Figure 6-3. Maria’s Path to Action
MASTER MY STORIES 1 0 1
laughs at you. If sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t,
then your response isn ‘t hardwired. That means something goes
on between others laughing and you feeling. In truth, you tell a
story. You may not remember it, but you tell a story.
Any set of facts can be used to tell an infinite number of sto
ries. Stories are just that, stories. These fabrications could be
told in any of thousands of different ways . For instance, Maria
could just as easily have decided that Louis didn’t realize she
cared so much about the project. She could have concluded that
Louis was feeling unimportant and this was a way of showing he
was valuable. Or maybe he had been burned in the past because
he hadn’t personally seen through every detail of a project. Any
of these stories would have fit the facts and would have created
very different emotions.
If we take control of our stories, they won’t control us. People
who excel at dialogue are able to influence their emotions during
crucial conversations. They recognize that while it’s true that at
first we are in control of the stories we tell-after all, we do make
them up of our own accord-once they’re told, the stories con
trol us. They control how we feel and how we act. And as a result,
they control the results we get from our crucial conversations.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can tell different stories
and break the loop. In fact, until we tell different stories, we
cannot break the loop.
If you want improved results from your crucial conversations,
change the stories you tell yourself-even while you’re in the
middle of the fray.
SKillS FOR MASTERING OUR STORIES
What’s the most effective way to come up with different stories?
The best at dialogue find a way to first slow down and then take
charge of their Path to Action. Here’s how.
1 02 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Retrace Your Path
To slow down the lightning-quick storytelling process and the
subsequent flow of adrenaline, retrace your Path to Action-one
element at a time. This calls for a bit of mental gymnastics. First
you have to stop what you’re currently doing. Then you have to
get in touch with why you’re doing it. Here’s how to retrace your
• [Act] Notice your behavior. Ask:
Am I in some form of silence or violence?
• [Feel] Get in touch with your feelings.
What emotions are encouraging me to act this way?
• [Tell story] Analyze your stories.
What story is creating these emotions?
• [See/hear] Get back to the facts.
What evidence do I have to support this story?
By retracing your path one element at a time, you put yourself
in a position to think about, question, and change any one or
more of the elements.
Notice You r Behavior