How to Speak so People Listen is filled with specific concepts and models. To make a valuable resource for readers, and to introduce non-readers to some of the core concepts of the book, I have created a dictionary. As a bonus, this dictionary also contains additional terms and ideas that are not contained in How to Speak so People Listen. It is in 16 parts and has around 100 entries. If you like dictionaries -�take a look too at The Yes/No Dictionary based on my earlier book, The Yes/No Book.

Part 14: Complicated Conversations

Last week we looked at to Casual Conversations. This week, we will look at words relating to Complicated Conversations.

A reminder…

Casual Conversation (noun); A conversation with low stakes and little contention, held between two people who respect one another. Casual conversations pass easily and comfortably.

Complicated Conversation (noun); A conversation with some combination of contention, consequences, emotional baggage, polarity of views, and fear. Complicated conversations are necessary but difficult to hold.


Breakdown process (noun); A structured process for mending relationships that have broken down, described fully on pages 150-152 of How to Speak so People Listen.

Deep dialogue (noun); A conversation where information flows absolutely freely. Both parties have the courage to examine it, test and challenge it. They must be prepared to review -�even overturn -�their interpretations of that information. This exchange must not be impeded by euphemisms or unclear language, nor by censoring inconvenient truths. A deep dialogue seeks to merge two stories through inner circle speaking (qv). Compare with shallow dialogue (qv).

Deep Dialogue 2

Candour spectrum (noun); Inner circle speaking (qv) creates a challenge for us. We must balance a need for social politeness and all the benefits it confers with a desire for real candour. This creates a spectrum of possible responses between the extremes of being downright blunt and a fear of being honest.

Candour Spectrum

Freudian slips�(noun); When we use the wrong word in a speaking and it is interpreted as betraying our true thoughts or feelings.

Inner circle speaking (noun); When you say what you are really thinking, and strip away the meta-messages (qv) to expose your true self. Compare with outer circle speaking (qv).

Inner & Outer Circle Speaking

Meta-messages (noun); The set of other messages that are superimposed on top of the message that we are putting out deliberately, which are leaking out of us, below our conscious awareness.

Outer circle speaking (noun); When the words we use hide our true message -�what we truly observe, think and feel -�behind a mask of social conventions. These protect us from what we fear: exposure of our true thoughts and feelings. Compare with inner circle speaking (qv).

Shallow dialogue (noun); Dialogue that is shrouded by outer circle speaking and censoring of information. Compare with deep dialogue (qv).

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