Expanding or Contracting Relationships, etc. by Kurt Larsson


Expanding or Contracting Relationships, etc. By Kurt Larsson

Fist and palm - Version 2Surely you have experienced being in a conversation where it flowed forward and expanded with new possibilities with every new sentence. Then there are other times when you felt your energy drain and you couldn’t wait to be finished with the meeting. What was the difference that made one so enjoyable and fruitful and the other so boring and energy draining?

When practicing Body Harmony® we become very aware of whether we are expanding or compressing our client’s tissue. In classical massage there is a tendency to find a place on the body that is so tense that it hurts and start pressing there until the hurt goes away… For a while… In this typical scenario what you are doing is literally imposing your will on your client’s tissure.
How does it feel when you have someone else’s will imposed upon you in a conversation or relationship?
Even if the intrusion is presented as ”good for you”, does it help?

A few examples of conversaional compressions:

–       Debates where someone wants to be right, often at the expense of others being wrong.

–       Sarcasm often veiled as a joke. It is usually delivered at the expense of someone or something else.

–       Personal attacks when someone deliberately shifts the subject from the original goal to question the character or integrity of another participant. Emotions and tempers can start to rise quickly.

–       Saying ”I don’t know” is a superb curiosity killer. Even though it maybe the truth, saying it in order to shut down further discussion often compresses the curiosity right out of everyone involved in the conversation.

–       Deferring a decision to someone who is not present is another great way to compress a conversation and expand its duration. If that is not your intention, then make sure you have the proper responsibility and authorization necessary to decide when it is time.

–       Being polite can be very nice, but it can also be seen as a thinly veiled cover-up for being ”pissed-off-lightly”.
This is ultimately just another form of sarcasm and can often be misinterpreted, especially when there is a mix of cultures present.

What we have learned through the practice of Body Harmony is that the more you can create a safe and comfortable space to allow the tissue to express itself, the more it has to say. It can then  release tension as well as begin to expand back to its optimal size, freeing all that energy up to use somewhere more practical or enjoyable. What I have further found is that this same principle works extremely well in just about every conversational and relational format.

Whether you are for instance: presenting to a group, discussing with a committee, negotiating with a customer or just letting a friend ventilate, the more you allow the conversation room to expand, the more possibilities you can cultivate to move everyone towards a positive and inspiring conclusion. In other words, instead of trying to manage the conversation towards a preset goal you lead. guide and allow it to expand towards where it wants to go and trusting the result will be in line with everyones expectations.

If all present are already in agreement on the conversation’s ultimate goal, such as in a sales meeting or when taking a decision on a point in the agenda, then the task of guiding the conversation there becomes easier. When this is not the case, relaxing into the adventure of the conversation and opening up new pathways can be stimulating, creative and productive on a whole different plane. It then becomes a question of how much you trust yourself and the process.

Be sure to identify and handle those people you are talking with who like/need to manage and (therefore,) compress conversations. This type of behavior can be a function of low self-esteem or confidence, the product of an obsessive need for control, a demonstration of who’s in charge or for no reason at all. Regardless, it is very useful to remain outside of  their ”Tractor Beam” of control. It will help to keep the conversation light and moving forward. Here are a few tips to further support this process:

–       Listen with all your senses. One of the main reasons people feel the need to continually repeat what they have said is because they did not feel heard and understood. Focus on them and demonstrate you ”GOT” what they were saying.

–       Ask lots of questions. The more specific and reflective, the better.

–       Adjust course back to expanding the conversation using pertinent questions if the conversation gets bogged down or compressed with abstractions.

–       Handle all speculations, reasons, defenses, justifications, excuses and brush-offs by introducing some inspiring possibilities based upon what is being said.

–       Keep refocusing upon measurable, practical and actionable issues. The more they inspire all involved, the better they will contribute to positive action and result.

–       Provide lots of reflection space. The simplest and most effective way to transform a sharp debate or argument back into a flowing dialogue is to ask an appropriate question, pause and then listen closely and completely to the answers provided.

–       Dig deeper into what the speaker means and allow them to either explain the brilliance of their input or permit them to tie themselves up in their own convoluted details. The result will usually show up clearly if you remain curious and serve by posing thoughtful questions.

–       Keep the conversation flowing and lively with some humor and lots of pauses.

Most of all, trust the process. The biggest reason heard NOT to attempt to expand a conversation is the fear that it will chew up too much valuable time or worse, you will lose control or “face” for not being the Expert in Charge.

What if that is just not true?

Experience demonstrates that if you drive a converstion towards its goal and compress it by denying all involved a chance to say what is important, the decision will be short lived, shaky or ultimately wrong. Most dialogue experts confirm that regardless of the method, the ultimate amount of time expended on the issue will be about the same whether you choose either to:

–       Drive the point home by compressing everyone involved and then having weak support for the result, or

–       Increase the time to allow everyone to express themselves and anchor the decision in a firm foundation of cooperation.

The big difference will be realized later in the soundness, quality and longevity of the resulting decision. Thus, whether it is working with a handshake, a conversation or a relationship, compressing them will result in a much weaker result. It will also be more prone to failure later on than allowing them to expand into the corresponding void of possibility. The difference is up to you, the tools you use and result you desire.

For more information on integrating the tools of expansion into your organization please click here.

To get a practical understanding of how your body responds to expansive or compressive behavior you are welcome to test a Body Harmony Session by clicking here.

And don’t forget this autumn’s Body Harmony Basic Workshop Series in Stockholm Sweden!

©2013 Kurt Larsson, All rights reserved

About The Author


I am fascinated with what makes us humans ”tick”, especially when it comes to how we consciously communicate and express ourselves with our body language. My business background is in international sales and sales management, selling everything from automobile tires in Houston, Tx, to retail banking delivery systems in 20 countries. I have graduated from CoachU’s 3 year Coach Training program, been certified as an Extended DISC consultant and become a Certified International Body Harmony Teacher with over 20 years of ”hands-on” experience in bodywork. This rich and varied background combined with over 20 years of being an entrepreneur has blessed me with insights and experiences I never would have noticed in the corporate world. Mainstream business now seems to be waking up to the riches available from more conscious and responsible business practices. Expanding Understanding’s Sensational Soft Skills Toolbox , the books I have written and training I have developed now provide savvy decision makers and their colleagues measurable results and a more restful night's sleep. These tools provide an edge in consciously understanding, deliberately using and profiting from the most powerful communication tool available, our bodies. I look forward to meeting you on this path to mastery in non verbal communication.

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