Part of what erodes trust and relatedness is the tension that arises when people disagree. Even in the best relationships, there is always be room for disagreement.
Unfortunately, most of us prefer to
avoid those tough conversations and to live with the tension than confront the
But it's like a
mosquito bite that keeps nagging at you, either as a background itch or a
really big irritant that just won't go away. Instead of living with it, why not
change the conversation?
Consider that tough conversations
are really about a clash of perspectives or values (or both). Hold the details
for now and think about a problem you have with someone. Notice that whatever it is,
at the source is some kind of difference in perspectives or values.
In a clash of perspectives or
values someone has to win while the other person loses. We generally hope to be
on the winning side. This alone sets us up for a hard time. No one likes to
lose and when we're in an adversarial position we tend to focus on making the
other person see things our way. That can be like asking a
blind person to understand blue.
What can you do? It’s both really easy and very
Start to wonder why they think the way they do. No, not because they’re an
idiot. Consider that whatever they are doing or saying makes perfect sense in
their world. Then start to see things from their perspective. Get curious about the logic they are using and realise their actions are a perfect expression of that logic.
Otherwise they wouldn’t behave that way!
This is also known as mentalising about another person's thought processes. As soon as you engage your brain to wonder what the other person is thinking, you begin to experience empathy for them and more understanding of their perspective. You may notice a little
bit of easing of the tension and a greater ability to solve the issue.
Even though you may still disagree with their ideas, at least you are starting to understand where they are coming from and can build a more productive conversation.
Watch this space for more on
Changing The Conversation