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Our response to difficult conversations is neurologically the same response to fear: the fight, flight, or freeze response.
When you feel that internal escalation, think, “‘Oh this is really interesting, what’s happening is my reptilian brain is taking over.’ Just that awareness itself can be helpful.
When we are in conflict, our view of the other person becomes so narrow that we do not see them as a fleshed-out person.
Try to assume that the other person is acting in good faith. That baseline assumption can get you through plenty of instances of misplaced tone and timing.
Good communication is a full-body experience. It’s how we breathe. It’s our tone. It’s our gestures.
Cultivate habits like keeping an open expression, avoid defaulting to crossed arms, and taking deep breaths to help change the tenor of an interaction.
A mediation mindset is a place for trying to get to the root of an issue. That might mean proceeding without an agenda and just trying to learn more.
Use open-ended questions: "Can you tell me why?” Keep the questions to six words or fewer. And don’t think too much. Just be curious.
One of the traps of digging into hard conversations is a desire to get to a copacetic place where everyone feels better.
Head for the fiery core of the issue. Find the pain points. And, before getting wrapped up in resolving, acknowledge how they’re affecting everyone. The ultimate goal of mediation, after all, isn’t agreement. It’s understanding.
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