Using Your Imagination to Prepare for Important Conversations

Reviewed Jan 28, 2017

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Summary

  • Use the powers of your imagination to prepare for and analyze conversations and interactions.
  • Imagined interactions help build empathy for others.
  • Build time into your schedule to let your mind wander.

If you are like most people, you probably imagine conversations all the time without even realizing it.

Think about it. How many times have you imagined an important talk you’re planning to have with a co-worker or loved one? You may imagine how you might talk about a tough topic. Or you might imagine what the other person’s response might be. 

You also probably replay past talks in your mind. At that time, you may remember the good things about the conversation. Or you may try to figure out what went wrong. Most of us have had the experience of remembering an argument where we wish we had said something different or come up with the perfect response. In this way, remembering past talks helps us prepare for future discussions.

Improving communication skills

Imagined conversations also help us improve communication skills in general. According to James M. Honeycutt, PhD, of Louisiana State University, imagined conversations help us:

  • Imagine how other people feel
  • Improve negotiating skills
  • Make us better at spotting lies
  • Find outlets for difficult emotions. For example, you may find relief from a tough situation by imagining telling off someone who in real life you would be unlikely to confront.

Those who “imagine” conversations seem to be better communicators

Honeycutt reports that women tend to have more imagined conversations than men. This might be one reason that women are usually considered better at communicating. Women spend more time examining the content of conversations.

Lonely people, on the other hand, writes Honeycutt, have less imagined talks. When lonely people do imagine conversations, they tend not to be able to imagine the way most real-life conversations actually happen. In other words, they are not good at imagining another person’s point of view or possible responses. This may be a clue as to why they are lonely.

Daydreaming vs. goal-oriented imagining

We experience imagined conversations in two ways. The first way we experience an imagined conversation is when we wander off into a daydream. The second way is by purposely imagining a future conversation with a specific goal in mind. For example, you might set aside time to prepare for an important talk, like asking for a raise, so you can build confidence and prepare your arguments. The better you are at this type of mental planning—the better you will be at getting the result you want.

To get the best results from imagined conversations:

  • Set aside the time and space to imagine an important talk. Go for a long walk or do a task that requires movement but not a lot of thought, such as raking leaves or washing dishes. When doing simple tasks, the mind often slips into a mind-wandering state—a key path to creative thinking.
  • Picture as much of the scene as possible. Imagine how you will feel when you are face-to-face with the other person. Picture the encounter in as much detail as possible.
  • Think about the different responses you may get in the course of the talk. Plan a variety of responses to objections or shifts in conversation.
  • Imagine the different emotions you may feel in the course of the talk so you can prepare yourself for tough moments.
By Amy Fries
Source: Imagined Interactions: Daydreaming about Communication by James M. Honeycutt, PhD. Hampton Press, 2003; Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Power by Amy Fries. Capital Books, 2009; Daydreaming: Using Waking Fantasy and Imagery for Self-Knowledge and Creativity by Eric Klinger, PhD. Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1990.

Summary

  • Use the powers of your imagination to prepare for and analyze conversations and interactions.
  • Imagined interactions help build empathy for others.
  • Build time into your schedule to let your mind wander.

If you are like most people, you probably imagine conversations all the time without even realizing it.

Think about it. How many times have you imagined an important talk you’re planning to have with a co-worker or loved one? You may imagine how you might talk about a tough topic. Or you might imagine what the other person’s response might be. 

You also probably replay past talks in your mind. At that time, you may remember the good things about the conversation. Or you may try to figure out what went wrong. Most of us have had the experience of remembering an argument where we wish we had said something different or come up with the perfect response. In this way, remembering past talks helps us prepare for future discussions.

Improving communication skills

Imagined conversations also help us improve communication skills in general. According to James M. Honeycutt, PhD, of Louisiana State University, imagined conversations help us:

  • Imagine how other people feel
  • Improve negotiating skills
  • Make us better at spotting lies
  • Find outlets for difficult emotions. For example, you may find relief from a tough situation by imagining telling off someone who in real life you would be unlikely to confront.

Those who “imagine” conversations seem to be better communicators

Honeycutt reports that women tend to have more imagined conversations than men. This might be one reason that women are usually considered better at communicating. Women spend more time examining the content of conversations.

