A useful approach if you think a conversation may get a wee bit feisty…

A key part of being human is our concern about our status (in relation to our social standing) and being acknowledged as somehow adding value (rather than a drain on resources). It was important in our evolutionary past and still is today.

For a 21st century human this plays out in a number of ways including conversations with an, “I’m right, you’re wrong” agenda or an underlying defensiveness we’re not always aware of.

I was reminded of this recently… and more specifically what you could do if you think this could be an issue in an upcoming conversation. Something I’ve tried is to get our tendency as humans to be defensive on the agenda by talking about it up front and agree to try to override this tendency in the spirit of having a more effective conversation.

I think this works because it helps to build a conversation on a shared awareness of what might derail you (it can also help you recognise situations when your level of defensiveness may be dialled up more than normal) and while I’ve only used this approach with people I know well, it has been really effective.

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