So we all know that, in order to handle crucial conversations, we should focus on having a dialogue.
But the question is how ?
The first advice the book gives is: Start with the Heart. When I first read this advice, it seems generic. What heart ? Whose heart ? Doesn’t sound informative.
We are a creature that can adapt to the environment very effectively. But to be that effective, our brain circuits are re-used a lot. The circuits in charge of recognizing physical threats are also the same one responsible for recognizing social threats.
When we engage in a crucial conversation, emotions run strong and the stakes are high, naturally we perceive ourselves as being threatened. The brain, before even knowing what the threat is precisely, commands the body to bump blood to muscles, increase our body temperature, all in preparation for a fight-or-flight response.
This, sadly, means that not much blood will be left in the brain. Worst, the degree of social threats fails pale in comparison to the physical threats our ancestors faced, so our senses are not heightened to the degree where things slow down and our processing power increases. At least that would be fun. All crucial conversations do is impose on us a condition of not being able to think clearly.
Our thoughts very often are interpretations that our brain makes of the bodily responses. It means that when we are under danger, our brain will either cause us to encourage the use of physical capabilities to solve a social problem. In absence of that option, we freeze up. This clearly is not the way to go.
But our thoughts are also interpretations that our brain makes of what our Heart wants. When you really really want to have a relationship with someone, your thoughts, in the long term, will be oriented towards this goal. So to start with the Heart is to look past the bodily responses to look for what we really want, rather than what evolution urges us to do.
However, there is a physical mechanism that damages our ability to reason, so this advice is not flexed out entirely. In my next post: How to conquer trauma? I continue investigating the theme of trauma which induces very similar, often even more intense, emotional responses.
“What do I really want ? Do I want to attack the other person and make him feel bad ? Or do I want to achieve my purpose which is to [ Insert your purpose ]”What you should be asking yourself
This way, you have a basis to ignore the feeling of wanting to go on the offense.
Another reason is that, when you do ask yourself this question, you trigger the part of your brain that deals with abstract, intricate problem solving. Thus your brain will start to recognize that you are dealing with a problem, rather than dealing with a threat. This physiologically calms you down, and thus makes it easier for you to focus on getting what you really want.