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Chatty teenager. Your teenage nephew moved in with you

when his father (your brother) passed away and your sister-in­

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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 ___________________ _


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




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

initial conversation.

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 .

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