≡ Menu

Disagreements Mean You Need More Information

Have you ever heard a conversation like this?

He: OK, it’s 3:30 – let’s go pick up my car from the shop.

She: I’m not ready to go right now.  Let’s go later.

He: I don’t want to go later.  I want to go now.

She: Why does it always have to be about what you want?

He: That’s ridiculous!  It’s never about what I want.  I never get to do what I want.  You always get your way…

Or like this?

Parent: Put on your shoes, please.

Kid: No.

Parent: Put on your shoes.

Kid: No.

Parent: Put on your shoes.

Kid: No.

Parent: All right, that’s it.  I’ve had it.  Put on your shoes right now or you are going to get a time out.  Is that what you want?  1….2….

Sound familiar?  OK – how about this one:

Your Heart: I want to work on my book.

Your Head: That’s dumb.  You never finish anything.  You’ve had that idea for years.

Your Heart: But I really love writing.

Your Head: Oh, please.  Ever since Mrs. Martin told you that you were a good writer when you were in the third grade you’ve been all hung up on writing.  You’re probably not even really any good.  And have you seen what’s happening to publishing lately?  Let’s go on Facebook…you can write funny things on your friends’ wall if you want to write so much.

Get Out Of Your Defensive Position

I think that it is very difficult to listen, to learn or to negotiate when you are feeling defensive.  You’re just too busy protecting your weak spots.  And maybe trying to get in a few jabs yourself.

So the next time you catch yourself with your arms crossed, your eyebrows raised and your temper beginning to flare, ask yourself: What More Information Do I Need? and What Information Can I Communicate More Clearly?

With those questions in mind, the first dialogue might go like this:

He: OK, it’s 3:30 – let’s go pick up my car from the shop.

She: I’m not ready to go right now.  Let’s go later.

He: I don’t want to go later.  I want to go now.

She: Well, I want to go later because I’m sort of in the middle of writing this blog post right now.  Why do you want to go now?

He: I have some errands that need to be done by 5pm, and I’m concerned about traffic.  If we stay here another 5 minutes, does that give you enough time to get to a good stopping point?

She: Oh, I didn’t know you had errands that were time-dependent.  Actually, we can just go right now.  I’ll have time to finish writing when we get back.

Or

Parent: Put on your shoes, please.

Kid: No.

Parent: I know you like to be barefoot.  I need you to put on your shoes because we’re going to the park and it’s cold outside and I don’t want your feet to get frozen like popsicles.  Then we’d have to change your name to “Popsicle Feet,” and I don’t think any of us want that.  Now, do you want to wear your red sneakers or your boots?

Kid: That’s silly.  OK…red sneakers, please.

Now, I know that negotiations – particularly family negotiations – don’t always go that easily.  Not everything can be solved by simply explaining your rationale.  (Especially when it comes to little kids and shoes – I know.)

But assuming good will diminishes conflict.

Full disclosure makes room for cooperation.

And how about that internal conversation?

Your Heart: I want to work on my book.

Your Head: That’s dumb.  You never finish anything.  You’ve had that idea for years.

Your Heart: I know – that’s how I know it’s an important project.  Because I had this idea years ago and I’m still thinking about it.

Your Head: Oh, please.  Ever since Mrs. Martin told you that you were a good writer when you were in the third grade you’ve been all hung up on writing.  You’re probably not even really any good.  And have you seen what’s happening to publishing lately?  Let’s go see what’s happening on Facebook…you can write funny things on your friends’ wall if you want to write so much.

Your Heart: Head, you get scared so easily, and I know you’re just trying to protect us.  Thanks for that.  Tell you what: I’m going to set this timer for 15 minutes and write.  Then we can go on Facebook, OK?

So:

1) What are you disagreeing about?

2) What are you trying to protect?

3) What more information do you need?

4) What more information could you provide?

5) How can you affirm your good will towards yourself or towards others?  (Smile, give a kiss, say something sweet, make a good joke – not a mean joke!  a fun joke! – let them know that you’ve walked a mile in their red sneakers…)

2 comments… add one
  • Virginia February 8, 2011, 7:00 am

    Thanks for this … particularly the last part. Even though I have frequent conversations between myself & ‘spirit’ in my journal using dominant hand for questions & non-dominant hand for answers, I’m not sure I’ve ever thought to have such a conversation between my heart & head, so I’ve copied & pasted your example along with the questions into Notepad so I can use them today … and periodically in the future. Maybe I’ll share the results on my blog 😉
    Hugs and blessings,

  • Currie Silver February 8, 2011, 7:24 pm

    I love this. Of course, I can relate to all 3 scenarios, most especially the one about the Mrs. Martin, though mine were Mrs. MacKenzie and Mrs. Risch… and even just today when Sherry went ga-ga over 4 little paintings I’d reworked since last week’s Workshop.

    Every word of praise, I swear, she has GOT TO BE “just saying that” however… I know that she’s also never minced words about what she does NOT like (and she and I work in such different colour palettes). There are several pieces I’ve been ready to just gesso over or cut up and then I take them in and she spins my head round…

    You really DO make so much sense though… xoxo

Leave a Comment