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Failure to Communicate: How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them by Holly Weeks

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CHAPTER 9

Out of Emotion’s Grip

Increasing Skill

A LOT OF WHAT’S DIFFICULT in toxic conversations has emotional roots, but not emotional solutions. Yes, we have our signature emotional states, with anger, embarrassment, or fear thrown in. And to be sure, it’s unrealistic to ask people to stop having the feelings they have. So rather than ask for the improbable, we will accept that there are strong emotions in difficult conversations—but we won’t stop there. As David Mamet says, handling ourselves well isn’t based on how we feel.

We need to add real skill to prevent our emotions from jamming us up. Only after our skill increases and our outcomes get better will the grip of big emotions loosen. To get real skill, we need to give up two familiar ...

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