One of the most transformational conversations that we can engage in lives in “the conversation” before “the conversation”.
It’s the conversation you have internally with yourself before you engage in a conversation with another.
What’s powerful about this is that you get to choose “how” this conversation goes. If you let your emotions run your thoughts & actions, the conversation internally & externally, could get pretty ugly. Especially, if something hasn’t turned out the way you wanted.
For example, I went to a friend’s house for dinner last weekend. There were several people coming over and she needed a few items before they arrived, so asked her husband to pick them up. I went early to help so I heard the specific instructions she gave to him. Butter, sour Cream, flowers for the table, wine and a bottle of Dr. Pepper.
Her last shout out to him as he was running out the door was… “and…don’t forget the Dr. Pepper!” Now that should have given him a clue. “You can forget something else, but don’t forget my Dr. Pepper!!”
Fifteen minutes later, she calls him on the phone. “Hey, where are you?”
He says, “I’m pulling onto our street” Then she says, “Great! Did you get my Dr. Pepper?” He says, “Awe man! I forgot it! I can’t believe it!”
She slams the phone back onto the cradle and begins to have an emotional conversation out loud because I was there…He’s always forgetting things. I can’t believe it! I’ve asked him twice! He just doesn’t care about what I need! He knows I was craving a Dr. Pepper!
I could see her getting really worked up. I looked at her and said, “Is this the conversation you really want to have right now? Because, it’s the same conversation that you are going to have with him when he walks through that door.”
I’ve seen her in situations like this before and I know it can get pretty tense… especially when she’s been disappointed.
“Can I make a suggestion?” I asked.
“Sure”, she said.
“Can you chose to forgive him right now, in this moment, and choose to have a different conversation? And, can you figure out another way to get your Dr. Pepper? All before he walks in the door?”
She glanced at me with a puzzled look…and, I wasn’t sure if she got it. In a few seconds, her husband walked in the door apologizing profusely. He knew he was in trouble.
But, she turned to him with an unexpected response. She gave him a hug and said, “Don’t worry about it honey, it’s been a long day. I’ll call Janice and ask her to pick one up on her way here.”
Done. Problem solved. Took less than 5 minutes and the relationship was back in sync. And…we all had a great evening!
Susan Scott in her book, “Fierce Conversations” says:
“Our lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation can. The conversation is the relationship.”
Let those words sink in for a moment…. “The conversation is the relationship.”
Sometimes what you are feeling emotionally in the moment is not a genuine expression you want to convey.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Viktor E. Frankl
Creating a space between stimulus & response allows you to act in alignment with the vision you have and what you want to create with others.
If you don’t like the conversations you are having, you can change the trajectory by changing your response…one conversation at a time.