Lonely people, on the other hand, writes Honeycutt, have less imagined talks. When lonely people do imagine conversations, they tend not to be able to imagine the way most real-life conversations actually happen. In other words, they are not good at imagining another person’s point of view or possible responses. This may be a clue as to why they are lonely.

Daydreaming vs. goal-oriented imagining

We experience imagined conversations in two ways. The first way we experience an imagined conversation is when we wander off into a daydream. The second way is by purposely imagining a future conversation with a specific goal in mind. For example, you might set aside time to prepare for an important talk, like asking for a raise, so you can build confidence and prepare your arguments. The better you are at this type of mental planning—the better you will be at getting the result you want.

To get the best results from imagined conversations:

  • Set aside the time and space to imagine an important talk. Go for a long walk or do a task that requires movement but not a lot of thought, such as raking leaves or washing dishes. When doing simple tasks, the mind often slips into a mind-wandering state—a key path to creative thinking.
  • Picture as much of the scene as possible. Imagine how you will feel when you are face-to-face with the other person. Picture the encounter in as much detail as possible.
  • Think about the different responses you may get in the course of the talk. Plan a variety of responses to objections or shifts in conversation.
  • Imagine the different emotions you may feel in the course of the talk so you can prepare yourself for tough moments.
By Amy Fries
Source: Imagined Interactions: Daydreaming about Communication by James M. Honeycutt, PhD. Hampton Press, 2003; Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Power by Amy Fries. Capital Books, 2009; Daydreaming: Using Waking Fantasy and Imagery for Self-Knowledge and Creativity by Eric Klinger, PhD. Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1990.

Summary

  • Use the powers of your imagination to prepare for and analyze conversations and interactions.
  • Imagined interactions help build empathy for others.
  • Build time into your schedule to let your mind wander.

If you are like most people, you probably imagine conversations all the time without even realizing it.

Think about it. How many times have you imagined an important talk you’re planning to have with a co-worker or loved one? You may imagine how you might talk about a tough topic. Or you might imagine what the other person’s response might be. 

You also probably replay past talks in your mind. At that time, you may remember the good things about the conversation. Or you may try to figure out what went wrong. Most of us have had the experience of remembering an argument where we wish we had said something different or come up with the perfect response. In this way, remembering past talks helps us prepare for future discussions.

Improving communication skills

Imagined conversations also help us improve communication skills in general. According to James M. Honeycutt, PhD, of Louisiana State University, imagined conversations help us:

  • Imagine how other people feel
  • Improve negotiating skills
  • Make us better at spotting lies
  • Find outlets for difficult emotions. For example, you may find relief from a tough situation by imagining telling off someone who in real life you would be unlikely to confront.

Those who “imagine” conversations seem to be better communicators

Honeycutt reports that women tend to have more imagined conversations than men. This might be one reason that women are usually considered better at communicating. Women spend more time examining the content of conversations.

Lonely people, on the other hand, writes Honeycutt, have less imagined talks. When lonely people do imagine conversations, they tend not to be able to imagine the way most real-life conversations actually happen. In other words, they are not good at imagining another person’s point of view or possible responses. This may be a clue as to why they are lonely.

Daydreaming vs. goal-oriented imagining

We experience imagined conversations in two ways. The first way we experience an imagined conversation is when we wander off into a daydream. The second way is by purposely imagining a future conversation with a specific goal in mind. For example, you might set aside time to prepare for an important talk, like asking for a raise, so you can build confidence and prepare your arguments. The better you are at this type of mental planning—the better you will be at getting the result you want.

To get the best results from imagined conversations:

  • Set aside the time and space to imagine an important talk. Go for a long walk or do a task that requires movement but not a lot of thought, such as raking leaves or washing dishes. When doing simple tasks, the mind often slips into a mind-wandering state—a key path to creative thinking.
  • Picture as much of the scene as possible. Imagine how you will feel when you are face-to-face with the other person. Picture the encounter in as much detail as possible.
  • Think about the different responses you may get in the course of the talk. Plan a variety of responses to objections or shifts in conversation.
  • Imagine the different emotions you may feel in the course of the talk so you can prepare yourself for tough moments.
By Amy Fries
Source: Imagined Interactions: Daydreaming about Communication by James M. Honeycutt, PhD. Hampton Press, 2003; Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Power by Amy Fries. Capital Books, 2009; Daydreaming: Using Waking Fantasy and Imagery for Self-Knowledge and Creativity by Eric Klinger, PhD. Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1990.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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