Passionate people can be intense. Do you ever find yourself looking for a better way to hold the tension that may arise with a business partner, or closer to home–in a friendship or romantic partnership? What do you do when differences of perspective start to feel like a power or control issue? When natural conflicts degrade into something less than healthy?

Recently I was asked to design a process to make creative tensions more productive. In this case, I had the opportunity to inquire deeply into what was going on for each of the people involved and design a process that already seems to be making a big difference for them.

We distilled it down into a weekly contemplation practice plus a three-step dialog, called the “What Matters Process.” It occurred to me that what we came up with might be useful for everyone. I am linking it here as a free PDF to download. If you want a nicely laminated physical copy, I’m happy to put one in the mail for you as a gift. Just email me at [email protected]

Sunday Contemplation Practice:

The key to this is the commitment to do this part every week. Each Sunday without fail set aside 5 minutes of private space with a notepad. Write down the question, “What does [my partner] need”? For a few minutes, note your answers to that question. Review your perceptions and note actions you can take to bring the best out of your partnership.

What Matters Dialog

Agree on a signal with your partner for when tension is high, something like: “Let’s pause.” When either partner gives the signal, you simply follow the instructions on this dialog card. The core of it is to slow down, ask the question: “What about this matters most to you?” and make sure your partner feels heard.   

Together, the weekly contemplation practice and the structured dialog will make each of you more aware of the other’s needs, and make it safe to transform emotional intensity into new more creative ways of working together.

Try this and see how it helps you and those with whom you live or work become more effective together.

All the best,

David Lesser