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Do you have a “stuck” topic in any of your relationships?  You know, where you try to have an objective, calm, practical discussion about a complaint but you don’t seem to make much progress – the challenge, problem, or complaint remains. Talking about it more isn’t helpful and quite frankly isn’t fun! You are stuck and at an impasse.

Resting beneath most of our behaviors are emotions that drive behaviors.  For example, Ellie is hyper-vigilant about the house being neat.  There have been numerous discussions and arguments about how anal she is and how inconsiderate her family is, for not keeping it tidy.  Ellie was not consciously aware of it but, at the root of her behavior was a fear of being embarrassed, and a desire for her family to feel a sense of freedom. Ellie grew up in a house full of clutter and chaos. She often felt humiliated – going to school with mismatched clothes and missing schoolwork or books because of the chaos.  She would never invite friends over and her world felt out of control.

We all have emotional drivers and most of them are unconscious (90% of what is running around in our brain is at an unconscious level).  Whether we’re aware of it or not, these emotional drivers effect how we behave and make decisions.

All of us have values or principles by which we live life, even if we’re not consciously aware of them. Observe what happens when someone cuts into a line – the value of justice and what’s fair will flair, while others value of compassion becomes obvious. We tenaciously defend our values even if we don’t realize it.

Likewise, we all have desires, and things we long for.  This could include material things, but more often we defend desires that affect our sense of purpose, possibilities, or expressions of who we are.  And, where we have passion we can be persistent in wanting our way.

In situations where there is an impasse, our focus usually defaults to the other person’s behavior.  What would happen if we paused in the argument and looked below the surface?  What value, desire or passion might be at risk for this person?  Uncovering the driving concern can help bring the deeper issue to the conscious mind, offering a new perspective to discuss.

Once Ellie’s family stopped arguing and started listening for values, desires and passions, they were able to understand that in her mind, her behavior was out of a desire to serve them and help them.  This has enabled a different kind of conversation.

Learning to listen for values, desires and passions is a skill that works! It’s quite easy to build, but it does require practice.  So, I’m offering you a choice today. You can continue to stay stuck in your conversation, or you can “learn to listen for something new.”   Pick a touchy topic in your world.  Stop having the same old conversation and start listening for the driver beneath the behavior!

Sue Krautkramer is a Juice partner and author of the blog, You Have Choice.

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