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‘Double-click’ for sense-making

What counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

Daniel Goleman

I was facilitating some professional learning recently, when one of the participants used a word that someone reacted negatively to. I could see both people’s body language start to shut-down, their amygdala’s being triggered, and they became defensive. Effectively they had jumped to conclusions about each other based on one word.

This may sound trivial, but it happens an awful lot in workplaces and can destroy organisational culture. Consider those comments you create narrative around in your own head, such as “Hmmm they’re a bit weird to say that”, or “They’re way-off track with their thinking”. We make-up stories about people and their ability all the time without necessarily stopping to unpack and make-sense of what they have said.

Within her book “Conversational Intelligence”, Judith Glaser states we need to “engage in the face of conflict”. She uses the analogy of ‘double-clicking’ on a computer mouse to show that we need to delve deeper into words or ideas that are causing conflict.

Phrases we can use to support sense-making may include:

”Tell me more about…”


“Help me understand…”

When we switch our mode of listening to one of curiosity, we trigger higher levels of oxytocin—the trust and bonding hormone. In doing so, a conflict can turn into an opportunity to open new possibilities for both you and the person you disagree with.

So as you go forward into this coming week, I encourage you to “Double Click” on words or phrases that may cause conflict. Seek first to understand.

Glaser, Judith E.. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results (p. 137). Bibliomotion, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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