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Crucial Skills: Choking Up

I’ve talked about the Vital Smarts dudes before, and they continue to impress. In this post, Crucial Skills: Choking Up, Vital Smarts principal Al Switzler gives some sound advice to a client regarding the phenomenon of unexpected and unwanted emotional seizure during a Crucial Conversation (CC).

When a conversation flips from”normal” to crucial, either or both participants will experience one or more of these symptoms:

1 Some people’s faces turn red.
2 Some people can feel their pulse—often in their temples.
3 Some people’s breathing changes—it speeds up, or lengthens.
4 People’s voices can increase or decrease in volume.
5 There may be churning in the gut or butterflies in the stomach.

In my case, numbers 3 and 4 rear their ugly heads when I find myself in the midst of an unexpected CC (how about you?). When the 3-4 duo instantaneously appears, I’ve learned to detect the change immediately. However, since I think “control” is overrated, over sought, and often an excuse to obscure truth, I often choose to let the truth, as I see it, fly via an unacceptable emotional rant 🙂 .

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” – Benjamin Disraeli

On the flip side, Al makes a lot of sense when he recommends switching over to proven CC skills upon detection of your changed physical state. When one succeeds at this, it defuses the situation and facilitates an exchange of understanding ‘tween the CC participants. First, he advises you to “step out of the content and rebuild safety” by calling a time out. Then, when the symptoms dissipate, re-enter the content and have a frank exchange of views. You do this by “starting with heart”, of course, to establish a collaborative and nurturing environment for progressing forward.

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