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Communicating on Purpose 

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.


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Quick Communication Tip

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Two Professional Seminars

and Biz Networking Mixer


"Leverage the Power of YOU!" with Ian Blei


"How to Mix, Mingle, and Schmooze Your Way to More Business" with Dave Sherman


Wednesday, August 12th, 2009


Corinthian Event Center: Gold & Silver Rooms
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Communicating on Purpose

(click for podcast version)


Conscious or Unconscious, You're Still Communicating

One of the most important premises behind Conscious Communication is that on some level, there is actually a point in our communicating. We actually want to convey an idea or share something. We're not just making noises with our mouths, without a connection to some kind of outcome. Over time, it becomes a kind of auto-pilot activity like walking, and we really don't think about it. When a problem or misunderstanding comes along, it surprises us, like banging into a coffee table in the middle of the night. Suddenly, we become very conscious of walking and we pay a lot of attention, at least until the next day when our shin isn't hurting anymore.

Paying attention all the time is mentally exhausting, so we tend to “coast” whenever we feel comfortable enough to get away with it. Those misunderstandings jar us back to reality like that coffee table, and we're forced to re-orient ourselves in a hurry. What happened? Where are we? How did this happen? It can be like driving while tired, and suddenly jolting yourself awake; obviously not a pleasant experience.

On the other hand, (and that purpose behind our communication) there are things you actually do want to convey, and when we're not using conscious communication we're not putting our best case forward either. Crafting a message is just that; crafting. It requires some thought, some care, and absolutely requires being conscious of the words we choose and the way we put them together. So obviously we have at least two good arguments for conscious communication. One is avoiding the anxiety and misunderstandings that result when we don't, and the other is aspiring toward communicating what we were aiming for in the first place.


The Push and Pull of Words

Our brains are designed to work with a process called Quantum Computation. We process enormous amounts of information every second, and our brains filter, sort, and find patterns crossing seemingly unrelated areas. Language is just one part of the puzzle. This is why we can say one thing, mean another, and have it interpreted still another way. There are a lot of things going on at once. Conscious Communication enables us to focus and aim our words to be unambiguous and say what we really mean to say. This is called Verbal Accuracy and obviously works well with the top layers of our communication.

But what about the underlying, hidden agendas that we may not even be aware of in our own communication? What are we communicating that we have little or no awareness of, and yet is part of the total package the other person is processing? This is where we can look at two simple motivations behind all communication: pulling people toward us or pushing them away. Yes, I know this is a pretty grand statement, but think about it for a minute. Regardless of all the other reasons for saying whatever you may say, on a very core level you're either saying “come with me, see my side” or “back off, get away.”

This is where we either succeed in communicating or create confusion and conflict. Our words can be aimed in one direction, yet convey the opposite. This incongruity becomes a red flag in our pattern seeking brain. We get stuck trying to make sense out of the contradicting information we're getting, and hear a message far from what was intended.

The simplest and most obvious example of this is when someone's words and tone don't match. Most cognitive linguists agree that the tone will have more impact, and we'll simply discount the words. Of course this creates the secondary affect of communicating hypocrisy or “fakeness,” so we can really lose big when we're not paying attention to our tone being congruent with our words.

Another place we get into trouble is when our defenses get involved, and pull our message way off track. This is where our intention is “come with me and hear my side,” and yet our words end up saying, “back off, get away.” Most of the time people are completely unaware that they're doing this, which of course means that it's totally fixable by becoming aware. Yes, Conscious Communication comes in like a caped hero to save our interactions from plunging into an abyss.



The Return of the Empty Cup

The most common defensive verbal posture is called, “I know.” This is based on the belief that what you don't know will hurt you, (certainly potentially true). The problem is when we take this premise and play a little game of “telephone” in our own heads, shifting the meaning ever so slightly each time, and ending up far from the original statement. If the unknown will hurt you, you're vulnerable. To not be hurt you must be invulnerable. Thus to be invulnerable you must “know.” The equation is set up now: knowing equals invulnerability. This becomes that verbal posture. Even though it is usually a mostly unconscious process, the result is people taking the position of “knowing” to feel safe, whether they actually “know” or not. This defensive position is using a “back off” strategy, regardless of the actual message we may have wanted to get across, so there's a good chance we'll miss our opportunity, and the other person will miss our point.

Furthermore, the strategy is flawed. If we were actually conscious of this equation, we'd see the flaw. We started with actually knowing something to be safe. Go back in time and this could be anything from knowing where the ice is too thin to support us, to knowing where the good berries are. We transform this into trying to feel safe in conversations by using the same premise. We are invulnerable and already know “whatever” (or at least convey this as our defense mechanism.) Ironically, it works exactly backward and makes us far more vulnerable. When we take the stance that we already know, we don't investigate. This means we miss out on learning something, so that we actually know. When we don't actually know, we're far more vulnerable in reality. So this defensive posture actually has us shooting ourselves in the foot to be safe.

By recognizing when we're using the defensive posture of “knowing already,” we can catch ourselves and become more in the moment and the interaction. By not unconsciously pushing the other person back with our defenses, we can be more engaged with them, and have a two-way learning experience that will enrich both of us. We can avoid the stress of unnecessary conflict by keeping our communication clean and congruent, saying precisely what we mean, without the underlying defensive disconnect.





Quick Communication Tip


The Empty Cup

I've been espousing the Zen concept of the Empty Cup for years, and it figures prominently in stepping out of the simplistic defense mechanism of “knowing.” Merely by starting with the premise that “I don't know,” I am catapulted into a position of learning. I've opened the space for new information.


When your cup is empty, you can receive the tea. When your cup is already full, there is no room for you to accept something new. We become stifled and stagnant. You probably have plenty of experiences with people who “already know,” and have no great desire to bang on a locked door. Staying conscious of this you can ensure that you never become that person yourself. 


Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.






Resource Links:


Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"

Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the Integram


Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"

Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)

Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? come visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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Welcome to the Conscious Communication Chronicle, sharing how Conscious Communication results in success, and how you can achieve yours.   Enjoy!



Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results







Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul


also available at:

Browser Books
 2195 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA

Cover to Cover
 1307 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA

Phoenix Books
 3850 24th St.
San Francisco, CA

And of course the 800 lb.



Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.




Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media





“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment





" We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The  good news is: they can be overcome.  The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine





“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

     -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”





" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III , Director Pacific Development Partners




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