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Examples of mirroring include:

“You say you’re okay, but by the tone of your voice, you

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Examples of mirroring include: “You say you’re okay, but by the tone of your voice, you seem upset.”
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seem upset.”

“You seem angry at me.”

“You look nervous about confronting him. Are you sure

you’re willing to do it?”

�a raph rase to Acknowledge the Story

Asking and mirroring may help you get part of the other person’s

story out into the open. When you get a clue about why the per­

son is feeling as he or she does, you can build additional safety

by paraphrasing what you’ve heard. Be careful not to simply par­

rot back what was said. Instead, put the message in your own

words-usually in an abbreviated form.

“Let’s see if I’ve got this right. You’re upset because I’ve

voiced my concern about some of the clothes you wear. And

this seems controlling or old-fashioned to you.”

 

 

EXPLORE OTHERS’ PATHS 1 51

The key to paraphrasing, as with mirroring, is to remain calm

and collected. Our goal is to make it safe, not to act horrified and

suggest that the conversation is about to tum ugly. Stay focused

on figuring out how a reasonable, rational, and decent person

could have created this Path to Action. This will help you keep

from becoming angry or defensive. Simply rephrase what the per­

son has said, and do it in a way that suggests that it’s okay, you’re

trying to understand, and it’s safe for him or her to talk candidly.

Don ‘t push too hard. Let’s see where we are. We can tell that

another person has more to share than he or she is currently

sharing. He or she is going to silence or violence, and we want

to know why. We want to get back to the source (the facts)

where we can solve the problem. To encourage the person to

share, we’ve tried three listening tools. We’ve asked, mirrored,

and paraphrased. The person is still upset, but isn’t explaining

his or her stories or facts.

Now what? At this point, we may want to back off. After a

while, our attempts to make it safe for others can start feeling as

if we’re pestering or prying. If we push too hard, we violate both

purpose and respect. Others may think our purpose is merely to

extract what we want from them and conclude that we don’t care

about them personally. So instead, we back off. Rather than try­

ing to get to the source of the other person’s emotions, we either

gracefully exit or ask what he or she wants to see happen. Asking

people what they want helps them engage their brains in a way

that moves to problem solving and away from either attacking or

avoiding. It also helps reveal what they think the cause of the

problem is.

frime When You’re Getti ng Nowhere

On the other hand, there are times when you may conclude that

others would like to open up but still don’t feel safe. Or maybe

t hey’re s t i l l in violence, haven ‘t come down from the adrenaline,

 

 

1 52 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

and aren’t explaining why they’re angry. When this is the case,

you might want to try priming. Prime when you believe that the

other person still has something to share and might do so with a

little more effort on your part.

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