Share Your Facts
In the last chapter we suggested that if you retrace your Path to
Action to the source, you eventual ly arrive at the (“acts. For
STATE MY PATH 1 2 5
example, Carole found the credit card invoice. That’s a fact. She
then told a story-Bob’s having an affair. Next, she felt betrayed
and horrified. Finally, she attacked Bob-“I should never have
married you! ” The whole interaction was fast, predictable, and
What if Carole took a different route-one that started with
facts? What if she were able to suspend the ugly story she told her
self (perhaps think of an alternative story) and then start her con
versation with the facts? Wouldn’t that be a safer way to go?
“Maybe,” she muses, “there is a good reason behind all of this.
Why don’t I start with the suspicious bill and then go from there?”
If she started there, she’d be right. The best way to share your
view is to follow your Path to Action from beginning to end
the same way you traveled it (Figure 7-1 ) . Unfortunately, when
we’re drunk on adrenaline, our tendency is to do precisely the
opposite. Since we’re obsessing on our emotions and stories,
that’s what we start with. Of course, this is the most controver
sial, least influential, and most insulting way we could begin.
To make matters worse, this strategy creates still another self
fulfilling prophecy. We’re so anxious to blurt out our ugly stories
See! Tell a Feel Hear –… Story –…
Figure 7-1 . The Path to Action
1 26 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
that we say things in extremely ineffective ways. Then, when
we get bad results (and we are going to get bad results), we tell
ourselves that we just can’t share risky views without creating
problems. So the next time we’ve got something sticky to say,
we’re even more reluctant to say it. We hold it inside where the
story builds up steam, and when we do eventually share our
horrific story, we do so with a vengeance. The cycle starts all
Facts are the least controversial. Facts provide a safe beginning.
By their very nature, facts aren’t controversial. That’s why we call
them facts. For example, consider the statement: “Yesterday you
arrived at work twenty minutes late.” No dispute there.
Conclusions, on the other hand, are highly controversial. For
example: “You can’t be trusted.” That’s hardly a fact. Actually, it’s
more like an insult, and it can certainly be disputed. Eventually we
may want to share our conclusions, but we certainly don’t want to
open up with a controversy.