Rose and Tim were discussing their project. The ideas were going back and forth, and Rose’s frustration was growing. My role was to observe them and intervene when I noticed something they might have missed. I found myself asking them questions at regular intervals as listening to them it had seemed that their understanding of the shared details was different. The was no major difference, just details that didn’t seem to match.
There is nothing unusual about such a situation. I’ve seen this happen numerous times and found myself in them too.
Something that stands out in those moments is what seems to be the individual’s worry that his point might not have been heard or that they must succeed in making their point. It’s a worry that focuses all the available attention on itself.
When this happens, those involved in the conversation have lost the objective out of sight. It may also be that they never agreed on a common objective or never imagined how their respective goals could be aligned.
With no shared goal in sight, there is only one option left, determining how the conversation can be won. While this might never have been their objective, a reaction has been triggered. What is being shared has become alien or excluding to them. What is being shared threatens their sense of belonging. And instead of trusting that they belong, they either start to fight to belong or give up the idea of belonging.
Naturally, the process isn’t as conscious as it seems in the above description. It’s a process that only becomes visible through self-awareness, the willingness to suspend one’s own judgment of the situation, and to ability to share what one’s objective is.
The most astonishing often is how one’s own objective seems to shift to something unpredictable. But also, how one may find oneself losing the words to describe one’s objective in a given situation.