“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” — Albert Einstein
“this is the first principle of dialogue—Start with Heart. That is, your own heart. If you can’t get yourself right, you’ll have a hard time getting dialogue right.”
“In fact, with experience and maturity we learn to worry less about others’ intent and more about the effect others’ actions are having on us. No longer are we in the game of rooting out unhealthy motives. And here’s the good news. When we reflect on alternative motives, not only do we soften our emotions, but equally important, we relax our absolute certainty long enough to allow for dialogue— the only reliable way of discovering others’ genuine motives.”
“As much as others may need to change, or we may want them to change, the only person we can continually inspire, prod, and shape—with any degree of success—is the person in the mirror. There”
“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears—by listening to them. —DEAN RUSK”
“When we make mistakes, we tell a Victim Story by claiming our intentions were innocent and pure. “Sure I was late getting home and didn’t call you, but I couldn’t let the team down!” On the other hand, when others do things that hurt or inconvenience us, we tell Villain Stories in which we invent terrible motives or exaggerate flaws for others based on how their actions affected us. “You are so thoughtless! You could have called me and told me you were going to be late.”
“If you use these skills exactly the way we tell you to and the other person doesn’t want to dialogue, you won’t get to dialogue. However, if you persist over time, refusing to take offence, making your motive genuine, showing respect, and constantly searching for Mutual Purpose, then the other person will almost always join you in dialogue.”
“I have known a thousand scamps; but I never met one who considered himself so. Self-knowledge isn’t so common. —OUIDA”
“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool—even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs. Now, obviously, they don’t agree with every idea; they simply do their best to ensure that all ideas find their way into the open.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. —MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.”
“You can predict with nearly 90 percent accuracy which projects will fail—months or years in advance. And now back to our premise. The predictor of success or failure was whether people could hold five specific crucial conversations. For example, could they speak up if they thought the scope and schedule were unrealistic? Or did they go silent when a cross-functional team member began sloughing off? Or even more tricky—what should they do when an executive failed to provide leadership for the effort?”
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind. —WILLIAM JAMES”
“As we introduce complex and abstract questions to our mind, the problem-solving part of our brain recognizes that we are now dealing with intricate social issues and not physical threats. When we present our brain with a demanding question, our body sends precious blood to the parts of our brain that help us think and away from the parts of our body that help us take flight or begin a fight.”
“When it comes to risky, controversial, and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves and others) out into the open.”
“This book is an apt response to the wisdom of the great historian Arnold Toynbee, who said that you can pretty well summarize all of history—not only of society, but of institutions and of people—in four words: Nothing fails like success. In other words, when a challenge in life is met by a response that is equal to it, you have success. But when the challenge moves to a higher level, the old, once successful response no longer works—it fails; thus, nothing fails like success.”
“Skilled people Start with Heart. That is, they begin high-risk discussions with the right motives, and they stay focused no matter what happens.”
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. —GEORGE BERNARD SHAW What”
“When others move to silence or violence, step out of the conversation and Make it Safe. When safety is restored, go back to the issue at hand and continue the dialogue.”
“Here’s why gifted communicators keep a close eye on safety. Dialogue calls for the free flow of meaning—period. And nothing kills the flow of meaning like fear. When you fear that people aren’t buying into your ideas, you start pushing too hard. When you fear that you may be harmed in some way, you start withdrawing and hiding.”
“SUMMARY—START WITH HEART
Here’s how people who are skilled at dialogue stay focused on their goals—particularly when the going gets tough.
Work on Me First, Us Second
• Remember that the only person you can directly control is yourself. Focus on What You Really Want
• When you find yourself moving toward silence or violence, stop and pay attention to your motives.
• Ask yourself: “What does my behavior tell me about what my motives are?”
• Then, clarify what you really want. Ask yourself: “What do I want for myself? For others? For the relationship?”
• And finally, ask: “How would I behave if this were what I really wanted?”
Refuse the Fool’s Choice
• As you consider what you want, notice when you start talking yourself into a Fool’s Choice.
• Watch to see if you’re telling yourself that you must choose between peace and honesty, between winning and losing, and so on.
• Break free of these Fool’s Choices by searching for the and.
• Clarify what you don’t want, add it to what you do want, and ask your brain to start searching for healthy options to bring you to dialogue.”
“When under attack, our heart can take a similarly sudden and unconscious turn. When faced with pressure and strong opinions, we often stop worrying about the goal of adding to the pool of meaning and start looking for ways to win, punish, or keep the peace.”
“Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for progress. Learn to slow the process down when your adrenaline gets pumping.”
“In truth, everyone argues about important issues. But not everyone splits up. It’s how you argue that matters.”
“If you persist over time, refusing to take offense, making your motive genuine, showing respect, and constantly searching for Mutual Purpose, then the other person will almost join you in a dialogue.”
“What do I really want for myself? What do I really want for others? What do I really want for the relationship? Once you’ve asked yourself what you want, add one more equally telling question: How would I behave if I really wanted these results?”
“So be patient when exploring how others think and feel. Encourage them to share their path and then wait for their emotions to catch up with the safety that you’ve created.”
“People who are gifted at dialogue keep a constant vigil on safety. They pay attention to the content—that’s a given—and they watch for signs that people are becoming fearful.”
“We’re asking you to recode silence and violence as signs that people are feeling unsafe. We’re asking you to fight your natural tendency to respond in kind. We’re asking you to undo years of practice, maybe even eons of genetic shaping that prod you to take flight or pick a fight (when under attack), and recode the stimulus. “Ah, that’s a sign that the other person feels unsafe.” And then what? Do something to make it safe.”
“Methods include cutting others off, overstating your facts, speaking in absolutes, changing subjects, or using directive questions to control the conversation.”