Three crucial signs:
- Strong emotions
- Opinions differ
- It’s vital!
At this point in a conversation, our brains are pretty much hardwired to make us behave in a way which is neither productive nor constructive.
Why is that so?
Such a situation triggers our survival instinct, even if it really is a minor issue. Regardless of the topic of such a crucial conversation, the brain sends confusing messages that this situation is about life or death, that only a win or lose outcome is possible.
What to do?
First of all, stop! Stop saying another word and focus on your breath. At this moment in time, your breath will have become shallow and fast, thus reducing the amount of oxygen available to your brain for clear thinking. Allow yourself to take time out to focus on deeper, slower breathing.
And then what?
The focus on your breath will slow down your heart rate and improve the oxygen flow to your brain. It then becomes possible to use the part of your brain that processes logical and analytical thinking, the prefrontal cortex, to ask yourself: What do I really want? For myself? For the relationship? For the other person?
Most likely, your rational objective is not for anyone to perish. If necessary, request a timeout and get clear on your objective. Is it to work together more collaboratively? Is it to explore other alternatives to an issue? Once you gain clarity on what it is that you truly want to achieve – with the other person or your team – communicate that in a concise manner. Being concise ensures that you don’t lose others’ attention.