apology to you about… / request an apology from you about…
26. …offer an interpretation of… (what … means to me)
/ ask for your interpretation of…
27. …offer an evaluation of… (how good or bad I think … is)
/ ask for your evaluation of…
28. …change the subject of the conversation and talk about…
29. …have some time to think things over.
30. …leave/end this conversation so that I can…_______________________________________________


Second exercise for Challenge 2: Exploring conversational intentions that create problems. (to be explored with as much privacy as you need, or with a therapist) To what degree do you find yourself relying on these kinds of conversations to influence the people in your life? What possibilities do you see for change? To what degree are you or were you an unwilling participant in such conversations? What possibilities do you see for change as you become more aware of conversational intentions?


AN EXPLORATORY LIST OF UN-FULFILLING CONVERSATIONAL INTENTIONS (These conversational intentions and related actions are unfulfilling, at the very least, because we would not like someone to do these things to us . And when we do any of these things, we teach and encourage others to do them to us and/or to avoid contact with us.)
1. To lie, deceive or mislead (sometimes partly redeemed by
good overall intentions, but usually not)
2. To threaten
3. To hurt or abuse
4. To punish (creates resentment, avoidance and desire for revenge)
5. To blame (focuses on past instead of present and future)
6. To control or coerce (force, influence someone against their will and consent)
7. To manipulate (to influence someone without his or her
knowledge and consent)
8. To demean, humiliate or shame…
…to try to make someone look bad in eyes of others OR
…to try to make people doubt themselves or feel bad about themselves
9. “Stonewalling:” To deny the existence of a problem in the face of strong evidence and sincere appeals from others
10. To hide what is important to me from you (if you are an important person in my life)
11. To suppress or invalidate someone’s emotional response to a given event or situation (as in “Don’t cry!”, or the even more coercive “You stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about!”)
12. To withdraw from interaction in order to avoid the consequences of something I have done.________________________________________________