As you identify who you are, declare what you need and state your beliefs in a discovery conversation, you and your conversation partner will naturally find yourself moving into an I-You Conversation. An I-You conversation is a straightforward and powerful process where you and your conversation partner invite each other to reflect aspects of your selves that may currently seem unknown and unfamiliar to you. Working with your conversation partner in an I-You conversation enables you to connect with aspect of your inner world that may have previously appeared unknown and unfamiliar to you so that you can open yourself up to the possibilities that they might offer you. As well as making a deep connection with the inner world of your conversation partner, an I-You conversation also enables you to make a deeper connection with your own self.
As you create a conversation space by identifying the boundaries around your conversation, you often become aware of other boundaries that are present in your conversation space. These boundaries should not be seen as thresholds, barriers or limits to your conversation, as a boundary is just an edge that describes a difference between one area and a different area. There is a boundary around the area that you need to talk about right now and that makes the difference between that and what you don’t need to talk about right now. There is a boundary between how you see things in your inner world and the reality of the outer world, and your conversation is helping you to understand the differences between them. There is a boundary between your inner world and the inner world of your partner that enables you to understand the difference between your differing perspectives.
The Blame Game
Losing your conversation space by blaming tension on an individual person also means that you lose the context for your conversation and your conversational boundaries become vague and poorly defined. Rather than actually understanding the conversation context and using that to work your way through challenges and tensions, you may appear to be blaming other individuals for the challenges and problems that you are encountering. Instead of trying to find fault, it is far healthier to resolve tension by keeping it neutral and focusing on the mutual reflections of an I-You conversation. Examples of this are asking ‘Where is the tension, is it between your inner and outer world, or is it between aspects of your inner world’? And rather than saying ‘why are you angry with me?’, simply say ‘the tension that I’m feeling is that you are angry with me’. As you work with the tension, you will always connect across boundaries.
As you use an I-You conversation to focus on mutual reflections, you will instinctively find yourself creating questions that are non-critical, rather than just simply making critical statements. Examples of non-critical questions and statements are ‘so what I’m hearing’, ‘what’s coming up for me is that’, and ‘can you confirm what you have just said’? The more that you ask neutral and non-critical questions in an I-You conversation, the far more likely it is that you and your conversation partner will move beyond mere criticisms of each other’s viewpoints so that you can both open up to the bigger possibilities of reflecting deeper insight to each other.
Apologies and Assumptions
This neutral approach of confirming your assumptions means that you will create a safe context to hold your I-You conversation in. Rather than your conversation partner being guarded and responding defensively, you create a non-judgemental space where you can both converse more freely. You may, however, also find yourself trying to resolve tension between your different perspectives by seemingly apologising for what you are about to say to your conversation partner. You may hear yourself doing this when you use language like this ‘Sorry for having to say this’, ‘if I’m being honest’, ‘you’re going to hate me for this’, ‘sorry to burst your bubble’ or ‘sorry to be the bearer of bad news’. Unless you have done something that you genuinely regret, when you hear yourself apologising in a conversation, you are simply trying to gain acceptance from your conversation partner about a specific issue that may cause tension for you both.