It’s a frustrating feeling – we are in the midst of a conversation with our boss, our co-worker, our partner and it’s going off the rails. We can feel it happening, we want to avert it and yet somehow we just can’t put our finger on why we are butting heads. What do they see that I don’t? Why don’t they see it as I see it? What am I missing?
We can choose our words carefully, we can listen carefully to the words used by others, and sometimes it is still not enough. Even people who are normally aligned together and have an easy flow, still hit walls, and they may not see them coming – wham! Now what?
While I wish it were possible to tough things out and just keep talking with the hopes of turning a corner, that may not be the best strategy. Experience (and many communication books) tells us that giving some space is often what’s needed for the breakthrough to move forward together. Time and space, if well used, give us the chance to try on some different hats (How would Joe see this? What questions would Kate have?), and to look inside ourselves and consider what is really at stake. Why is this so important to me? What am I holding on to? What are my values that are being challenged? And what is it that I need to find a way to share with the other person?
When we are able to describe what’s happening for us, it opens the door for a new level of trust. If you need to take some time to get ready to open the door, ask for it. It will be worth the wait.