If an authentic discussion is the simplest form of the exchange of human knowledge then all conversation revolves around its three phases.

Credit: Sartaj Anand

Hope

This phase marks the beginning of most discussions and is characterized by the fact that nearly all participants are very optimistic about both the outcome and the process. There is a feeling that every voice will be heard and every concern addressed so that no one loses out in this exchange. Sincere authenticity and elevated energy levels are classic indicators of this phase since hope is critical to the establishment of lasting trust and a precursor to tangible action. If people don’t have any earlier negative experience to inform them then they organically gravitate towards this phase. However, it is infinitely more difficult to convince participants to revisit this phase once they have moved on from this point.

History

The absence of trust causes the decay of the hope phase into the history phase. This particular phase represents the lowest point of any discussion since it flips our orientation of time and success. There is a shift from the future to the past and from possibility to failure. Consequently, participants of the discussion feel disappointed during this phase and attach a permanent sense of nostalgia to it. Although they long for the earlier phase, they find it extremely challenging to objectively deal with new information and navigate away from this space.

Hype

Reverse migration from the history phase to the hope phase compulsorily requires an intermediary stage - hype. This phase primarily serves as the alternative vision or reality that all participants can now assemble around. Unlike hope, hype is much more tangential in its expectations and promises. And it cannot afford to be anything else since most participants now possess a jaded and distorted worldview. Its attempts to aggregate trust can have two outcomes - successful migration from hype to hope or regression from hype to history. Although the former is immediately desirable, multiple iterations of the latter can also result in an eventual success condition.

Credit: Sartaj Anand