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The Talk Kaleidoscope

The talk kaleidoscope is at first an invitation- to view your conversations, to know where you stand, to understand what stance you take and what your perspective in any talk is. Consider the talk kaleidoscope as the ‘You are here’ point that you would see on a map.


Consider the following three steps while you navigate your way through the kaleidoscope.

Step 1: Know Your Talk

The talk kaleidoscope works exceptionally in revealing your perspective, passion, drivers, social attitudes, comfort zones, listening, rapport, emotional maturity, etc., while you hold your conversations. It can be viewed by individuals or together as a team.

While looking through the kaleidoscope, remember:

  1. You can explore your conversations in your interpretations, from your viewpoint and bring your perspective.

  2. You can choose any, a few or all lenses in the kaleidoscope either individually or in combination.

  3. There is no set way to look at and express your thoughts and feelings about the conversations you have. You can choose to group them, find patterns, grade them, prioritize or ignore them as you choose.

  4. One lens is uniquely yours—a blank lens that you can choose to add any of your conversations from the past, a talk you are currently having in your life or one that you are preparing for.

  5. Feel free to meander through the talk kaleidoscope and start and stop anywhere. Choose your path.


The talk kaleidoscope shows a set of nine lenses, based on my research on classifying conversations and how people relate to them. There are three factors used to classify conversations:



People factor is the size of the group. Your talk comfort zone may change with the number of people in the conversation. There are four conversations in the people factor:

Self Talk

What we speak to ourselves is the biggest lens with which we see the world. How we speak with ourselves is important. Consider the following questions as you look at the lens of self-talk.

  1. Notice what kinds of internal dialogue you hold with yourself. Do you see a pattern?

  2. Analyse the pattern. Are they future-looking, positive or action-oriented?

  3. Are there any narratives that ruminate on the past, are negative and stop you from taking action?

  4. What conversations that you have with yourself will you want to change? How will that affect your life?


Conversations between two people are referred to as a dialogue in this context. Depth in a dialogue is about personal comfort, and you should be able to draw your levels. So as you look at your dialogues, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. How much of your conversations are in dialogue?

  2. How deep are some of your most important conversations?

  3. Are you comfortable talking about feelings and real potential talk or do you remain in the fact exchange zone?

  4. Which of these conversations would you want to change in depth? It can go deeper or shallower. Why?

  5. How would your relationships and your life change with the changes in your dialogue?

Group Talk

Conversations in groups are said to have dependent on the

number of people in a group. As you look into the conversations you have in groups, keep the following questions in mind.

  1. What is your comfortable group size?

  2. Do you see patterns in your group talk? Are you comfortable with it?

  3. If not, what patterns do you want to change? How will you invite your group to this new outlook?

Virtual Talk

As we explore our comfort zones, we must consider the change in medium.

  1. How comfortable are you in virtual talk?

  2. What kind of conversations do you have virtually?

  3. What challenges do you face talking virtually?

  4. Do your virtual conversations lead to action?



Purpose refers to the agenda or topic of the conversation. Most conversations come under the need to initiate or ideate; the need to influence, lead, inspire or steer a group; or the need to engage and connect with people. In the talk kaleidoscope, these lenses are

Influential Talk

Conversations which have the power to shift attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of others without a direct exertion of force or command are called influential conversations. What kind of influential talk are you having in your life? As you think about the conversations you have, look into the following questions.

  1. In any conversation, reflect on your intention and think if you are ready to change or to be influenced. Why or why not?

  2. How do you align yourself with another person during the conversation?

  3. What are your success factors? What are your challenges?

  4. What about your conversation would you want to change?

Initiative Talk

Initiative talks are the ones that begin the conversations—in a relationship, a network, a new idea or a new place.

When you look at initiative talks consider the following.

  1. How comfortable are you speaking with just anyone and about just anything?

  2. If there is discomfort, explore its nature.

  3. In what kind of topics are you most likely to initiate conversations?

Engaging Talk

The lens of engaging talk depends on genuine interest, in becoming a talking sponge, someone who actively lives in the now of the talk. This builds psychological safety and space for individuals and teams to build stronger relations. Looking at the lens, question yourself the following.

  1. How involved are you in any conversation?

  2. What kind of conversations bring more engagement for you? What kind of conversations bring disengagement?

  3. What are your intentions while building engagement?

  4. What if your best efforts don’t build engagement?

  5. How will a truly engaging talk change your life?



Priority is the place that causes the debates, the difficulty in speaking and the largest source of missing conversations. High-stake, high-emotion talks come under the lens of difficult talk. As priority is a personal factor, an open lens is also provided for you to fill in.

Difficult Talk

Often difficult talk is considered to be conversations that no one wants to hear or participate in and is dreaded. It can be holding a conflict, confronting someone, giving critical feedback, managing up, saying yes, saying no or even saying sorry.

  1. Look at the conversations you have. Which ones turn difficult for you?

  2. How do you react to a difficult talk?

  3. How would you want to react to a difficult talk?

  4. How do others feel about you in a difficult talk? What has been the feedback in such situations?

  5. What change, if any, would you want to bring in your lens of difficult talk?

Your Lens

Are there any conversations outside the above eight lenses that you

want to look into? Write them down.

Do you want to concentrate on a particular talk? Write it here.

Are you preparing for a conversation in the future and want to use

that? Use this space to prepare.

Step 2: Navigate the Talk Kaleidoscope

Now that you know what each of the lenses in the kaleidoscope stands for, look at them as a whole. Look at them in parts.

Try and look at conversations as a fractal of a few lenses. For example, performance feedback is a dialogue, maybe a difficult talk, maybe virtual.

Understanding which lens is comfortable for you, which lens is important and which lens is difficult gives direction to our awareness of our conversations.

Possible Questions to Ask Yourself as you look into the Talk Kaleidoscope

  1. Which talk lens feels most important to you?

  2. What conversations are you drawn towards?

  3. What conversations are you avoiding?

  4. Look at the lenses in relation to each other. Does group size affect you? Are you able to initiate, engage and influence talks with all groups and in all mediums? Are you able to hold low-priority talks and highly emotional and difficult talks with all? With anyone?

  5. How does your view of a lens change when you look at it at a personal level and a team/organizational level?

  6. Does your conversation change at different points in time, based on people, situations, moods and hunger?

  7. Does the same talk lens change with the different roles you have at work, in life, in time and the world: leader, family member, supporter, enabler, catalyst, nurturer, etc.?

Step 3: Reflective Response

As you look into the talk kaleidoscope, become very self-aware of the thoughts that come to you. Awareness enables responsiveness. Journal your thoughts.

There is a reason there is no measurement metric in the talk kaleidoscope.

It is a tool to help you become aware and understand your talk but does not judge and grade them. Use the kaleidoscope to know your conversations.

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