BeamTeam Books header - getting real

Sign up here for Tim Ray and Barbara Berger's free e-newsletter

and get regular updates about:

- Tim and Barbara's latest discoveries and tools -

- New books -

- Upcoming lectures and workshops -

- Articles, bonus tracks -

- and lots of other good stuff for the soul -



Here is our last newsletter:

NO. 111 / DECEMBER 2017

In this newsletter you can read about:
1) New Year’s Eve Appreciation & Blessing Ceremony from The BeamTeam
2) The 3 Levels of Conversation (by Barbara Berger)
3) Interview with Barbara about Constructive Communications
4) Follow Barbara on Instagram

New Year’s Eve Appreciation and Blessing Ceremony from the BeamTeam

Dear friends,

Here’s a great BeamTeam New Year’s Appreciation & Blessing Ceremony you can do with friends and family (or yourself) on New Year’s Eve. First everyone sits down together and makes 2 lists.
On List 1: Write down all the things that happened in 2017 that you are grateful for. On List 2: Write down all the good things you wish for and visualize happening in 2018.
Each person makes his or her own 2 lists and keeps them private. (If people want to share their lists, that’s fine, but when we do the ceremony we usually keep our lists private.) After making the lists, each person tapes his or her 2 lists to their own firework rocket. Then everyone goes out and fires off all these rockets with everyone’s cheers and blessings at midnight! Great Fun to do with a group of people! Happy New Year from The BeamTeam!

The 3 Levels of Conversation

During the holiday season many of us have probably spent some time together with family and friends. And hopefully it was quality time. But even though the days and hours together were probably mostly good, for some of us there may also have been moments that were challenging. Here’s a more realistic approach to our conversations with others that can really make it easier to navigate in those moments when the family get-together (or any kind of meeting) suddenly becomes a bit challenging. And that is to understand …

The 3 Levels of Conversation

by Barbara Berger

When we understand how important it is for our relationships to respect each individual's right to live and be who they are, we can then analyze the different types of conversations we have with the various people we interact with in our lives. When we have a clear Model of how healthy interactions take place, we can then also have a more realistic assessment of our conversations with people and then take the appropriate action to improve these relationships when adjustments are needed.

To help us analyze the various healthy interactions we can have with people, we can divide these interactions into three levels as follows:

Level 1: Respect and reasonable politeness

Level 2: Respect, reasonable politeness and polite interest
Level 3: Respect, reasonable politeness and genuine interest and appreciation

Let's look at the three levels:

Level 1: Respect and reasonable politeness

The first and most basic level of exchange between any two human beings is one where there is respect and ordinary politeness. We find this in our interactions when we go shopping or when we go to the dentist or doctor or the car repairman. These people don't have to be especially interested in us personally and we don’t have to be especially interested in them personally, but we can interact politely because we have some kind of transaction that is important for both of us.

So again, respect and reasonable politeness are the basic elements here. You would never go back to a shop or to your dentist if the shopkeeper or dentist was aggressive or insulted you. So we rightfully expect this basic respect and politeness in these kinds of situations.

Level 2: Respect, reasonable politeness and polite interest

The next healthy level exchange also involves respect and ordinary politeness as the basis of the exchange, but in these situations there is also polite interest. We often find these kinds of exchanges at the workplace. For example, you are sitting at a table in the canteen with some of your colleagues and everyone is talking about their recent vacations. Jack is talking about his skiing holiday in the Alps and you are not particularly interested in skiing, but you listen politely because he is your colleague and it's important that you get along well with each other. When Jack is done telling about his holiday, he asks you about yours. And since you spent the week shopping in Paris, you tell him what you did. He might not be particularly interested in Paris and shopping, but because he also wants to have a good working relationship with you, he listens politely to your tale. And so we have a normal, polite exchange without either party having to be especially interested in what the other person is saying or doing.

It is also important to note that in this type of healthy exchange, when things go well we are talking about a "dialogue" – and not a "monologue". In a healthy exchange, the one person tells his or her tale or ideas while the other person listens, and then the other person gets to say his or her bit while the other person listens. So there is a fair exchange. A conversation is "off-putting" when one person monopolizes the situation and talks constantly without allowing the other person to get a word in edgewise. Which means it is not a polite exchange. It is a "monologue" which the listener probably did not sign up for. This also indicates a basic lack of respect for one of the people involved.

