Driving conversations

towards desired outcomes

Geniet van dit korte fragment uit het boek waar ik samen met Steph Van Haverbeke de laatste hand aan leg. Wil je een e-kopie van de alpha-versie, die nu bestaat? Laat het weten. Het boek komt er in drie talen (E, FR, NL)


You have more power than you imagine

We want ourselves and our conversation partner to feel as good as possible, don’t we?

It is indeed much easier to achieve results with happy people than it is with depressed people. We have already seen some options to influence the happiness degree and you may wonder what exactly drives that happiness or those depressing feelings in our heads.

Let’s have a closer look.

Whether we are awake or sleeping, talking or silent, there is always a lot of body chemistry going on inside. Neuro transmitters jump from neuron to neuron, hormones keep us in balance and plenty of other chemical reactions make sure that we survive. Plenty of this chemistry is driven by the autonomous nervous system, and we are not consciously aware of this. The purpose of that system is to make sure that we survive.

So when something happens or somebody says something that appears to be a danger to us, the primitive part of our brain starts up firing some chemicals causing energy motions in our bodies : shivering hands,  sweat, increased heartbeats are some of them.

Emotions are not the same as feelings

As we have already seen, our brain needs to find meaning for everything, so we will give meaning to what we feel. That makes us different from animals who will let this energy motion directly determine their behaviour (very often fight, flight or freeze).

Human beings can give meaning to these energy motions and then act upon the meaning that they have given it. That very meaning remains a story that we tell ourselves based on how we live the six levels we started this book with. By the way: in 13,8 billion years of world history, only 70.000 years ago human beings found themselves able to invent stories (aka : the cognitive revolution)

Thanks to the immense progress in science, we can enter and influence the system through any of the four circles in the figure:

  • We can take drugs and influence our body chemistry with a certain purpose in mind (stressrelief could be one of them )
  • We can control our energy motions by for instance consciously breathing in and out
  • We can be very conscious of the meaning that we give to the energy motions that we sense (some public speakers with sweating hands we’ll see that they are nervous, others will see that they are ready )
  • And we can change our behaviour like standing up or walking in a proud and empowering way.

We can drive the focus of our attention on any of the phenomena in any of the 4 circles  to get closer to the desired outcome and effect. 

In some conversations people will serve alcohol, which will influence our body chemistry and trigger a series of consequences. During the pandemic I saw a lot of people enjoying walking meetings, which is a different behaviour very often leading to different outcomes.

I myself like to take time to consider the meaning that I give two external triggers and how my body reacts to them. And when you meditate you take control over the energy motions in your body. Take a moment and try out all four of them and see what they do to you. Be careful with alcohol of course.

A source of wisdom to master any conversation

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