September 19, 2011
Interview with Kerry Patterson, author of the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High 
We start usually telling ourselves stories about the other person’s bad motive, they’re disagreeing with us, they’ve done something that we didn’t like and as a protective mechanism the human body starts thinking OK I need to prepare for fight or flight and in doing so we sort of dumb ourselves down. The physiology that takes place at that moment if one where we drop adrenalin into our blood stream, our blood starts flowing away from the less important organs including the brain and we act in stupid ways.
So just when you need to think clearly, you can’t.
And the solution to that is to stop and ask yourself, “Wait a minute, I don’t have all of the information, why would a reasonable, rational and decent person have done what they did?” By taking a breath and asking yourself that humanizing question you’re much better prepared to enter a crucial conversation.
And usually the same thing is happening to the other person so you need to do something to prevent the argument from escalating.
And you can do so by establishing mutual purpose, saying “You know I’d just like to talk about this in a way that comes to a solution we both like.” Rather than our typical go-in which is (we don’t say it) but which is “I’m going to win this argument and get my way at your expense.”