A cleanse is designed to make something thoroughly clean, to clear out toxins in order to restore health. I’ve always associated a cleanse with clean food, juicing, water, and supplements. I’m intrigued by the idea of doing a 30-day conversation cleanse.
Conversation Effects Our Health and Well-being
Our health and well-being are most definitely affected by what we put in our bodies – what we eat, drink, and inhale – and how we clean and take care of our bodies. Our health and well-being are also significantly affected by our conversations—the ones we have with ourselves and with others. Research documents the effect our words have on our health and well-being:
Why not try a 30-day conversation cleanse: Transform your words into conversations worth having. Make sure your interactions have an affirmative tone and positive direction, triggering the release of happiness hormones, which fortify you physically and support your mental and emotional well-being. This doesn’t mean avoiding conflict or problems. You can handle whatever comes your way in an appreciative way, in a way that values what is and moves towards a positive outcome.
You’re not going to be able to stop all negativity or eliminate negative emotions; that probably wouldn’t even be healthy. That being said, most of the negativity in our conversations isn’t worthwhile and has a detrimental effect on our lives and relationships. Research shows that a healthy ratio of positive to negative interaction is about 4:1.
Shifting from negativity to positivity is simply a matter of focusing your conversations on what you want and asking questions. If you’re about to complain, instead, talk about what you’d like to have happen. If you’re about to criticize someone, pause and ask questions to help you understand their actions. If you’re blaming yourself, pause and ask yourself what you will do differently the next time or what you can do to correct a situation.
3 Simple Steps to Help You Cleanse
Here are simple steps you can follow for the next 30 days.
- Begin each day with a commitment to pay attention to your words and how they are affecting you and others.
- Practice shifting negative interactions into positive ones:
- Catch yourself thinking negatively or engaged in a negative conversation (complaining, blaming, shaming, putting yourself or others down, criticizing). PAUSE, breathe, and get curious.
- Ask generative questions: Questions that stimulate curiosity, surface new information and knowledge, build understanding and connection, and create possibilities.
- Create a positive frame: Reframe the conversation so you are talking about what you want instead of what you don’t want. Talk about what might be possible and how to achieve it instead of what’s impossible.
- Keep a journal and track your positive to negative conversations. At the end of the day, reflect on times you caught yourself thinking negatively (about yourself or others) and how you shifted those conversations. If you weren’t able to shift to the positive in the moment, write the Do Over in your journal. Rethink that conversation: What questions might you have asked that could have shifted the tone and direction of the conversation. Reflect on your sense of well-being at the end of each day and track any correlation with your conversations.
How Does It Work?
Here’s how it worked for me last week. I was listening to my husband share a conversation he had had with a young man that he was advising. My critic stepped forward to speak. I saw her coming, and paused, took a breath, and got curious. Instead of allowing my critic to speak, I asked, “How did Dave respond?” My husband shared Dave’s response, which deepened the story and why my husband was giving him this advice. In a past life (not that long ago), I would have jumped in to share why I disagreed with his advice. That would have side-tracked his story and catapulted us into a critical conversation. It would have ended badly: me feeling guilty about being judgmental; my husband feeling angry and unlikely to share with me again. It would not have been a conversation worth having. As it was, being mindful of my critical thought and shifting it to curiosity meant we stayed in his conversation, he felt heard, I learned a bit more about him, and I learned more about myself. I’m committing to at least 30 more days of this!
Join me in a 30-day conversation cleanse. You can download your free conversation toolkit at www.conversationsworthhaving.today. If you do the cleanse, please share your experience with me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheri Torres is a Lead Catalyst for positive change and organization consultant with Collaborative by Design. She works with leaders in organizations and communities to enhance their ability to fuel productivity and meaningful engagement.