Level 3: Respect, reasonable politeness and genuine interest and appreciation

In the third level of exchange, we not only have a reasonable level of politeness, we also have a genuine interest and feeling of appreciation. In this case, the two people involved are truly interested in each other and what they are doing. This, of course, is what happens between real friends and in good couple relationships. We have two or more people who are genuinely interested in each other and often passionately involved in hearing about and enjoying what the other person or people are up to.

Confusion about the levels of conversation

Firstly, it is important to remember and recognize that respect and a reasonable level of politeness are prerequisites for any type of interchange, regardless of which level of conversation we are talking about. When there is a lack of basic respect and reasonable politeness for your right to be you – stay away!

It is also very important to understand that there is often confusion about what kind of a relationship we are involved in, so we are often confused about what goes on. For example, most people "expect" their families to be genuinely interested in and appreciative of what they are doing (Level 3). Just because "we are family". This is a source of much confusion and discomfort or even anguish. In order to clear up this misunderstanding, it is important to understand that just because people are "family", it does not necessarily mean that they should be passionately or genuinely interested in what you are doing. Being family is no guarantee of that. Why? Because when we are realistic and understand that every person is different, has different backgrounds, interests, and different levels of consciousness (even though they are blood relatives or grew up in the same household), we can also understand that different people are interested in different things, regardless of whether or not they are family. So it is a good idea to remind ourselves that whether we are family or not, each person is living in their own mental universe. And that each person probably has, or often has, very different thoughts, feelings and emotions about what is going on, even if we grew up in the same family.  That's just the way it is. So to expect your sister or father or brother or niece or nephew to take a passionate interest (Level 3) in the volunteer work you are doing just because you are "family" is probably not a good idea. But to expect basic respect and polite interest (Level 1 and 2), well again, this is a prerequisite for any type of exchange between you and other people, whether or not you are family. 

The same goes for couple relationships. Your partner might not be genuinely interested in every little thing you do, but the very minimum required for an interaction is basic respect and a reasonable level of politeness. Without this, there is no platform for a healthy relationship.

In this connection, it is interesting to note that we often will accept or tolerate disrespectful types of behavior from our family members or partners that we would never tolerate in a commercial exchange or from our friends. Just because we are "family" , we somehow believe that disrespectful behavior is okay – but this is never the case! Ever!

So good questions to ask yourself about your various interactions with the people in your life would be:
- Am I respectful and polite when I meet other people, regardless of the situation and whether or not we are in agreement about things?
- And vice versa, do other people treat me with respect in the various interactions I have with others?
- Are there situations or interactions where there is a lack of basic respect and politeness?
- In terms of my family or my partner, do I overlook the importance of polite and respectful conversation because we are family or a couple?
- Do members of my own family or my partner overlook the importance of polite and respectful conversation because we are family or a couple?
- Do I need to work on my conversation skills?

If you feel that you need to work on improving your ability to communicate constructively (most of us do), it's a good idea to work on understanding healthy boundaries and being assertive. For more about boundaries and assertiveness, see Part Two of my book "Find and Follow Your Inner Compass" and Chapter 3 of my book "Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life".

Radio interview with Barbara about Constructive Communications

If you want to learn more about healthy boundaries, assertiveness and constructive communications we warmly recommend this brand new radio interview where Barbara talks to Vivian Komori, Greg Barnes and Laura Feliz on The Broad Perspective about all these things. The interview is 1 hour and you can listen in here.

Follow Barbara on Instagram

Many of you are already following Barbara on Facebook and are enjoying her regular short reminders about all the many things (great and small) we can focus on each day that can make our lives and relationships a little bit more enjoyable. Now you can also follow Barbara on Instagram, where she regularly shares a bit of her “Getting Real” wisdom.

Happy New Year and may 2018 be filled with many respectful conversations, memorable and uplifting meetings, and many exciting adventures!

Love from
Tim, Barbara & The BeamTeam