He believes her concern in one small area reflects her total
feelings toward him.
So she’ll apologize and use Contrasting to rebuild safety.
YVONNE: I’m sorry I said it that way. I’m not blaming you
for how I feel or act. That’s my problem. I don’t see this
as your problem. I see it as our problem. Both of us may
be acting in ways that make things worse. I know I am at
laTHAM: I probably am too. Sometimes I pout because I’m
hurting. And I also do it hoping it’ll make you feel bad.
I’m sorry about that, too.
Notice what just happened. Since Yvonne dealt well with the
safety issue and kept focused on what she really wanted out of
this conversation, Jotham returned to the conversation. This is
far more effective than if Yvonne had gone into blaming.
JOTHAM: I just don’t see how we can work this out. I’m
wired for more passion than you are-it seems like the
only solution is for me to put up with it the way it is or
for you to feel like a sex slave.
The problem now is one of Mutual Purpose. Jotham thinks he
and Yvonne are at cross-purposes. In his mind, there is no pos
sibility of a mutually satisfactory solution. Rather than move to
compromise or fight for her way, Yvonne will step out of the
issue and CRIB to get to Mutual Purpose.
YVONNE: [Commit to seek Mutual Purpose] No, that isn’t
what I want at all. I don’t want anything with you that
isn’t great for both of us. I just want to find a way to have
us both feel close. appreciated. and loved.
90 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
laTHAM: That’s what I want, too. It just seems like we get
those feelings in different ways.
(Notice how lotham is leaving the game behind and joining
the dialogue. Safety-specifically Mutual Purpose-is making
YVONNE: [Recognize the purpose behind the strategy] Maybe
not. What makes you feel loved and appreciated?
laTHAM: Making love with you when you really want to
makes me feel loved and appreciated. And you?
YVONNE: When you do thoughtful things for me. And, I
guess, when you hold me-but not always sexually.
laTHAM: You mean, if we’re just cuddling that makes you
YVONNE: Yes. And sometimes-I guess when I think
you’re doing it because you love me-sex does that for
JOTHAM: [Invent a Mutual Purpose] So we need to find
ways to be together that make both of us feel loved and
appreciated. Is that what we’re looking for here?
YVONNE: Yes. I really want that, too.
laTHAM: [Brainstorm new strategies] Well, what if we . . .
BUT I COULD NEVER DO THAT!
Reading a complicated interaction like this one might lead to two
reactions. First, you might think, “Wow, these ideas could actu
ally work ! ” And at the same time, you could be thinking, “But
there’s no way I could think that clearly in the middle of that
kind of delicate conversation! ”
MAKE IT SAFE 9 1
We admit that it’s pretty easy for us to put all the skills together
when we’re sitting at a computer typing a script. But the good
news is, that’s not where these examples came from. They came
from real experiences. People do act like this all the time. In fact,
you do on your best days.
So don’t overwhelm yourself by asking whether you could
think this clearly during every heated and emotional conver
sation. Merely consider whether you could think a little more
clearly during a few crucial conversations. Or prepare in advance.
Before a crucial conversation begins, think about which skills will
help you most. Remember, when it comes to these high-stakes
conversations, a little progress can produce a lot of benefit.
Finally, as is the case with most complicated problems, don’t
aim for perfection. Aim for progress. Learn to slow the process
down when your adrenaline gets pumping. Carry a few of the
questions we’re suggesting with you as you go. Pick the ones that
you think are most relevant to the topic at hand. And watch
yourself get better a little at a time.
SUMMARY-MAKE IT SAFE
When others move to silence or violence, step out of the con
versation and Make It Safe. When safety is restored, go back to
the issue at hand and continue the dialogue.
Decide Which Condition of Safety Is at Risk