In my first blog post I promoted the strategy of respectful curiosity as the best path for addressing and transforming conflict. The challenge, of course, is when another person has hurt, offended or let us down to such an extent that, at the emotional level, we may not even like the person, let alone respect them. We feel much more inclined to punish them or walk away from the relationship. The practice of respectful curiosity seems too much to manage. As the authors of Crucial Conversations* put it, “How can you respect someone you don’t respect?”
In their masterful book, Crucial Conversations, the authors talk about the pivotal importance of examining the stories that our minds create when we attempt to interpret what other people do.* When people do something that leads us to feel angry, scared or hurt, it is crucial to examine more closely the stories…both theirs and ours…in order to stay in dialogue with them and reach reconciliation. Here’s an example of that.