Chatty teenager. Your teenage nephew moved in with you
when his father (your brother) passed away and your sister-in
law could no longer handle him. He was starting to hang with
the wrong crowd. He has always gotten along with you, and
things have been going well except in one area: He spends hours
on the phone and Internet-most of his waking hours. In light of
what he could be doing, you’re not really disturbed, but it has
been hard for you to make calls and check your email. You said
something to him about cutting back his time on the phone and
online, and he came back with: “Please don’t send me to a youth
home! I’ll be good ! I promise. I’ll stop talking to my friends; just
don’t send me away.”
Formulate a contrasting statement.
I don’t want. ___________________ _
I do want ___________________ _
CRIB TO GET TO MUTUAL PURPOSE
Let’s add one more skill. Sometimes we find ourselves in the
middle of a debate because we clearly have different purposes.
There is no misunderstanding here. Contrasting won’t do the
trick. We need something sturdier for this job.
For instance, you’ve just been offered a promotion that will
help propel your career along a faster track and bring you a great
deal more authority, and it pays enough to help soften the blow
of displacement. That last part is important because you’ll have
to move the family across the country and your spouse and kids
love where you currently live.
You expected your spouse to have feelings of ambivalence
over the move, but he or she doesn’t seem to be bivaling even a
tiny bit. To your spouse the promotion is a bad news/bad news
event. First, you have to move, and second, you’ll work even
MAKE IT SAFE 83
longer hours . That whole thing about more money and power
doesn’t seem to be compensating. Now what?
The worst at dialogue either ignore the problem and push
ahead or roll over and let others have their way. They opt for
either competition or submission. Both strategies end up making
winners and losers, and the problem continues long beyond the
The good at dialogue move immediately toward compromise.
For example, the couple facing the transfer sets up two house
holds-one where one spouse will be working and one where
the family currently lives. Nobody really wants this arrangement,
and frankly, it’s a pretty ugly solution that’s bound to lead to
more serious problems, even divorce. While compromise is
sometimes necessary, the best know better than to start there.
The best at dialogue use four skills to look for a Mutual Purpose.
The four skills they use form the acronym CRIB .