Building Our Skills: Finding Mutual Purpose When Conversation is Stuck in Differing Needs and Goals


Self monitor to avoid silence and violence:

Be aware of how you respond under stress:

·         Silence-withdrawing from conversation

·         Silence- deliberately withholding crucial information

·         Silence- avoiding stressful situations entirely

·         Silence-deflecting topic with humor or sarcasm

·         Silence-reluctant to express opinion


·         Violence- name calling or pointing out others mistakes

·         Violence-finger pointing or yelling

·         Violence-personal attacks on others

·         Violence- speaking over others

·         Violence-moving from resolution to winning


Build mutual purpose

·         At least one person must be aware that mutual purpose is important

·         Have the skills to gain the agreement of others

·         Put aside individual desires and goals in favor of common ground

·         Requires stepping out of the content

·         Mutual purpose requires mutual respect to avoid runaway emotions (anger and defensiveness)

·         Respect is earned and starts with the person who has awareness—it may be to respect the person’s goals without respecting the whole person as a place to start

·         State bottom lines clearly of what is wanted and what is not acceptable in search for common ground

·         Start with agreement and move toward disagreement or least controversial to most controversial

·         Sometimes the common ground starts as small as a mutual desire

·         Brainstorm the possibilities and work with as many options as possible to find the solution


Speaking persuasively when moving into tough information

·         Speak with confidence as if you deserve to be heard and the information is important

·         Speak with humility that conveys respect for the personhood and viewpoints of others

·         Speak with honesty while being kind and maintaining safety

·         Ask questions and make open ended questions that convey that a solution has not been reached

·         Leave room for respectful differences of opinion

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