politenessIn today’s article, Kate Griffiths explores some of the elements that build barriers to deep connection in conversation and why that is.  She also shows how you can turn this around and get so much gold.  

I was at a yoga retreat today which was a real treat and I had so many aha moments that I just had to share them with you.  It was held at Barefoot Therapies, a truly magical place and worth a visit if you have not discovered it yet.  We were a small group of four which meant that the instructor was able to structure the session to our needs and I realised that I need to do a lot more core strengthening exercises so I have signed up for a new yoga class starting after half-term.

I soon realised that the yoga instructor knew everyone except me and that in itself made me feel uncomfortable.  The stories started in that I wondered if they were all experienced in this practice and whether I would look out of place. To get more grounded, I started to take an interest in my fellow participants.  I wanted to find out more about them so at some point during the morning I asked them about what they did.  It is almost a reflexive response to that kind of situation.  How many times have you found yourself in a place where you ask people what they do as a way to break the ice?

Why do you do it?  It is a habit something you were taught to do years ago.  It is considered polite and one could say it is part of the conditioned mind especially if you partake in these kind of rituals in an unthinking way.

For me today, it was about safety.  I thought I would feel more relaxed if I knew a bit about my fellow participants.  What happened next gave me the idea for this article.  After lunch we were sitting and chatting in the relaxation room and the yoga instructor said that she found it very invasive to ask the question what do you do.  So she never asks people that question and as a consequence perhaps very few people tend to ask her what she does.

So what’s the issue with asking such an innocent, harmless question you may ask?  Let’s break it down a bit further.  If you ask someone that question, they have to find a succinct way of describing themselves that you get.  This takes them into their head and when you are in your head, you are less likely to be truly connected to yourself, let alone another.  The whole process can feel constricting and inhibit dialogue even though it is an unquestioned norm in society. Think about it most marketing experts tell you that you need a memorable phrase to hook in a potential client.

If you are asked this question, the person asking you likes to get something back they understand because they can then categorise you and your service.  At that moment there is some judgement attached to the exchange.  They may ponder to themselves, is this person worth investing time in?  If you say you are a consultant, they may well think about other consultants they know and depending on what that experience was like, this recall of information can colour their perception of you in a positive or a negative way.

You and I are not our jobs – they are just one aspect of who we are and this is especially true for those who do what they do out of necessity to pay the bills rather than because they are passionate about it.  To really experience the essence of a person, it is important to stay open to all that they are so that you can make space for their soul to appear.  This is one of the reasons I set up my 12 month programme Sacred Space for the Soul.

Interestingly I had some informal feedback from participants who had attended the recent session at the start of Chinese New Year.  They had both struggled with the intentional lack of formal introductions at the beginning of the day and yet when they embraced that uncertainty, the magic started to unfold.  I was very curious about this because I consider these two women as evolved souls.  It just shows how ingrained these habits are in all of us.

All this said, I really learnt loads from Nicole and loved her spiritual yet practical approach to yoga.  By the end of our time together, I had signed up for her next course and discovered my fellow participants will also be on it!  I started in a place of discomfort, embraced it and got some great connections by the end of our time together

If you want to experience more of this approach to connection through dialogue then do get in touch and book a place on my forthcoming conversational change day, a really meaningful way to spend Valentines Day.  Finally I would love to hear any responses you have to this article, do leave a comment below.


Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  Contact her to attend the next one on 14 February.  She also teaches mindfulness so if you want to get your week off to a great start, book a place on her next four week course starting on 10 March.  If you prefer, get in touch with Kate to set up an initial consultation to explore working one to one with her.



How polite rituals can stifle conversation
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