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10.25.2012 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

How to Have "The" Conversation

I experienced a pretty serious break down in communication with a colleague some time ago day.  It doesn't matter how it started or who was to blame.  There usually isn't "one" person to blame in these moments.  After all, it takes two people to engage in an argument, right?

What was interesting, however, was that we were able to mend this relationship and actually take it to a whole new level.  The reason we were able to do so is because we engaged in the conversation.  There are actually two conversations that run rampant in our own head when we have a communication breakdown.  There's the one tape that keeps playing about how right we are and how we're going to let this person have it the next go around.  Then, there's the conversation that comes from the highest self.  That's the conversation that comes from love and humility instead of anger and unfounded self-righteousness behavior.  Guess which one is the harder to accomplish?

Since this person and I are both committed to our relationship more than we are to our own egos, we opted for the second conversation.  The one that comes from the highest self.   Here's what I learned from this experience:

  1. Stop the Story:  Whatever negative conversation you're having about the person in the moments that follow the initial confrontation, allow yourself an hour or so to run it.  Then, Stop!  The longer you engage in the negative aspects of the moment, the more grounded you will get in being victimized.  In being right.
  2. Check the Facts:  We are creatures of imagination.  Check your own thinking.  How much of the story is in your head? Is pure fiction?  Is based on facts?
  3. Avoid Assumptions:  Don't pretend that you know the other person's intentions.  Unless you've asked what his intention is, you're making assumptions.  Assumptions are not factual.  They are part of your own ego story.
  4. Listen:  If you get the chance for that second conversation, let the other person fully express her point of view.  Once you know the story in their own head, you have the information from which to appropriately respond.
  5. Commit:  If you truly want to resolve the situation, you have to commit to humility.  You have to be willing to love this person in spite of whatever you're thinking or feeling.  Sounds corney, but that action of love  can heal the damage of harmful words and broken hearts.

The ego is a powerful force.  I needed grace to handle this encounter.  I was blessed that my colleague came to the meeting as her Highest Self.  Together we managed to shift perspectives to allow for a much deeper relationship.

Yet, it was a bittersweet moment.  When I hung up the phone, I thought of other moments in my life where, for whatever reason, I wasn't able to have that higher level conversation.  Those people are either no longer a part of my life or the relationship has changed.  That reality saddens me.   Having had this experience, I'm optimistic that I can avoid future ego-centric  breakdowns in communication.

Q:  How about you?  What are your strategies for having that Highest Self Conversation?

Comment here.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. October 25, 2012